HC Deb 12 May 1952 vol 500 cc832-3
12. Captain Charles Waterhouse

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement as to the directions he will give to the electricity authorities that no current should be supplied free of charge.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I am not proposing to issue such directions.

Captain Waterhouse

The London Electricity Board apparently made an arrangement to give a free supply of current to the Ministry of Works for floodlighting. Does the Minister consider it right that the cost should be met by domestic consumers? Is that not bad for the economy of publicly-owned services?

Mr. Lloyd

We ought to remember that before the war all the electricity supply companies banded together to make a similar offer for floodlighting. I think it was in 1935. In this case the proposal is to illuminate in this way a small number of public buildings: the Houses of Parliament, Somerset House, Nelson's Column, and so on. It would be rather a pity, simply because the industry is nationalised, if the Minister restrained the Board in what I believe is a helpful gesture on their part.

Captain Waterhouse

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is no objection at all to the floodlighting, which is very desirable? It is entirely a matter of whether he thinks it wrong in principle that a publicly-owned concern should make a free gift of current either to a Government Department or to anybody else.

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly do not think it should make free gifts as a general rule, but I do not think there is any case for intervening on this occasion.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

When electricity was under private enterprise did not the consumers pay as they do now, and did not the consumers in London benefit from floodlighting?

Mr. Nabarro

In view of the unsatisfactory position in regard to electricity charges, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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