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Council Of Energy Ministers

Volume 887: debated on Monday 24 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the meeting of the Council of Energy Ministers on 13th February 1975.


asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the meeting of the Council of Energy Ministers on 13th February 1975.

The Council of Energy Ministers, which was attended by my noble Friend the Minister of State, approved a resolution on the means to be put in hand to achieve the Community energy policy objectives for 1985 which were adopted by the Council on 17th December 1974. The resolution entails no legal commitment and, in particular, my noble Friend made it clear that in the Government's interpretation there is no conflict with our oil depletion policy. The Council also adopted a directive restricting the use of petroleum products in power stations. A number of other proposals were discussed, which the Council referred to officials for further examination.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Does he agree that it is rather bizarre that, since he has just confirmed that our North Sea oil sovereignty will be intact and that, none the less, we shall get the strength of the Community's energy policy around us, a lot of anti-Marketeers in this country should go on about the loss of sovereignty in the EEC, including sovereignty over energy policy, and yet be content with our assignation of powers to the IEA, which is a much greater loss of our independent decision-making?

It is also fair to point out that if we were to accept some of the Community's proposals without critical examination, some of our national interests would come into conflict. We are not prepared to take any action which means that our national interests are not properly safeguarded.

While it would be unreasonable to expect any definitive answer today, may we be assured that at the next meeting the whole question of our nuclear relationship with the Russians, negotiated by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, in Moscow, will be considered in a European context—especially the question of enriched uranium?

I think that some of these matters will be discussed at the next Council meeting, but no date has yet been fixed for a further meeting. Whether the specific discussions which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had with the Russians will be on the agenda is a matter that I cannot answer or anticipate at this stage.

Is the Minister prepared to enlarge on or to give some further indication on two subjects which were discussed at that meeting on 13th February, relating to financial support measures which will be introduced to enable the development of energy sources other than oil, and are the Government fully behind the proposal at that meeting that member States maintain a minimum level of fuel stocks at thermal power stations?

We already hold stocks at power stations. Our policy would in no way conflict with the European policy, but we want to determine where we have our stocks and at what power stations. It is better that we should do so rather than have constant reference to the Commission.

Did the meeting consider the standardisation of nuclear reactors? Does my right hon. Friend believe that that would add to or reduce the commercial opportunities which may be presented to British reactors in the next few years?

I do not think that that specific proposal was raised at the Council. Although there have been discussions about the amount of nuclear capacity that the Community will have by 1985, we think that it is on the high side.