HC Deb 01 May 1940 vol 360 cc687-8
14. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the fact that the electricity charges in London are now out of all proportion to the general rise in the cost of living, which it is the policy of the Government to control and as these increased charges are becoming prohibitive, he will take strong action in the matter and, if necessary, guarantee the companies against loss if the price charges are controlled and reasonable?

The Minister of Transport (Captain Wallace)

As I stated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for North Kensington (Mr. Duncan) on 7th February, I should not hesitate to have recourse to my powers under the Defence Regulations to ensure that an unjustified burden is not placed upon consumers if it should be shown to my satisfaction in any individual case that prices have been raised to an undue extent, even within the limits of authorised maximum prices. My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that any proposal to guarantee the companies against loss would raise questions of policy affecting many other interests, and could not be the subject of separate action directed to electricity charges alone.

Sir J. Lucas

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that I have here a bunch of cases in which the costs have been raised by from 200 to 800 per cent., and that many people have had to give up their homes in consequence?

Captain Wallace

I shall be very pleased, as I have said, to look into any individual cases which hon. Members in any quarter of the House bring to my notice, but I think that my hon. and gallant Friend will recognise that what is envisaged in his Question is a policy of subsidies to the consumers of electricity and that this at the present moment is not practicable.

Sir J. Lucas

I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.