asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied that the policy of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and other nationalised boards in offering cheap and free connections for a new house, provided all services in the house are run on their particular product, is fair to the consumer; and if he will make a statement.
Neither of the Scottish Electricity Boards makes the exclusive use of electricity a condition of cheap or free connection to the supply. They relate connection charges to the expected revenue. However, the matter has been raised with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power in respect of England and Wales and my right hon. Friend will be considering with him whether a change in the present arrangements is called for generally.
I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that this is rather a serious point, because one thing for which a nationalised industry comes under fire is if it is inconsistent in its operations in different parts of the country? Is he aware that I get more letters about variations in connection charges than about anything else, and that although it is important that a nationalised industry should adopt the best methods of private enterprise, it is also important that it does not appear to be inconsistent in its actions in different parts of the country?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman. He will know that a number of my hon. Friends, and some hon. Members opposite, have been raising this matter from time to time. There are consultative councils in both areas which are enjoined to look at applications to revise tariffs from time to time, and it is to these councils that the inquiries which Members of Parliament seem to be receiving ought to be addressed. It is through them that the most effective pressure may be put on the Board for which, as I have said, my right hon. Friend is not in statute bound.