HC Deb 10 March 1980 vol 980 cc918-9
16. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what further discussions he plans to hold in the near future with his EEC opposite numbers on the development of a comprehensive Community energy policy.

23. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when next he expects to meet the EEC Council of Energy Ministers.

24. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to meet his European Economic Community counterparts.

Mr. David Howell

The Council of EEC Energy Ministers meets regularly to review and develop the Community's Energy policy. This process will continue at the next meeting of the Energy Council which I expect to be arranged during the next few weeks.

Mr. Dykes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as the only EEC oil-producing country, we have a splendid opportunity to propose a positive Community energy policy? Does he accept that this would involve various complicated aspects, but would include the possibility of using EEC funds for energy products, new energy developments and even nuclear energy in the long term, in response to our positive proposals to create a comprehensive policy which will help non-oil countries in the EEC and which will also establish our authority in that sphere?

Mr. Howell

The Government are always ready to consider constructive projects for an EEC energy policy. Britain is Europe's largest energy producer and one of Europe's leading energy investors. We already make a major contribution through our existing national programmes to the development of the EEC energy resource. Perhaps more recognition of what we are already doing should be given by other EEC countries.

Mr. Hannam

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that we supply a large amount of oil to Europe and that it amounts to about 30 per cent. of our total oil exports?

Mr. Howell

That is correct.

Mr. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend expect that at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers there will be a discussion about an expansion of the Community programme into alternative sources of energy? Does he agree that that is rather urgent?

Mr. Howell

It is important. A number of national and EEC programmes are being pursued. I do not yet know whether they will appear on the agenda. If they do, we shall approach them constructively.

Mr. McNamara

Will the right hon. Gentleman take cautionary note of the lack of success of the common fisheries policy? Does he agree that if we supply the same amount of oil as we supplied fish and have the same degree of success we shall be closing down our oilfields as fast as our fishing ports?

Mr. Howell

The hon. Gentleman's emphasis on caution is wise.