HC Deb 13 February 1956 vol 548 cc2061-3
27. Mr. Whitelaw

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what consultations he has had with the Central Electricity Authority about reduction in their boards' capital expenditure.

36. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what progress has been made in his review of the planned capital expenditure of the Central Electricity Authority in conformity with the present economic policy of the Government.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

In recent discussions with the Authority, I asked them to let me know the effects of a further reduction of capital expenditure in the financial year 1956–57, additional to that proposed in response to my predecessor's request to them last year, and I am now considering their report.

Mr. Whitelaw

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of the area electricity boards are making extremely heavy cuts at present in their rural electrification programmes which, they state, are due to Government policy?

Mr. Jones

I should like to give a clear assurance that in any re-phasing or reduction in the capital expenditure of the Central Electricity Authority, no disproportionate effect will be felt by rural electrification.

Mr. Jay

Will the right hon. Gentleman say clearly whether or not it is the Government's policy that rural electrification shall be cut down?

Mr. Jones

It is the policy of the Government to alleviate the general load on the economy. In the light of that policy, I cannot promise that rural electrification will be completely exempted, but I will give the very firmest promise that there will be no disproportionate cut.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it was last July that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his important statement on the rearrangement of economic policy? Is he aware that for the last seven months my hon. Friends and myself have been trying to find out what contribution is to be made by the Central Electricity Authority? Can my right hon. Friend say why the chairman of the Authority put into print in the newspapers last week that he proposed to save £8 million out of his programme whereas the Minister is not in a position to give such information to the House?

Mr. Jones

All I can say in reply to my right hon. Friend——

Hon. Members


Mr. Jones

I am clearly anticipating events to come. I should like to make it clear that there has been no decision with regard to the capital expenditure of the Central Electricity Authority in the year 1956–57.