Orders of the Day — European Community (Energy Programme and Nuclear Proposals)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:04 pm on 5th February 1980.

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Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport 11:04 pm, 5th February 1980

When we have a full day's debate we can debate energy policy. The last Labour Government were extremely zealous in protecting British interests on the United Kingdom continental shelf. We made it clear that in the areas of oil, coal and overall energy policy we were not prepared to cede sovereignty. That does not mean that there is not a case for a Community energy policy, particularly in a crisis. It is important that we agree that if the Community and the rest of the world are plunged into an acute oil crisis there should be sharing arrangements.

I have argued for a tough depletion policy. I hope that the Secretary of State will tell us what that will be. If we adopt a tough depletion policy under which we shall not export more oil than is necessary to achieve net self-sufficiency and we are faced with a severe cut in oil supplies, it will be in our interests to increase our production. As a manufacturing nation, we would suffer deeply from an economic recession affecting not only our Community partners but all the industrialised West. We cannot adopt an energy policy which is totally selfish and which fails to take account of the Community States. Equally, we should not forgo the right to make our own decisions, particularly on the continental shelf.