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Orders of the Day — Electricity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 13th December 1988.

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Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire 5:45 pm, 13th December 1988

I reside in the constituency of Glasgow, Govan and welcome the news given to the House by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson). I am a fairly typical constituent and I have no doubt that all the other constituents of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) will be as appalled as I am at the disgraceful and scornful way in which he clearly regards his duties in the House on behalf of his constituents. [Interruption.]

The Labour party has presented a wholly bogus argument about the need for separate Scottish legislation. However, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland clearly showed the case against that. It would be absurd to have two Bills, each with more than 100 clauses, when about 98 of those clauses would have been identical in both pieces of legislation. Some of the five or six separate Scottish clauses are simply technical.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) made a great deal of his allegation that there would be an absence of control by consumers in the new privatised undertakings. Of course, that is a good argument for him to become a shareholder, because with other shareholders he could exercise his power, if he thought it necessary, to remove the board of directors of the privatised company. He could do that if he and other shareholders were dissatisfied with the board's performance.

In the short time available to me, I should like to make two points. First, we are clearly transferring financial control from the centre to Scotland. The Opposition have not appreciated that. Of course the Scottish Office is the present sponsoring Department for the two boards, but in any nationalised industry, financial control ultimately rests with the Treasury in London. We are now moving towards control being exercised by the boards located in Scotland. A board will be able to make its own investment decisions unaffected by the necessary constraints that the Treasury under any Government must impose for its own reasons. That is true, even under a Labour Government.