HC Deb 21 June 1939 vol 348 cc2218-9
40. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the high prices charged for electricity in rural and semi-rural areas as compared with urban areas; and what steps he proposes to ensure that consumers in some parts of the country shall not be charged a price which may be many times greater than that charged to consumers elsewhere?

The Minister of Transport (Captain Euan Wallace)

As long as the actual prices which supply authorities charge are within the limits of their authorised maximum I have no jurisdiction to alter them. For economic reasons it is to be expected that under present conditions charges in rural areas should normally be higher than in urban areas. The Government proposals for the reorganisation of distribution contemplate that rural areas should as far as possible be grouped with urban areas with a view to mitigating these differences.

Mr. De la B ère

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me what has become of the Government's pledge to introduce a measure of reorganisation of the electricity supply industry of the country? Is he aware that the Government definitely pledged themselves to end the electricity muddle once for all?

Captain Wallace

If my hon. Friend will look at the reply I gave to a question on 3rd May, he will see that the Government regard this matter as one of major importance, with which they propose to deal as soon as circumstances permit.

Mr. T. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the legislation is likely to be forthcoming, and whether it will provide a measure of justice for the rural areas?

Captain Wallace

I cannot add anything to the very carefully considered answer I gave a few weeks ago.

41. Mr. De la B ère

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the fact that much-needed electricity supplies are frequently denied to potential consumers in rural areas, and particularly to the farming community, by the high prices required for conveying the current to these persons' premises and the heavy guarantee required in respect of consumption; and if he will take steps to secure that the suppliers reduce such charges and make electricity available much more generally in the country districts?

Captain Wallace

I am aware of the difficulties to which my hon. Friend refers and the matter is one which is under consideration in connection with the proposed legislation for the reorganisation of distribution. In the meantime the Electricity Commissioners are always prepared to investigate any specific cases of hardship which are brought to their notice.

Mr. De la B ère

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this was the only pretext why the Oxford Corporation were not allowed to acquire the Oxford Electricity Undertaking and is he not aware that since then no attempt has been made to cheapen or convey electricity into the rural areas?

Sir Frank Sanderson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some cases it has cost as much as £800 to £900 to lay a supply of electricity to farms, even where they are adjacent to the main road?

Captain Wallace

I am aware of the difficulties, and the answer I have given shows that we intend to deal with them as soon as we can.

Sir F. Sanderson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I raised this matter 12 months ago?

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