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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

It is possible for anyone wishing to introduce new generation to seek to do so. They must obtain a licence from the director general. The rules governing the provision of such a licence in Scotland will be no different from those elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Whether, in the next few years, anyone is likely to wish to invest in a new nuclear power station in Scotland is another example of a hypothetical question. The legal procedure to be followed is clear.

As hon. Members will have seen from the Bill and the information provided with it, the capital restructuring that may be required in Scotland is significant, and different from that in England and Wales. Largely as a consequence of the over-provision of capacity in Scotland, there is a high level of debt there. It stands at £2,700 million at present. As the House will have seen, the Bill provides for the Secretary of State to have the power, if he so chooses, to convert some of that debt into equity or debentures or to alter the capital structure of the companies in question before flotation takes place. No decisions have been reached on that at present, but those matters will have to be addressed in order to ensure that important public assets are dealt with in a responsible and constructive way.

I shall now deal with the opportunities that will exist for Scotland and many English regions as a result of privatisation.