§ 20. Mr. Bob Dunn
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will make a statement on the likely level of gas prices in the coming year.
§ 34. Mr. Winnick
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his policy on the level of gas prices.
§ Mr. David Howell
Oil worries and soaring oil prices mean a vast surge in the demand for gas. Any attempts to meet this in the short term could lead to interruptions. The position for some industry is especially difficult. The British Gas Corporation is advancing extra sums for capital investment to provide greater capacity, and it will be paying four to six times as much for future gas out of the North Sea as it pays under present contracts for older gas fields.
The unavoidable move to higher energy prices which this means must be careful and gradual, but we cannot be insulated from the need for greater consistency in all energy pricing. Nor can we go on burning up our limited North Sea gas resources wastefully. This may bring relief today but it guarantees chaos and shortage in the future. Discussions are continuing with the aim of settling a three year financial target for the British Gas Corporation and the associated pricing strategy in order to restore a balance in gas supply and demand for the future. I will make an announcement to Parliament on these as soon as possible.427W
§ 23. Mr. Hal Miller
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the price and availability of gas supplies; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. David Howell
The Government have been reviewing gas pricing policy with the aim of setting the British Gas Corporation a three year financial target. Discussions on this are still continuing. As regards supplies, the Corporation is doing all it can to meet the current unprecedented demand for gas which far exceeds its planned rate of expansion.