Eec (Energy Policy)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th February 1975.

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Photo of Mr Eric Varley Mr Eric Varley , Chesterfield 12:00 am, 11th February 1975

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, for it gives me the opportunity to say that it is sometimes forgotten by those in Europe that we already have the largest nuclear programme, in the sense that 10 per cent. of our electricity is already generated from nuclear power. That is a higher figure than that in any of the other Community countries. I very much hope that the advanced gas-cooled reactor programme will begin to come on stream quickly and make a contribution. The Government believe that the SGHWR should be built up as quickly as possible. That programme has been described as a modest programme of 4,000 megawatts, which will perhaps come on stream in the early 1980s. But I hope that before the first SGHWR is commissioned we can take stock of the situation in 1977–78 to see whether that programme can be improved. When one looks at the British nuclear programme in relation to Europe, there is nothing at all to complain about.

The next document is COM(74) 1961, "Community Policy in the Hydrocarbons Sector". That paper has six main themes: rational use of oil and gas; development of Community resources; control of imports and exports; investment policy; price policy; and Community measures in supply difficulties. Much of this paper is conventional Commission thinking. But we cannot accept the idea of Community arrangements if Governments do not adopt liberal policies for offshore development; common rules for imports and exports of oil and gas; price policy which went beyond transparency towards harmonisation; and Community measures for dealing with an oil crisis—especially that point—which do not accord with the International Energy Agency emergency oil-sharing scheme. But in any case, contrary to my expectations at the time that I tabled the explanatory memorandum, the draft resolution attached to the paper will not be put forward for discussion on 13th February, and as far as I know there are at present no plans for discussion of it in Brussels.