HC Deb 11 March 1957 vol 566 cc778-9
5. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Paymaster-General what progress has been made in the past year with the provision of electricity in rural areas; and what is the programme for the current year.

Mr. Maudling

I am informed by the Central Electricity Authority that the area electricity boards estimate that during the financial year ending on 31st March, they will have connected 12,500 farms and some 40,000 houses in rural areas. The capital investment programme of the electricity boards for the next financial year has not yet been approved.

Sir I. Fraser

That is good. Does my right hon. Friend appreciate fully that electricity in a small farm is worth another pair of hands to the farmer and almost as much to his wife? Will he and the Minister of Power do all they can to see that the provision of electricity to farms and rural houses goes on apace?

Mr. Maudling

I am glad to say that the five-year programme adopted in 1953 for the extension of rural electrification looks like being exceeded in practice.

Mr. Palmer

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the Government will not interfere with the capital expansion programme of the electricity supply industry for rural electrification?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think we can give complete exemption to any particular form of capital expenditure when restraint upon capital expenditure is being required. In view of the existing restrictions, pretty generous treatment has already been given to rural electrification.