asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that ordinary consumers in the Highland area are unable to afford the capital charges made for electricity connections; and whether he will give a direction to the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to divert a proportion of the 68 per cent. of their sales income, now employed in payment of interest on capital and loans and the redemption of capital and depreciation, towards the reduction of connection charges.
The Board has made representations to me about the problem of connecting potential consumers in less accessible parts of its area and I hope shortly to discuss the problem with it. As regards the second part of the Question, I have explained to the hon. Member that to give such a direction would in effect be to require the Board to disregard the statutory provisions under which it operates.
Can the Secretary of State inform the House of any other concern in the history of the world where 68 per cent. of the gross income has been used in this way, and is it not the case that all or most of the capital has been provided by the Government who are fully secured moneylenders? Is it not wrong to deny electricity to crofters and other people living in the Highlands year after year while these extortionate demands for connections and vast sums of money are paid out in the service of capital?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman realises that the implications of what he is saying raise very profound principles. I should not like to comment on them at short notice. I would refer him to what I said in the earlier part of my Answer.