Gas Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 12:00 am, 9th March 1994

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the regulation of the gas industry.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

Together with the Office of Gas Supply, I will shortly issue a consultation paper on the future regulation of the gas industry.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

Is the Minister aware that, for a little more than 10 years, British Gas has operated a domestic meter replacement programme, which has undoubtedly been in the interests of the domestic consumer? Will he assure the House that, as that programme has begun to slip, he will take steps to ensure that the consumer interest is served, and British Gas returns to the programme that it originally promised?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern, which relates particularly to a factory in his constituency. As he knows, this is a matter for British Gas and Ofgas, and I understand that discussions are in progress.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce , South Dorset

How has regulation of the gas industry compared with the days of public ownership, in terms of the delivery of better service and lower prices? Can anything be learned from our other denationalised industries?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

Since privatisation, domestic gas prices have fallen by more than 23 per cent. and industrial prices by more than 30 per cent. in real terms.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Is the Minister fully committed to ensuring that the Energy Saving Trust works effectively? If so, what steps will he take to ensure that the gas industry contributes financially to the trust, so that it can save energy, rather than allowing it to go on being wasted as it is now?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I understand the importance that is attached to energy efficiency. The achievement of carbon savings by that means is one of our Rio commitments. Discussions are in progress with all interested parties.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston

Is the Minister aware of the widespread disappointment that three of British Gas's five new business headquarters are located in the south-east, and that the furthest north is in Nottingham? Can he think of any reason, for business purposes, why British Gas should not put one of its headquarters in the region from which the gas comes, or where the majority of consumers are? Will he press British Gas—if it does not wish to become South-East Gas—to distribute its new area headquarters in the north, Scotland and Wales, to provide a regional identity that matches some of its loyal customers in those regions?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

Coming from the party that set up many of the nationalised industries, all of which had their headquarters in London, that is pure humbug.