HC Deb 03 May 1976 vol 910 cc826-7
14. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the average price per therm of gas in Scotland and England, respectively, at the most recent date for which figures are available.

Mr. Eadie

Such figures based on current tariffs are not available. However, in half the English gas regions most elements of the tariffs are now the same as in Scotland.

Mr. Taylor

How can the hon. Gentleman say that these figures are not available when I have had such figures provided by Ministers in each of the past 10 years? Why cannot we have a British gas industry supplying gas at British prices? Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that it makes it difficult for unionists such as myself to argue a fully convincing case against the Scottish nationalists if we cannot at least have a British price for British gas?

Mr. Eadie

The supplementary question that the hon. Gentleman puts, with some humour, does not really arise from his main Question. It is a fact that landings of gas in Scotland are at exactly the same price as for the rest of Britain, but, as I have explained to the hon. Member in various previous answers, the increased cost arises from distribution costs and problems of geography. As he put it himself at one time, the reason for this is that we have some independence in relation to gas.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my hon. Friend confirm that two-thirds of the gas in Scotland comes from England? Can he say what will happen about that when Scotland gets its independence?

Mr. Eadie

That would be rather difficult, because there will not be any gas available for the system from Scottish waters before late 1977, and this does not affect the current gas tariff.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Will the Minister confirm, from his great knowledge in these matters, that in terms of total reserves there is three times as much gas in the Northern sector—the Scottish sector—as in the Southern sector?

Mr. Eadie

The hon. Gentleman must examine some of the figures that he has given to the House. Anticipation and landing are two different aspects.