HL Deb 17 April 1975 vol 359 cc486-7

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will inform the House what consultations were held with Mr. Jenkin on the Oil Taxation Bill, what alterations were made as a result and what consultations were made with industrialists concerned with oil production.


My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will grant me indulgence for a rather lengthy reply in answer to the noble Baroness. The most important changes in the Oil Taxation Bill were made by the Government to implement the Statement by my right honourable friend the Paymaster-General, on Second Reading of the Bill in another place, that relaxations to ensure production from marginal fields would be introduced in the light of the detailed consultations which had just begun with the oil companies. Other changes—for example, the exemption of gas sold to BGC under contracts made by the end of June 1975, and the allowance of initial treatment and storage costs —were also made in the light of those very extensive consultations and debates in another place. Some of them I have already mentioned in my speech on Second Reading.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that answer? Also, may I ask him whether he will accept from me my appreciative thanks for the very charming letter he sent me over my inability to be called last week, particularly in view of the fact that he said he was unable to see me owing to my being obliterated by the distinguished and noble Lord, Lord Robbins? May I say that I very much appreciated that letter? May I also ask the noble Lord whether he will bear in mind that I did not think his reply to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy was a very good one? I preferred my noble friend's speech rather than that of the noble Lord opposite.


My Lords, I confess that I am not very astonished by that supplementary question from the noble Baroness.


My Lords, whether or not "consultations" is an apt description, may I ask the noble Lord to agree that the Government have improved, indeed transformed, their Oil Taxation Bill by the introduction on Report in another place of most of the changes which were advocated at earlier stages of the Bill by my right honourable friend Mr. Patrick Jenkin and his colleagues, and is it not a pity that it was apparently too late for all the changes they recommended to be adopted?


My Lords, I am aware that the noble Lord feels that a Second Reading debate should now take place at Question Time, but I would point out to him once more that he is entirely wrong in thinking that his right honourable friend's scheme would have done good service. We found that it was impossible to administer, and therefore I must again assert, because I do not have time for anything more, that the Bill as before us now for Third Reading, which will occur shortly, is in fact an excess profits tax measure.