asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will make a statement about the intended petrol distribution policies of the British National Oil Corporation.
It will be for BNOC to formulate its policies when it is set up. I would expect production to be BNOC's first priority.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that currently about 60 per cent. of retail sales and outlets are through oil company-owned sites? As it seems to be taking a Government Department a long time to do something to ensure genuine competiiton in petrol retail distribution, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he thinks that BNOC could do something about this?
In the first instance, as I have said to my hon. Friend, BNOC's priority will be to get into production, but it is the Government's intention to make sure that it becomes a fully integrated oil company.
Is it not a fact that, contrary to what was said by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield), the margin at many of the retail outlets for petrol has sunk to almost nothing and this is causing grave dismay among those responsible for running this business?
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to complain that I had removed price control on petrol. In any case, some of the margins have gone down as a result of competition, and I always thought that the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of competition.