Fuel Supplies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East 12:00 am, 5th December 1973

Is the Secretary of State aware that his statement and the measures contained in it will do little to reassure the people, who seem to be much more aware of the gravity of the oil crisis than he is?

Will he please answer these questions? Do the Government know about, and control, all oil shipments leaving this country made by oil companies, and has he power to stop them? Are oil and petrol still being exported without control to the EEC either directly or by juggernaut lorries topping up before they leave the country?

Are independent garages, which report cuts well above the 10 per cent. to 13 per cent., being squeezed out by the oil companies? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of any hoarding of petrol by either companies or garages in the hope of price increases, as this might be contributing towards the present difficulties? How can the disabled and other categories of people be protected without direct rationing measures?

What cutbacks does the Minister expect in industrial production as a result of the oil situation and what will be the effect on the rate of growth—or does he stick to his forecasts of steady expansion in 1974? Will there be further economy measures by tax changes or in other ways to control inflation?

Is it true that today a Department of Trade and Industry mission is leaving for Japan to promise the Japanese a share in North Sea oil if they are prepared to make an investment in it now?