My Department recognises the importance of financing considerations. It is not for me to encourage any particular method of raising finance for Continental Shelf development. The Department will take what action it properly can to facilitate the provision of finance, as the recent Claymore and Tricentrol transactions show.
As between £8 billion and £10 billion will probably be needed to finance development up to 1980, will the hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that his Department will do everything possible to encourage private financing as well as other forms of financing in the North Sea? Further, will he look favourably on such imaginative developments as the idea of syndicates of insurance companies and pension funds to provide finance for offshore oil?
Yes. My Department keeps in close touch with the financial community in order to play a constructive rôle in transactions where consent is needed and to ensure that Government policy is not misunderstood. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of considerable funding of finance coming from United States bankers to help oil companies at present.
I shall most certainly not give that assurance to the House. The BNOC has an important rôle to play. Indeed, it is empowered to give loans and guarantees, subject to Government consent. Occasions could arise when the BNOC could fruitfully make use of its powers and considerably assist the development of British oilfields.