I am sorry for that, Mr Speaker, but it is what happens when we do not expect to be called.
The Secretary of State will be well aware that the oil and gas industry is a global one and that its European headquarters is in my constituency. He will also be aware of the serious problem of skills shortages, and of the fact that the industry depends on the skilled people it can bring in from other countries and on exporting our knowledge. What is he doing to assist with the removal of the cap, which is seriously damaging the oil and gas industry and other industries in this country?
Oil & Gas UK has submitted replies to both consultations run by the Home Office and the Migration Advisory Committee. The consultation responses are now being considered and early outcomes are expected before the end of December. Lin Homer, the UK Border Agency chief executive, met representatives of the oil and gas sector on
I remind the House of my entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests as a shareholder of Shell. May I reinforce to the Minister the concerns in that global industry now that it is so much into the export market? Not only is there the problem of work permits and getting people into this country, but, because of the way we treat people coming to this country, it is more difficult to get skilled people into other countries where we have an export market.
I take the hon. Gentleman's points on board. He will recognise that the potential of the industry has been recognised again this morning with a statement to the House about the potential award of 144 seaward production licences in the 26th oil and gas licensing round.