HC Deb 10 February 1958 vol 582 cc22-3
33. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the Paymaster-General if he will now give a more precise estimate of the extent to which the progress of rural electrification is affected by the Government's policy of restricting investment by the Central Electricity Authority.

Sir I. Horobin

I cannot yet add anything to the reply that my predecessor gave to the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Palmer) on 25th November.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that certain very important schemes in rural areas are being delayed at present by as much as twelve to eighteen months or two years because of Government policy? Could not the Minister consider giving special consideration to those areas in the remote parts of Wales and Scotland where there is a considerable amount of leeway to be made up?

Sir I. Horobin

It might perhaps reassure the hon. Member if I point out that we are about six months ahead of schedule in this matter. If he looks at the figures for 1950–51 in his constituency and the most recent figures, he will find that we are doing about four times as much as was done when this Government took office.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is my hon. Friend aware that certain electricity boards refuse to extend supplies to rural areas, even in cases where farmers and concerns are generally prepared to pay in whole or in part? Ought not that to be looked into in relation to the fact that the credit squeeze may continue for some time?

Sir I. Horobin

We shall certainly look into anything in relation to this important matter, but my noble Friend will probably appreciate that very often when these extra connections are made many tend to be in the most extreme and uneconomical parts of a district where there may very well be much more substantial financial losses at stake than at first sight may appear to the individual asking for the connection to be made.