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Volume 887: debated on Monday 24 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether it is the Government's intention to retain parliamentary control over policy questions concerning North Sea oil and other energy resources.

Yes, Sir. I fully recognise the national importance of these policy questions and the need to remain answerable to Parliament for them.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a difference between parliamentary control over these important matters and the mere promise that the veto will be exercised, which is all that we have been offered at the moment? What remedy does he suggest for the situation which will one day arise when he or his successors will return from Brussels and say that on some important matter, such as the pricing or taxation of North Sea oil, they felt unable to use the veto because they were under pressure by their negotiating partners in Brussels? What parliamentary control will there then be to undo what the Minister has agreed to?

None of the decisions or actions taken so far by the Council of Ministers in any way pre-empts the decision that this House and the country will take on the referendum which will probably be in a few months' time.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, as announced in the Press, the rate of petroleum revenue tax will be given to us this week? May I ask whether it will come in the form of a ministerial statement or in answer to a Written Question?

That question does not arise from the Question on the Order Paper. It is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Paymaster-General, and not one which it is appropriate for me to answer.