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The Secretary of State was uncharacteristically churlish when he described what he had inherited in the industries that we are discussing. I remember well the situation in which privatisation first took place, because I had the honour of serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary to my noble Friend Lord Parkinson, who was then Secretary of State for Energy. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire (Sir M. Spicer) was the Minister of State at the same time, and no doubt he will seek to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
At that time, the nationalised industries provided a poor service to the consumer. In fact, they did not care much about the consumer. They provided their services at high cost, and there was no attempt to modernise the industries in the way that they were being modernised in other parts of the world.
When we first suggested privatising energy industries, Opposition Members opposed it in principle, but they also claimed that it would not work. They said, "You can't possibly privatise a monopoly supplier and introduce competition into the process." Well, it did work, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as recently as 1996, held this country out as an example of how it should be done. What we did was not perfect, because we were pioneering at the time. We were doing things that people did not believe to be possible.