§ Mr. Gray
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House announced on 26 March, we intend to reintroduce the Petroleum and Continental Shelf Bill in its present form with a high degree of priority in the next Session.
§ Mr. Eggar
I am grateful for that reply. Is my hon. Friend aware that many Conservative Members are extremely disappointed by the decision not to go ahead with the implementation of that measure? Will he confirm that that Bill did not in any way reduce the powers of Government over the control of our North Sea assets?
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
Does the Minister accept that the powers given to the Secretary of State by the Bill will be regarded favourably in East Europe? Will he re-examine the Bill, because it gives far too many powers to a Secretary of State of any party?
§ Mr. Gray
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that the Labour Government set up the British National Oil Corporation and gave substantial powers to the Secretary of State. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that the powers in the Bill are too extensive he will have plenty of opportunity to amend them at the appropriate time.
§ Mr. Renton
In view of the delays, will my hen. Friend seriously consider extending the Bill so that private capital can be invested in British Gas? Would not that be a good way of making British Gas more responsible to its wide public since shareholders are better watchdogs than any Select Committee or consumers' council?