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Oil And Gas Industries

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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22.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the privatisation of the nationalised oil and gas interests.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations he has received on his proposals for the privatisation of the British National Oil Corporation and the oil-producing sector of British Gas.

Our proposals on the BNOC and the BGC will be among the major achievements of this Parliament. We expect them to be widely welcomed by all who care for the successful development of our oil and gas industries and for the interests of the consumer, the taxpayer and the industry.

In view of misleading publicity, will my hon. Friend confirm that the introduction of private capital into a small proportion of North Sea oil and gas owned by the nationalised industries will in no way inhibit the Government's ability to control or tax the oil industry?

I confirm absolutely what my hon. Friend said. That would never have been our intention, and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to clarify the position.

How can the Minister of State talk about the great achievement of selling off the oil and gas interests of the British people when he knows that, in fact, it is a desperate attempt by a desperate Government to sell the nation's seed corn for the purpose of making a short-term capital gain for the Treasury?

The hon. Member is mistaken. The introduction of private capital into the British National Oil Corporation will allow the corporation to develop as a privately controlled oil company. The Government will still retain an interest, but it will be in the downstream sector, the trading arm, so that our security of supply will be maintained.