Nationalised Industries

Oral Answers to Questions — Prices and Consumer Protection – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1976.

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Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor , South Norfolk 12:00 am, 12th April 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what representations her Department has received from consumer bodies about the effect upon consumers of recent proposed increases in charges in the public sector; and what action she has taken in the light of these representations.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

My right hon. Friend receives representations about the effect of public sector prices from the nationalised industry consumer councils as well as other interested consumer bodies; the Government take these fully into account when considering all proposed price increases.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor , South Norfolk

Has the Minister seen the constructive report from the Post Office Users' National Council on the proposed increases in parcel post charges which argues that on commercial grounds these charges may be fraught with danger and urges deferment for six months pending discussions with large users? In view of the effect that these increases will have on many industries, which will come straight through in prices to very many consumers, ought not the Secretary of State to be pitching her weight behind the representations to defer the increases for six months?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

I have seen the recommendations of the POUNC on this. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the reply of the Minister of State, Department of Industry on this subject, he being the responsible Minister. I am afraid that the problem will not be resolved by mere deferral, though the arguments put forward by the POUNC are weighty and are being given careful consideration.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Central

Is my hon. Friend aware that very considerable difficulties are placed in the way of gas consumers because of the decision of gas offices to remove their telephone numbers from local telephone directories, so that it is impossible now for anyone to get in touch with his local gas office?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point, and I shall certainly look at it.

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

Did the hon. Gentleman notice the specific criticism of of the POUNC of the refusal of the Post Office to make information available to it? What does he intend to do about that?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

That is one matter being considered. But the hon. Gentleman will realise that the Corporation is not answerable to any Minister for points of internal management.