HC Deb 24 March 1958 vol 585 cc19-20
30. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Paymaster-General, in view of the necessity to curtail spending, if he will give a general direction to the gas and electricity boards to reduce their expenditure on modernising their showrooms.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Sir Ian Horobin)

No, Sir. The boards are already fully aware of the need to reduce all forms of capital expenditure to the minimum consistent with good commercial practice.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is my hon. Friend aware that many sections of industry are of the opinion that since they are at present being denied funds for capital expenditure it is an outrage that the nationalised boards should be allowed to continue their luxury schemes, passing the cost of them to the consumers by increased tariffs? Should not the nationalised boards set an example by cutting down costs and passing on the benefit to the consumers?

Sir I. Horobin

The amount allowed for this purpose is, of course, controlled under the general powers of my noble Friend and has, in fact, been reduced. All these boards must be considered as commercial undertakings. We should get on better if they were more commercial and not less. It is surely to nobody's advantage that they should have bad showrooms, and therefore any general directions to prevent their modernisation could not, in the long run, be to the advantage of anybody.