HC Deb 11 June 1956 vol 554 cc15-6
15. Mr. McAdden

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what action he proposes to take on the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the Electricity Supply Industry with regard to retail trading activities of the electricity boards.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I have considered the Committee's recommendations about the retail trading and contracting activities of electricity boards, and I accept the Committee's view that it is in the best interests of consumers that the boards should continue to be free to participate in such activities. At the same time I consider it essential that competition between the boards and private traders in this field should be fairly conducted, and I accept in principle the Committee's recommendation that there should be a proper allocation of costs in the compiling of the boards' retail trading and contracting accounts. This does not mean that the boards should forgo the economies associated with a large undertaking, but it does mean that the accounts should show as accurately as possible all overheads properly chargeable to the business of retail trading and contracting. I am in consultation with the industry about the manner of giving effect to this principle.

Mr. McAdden

While I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his determination to see that there is parity in trading between the electricity boards and private undertakings, can he assure the House that the steps he has so far taken to prevent unfairness, particularly in hire purchase, will in no way be relaxed to the detriment of the private trader?

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend will be aware that this year I have made no capital available to the electricity boards for hire purchase. Certainly the circumstances do not as yet call for any change in that policy.

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