§ Mr. Mason
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will initiate discussions with the major oil companies designed to ascertain to what extent small independent petrol outlets are being threatened with closure by the major companies denying them supplies; how many petrol outlets have closed during the last two years; whether the major 272W companies are applying pressure on the small independents to evict them from tenancy and replace them with managers; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Tom Boardman
My Department is in constant touch with the major oil companies, and I understand that there is at present no shortage of petrol for filling stations. According to figures compiled by the Institute of Petroleum the number of retail outlets dropped by 2,500 in the years 1971 and 1972, but this reflects many factors, mainly in the improvement in distribution techniques, higher throughput per outlet and the elimination of sites which are uneconomic to operate. I am prepared to consider any evidence that the right hon. Member may have of undue pressure being applied by oil companies to replace tenants by managers. The Government will continue to keep the general supply situation under close and continuing review.