The National Oil Account

Part of Orders of the Day — Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-Lines Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th November 1975.

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Photo of Mr John Hannam Mr John Hannam , Exeter 12:00 am, 5th November 1975

I find it very disappointing that, despite the magnitude of the financial crisis facing the country, the Government should still conduct these doctrinaire and ideological arguments. In this debate about the National Oil Account we have another symptom of what I call the Socialist disease. We have the National Oil Account or what is known in the industry as the "Oil Slush Fund". We find ourselves committed to a State oil company which, even before it has started, has resulted in a slowing up in North Sea oil developments.

The Government, having set up the BNOC, begin to take fright at the costs in which they will be involved in obtaining their 51 per cent. participation. Thinking of the number of Finance Bills which would have to be passed through the House to obtain consent for the thousands of millions of pounds which will be required to obtain the 51 per cent. participation, the Government had to think of another dodge to present to Parliament in order to try to avoid the reality of these sums coming home to the people in the country. The dodge is the National Oil Account. The account is designed to grab hold of the royalties and the revenue and feed them back on the BNOC for the Government, who are hungry for their 51 per cent. participation. The borrowing requirement of £2½ billion is apparently being reduced by this device to about £900 million, which appears in the Bill. The deception is in the Financial Memorandum, which refers to the £900 million limit on the borrowing. I hope that Ministers will listen to these points, because they are important.