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Ec Energy Policy

Volume 130: debated on Monday 28 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is satisfied with progress towards the development of a European Community energy policy; and if he will make a statement.

Yes, Sir. The prospects for attaining the Community's 1995 energy objectives are under review and Commission proposals on completion of the energy market by 1992 are expected shortly.

Does my hon. Friend agree that progress has been disappointly slow so far? Do the Government intend to take any initiatives to try to speed things up?

I know that my hon. Friend likes to see fast progress in Europe. Certainly the Government take the initiative to make sure that such progress is made. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the supply of energy in the member states is different and, therefore, it is not all that easy to make progress as fast as my hon. Friend would like.

Does the Minister agree that he is contradicting himself in advocating some sort of common European policy when the Government are operating market forces? How does he relate the two?

No, I do not agree, because, as I said in my original answer, we are working towards 1992, when there will be transparency pricing, which is market policy.

Will the Community energy policy be anything like the common agricultural policy? For example, will those who wish to import coal have to deposit heavy levies, or, like generating companies which wish to use coal in the Community, will they be able to buy that coal from the cheapest source at the cheapest possible price?

No, Sir. It will not be precisely the same, for the reasons that I gave in my second answer, namely, that the supply of fossil fuels in this country is different from the supply in other member states.

Is the Minister satisfied that, in discussions about European energy policy, full cognisance has been taken of the need to allocate orders, for example, to the fabrication yards connected with the development of North sea oil? Is he aware of the concern among workers at Ardersier about the need for the allocation of early opportunities to develop platforms for the North sea?

I know that the hon. Lady is most concerned about fabrication yards and, as she knows, I visited the one to which she referred. As she will have read, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced an 11th round. We continue to make progress in the North sea in exploration and development, and that is for the medium and longer-term good of those fabrication yards.