An across-the-board 5 per cent. reduction is already an accepted and agreed target with the EEC Ministers, as it is with the International Energy Agency countries as well. Different national programmes, including our own, are directed at achieving demand restraint and a cut in demand of that order in the present year.
Of course, we must see that the needs of British industry and the consumer are met. That is certainly my determination, but we intend to do it in line with our international and EEC obligations. I think that that is the right way forward. I believe that we shall make more progress on that basis than by, as it were, declaring war on the EEC the whole time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explore with the European energy Ministers how they have managed to prevent the oil companies from putting their customers on to allocation while in Britain the oil companies have put their customers on to allocation?
I shall be making a statement on precisely this point later today, if I have your permission, Mr. Speaker, and certainly I shall expand upon it then. But the hon. Member is right. The position which the new Government faced when we came into office on 4 May was very unsatisfactory. It does not meet aims of the kind that I wish to see for British industry and for the British people.
I share the thought behind my hon. Friend's question. I have had discussions with other energy Ministers in the EEC. On behalf of EEC Ministers collectively, in the role of the presidency, the French energy Minister flew to Washington to make the strongest possible representations and to point out the dangers of unilateral action of this kind.
I should like to make progress in an EEC context on the production of coal. I believe that we stand a better chance, although I am sure the right hon. Gentleman understands the difficulties, if we start from the proposition that it is in our national interest to work with the EEC rather than against the EEC.