HC Deb 05 May 1975 vol 891 cc1005-7
14. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many tons of oil were imported into the United Kingdom during each of the past five years; and what was the cost in each case

Mr. Deakins

I am circulating in the Official Report a table showing the figures requested. The figures show that the balance of payments cost of our oil imports in 1974 was nearly five times what it was in 1971.

Mr. Wainwright

In view of the figures which my hon. Friend has just given may I ask whether he has taken into account what occurred in 1973 with the oil supplying countries, and the fact that some disturbance in that area—which we hope there will not be—could have the effect of aggravating the present oil situation? Will he bear in mind that plans must be made immediately to speed up the supply of oil from the North Sea and also to make the mining industry more viable, by further massive investment?

Mr. Deakins

These are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, but I assure my hon. Friend that the Department of Trade is anxious to make the best use, as quickly as possible, of the vast energy resources which are being discovered both under the sea and under the land in Britain.

Mr. Adley

In view of the answer which the Minister has just given to his hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), will he confirm that he accepts in full the implications of the speech made in his constituency during the weekend by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence?

Mr. Deakins

I have seen only newspaper reports of my right hon. Friend's speech, in which he spoke about needing a market for coal. I believe that we shall need markets all over the world for any surplus energy that we have. I know of no industrial nations in the world which insist on placing tariffs on raw material imports for their manufacturing production.

Mr. Skinner

Does my hon. Friend realise that, notwithstanding his efforts to try to cut down the massive oil import bill, right under his nose, almost, there are dual-fired power stations using both coal and oil? The coal-fired power stations are being run down and closed temporarily, while the oil-fired stations are using oil which is live times as expensive as coal. Should not this matter be dealt with? My hon. Friend may say that this is a question for another Department, but surely he appreciates that he must do something about a matter of such grave importance as this.

Mr. Deakins

My hon. Friend has raised an important point and I shall see that his observations are brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy who, within the Government, must take the lead on a matter such as this.

The information is as follows:—

Quantities million tons Values fob £million
1970 122 655
1971 127 862
1972 125 877
1973 133 1,281
1974 127 4,142

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