HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 cc658-9
14. Mr. Rowlands

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will make a statement about his Department's estimate of refinery capacity in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Refinery capacity in the United Kingdom at the end of 1985 was 92.8 million tonnes per annum.

Mr. Rowlands

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 6,600 jobs have been lost in the refining industry and that there is a strong instinctive feeling that the British refining capacity is taking the brunt of any European restructuring? Is the restructuring period now over? Will he take a strong line on the possibility of another flood of projects from the middle east, which may further jeopardise jobs in our refining industry?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern in relation to jobs and indeed in any other area of the United Kingdom where reorganisation of refineries has taken place. It is not true that the United Kingdom has taken the brunt of reorganisation. Over the past five years our capacity has gone down by some 28 per cent., but by contrast it has gone down by 44 per cent. in Germany, and in France by 36 per cent. What we are witnessing in Britain is not isolated. I take his point regarding middle east products. I have discussed this issue and shall continue to discuss it with colleagues in the International Energy Agency.