My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industrial Development met a delegation of Members on 8th June. The discussion centred mainly on the negotiations in Brussels between the EEC and the non-candidate EFTA countries insofar as they relate to the paper and board industries. My right hon. Friend confirmed that the Government have been and will continue to be in close and constant touch with the United Kingdom paper and board industry about these negotiations.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that comprehensive reply. However, will not he concede that this is an industry which is likely to call upon the Government in relation to the provisions of the Industry Bill? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that, in relation to the firm of Wiggins Teape, he will give no assistance unless the closure notice is withdrawn in respect of the firm in my constituency which is a subsidiary of that company?
I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's interest in this closure. All I can tell him is that I have had no request from the company for assistance under the Industry Bill, should it be enacted in due course.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who met our right hon. Friend the Minister for Industrial Development recently to discuss these problems were greatly encouraged to learn about the Government's positive line in the EEC negotiations on matters affecting the industry? On the domestic front, what consideration has my right hon. Friend been able to give to the industry's fuel oil costs?
The whole question of energy costs is under close consideration at the moment. I am grateful for what my hon. Friend said about our consultations with the industry. In these negotiations with the Community, we are seeking strongly to defend the interests of the industry.