HC Deb 23 July 1956 vol 557 cc13-4
20. Mr. Palmer

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what estimate he has made of the effect which the policy of an electricity price standstill, announced by the Central Electricity Authority in response to the Government appeal, will have on the financial stability of the area electricity boards; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given on 26th June by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. J. Paton).

Mr. Palmer

Bearing in mind that reply, is it not a fact that a number of the area electricity boards will be forced to have an adverse financial balance as a result of this policy? Is it wise or fair that hitherto prosperous national undertakings may be forced into a bankrupt position by pressure from above?

Mr. Jones

It is a fact that individual boards will be involved in deficits, but it would be quite wrong to suggest that these deficits were enforced by influence from above. Despite the widespread impression to the contrary, this action on the part of the Central Electricity Authority was entirely on its own initiative and was not the result of any prompting or suggestion by me or by the Government. What it did is compatible with statutory requirement, which is not that individual boards should be in balance but that the gross revenues of the undertaking as a whole should match its gross outgoings.

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