Electricity Charges, Merseyside

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Thompson Mr Kenneth Thompson , Liverpool, Walton 12:00 am, 22nd July 1952

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.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

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.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Thompson Mr Kenneth Thompson , Liverpool, Walton

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?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

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.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

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?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

I think that in the first place the hon. Member should use the machinery provided under the Electricity Act.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, there are more than 20 Questions on the Order Paper addressed to the President of the Board of Trade, mostly from hon. Members on the Government back benches. May we know where the President of the Board of Trade is? Has he resigned?