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European Community (Energy Policy)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he intends to take any initiatives towards the development of a European Economic Community energy policy.

Under our Presidency the October Energy Council made very good progress towards further elaboration of Community energy policy, primarily in terms of a serious accountable commitment by all member States to common objectives.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the progress that is being made towards the Community commitment to the economic pricing of energy?

Yes. The Energy Council reached substantial agreement on draft conclusions about the implementation of pricing principles and moves towards price transparency. It set out the further work needed to improve both systems. We hope that the draft conclusions will be endorsed formally by the Council in the near future.

Will the Minister talk seriously about an initiative for developing an EEC energy policy? Does he agree that responses from the Dispatch Box this afternoon prove that we are moving further and further away from a co-ordinated energy policy in the United Kingdom?

The hon. Gentleman makes an assertion without substantiation. The evidence that emerged from the October Energy Council and from previous Energy Councils is different from that submitted by the hon. Gentleman.

Is not an ideal candidate for EEC energy programme co-operation research into alternative forms of energy? I welcome the fourfold increase in Government funds for such research. Has that been done in concert with other EEC partners?

Each EEC country has its own programme. There is also a Community programme. Additional funds for that Community programme were discussed at the October Energy Council.

Since the Government propose to give away our oil in their privatisation programme, have the Government thought through the EEC relationship? Does it mean that the door is open for the Common Market to grab our oil as well?

That is not an observation worthy of the hon. Gentleman. To say that we are giving away our oil is a travesty of the truth. The hon. Gentleman should be able to do better than that.