§ The Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)
I intend to develop ways by which a much wider public than at present can participate in the formulation of energy policy, but 7 before deciding how best to do this I shall take account of any views expressed by participants in the conference.
§ Mr. Benn
I am considering even at this stage how we may follow up the conference. Large numbers of people, including, for example, the CBI, representing industrialists, and consumer organisations which have felt excluded from energy policy-making, have asked to come. As it is, about 435 invitations are out. After that, we shall have to decide how to proceed. My own belief is that by proceeding in this way we are more likely to reach a consensus, and I am anxious to build upon a consensus, which we must do if we are to make sense of our policy.
§ Mr. Benn
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Energy Bill flows from international obligations and is in part the successor of the Fuel and Electricity (Control) Act 1973 introduced by the Government he supported. If we are to make sense of energy policy, the hon. Gentleman will have to accept that on-going decisions have to be taken. We want to open up the options for the future. I hope that the conference will help us to do that in a meaningful way.
§ Mr. Madden
As the conflicting personalities and policies of the energy industries are once again emerging from private into public, does the Secretary of State think that the time is fast approaching for the establishment of an energy commission responsible for all the energy produced in this country and the allocation of resources?
§ Mr. Benn
The last session of the conference is to consider how energy policy should be formulated, but I hope 8 the understandable Press interest in the conflicts of policy that are known will not obscure the fact that the development of a sound energy policy is of great interest to this country and everyone who lives in it. I am sure that all those who come to the conference, including the leaders of the industries, the unions and others, will wish to contribute constructively, and this will make it possible to build new forms of policy-making for the future.