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Nuclear Security

Volume 978: debated on Monday 11 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the discussion of the Under-Secretary with Dutch and German the British Gas Corporation will be needed to finance considerable increases in transmission lines and new facilities to meet the large surge in demand for gas caused by oil price rises and the encouragement of the rising demand for gas consumption, which seems to have received unrestrained blessing from the Labour Government.

If the Government are entitled to get from the gas industry a far greater income than is required tomeet the cost of gas, why do they not put an extra price on the oil from producers in the North Sea, to ensure that the £700 million which they are at present receiving can be brought into the Government's coffers? It will be £2,000 million in the next two or three years.

The hon. Gentleman should be aware of the tax regime affecting oil producers in the North Sea, which is, basically, the petroleum revenue tax. This is a fairly assessed and pitched tax and it brings substantial benefits to the Exchequer. It has, I think, been agreed by successive Governments that this is the right approach, and it is one which ensures that the large rent or surplus accruing to the oil producers comes to the Exchequer.

Following is the information:

Ministers about security arrangements at Urenco, Almelo, Holland, in the light of the Khan incident.

I myself have had no discussions with Netherlands or German Ministers, but the Prime Minister has raised this matter with Mr. van Agt, the Netherlands Prime Minister. There have also been official level discussions in the joint committee and through diplomatic channels. As the hon. Member is well aware, the necessary action to strengthen the implementation of troika security procedures throughout the collaboration is being taken to ensure there is no repetition of the Khan affair. I cannot discuss the details.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, various representations have been made to the Dutch Government. He knows also that we have received in confidence a report from the Dutch Government discussing the issues. I cannot reveal what the report says, and it is for the Dutch Government to decide whether it is published and whether it is revealed to the Dutch Parliament.

Are any research workers or other people from South Africa involved in this Urenco set-up?

I have no reason whatever to think so. I shall raise the question and write to the hon. Gentleman, but I would say that it is extremely unlikely.