HC Deb 23 November 1959 vol 614 cc11-2
23. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Power what has been the percentage increase in the average cost of electricity sold since 1949, to the nearest convenient date.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. J. C. George)

29 per cent., to 1958.

Mr. Griffiths

Bearing in mind that 80 per cent. of the costs of the Generating Board are accounted for by fuel costs, which for very good and understandable reasons have risen very sharply since the war, is not this a story of triumphant achievement by a nationalised industry? Will the Minister see that some of his hon. Friends are better informed on the facts?

Mr. George

The performance of the electricity industry is indeed satisfactory. I would draw attention to the fact that, in the period 1st April, 1948, to 31st March, 1959, the electricity industry in England and Wales spent £1,926 million on expanding and improving its capital equipment.

Mr. M. Stewart

Does the hon. Member suggest that the electricity industry could have done better than it has done during the last eight years? If so, why did not the Government see that it did better?

Mr. George

I am not suggesting at all that it could have done better.

24. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Power whether he will state the number of units of electricity produced per person employed, and the number of generation employees per 1,000 kilowatts of output capacity in 1948–49 and 1958–59.

Mr. George

The figures for Great Britain in 1948 and 1958, respectively, are 290,000 and 460,000 units per person employed in the electricity supply industry and 2.85 and 1.74 generation employees per 1,000 kilowatts of output capacity.

Mr. Griffiths

Does not that further reinforce the observation which I made in my previous supplementary question? By every standard, and bearing in mind its capital investment, to which the Minister referred, the electricity industry is strictly comparable with any manufacturing industry or any section of private industry in Britain. In the interests of the workers at all levels in this industry, will the hon. Member see that there is an end to the sneers and the misrepresentations which go on all the time and which are largely activated from his side of the House?

Mr. George

I would only repeat that we are satisfied with the performance of the electricity industry.