§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
asked Her Majesty's Government:709WA
Whether they will make a further statement about their plans for the British National Oil Corporation?
The Earl of GOWRIE
In his earlier public announcement about the future of the British National Oil Corporation my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy said it was the Government's intention to give the British public the fullest possible opportunity to share the benefits of the nation's oil wealth, although at the same time we have to maintain the arrangements we now have for maximising the nation's security of oil supply. Today my right honourable friend is announcing how we will proceed. First we will be proposing to Parliament that the forthcoming legislation on the future of the corporation should contain powers to enable the public to have a direct equity stake in the BNOC's North Sea business.
It will be a formidable task to unravel the arrangements that our predecessors left. But it is a task to which we will give 710WA the closest attention in the period ahead. Meanwhile we also plan to offer the wider public who do not yet customarily buy shares an opportunity for a direct stake in the benefits of the North Sea. We will do this through the creation of a revenue bond scheme linked to BNOC's commercial fortunes and performance. Members of the public who buy these bonds will be entitled to interest payments linked directly to the revenues from specified BNOC fields. The return to the holders will thus be dictated by the level of BNOC's oil production and the price of oil. And savers will be able to buy these bonds in small denominations, and cash them in at any time. This will be a further opportunity for the British public on a very wide I scale to share in the risks and rewards of their enterprise. And the bonds which we propose to create in this way will provide a unique investment medium for the small saver.
House adjourned at four minutes past eleven o'clock.