HC Deb 26 February 1962 vol 654 cc912-3
10. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Minister of Power whether he will state the amount of increased capital expenditure by the South-Western Electricity Board authorised for the year 1962–63.

Mr. George

My right hon. Friend has approved capital expenditure of £6·86 million by the South-Western Electricity Board in 1962–63 compared with £6.67 million in 1961–62.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that this amount will be enough to bring this rather backward area up to the general standard of electrification of the rest of the country? Will he look into it to see whether enough money is going to the South-Western Electricity Board to bring these remoter areas up to the standard to be found elsewhere in the country?

Mr. George

The approval which I have indicated is in accordance with the Board's own final proposals, but the pace of rural electrification lies with the Board itself, which must take several things into consideration, not only the capital available, but its own decision as to how far its prospective revenue is sufficient to meet outgoings chargeable to revenue account. Great progress has been made in this area, and the Board is determined to do the best it can for the rural area.

Mr. Thorpe

Is not the Board somewhat hamstrung by the provisions of Section 13 of the Act, whereby it can only carry out such rural electrification as can be subsidised from urban profits? Is it not a little unfair to suggest that the Board would be incapable of doing more? Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the costing policy is holding us up, and is not this the worst-served region in the whole of the United Kingdom?

Mr. George

I think my reply to the hon. Gentleman some time ago was that progress in this area was as good as, if not better than, in most areas. It is not merely a question of how much can physically be done. The Board is responsible for balancing its accounts one year with another and must have due regard to the burden which the rural electrification policy is putting upon its other consumers. That is what the Board does, and it moves as fast as it can within that context.

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