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Departmental Organisation

Volume 972: debated on Monday 29 October 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what specific steps he has taken in the six months since he assumed office to eliminate waste in his Department.

My Department is participating fully in the various economy exercises which the Government have initiated. These include identifying options for reducing staff and related costs, contributing a study for Sir Derek Rayner's current exercise, and an examination of the councils and committees advising my Department, as well as a continuous inspection programme of existing staff posts.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. What does BNOC actually do that taxation of the oil companies could not do? As part of his attempts to identify costs, will my right hon. Friend give the approximate administrative cost of keeping in existence this brainchild of the previous Secretary of State?

To set out the full range of duties and activities of the British National Oil Corporation, Mr. Speaker, would trespass too much on your patience. However, the Government have described their plans for the future of BNOC. They include the attraction of private capital into the support of the corporation, which to that extent must reduce the burden of public funds. As to the administrative details of the corporation, I ask my hon. Friend to refer to the chairman of BNOC. As he knows, a new appointment has just been made to that post. I am very pleased indeed to have Mr. Ronald Utiger as the new transitional chairman for a period during the months ahead, when we shall be putting the BNOC on a new and more constructive footing to meet our requirements.