At their meeting on 17th September, the Council of Foreign Ministers adopted a resolution on energy in which they affirmed their willingness to develop a Community energy policy and decided to hold a Council on energy before the end of 1974. This is being arranged for December and I hope to attend it.
In view of the enormous potential which Britain has on energy policy, will my right hon. Friend consider taking a lead at the conference, particularly on research in which we have some competence, because people of this country do not wish to be in the position they were in last year of being blackmailed by the Arabs over our fuel supplies?
I take my hon. Friend's advice. On his last point I draw his attention to the international energy programme and the energy agency which the Government believe will help to meet the circumstances my hon. Friend has described.
Does the Secretary of State accept that one of the considerable advantages that this country can gain from membership of the EEC is the opportunity to participate in a common policy to meet the energy crisis? At the meeting which is to take place before the end of the year, will the right hon. Gentleman do his utmost to ensure that this matter is not delayed or soft-pedalled pending the result of the renegotiation of other matters?
We intend to play a constructive part in energy policy in Europe and we shall consider all the proposals realistically without in any way taking action which will weaken our own position.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that certain decisions have been taken by the EEC on the question of a common energy policy for Europe which seem to be in direct conflict with the statements by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The European document "Industry and Society" of 5th November 1974, No. 39/74, says:
The European Commission has just authorised the British, German"—
The Commission has apparently just authorised the coal industries of France, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and Holland to be subsidised for commercial losses. That is in direct conflict with the policy which was enunciated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I should like to know what my right hon. Friend thinks of a common energy policy which cuts directly across the British Government's financial policy.
I am not aware of or familiar with the point my hon. Friend has raised. We have not entered into any commitments at the moment. We are examining a variety of proposals. Of course, we shall take into account what our European partners have to say and we shall decide in the light of those discussions whether we can co-operate further.