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Orders of the Day — Electricity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 13th December 1988.

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Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Secretary of State for Scottish Office 4:28 pm, 13th December 1988

The hon. Gentleman confirms my point, that state control and central planning have not led to a rational distribution in the provision of electricity capacity, which the hon. Member for Sedgefield implied was the purpose of nationalisation in the first place.

The third factor is that, as long as an industry is ultimately controlled by the state and by Ministers, there will inevitably be political interference in the running of that industry. That has been the experience of all nationalised industries, whether under a Labour or a Conservative Government.

One of the electricity industry's crucial requirements is that, as with every other industry in the private sector in the United Kingdom, it should be able to make its own investment decisions based on its investment needs and on the resources that it can raise in order to fund that investment. But the House must be aware that, under successive Governments over many years, the borrowing limits of nationalised industries have in part been determined by their investment requirements and in part by the Government's overall public expenditure policy. It must be the case that the electricity industry, unlike those in the private sector, has been penalised in that it has not been able to plan on the basis of its requirements exactly what its investment requirements may be.