HC Deb 24 November 1980 vol 994 c188
3. Sir David Price

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he has received from the British chemical industry about the high price of British energy compared with that of its European competitors; and what reply he has given.

Sir Keith Joseph

I have received representations from the Chemical Industries Association and a number of individual companies in the industry, and now from the CBI. Comparisons of European energy prices are complicated and the government are considering these representations with those from other trade associations and companies.

Sir David Price

Does my right hon. Friend accept the conclusion of the recent study by the Chemical Industries Association, dated 4 November, that the British chemical industry's total energy and fuel costs are 20 to 25 per cent. higher than those of its Continental competitors?

Sir Keith Joseph

I do not think that I can accept such a generalisation. The comparison is complicated, but we are studying the analysis that has been put before us by the association and the CBI, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has already announced some proposed changes.

Mr. Carter-Jones

What representations has the Secretary of State had from each chemical company indicating all those who support and those who oppose his fuel policy? Will be publish them in the Official Report?

Sir Keith Joseph

I cannot undertake to do that.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that far more industrialists support the industrial policies of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry than the media sometimes indicate? Is he aware that one of the problems at the moment is energy costs? In view of his remarks, will be give the utmost consideration to the representations being made?

Sir Keith Joseph

The answer to all three questions is "Yes".

Mr. John Silkin

Without anticipating the Chancellor's "Budget Statement" at half-past three, can the Secretary of State tell us what representations he has made to his right hon. and learned Friend about the over-high value of the pound sterling? Is he aware that Sir Maurice Hodgson, the chairman of ICI, a week or so ago attributed the losses that ICI has been making in the past three months to the over-high value of the pound?

Sir Keith Joseph

My right hon. and learned Friend is not taking a leaf out of the Opposition's book and introducing an autumn Budget. Secondly, the question is a different one, but the right hon. Gentleman may have noticed that the value of the pound has been dropping in recent days.