HC Deb 26 January 1981 vol 997 cc629-30
9. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the United Kingdom share of orders placed in 1980 for goods and services for development of the United Kingdom continental shelf.

Mr. Gray

The figures for 1980 showing the total orders and the share coming to the United Kingdom have not yet been finalised. They will be published in due course in the annual report to Parliament by the Secretary of State—"Development of the Oil and Gas resources of the United Kingdom".

Mr. Hannam

Is my hon. Friend aware that some large oil rig contracts are going to countries such as Korea and Taiwan? Is he satisfied that unfair subsidies are not being applied by some Governments?

Mr. Gray

There have been many accusations and much speculation about unfair subsidy and whether it has been paid in countries such as Korea and Taiwan. Unfortunately, my Department has been unable to establish the facts. If the hon. Gentleman or anyone else can provide us with sufficient evidence, we shall be happy to follow it up.

Mr. Douglas

Will the hon. Gentleman give us some assurance that the Government's proposed tax changes are not holding up significant orders?

Mr. Gray

I know of no orders that are being held up because of any proposals to change the tax regime. As my right hon. Friend said during the recent debate, all the blocks that were offered in the first tranche of licences in the seventh round have been taken up by the oil companies, and all the £5 million deposits have been paid.

Mr. Bill Walker

Will my hon. Friend confirm that every assistance is being given by his Department to ensure that Scottish companies enjoy the benefits of North Sea oil?

Mr. Gray

I assure my hon. Friend—I know of his constituency interest—that there is no discrimination against any Scottish firm, and that Scottish firms benefit to the same extent as other firms in the United Kingdom.