HC Deb 29 July 1963 vol 682 cc6-7
9. Mr. Pentland

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, to what extent he has considered the increased supply of electrical energy that will be necessary in the North-East in order to meet the energy requirements of his short-term and long-term plans for the region.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

My noble Friend's proposals take account of the fact that the demand for energy will increase as economic activity in the region expands.

Mr. Pentland

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the long-term conflict that we on this side of the House have had with the Government about the need for a new power station to be built in Durham? In view of the fact that it has now been established that if the power station were planned immediately financial assistance could be obtained through the new standard grant under the Local Employment Act, will the hon. Gentleman advise his noble Friend to consult once again with the Minister of Power on this matter?

Mr. Freeth

There is already a considerable surplus of generating capacity in the North-East and my noble Friend is in very close contact with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power; but I have nothing further to say today.

Dr. Bray

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the average consumption of electricity per household in the North-East is only 2,000 kW. hours per annum compared with 3,000 kW. hours per annum in London and the South-East? Does this not indicate a very marked divergence in the standards of living in those two parts of the country, and does the hon. Gentleman assume that this difference will continue?

Mr. Freeth

Naturally one of the aims of the Government is to raise the whole standard of life in the North-East, and this will mean the consumption of more electricity. What we are dealing with here is the question of the actual date of the start of the power station which we all know will one day be necessary.