Fuel and Electricity (Control)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th December 1974.

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Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley 12:00 am, 9th December 1974

Listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) gives me the impression that this is a very serious debate. It is one of the most serious debates that we could have. I am wondering what business people will think when they read reports of this debate. The impression which is given is that industry is indifferent to the use of fuel and that it uses much more of it than is required to run industry. In fact, the purpose of the order is to control the use of fuel by people who are using it carelessly.

It would seem that fuel is far too cheap. It worries me that we should be so inefficient in our use of fuel that that impression should be given.

People use power carelessly. They may switch on an electric light which they do not need and have lights blazing in four or five rooms, but that happens at night when the needs of industry are not so great. It is the daytime misuse of power that is of importance to industry.

We are going through a period when power is in short supply, but when I listen to Opposition spokesmen I wonder whether there is an oil crisis. We have had an oil crisis for 12 months, and the Conservatives brought in restrictions which were of no avail. When I remember the three-day week and how it hurt industry I wonder whether the Conservatives are concerned about the needs of the nation or are pursuing some capitalistic policy against the Labour Government.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in Saudi Arabia trying to ease the oil supply position, which is the main cause of the crisis. Increased oil prices such as we have had in the last 12 months cause havoc in countries which have no oil supply of their own. Many under-developed and developing countries are in a worse plight than we are.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost) talked about nuclear power, but he said nothing about nuclear waste, which might greatly harm future generations. In years to come I believe that nuclear power will be the world's main source of energy, but we must do more research on nuclear waste. Unless we do, we shall pass on to future generations terrible harm which we shall not ourselves experience.