HC Deb 24 March 1958 vol 585 c20
31. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Paymaster-General whether he will give a general direction to the Northern Area Gas Board to review its procedure in computing and dispatching the accounts of consumers.

Sir I. Horobin

No, Sir.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is my hon. Friend aware that a Mr. John Gleave, butcher, of Clarendon Road, Middlesbrough, has received a bill from the Northern Area Gas Board for £999,999 19s. 11d., while his total consumption of gas was nil? Why did the Board not add the ld. required to make the bill £1 million? Surely this system should be looked into if it can make such a grievous error.

Sir I. Horobin

I am aware of that curious bill. The facts are that in order to get the advantages of mechanisation without spending a great deal of money on a more elaborate machine the Board uses a machine which, in certain quite specific circumstances, produces these freak amounts. There are, therefore, two separate manual checks to take out these bills. By an extraordinary coincidence in this one case both the manual checks failed. I am informed that in the period concerned about one and a half million bills have been issued and that this is the first mistake. On consideration, my hon. and gallant Friend might feel that in his manual selection of bills for payment he may have made the same proportion of error.