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Oil (Self-Sufficiency)

Volume 897: debated on Monday 4 August 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is satisfied with progress in the North Sea towards achieving self-sufficiency in oil.

Will the Secretary of State say how long he thinks that self-sufficiency will last? Will he give a guarantee to the nation of non-interference by himself so that this vital self-sufficiency will not be put at risk by his blunders?

The hon. Gentleman asks me about progress towards achieving self-sufficiency. He is now inviting me to look forward into the future to see how long the oil under the North Sea will last after it has been discovered. I think that on reflection he will agree that that was not an easy question to answer. I cannot answer it.

Does the Secretary of State accept that Scotland could be self-sufficient in oil within a matter of months and that it could remain self-sufficient in oil for much longer than could Britain, if we are considering merely North Sea oil? Will he make a comment on the importance of the relationship between the Scottish Assembly, which will govern a country rich in oil resources, and England, which will be importing oil?

Although I understand the hon. Lady's interest, I think that she has somewhat oversimplified these problems. She will recognise that until we are able to accomplish participation, and indeed a new framework, the oil, or any part of it, will in no sense belong to the people of this country.