HC Deb 12 March 1951 vol 485 cc1058-9
44. Mr. Thomas Reid

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the average cost of electricity supplied to domestic and industrial consumers before nationalisation; and what it is now.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The average revenue per unit sold for lighting, heating and cooking (including supplies to shops, offices, hotels and so on) was 1.391Id. in 1947 and 1.504d. in 1949. The average revenue per unit sold for power was 0.907d, in 1947 and 0.940d. in 1949.

Mr. T. Reid

May I ask whether this increase in costs is much lower than the average increase in costs in industry?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir; much lower; and compared with 1938, very much lower still.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he has information in such a way that it could be readily understood which would show how much costs have been increased by unpredictable variation in voltage; how much real costs have been increased to the consumer?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am afraid I could not make a reliable estimate, but I know the loss to industry has been considerable and I greatly regret it.

Miss Irene Ward

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, before electricity prices are increased, notification is sent to the local authorities, because my local authority takes very great exception to the fact that there was neither negotiation nor notification before prices were recently increased? I should be glad if he would take action in that matter in future.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Perhaps the hon. Lady will give me time to consider the point.

Mr. John Hynd

On a point of order. I wonder if you, Mr. Speaker, will give me some guidance on why it is in order for the Minister to answer a question as to the prices of electricity before and after nationalisation, and it is not in order for the Table to permit a question on what is the incidence of pilferage on the railways before and after nationalisation?

Mr. Speaker

I certainly cannot be expected to give an authoritative answer to a question like that without notice.