The United Kingdom's business secretary has said a proposed bill before Nigerian lawmakers to overhaul the nation's oil industry is important and should not focus on benefits to foreign firms working in the country.

The comments Monday by Vince Cable come as Western nations and oil firms have cautioned Nigeria about putting too many new taxes and burdens on oil firms working in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta.

Cable said: "The issue here is not what is good for the oil industry, but what best helps (Nigeria) maximize its potential." That comes despite repeated criticisms of the bill by officials of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other companies.

Cable is a member of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner to the Conservatives in Britain's coalition government.