HC Deb 21 November 1974 vol 881 cc1519-20
Q4. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary of State for Energy in relation to oil developments in the North Sea.

Mr. Edward Short

I have been asked to reply.

Yes. Sir.

Mr. Dalyell

With the contraction of the defence budget, would it not be sensible to transfer a good deal of the expenditure oil oil-related naval diving and, indeed, on the much-needed search and recovery vessel in the North Sea, to the Department of Energy account?

Mr. Short

I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that a great deal of co-operation is taking place now. Only last week an initiative was announced by the Offshore Supplies Office to make use of the Navy's diving expertise to help to promote a stronger United Kingdom diving industry. More generally, without speculating on the outcome of the defence review and its effects on particular establishments, any reduction in demands made on them by the defence programme could increase rather than diminish the effort in support of civil projects. So there is a very great deal going on, and I hope very much that it can be increased.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Will the Lord President ask his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to appoint one Minister to have charge of this very important aspect of the development of North Sea oil, so that at least one of the many uncertainties about defence may be removed?

Mr. Short

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, the Prime Minister did announce that the Lord Privy Seal had been asked to co-operate measures necessary for the protection of offshore and other maritime interests.

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