§ MR. THORNE
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Public Control Committee of the London County Council have given permission to the Gas Light and Coke Company to reimpose meter rents at a cost to the consumers of London of about £60,000 per annum; and whether, in view of the pledge given by the Gas Light and Coke Company that meter rents, which had been abolished in 1905, should not be re-imposed, he intends taking any action in the matter.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I understand that the London County Council have acquiesced in the proposal of the Gas Light and Coke Company to modify the understanding made with the Council in 1903 so as to permit them to reimpose meter rents (which were discontinued in 1895) at an estimated cost to consumers of about £60,000 per annum in lieu of raising the price of gas. This has been done subject to the company giving an undertaking that the authorised dividend shall in future be calculated as if the price of their gas were 1d. per 1,000 cubic feet higher than that actually charged; that the price of gas to the company's ordinary consumers north of the Thames will not be increased beyond the present price of 2s. 11d. per 1,000 cubic feet for a period of one year; and that the annual meter charge for a three-light meter shall not exceed 1s. 8d. per annum. The company appear to be acting within their statutory powers and the Board of Trade do not seem to have any authority to intervene. I understand that the Public Control Committee of the London County 1175 Council were influenced in their recommendation by the fact that the poorer class of consumers who use automatic meters will not be affected by the change.