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Energy Commission

Volume 934: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what progress he has made towards the establishment of an Energy Commission; and if he will make a statement.

Following the National Energy Conference in June last year, discussions have been proceeding with a view to the establishment of an Energy Commission with the following terms of reference:

"To advise and assist the Secretary of State for Energy on the development of a strategy for the Energy Sector in the United Kingdom; and to advise the Secretary of State on such specific aspects of energy policy as he may from time to time refer to them."
The Government have now decided to establish such a commission with a membership drawn on the following basis: seven representatives of the energy industries: the chairmen of the National Coal Board, the Electricity Council, the British Gas Corporation, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, the British National Oil Corporation, the South of Scotland Electricity Board and of the Petroleum Industry Advisory Committee; seven representatives drawn from the six general council members of the TUC fuel and power industries com- mittee, together with their secretary; seven others representing among others industry and consumer interests.I shall make a further announcement about the allocation of the seven non-producer seats as soon as possible.The Secretary of State for Energy will take the chair and the Minister of State, Scottish Office, will be a member. Other Ministers with an interest in energy matters will be able to attend meetings of the commission and to contribute to its work in order to establish the wide range of Government interest in energy policy.The commission will consider and seek to form an agreed view on major energy policy issues, particularly those of a strategic nature, as they arise and would consider, prior to publication, periodic and perhaps annual reports on the energy situation prepared by the Government, setting out decisions taken and other developments and reviewing current prospects and the matters likely to come up for decision.The setting up of this commission will not affect the existing executive responsibilities, nor will it in any way dimmish the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament for decisions taken in the energy field.Even with a commission of this size there will be many other interests which would wish to be kept informed of energy policy discussions and be in a position to put representations in writing to the commission. With that in mind it is the Government's intention that the documents coming before the commission would as a general rule be widely circulated so that they could be studied for that purpose. It should also be possible for the commission to invite other persons to attend as and when necessary at the commission's discretion.The Government believe that these new arrangements should prove generally helpful in the co-ordination of the nation's energy policy and in developing the role of the energy sector in the industrial development of the United Kingdom.I hope the commission will meet soon to discuss the organisation of its work. It is -my intention that its papers should normally be available to Parliament and the public.