10. What steps the Government are taking to support the oil and gas industry; and if she will make a statement. (900546)
The Government are committed to supporting the oil and gas industry, which is vital to our energy supply, as well as supporting 375,000 jobs across the UK. We are establishing the new Oil and Gas Authority, which is already helping industry to drive down costs and improve efficiencies. The Chancellor has also introduced strong fiscal measures to maintain and build investment.
The Aberdeen and Grampian chamber of commerce oil and gas survey showed that the industry believes that more needs to be done to increase exploration drilling, without which there will be no new projects. Will the Minister engage with the industry to develop proposals to incentivise exploration and protect long-term employment?
We are absolutely committed to that. The establishment of the Oil and Gas Authority under Dr Andy Samuel is a vital part of that. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government have provided some money for seismic studies to identify potential new finds. I assure him that we and the Oil and Gas Authority will be doing everything we can to support the very important work to maximise economic recovery from the North sea basin.
The oil and gas industry in the North sea faces very challenging times, and it is very important to the East Anglian economy. New Anglia local enterprise partnership is creating an oil and gas taskforce to support the industry in these difficult times. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State arrange for her Department to be represented on the taskforce, alongside my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis) and me?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning this to me. I had the great pleasure of speaking in Parliament at a recent east of England oil and gas meeting. I would be delighted to meet him to discuss this further, and if appropriate, we will certainly make sure that officials attend the meeting he mentions.