To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he next proposes to have discussions with the European Council of Ministers about alternative sources of energy.
I expect alternative sources of energy to be discussed at the Council of Energy Ministers planned for 21 March 1988 under German presidency.
Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the balance between United Kingdom national research and European Community research is about right at present, or' does he think that more should be undertaken on a Community basis?
Over a period of years we have done reasonably well from the EEC on the matter of renewables. Our present renewable programme is valued at about £77 million, of which the Commission pays £5 million. As my hon. Friend probably knows, we have decided to increase our expenditure on renewables next year.
As Government funds available for research into alternative forms of energy have more than quadrupled in the past few years, will my hon. Friend assure the House that at the meeting next March the question of duplication of research into alternative forms of energy will be avoided and that it ought to he part of a co-ordinated European programme to ensure that the extra money is being used in the most cost-effective way?
Part of the agreement that Ministers reached last month was that there would be a common form of information and an improved and enhanced data base, which would overcome some of the worries of duplication that my hon. Friend has rightly stressed.