asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now proceed to establish formal consultation machinery between the Government, the fishing industry and any oil company with proposals to lay pipelines on the sea bed.
Is my hon. Friend aware that so far all we have had from the Government on this matter has been words? While we are grateful for their sympathy and good wishes, will my hon. Friend acknowledge that we are all interventionists now and that this is a matter in which the Government can play a direct part in helping to allay the fears of the fishing industry by establishing this machinery?
There has been a great deal more than words. My hon. Friend must remember that of the developers BP, which is the only company with a definitely projected pipeline, has already had meetings with the inshore fishermen and the Scottish Trawlers Federation. Later this week I shall be meeting the Scottish Trawlers Federation. I certainly accept what my hon. Friend says about the need for proper consultation.
I have not received representations but the Scottish Office responds speedily to inquiries from Scottish firms about developments in the oil industry. The recent trade mission to Houston, Texas, sponsored by the North-East Scotland Development Authority and with 45 firms represented is a good example of a Scottish initiative.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Scottish industry is awaiting with interest the publication of the IMEG report before Christmas? Will he assure us that when the report is published alongside it there will be a detailed statement of the Government's reaction to the report indicating how they will ensure that Scottish industry gets a fair share of the market for goods and services associated with North Sea oil? Will he also assure us that he has not ruled out the possibility of setting up a North Sea Oil Board?
In view of the complexity of all these issues, including the contribution of Scottish industry, will the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that what is necessary is a White Paper and that we cannot continue to be fobbed off with annual reports and other glossy documents?
Governments continue to pour White Papers on Parliament. In this case, as the hon. Gentleman knows, because it was announced by a Minister, a report is to be published in the very near future, which will be the most convenient way of dealing with this kind of information.
Will my right hon. Friend accept that the announcement of an annual report was widely welcomed in Scotland? Also, will he not allow the Opposition to under-value what is hap- pening in particular in the North-East of Scotland where there are 125 new companies and 175 companies which have diversified, with 1,500 new jobs and another 5,500 in prospect?
Things have moved very fast in the North and North-East of Scotland in the last year and a half, which is since commercial quantities of oil were discovered, and it would be a pity if we appeared to devalue what had been done.