asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far the consumption of electricity in London has gone down owing to voluntary and other economies; how far tariffs have been increased to meet consequent loss of revenue; and whether he will devise a means of preventing the public from being thus obliged to pay for their efforts at economy?
It is not possible to assess precisely the many different factors affecting the consumption of electricity under war-time conditions and I cannot therefore give a precise reply to the first two parts of the Question. As regards the last part, electricity supply undertakings have not, since June, 1941, made any increases in their charges without the approval of the Government and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the only grounds on which such approval is given is when the increases are unavoidably necessary to enable the undertaking to continue its function of maintaining supplies essential for the life of the community.
The hon. Gentleman has used the word "unavoidable." Does he consider it is right that the public should be asked to economise in electricity while at the same time tariff rates are put up; in other words that they should have to pay for their own economy?
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman can take it that there has been no great increase in the charges for electricity due to economy. He will also recall that there were complaints about minimum charges being excessive when they were about 15s. per quarter. An order was made later altering that to 25s. a year, which was certainly an advantage to small consumers.