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Departmental Staff (Technical Qualifications)

Volume 974: debated on Monday 26 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether his Department has a need for technically qualified staff who would be seconded from the major oil companies.

In the oil sector, the Department's main requirement for technical staff concerns the exploration for, appraisal, development and production of offshore oil and gas deposits. Commercially confidential information is involved and, whilst I do not rule out secondment of technically qualified staff from the oil companies to my Department, care and caution in their deployment and utilisation would obviously be necessary.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. In view of the rapid pace of technological change in the oil industry, does he agree that it will be necessary to ensure that the technical officers in his Department are seconded to the oil industry if the reverse cannot happen?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the closest co-operation will continue between those employed by my Department and the companies within the oil industry.

Has the Minister approved the massive advertisement that is appearing in the press under the title

"Squeezing the most out of Britain's North Sea assets",
in which the Department of Energy purports to engage many highly paid staff, mainly in London? Will he attempt to explain why these staffs should be recruited from London and not from Glasgow, where the British National Oil Corporation has its headquarters?

The staff that is being recruited will not necessarily remain in London all the time. There are certain conditions that may necessitate some of the staff being moved to Glasgow, or even Aberdeen. My Department will give consideration to the most appropriate place for the staff to be located when it is engaged.

To what extent in future will the Government be relying on advice from the BNOC?

The Government do not intend to continue the statutory obligation involving the corporation. Advice from the corporation will be received in exactly the same way as advice from other oil companies.