HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc434-5W
Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will make a statement on the future of the offshore supplies interest relief grant scheme.

Mr. Gray

The Government have decided that interest relief grants under this scheme will not be available for new contracts placed after 31 March 1980, nor for additions made after that date to existing contracts. However, the offshore operators and the suppliers continue to be entitled to register such contracts and additions for grant with the Offshore Supplies Office of my Department within the three months which the scheme provides, that is, up to 30 June 1980. Payment of grants in respect of contracts and additions registered up to that date will of course continue beyond it, in accordance with the established rules of the scheme.

In reaching this decision, the Government considered most carefully the future of the scheme in relation both to its value as a means of compensating for preferential export credit rates available for overseas supplies and the need to reduce public expenditure. We have decided that it no longer represents value for money overall. This conclusion also has regard to the fact that since the previous Conservative Government introduced the scheme in 1973, the situation has changed in that all our Community partners gave assurances in 1977 that they did not or would no longer provide preferential export credits for intra-Community trade, including continental shelf trade. The decision which I have announced in fact honours the undertaking given to the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association by the previous Administration of nine months'notice of any substantial changes to the scheme.

Whilst the IRG scheme will need to end, the Government continue to attach very great importance to the efforts of British industry in maintaining the position it has won in our offshore market. British industry will need to continue to demonstrate its competence and reliability but the Government will ensure that it obtains a full and fair opportunity to win business for our continental shelf on a competitive basis.

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