HC Deb 28 April 1952 vol 499 cc1004-5
21. Mr. William A. Steward

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in the review of the organisation of the coal, gas and electricity industries, he will take steps to remove from their control, land, houses and other enterprises not forming part of the day-to-day requirements of these industries.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

This matter is governed by the terms of the existing Acts. However, I appreciate my hon. Friend's intention and will certainly bear it in mind.

Mr. Steward

Is the Minister aware that the Coal Board owns agricultural property and the Electricity Board owns blocks of offices? Does he not consider that this represents a threat of further State control?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think so, but I will make inquiries about the block of flats. With regard to the agricultural land, there are special problems connected with mining subsidence.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Is the Minister aware that the nationalised boards took over these assets from private enterprise, which had acquired them for good business reasons? Will he make it his principle to do everything to ensure maximum efficiency in these industries?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir. I think it will be found that in certain cases there is justification for the owning of properties which, at first sight, do not appear to fit in with the particular board. On the other hand, because an undertaking was owned a long time ago, or has been acquired by a private undertaker, it does not follow that it should be always owned.