§ Mr. Campbell
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about his proposals for the next round of offshore licensing.
§ Mr. Benn
I propose that between 50 and 60 blocks should be put on offer for the next round of offshore petroleum production licensing. This is to be the start of a more orderly licensing strategy, aimed at maintaining activity at a reasonably stable level in the future through the licensing of smaller amounts of territory at more frequent intervals. I have today placed in the Libraries a consultative document setting out the arrangements I propose for the round. Copies of the document are also available in the library of my Department at Thames House South, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QJ.
I am approaching the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association, the Confederation of British Industry, and the trade unions to suggest consultations on the basis of the document. I hope to complete these consultations during June, and then to prepare Regulations, to be laid in due course before Parliament prior to inviting applications.