HC Deb 20 November 1950 vol 481 cc3-4
13. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the general policy of advertising by the British Electricity Authority.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

While advertisement is in the normal course a matter of commercial management, for which I have no direct responsibility, the hon. Member's Question appears to raise a matter affecting the national interest and the policy of His Majesty's Government and I have, therefore, without creating a precedent inconsistent with the present practice, asked the British Electricity Authority to inform me about their general advertising policy at the present time.

They tell me, first, that, being aware of the loss and inconvenience caused to industry and other users of electricity by the present shortage of generating plant, they wish to assure consumers that they are bringing new plant into commission as quickly as they can. Second, they have accepted responsibility for the widespread national advertising which is required to ensure that householders, office workers and others shall help industry by only using electricity when they must during the hours of peak demand.

Advertising during the winter is concentrated on this problem of peak demand, in order that the frequency and the severity of power cuts may be reduced.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Authority informed him, as they have already refused to inform my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish), of the cost of the present poster campaign, and, if so, will he give that information to the House? Will the right hon. Gentleman say, also, whether the portrayal of the erection of large numbers of new power stations is calculated to increase or decrease public demand for electricity?

Mr. Noel-Baker

On the second part of that question, I think it will have neither one effect nor the other. On the first part, that is another question.

Mr. Marlowe

Is the Minister aware that vast sums appear to be spent on other kinds of advertisements urging people to use electricity—

Sir Richard Acland

By private enterprise?

Mr. Marlowe

No; by the nationalised industry—that people object to having their money spent on urging them to use electricity which at times they cannot get and which, when they can get it, is from only one source?

Mr. Noel-Baker

No, Sir. The advertisements are designed to encourage people not to use electricity at the peak hours. At non-peak hours, of course, it is desirable that people should use more electricity in order to keep the price down.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Flow can the Minister give a full and satisfactory answer on the general policy of this advertising campaign without even ascertaining its cost?

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