Oil Prices

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th October 1976.

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Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove 12:00 am, 25th October 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations have been made by him to OPEC about an increase in the price of oil.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock and Port Glasgow

Her Majesty's Government have not made recent representations on oil prices.

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove

What kind of balance should be struck with regard to oil pricing generally between Britain's long-term interest as an oil producer and our present position as a heavy consumer? Is it still the Government's intention to press the EEC for a minimum floor price for oil, currently quoted at $7 per barrel?

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock and Port Glasgow

The answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is "Yes". Last week my right hon. Friend persuaded the Council of Energy Ministers to look at this matter in greater detail, in the hope that we would reach agreement by the end of this year, but that remains to be seen.

Regarding the other matter, we must consider not only the position of the United Kingdom but the conditions that will inflict themselves on many of the poorer, less developed nations if OPEC raises its price substantially.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in view of the uncertainty surrounding the future of oil prices, it is essential that indigenous fuel resources, such as that recently found in the Vale of Belvoir coalfield, should be exploited as quickly as possible, with due regard being paid to the relevant environmental factors?

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock and Port Glasgow

Yes. I very much agree with my hon. Friend.

Photo of Peter Viggers Peter Viggers , Gosport

When are we proposing to apply to join OPEC, and will our attitude then change?

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock and Port Glasgow

In order to qualify, we would have to comply with the OPEC rule that one-half of our entire exports is in oil. We have a long way to go before we achieve that position.