asked the Secretary of State for Energy what new plans he has to avoid excessive flaring of gas in the United Kingdom oilfields of the North Sea.
I shall continue to pursue the same approach to flaring for new and existing oilfield developments that has allowed the Government progressively to reduce the level by around half since taking office.
Just as the demand for oil in the first and second quarters of 1979 was due to the unsettling effect of the Iranian situation, whereby the Government were willing to flare gas in order to get a higher production of oil, could not the situation arise, in the absence of a common carrier gas-gathering pipeline, whereby we may have or, to reduce the oil flow to avoid excessive flaring of gas, alternatively, demand a higher production of oil at the cost of flaring gas quite outrageously?
Coming from a right hon. Member, who was the Minister who presided over the period when we had the highest amount of flaring since gas was taken from beneath the North Sea, that is rich. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I suggest that he is mischief-making.
In view of the very high cost of electricity to British consumers, will the hon. Gentleman seriously examine the possibilities of developing hydroelectric power in the Highlands of Scotland and issue a report to the House?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that hydroelectric power is close to my heart and that the Highlands of Scotland are even closer. However, apart from one possibility which has been examined, and is being re-examined, by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, I do not think that the remainder of those possibilities, which have previously been suggested, are economically viable, even in today's monetary situation.