We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Orders of the Day — Electricity Bill

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am confused about what the hon. Gentleman is getting at. It is an advantage to have separate boards in Scotland and for the Scottish Office to have an operational overview, but the fundamental point remains that financial control of the electricity industry, as is the case with any other nationalised industry, ultimately derives from the Treasury, and the removal of such control will be a major benefit for those who are trying to run the industry.

My second point is that, since 1979, private shareholding in Scotland has doubled. That is a major achievement and an advance in giving people a stake in industries and businesses, but shareholding in Scotland is at a lower level than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Surely this is a major opportunity for Scots—for all practical purposes, every Scot is an individual customer of one or other board—to take a real stake in a major Scottish industry.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) has said that there is not enough money in Scotland to take a major stake in industry. He should walk around Charlotte square in his constituency and count the assets of financial institutions such as pension funds and life funds; he will then agree that a massive amount of money is controlled there. I hope that a proportion of it will also go into the new shareholding of the Scottish boards.

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will make the share offer favourable. I hope also that he will realise that this is an opportunity to make ownership by the people a reality, not the myth that it is under nationalisation. We hear a great deal from Opposition Members about ownership by the people. They equate ownership by the state with ownership by individual people. It is a myth. The individual has no control over a nationalised industry. Shareholding gives people a real stake.

The hon. Member for Garscadden spoke about the timing of the sale of the new companies. I hope that the Scottish companies will be privatised, if not immediately, which would be ideal, then as quickly as possible. Let us try to take the lead in Scotland. My right hon. and learned Friend has confirmed that there are debt matters and so on to be sorted out. Let that be done quickly, and let Scotland take the lead. This is an opportunity for a major expansion of private enterprise in Scotland and for Scots to have a real stake in a most important industry.