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Orders of the Day — Electricity Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:07 pm on 13th December 1988.

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Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield 9:07 pm, 13th December 1988

I have listened to this debate over the past two days, but I have not yet heard anyone raise the question of safety and nuclear power. I have heard many contributions, particularly from Conservative Members.

I am perhaps nearly the oldest member in the Chamber at the moment—and I am not speaking about you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not trying to drag you into this argument. I remember the days as a lad when we had candles and oil lamps. I was born in 1926 so I remember all that. We also had gas, but we did not have electricity. It was around but only if one could afford it. It was there, but what happened? The electricity suppliers were not bothered about expansion; they were concerned only about pouring money into their pockets through profits.

The Secretary of State for Energy wants to take us back to the Victorian era, and we ain't going. I will tell him that straight. The Secretary of State had better watch out when the Bill goes upstairs to Committee because I will be a member of that Committee. I will be whipping that Bill for the Opposition and I want to see the Secretary of State in his place every time we sit. I am sure that we shall have a good argument in Committee.

Competition has been mentioned time and time again, but it has not yet been proved to me where the competition will be. There will be one industry that provides electricity, as there is today. I welcomed the election of a Labour Government in 1945, and they were a marvellous Government. They saved the electricity industry and they expanded it nationwide, so that everyone who wanted electricity could have it.

The hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) spoke about electricity. All he knew about it when he was a baby and had nappies on was that he put his hand on the wall and switched on the light. That was not the case when I was a kid. All he had to do was to switch on an electric heater, but we had to hug ourselves to keep warm. I remember the days of trams. When the track was being relaid, we would get the wooden blocks to burn for warmth. These lads do not know anything about that because they were not born then. The Secretary of State can take the grin off his face or I shall knock it off in Committee—by God, I shall.

I have had few moments to myself over the past two days because I have been busy on the Front Bench whipping the Bill. The House will hear the reports of the success that we shall have in the argument in Committee. We shall not win the vote, but we shall win the argument, and the Secretary of State and his team will see that what they have produced in the Bill is not what the British public wants.