HC Deb 08 June 1976 vol 912 cc1195-7
Q3. Mr. Ovenden

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to the Isle of Grain.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Ovenden

is the Prime Minister aware of my disappointment that he will be unable to visit the area where the first shipment of British North Sea oil was landed, thereby missing an appropriate opportunity to make a statement about the Government's oil policy? Will he take the opportunity today to tell the House whether he is satisfied with the progress being made towards achieving the Labour Party manifesto commitment of a majority public stake in all North Sea oil exploration?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry not to be able to visit the area. Somehow I do not think that my hon. Friend or I would get a pair if we were to ask for it at the moment.

Mr. Lipton

There are plenty of pairs to be had.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is too cynical about the intentions of Opposition Members.

The oil policy is working out broadly as we had hoped and intended. The stake that the Government are taking is now being worked out in negotiation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has made a full statement on the matter. I am sure that even among the faint-hearts on the Opposition Benches it will be a cause for rejoicing that the import of our own oil from the North Sea this year is likely to save us about £1 billion on the balance of payments. That is another source of strength in which the whole nation can rejoice.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

As the benefit being gained by the British or English economy this year is of the order mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, will he indicate whether he is intent upon giving to the Scottish Assembly the oil revenues that the Assembly will need to improve the standard of living in Scotland?

The Prime Minister

The question of the revenues that the Scottish Assembly will control will no doubt be thrashed out in the course of devolution debates that we shall have. But if the United Kingdom is to remain as an integrated whole, the answer will undoubtedly be that no revenues can be hypothecated to one particular part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Dalyell

If my right hon. Friend rightly concerns himself with the decisions of trade union conferences, while we are on the subject of the East Coast will he bear in mind that at Scarborough UCATT came down against devolution?

The Prime Minister

UCATT was one of the few conferences that I did not attend. Perhaps that is the reason.

Mr. Ridley

If the Prime Minister does not visit the Isle of Grain, will he have time to have a word with his hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), who broke his word not to vote on the day before we rose for the recess? Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to keep the hon. Gentleman as a member of his Administration when it is quite clear that he is not able to discharge an honourable obligation to the House?

The Prime Minister

I note what the hon. Gentleman said, but I am afraid that there will not be a vacancy for him after all.

Hon. Members

Answer the question.

The Prime Minister rose

Mr. Skinner

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Skinner, to raise a point of order.

Mr. Skinner

I wonder whether you, Mr. Speaker, would care to rule on the situation that has recently developed in the Chamber. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) is sitting underneath the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan).

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am afraid that I am no expert in such matters.