Oil Supplies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th June 1979.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford 12:00 am, 11th June 1979

The cuts imposed by certain oil companies have been unacceptably high in relation to the overall shortfall that I described earlier. That is why I said that, although there has been an average shortfall of 5 per cent.—that includes the amount taken off for stockpiling because stockpiling for the winter is obviously vital—in some areas, because some companies have been unevenly hit by the Iranian crisis, there has been a much greater shortfall. I have been pressing the oil industry—I do not think I mentioned any document, with respect to my hon. Friend—to take action to meet the substantial disparities between one oil supplier and another. It cannot be right that some customers have all their needs fulfilled and more besides when others, such as the garages mentioned by my hon. Friend, are in great difficulties. I believe those difficulties are being overcome and can be further overcome.

If my hon. Friend finds the difficulties and unevenness persisting, I urge him, or the specific garages, to get in touch with their suppliers, to try other suppliers if that is not satisfactory or to come to the Department of Energy and we shall sort it out. That seems to me a sensible way of handling the matter. I cannot see that that is a reason for issuing a mass of national Government priorities—I know that my hon. Friend is not suggesting that, but others are—and saddling the country with a gigantic apparatus. I do not know what the love of Opposition Members is for this type of bureaucracy. It costs a great deal of money.