§ 28. Mr. Barnett
asked the Minister of Technology when he expects to receive the report of the independent inquiry into north sea gas conversions; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
I asked Professor Morton to prepare his report as soon as possible consistently with making a thorough investigation, but am not able to estimate when this will be.
§ Mr. Barnett
I again thank my right hon. Friend for agreeing to the inquiry, and I am sure that all of us hope that the result will ensure that a great national asset will be used fully for the benefit of the public. Would my right hon. Friend stress to Professor Morton the need for 964 urgency in presenting this report, so that the public's genuine fears can be allayed? Meanwhile, is the disquiet about conversions being relieved in any way by any change in conversion procedures?
§ Mr. Lever
On the first part of that question, I asked Professor Morton to let us have the report as soon as possible, but of course, not at the expense of thoroughness. As to conversions, we are continuing the conversions and intensifying the effort to mitigate the inconvenience which these cause, temporarily, to consumers.
§ Mr. Emery
Would the hon. Gentleman confirm that this inquiry will look into the whole problem of conversions? Judging from the answer which the Parliamentary Secretary gave me the other day, that was not apparent from the terms of reference given to the professor. When this report is given to him, will the right hon. Gentleman make certain that it is published?
§ Sir J. Eden
Will there be any opportunity for individuals to give evidence to the professor during the inquiry? Despite his last answer, would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the possibility of widening the scope of the inquiry, so that those who are really concerned about the conduct of the conversion operation have a chance to put their case?
§ Mr. Lever
This was to be an inquiry into all the safety aspects of natural gas, and I see no reason to widen the terms of reference. They are wide enough and could not be clearer. As to giving evidence, that is a matter for the professor himself to decide, although I do not doubt that he would want to enjoy an opportunity of having any relevant evidence, orally or in writing, as he may determine.