asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the disproportionately high charges made for electricity for industrial purposes by the Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board which are having a deterrent effect on new industries considering establishing themselves in the Merseyside Development Area in how many cases has this factor been represented to him as deciding industrial developers to establish their factories elsewhere; and if he will consult with the British Electricity Authority with a view to the reduction of these tariffs.
I am informed that a complaint has been made to the Ministry of Fuel and Power about electricity charges in the Merseyside area, but I would remind my hon. Friend that the Electricity Act, 1947, provides machinery for dealing with such complaints. I do not know of any case in which electricity charges have deterred an industrialist from establishing a factory in the area.
Will my hon. and learned Friend agree that the standard of electricity charges is a very important factor to be taken into account by intending industrialists? Is he further aware that the machinery for consumer consultation to which he referred in his answer is very ineffective? Would he do what he can to improve it to make it more effective?
I stated in my original answer that we knew of no case in which electricity charges had in fact deterred an industrialist from establishing a factory in the area. The question of the efficacy of the procedure under the Act is, of course, for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power and not for me.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that these increased charges are placing a very severe burden on industries which are already suffering badly? If I supply him with evidence that the cost per unit of electricity for some mills has trebled during the last four months, will he look into the case?