Gas and Electricity Industries (Finance)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Power – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Bristol Central 12:00 am, 25th May 1965

asked the Minister of Power what steps he is taking, in view of the rapid increase in the sales of gas, to bring about more realistic competition with electricity by placing both industries in the same fiscal position in the matter of expected return on capital.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

This is a matter for consideration as part of the review I am conducting of fuel policy. The results of that review will be taken into account when the existing five-year financial objectives come up for reexamination.

Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Bristol Central

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Would he not agree that if there is to be realistic competition between the secondary fuel industries they should carry roughly equal financial burdens and that the electricity industry is at present carrying more than the gas industry?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has in mind, but in the terms of the White Paper on the Financial and Economic Obligations of the Nationalised Industries certain objectives were agreed in consultation with each industry for an experimental period of five years, which ends in May, 1967. It would not be advantageous to attempt to change those objectives during the course of that five-year period.

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Rugby

Is the Minister telling the House that the ultimate purpose of the Government is to raise the price of gas to the level of that of electricity?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

If the hon. Gentleman believes that he will believe anything.