HC Deb 07 November 1983 vol 48 c16
19. Mr. Ashdown

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what progress has been made by his Department in discussions with the Association of United Kingdom Oil Independents on the effects of the Petroleum Stocks (Amendment) Order 1983 on the association's members.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The association was informed 15 months ago about the proposals contained in the order. Discussions were held with the association last January and have continued with member companies since.

Mr. Ashdown

As the Minister told my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) that there were no reliable estimates of how the order would hit independent oil producers, is he aware that the Association of United Kingdom Oil Independents has estimated that the order will cost oil producers £1.5 million each? Is he further aware that, by the Government's own estimates, the order is likely to raise the price of petrol by 2p to 3p per gallon—affecting rural motorists once again?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I utterly disagree with the hon. Gentleman's last point. The total costs of introducing oil storage arrangements and the rest might reach the figure that the hon. Gentleman suggested. However, many independent companies do not work as the hon. Gentleman suggested—they rely on their suppliers for holding some of their stock. That is why I have arranged for companies that are experiencing difficulties to come to discuss them with my Department. The Department has been able to assist in several ways. My door is still open if companies want help. All hon. Members have responsibility to ensure security of supply, whether to rural areas or to main centres of population.