HC Deb 06 April 1965 vol 710 cc232-3
29. Sir R. Russell

asked the Minister of Power if he will give a general direction, in the public interest, to the electricity boards not to require the total payment by private firms for the installation of electric cables to be made before arrangements to start the work have been settled, in view of the fact that this is not normal commercial practice; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Morris

No, Sir.

Sir R. Russell

Can the hon. Gentleman say why a consumer who is going to increase his consumption of current should be treated like this by a public monopoly? Is this not another example, like the Budget, of people having to pay for Socialism before they get it?

Mr. Morris

This is a matter that is best left to the commercial judgment of the boards. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Hon. Members ask "Why?". It is in the public interest that the boards should economise on their working capital by keeping down the amount of debt accruing to them, and asking the consumer to pay a contribution in advance helps to avoid subsequent disputes and possible losses. The consumer's contribution is usually small compared with the total cost borne by the boards.

Mr. Palmer

Can my hon. Friend confirm that this was the normal practice in the electricity supply industry long before nationalisation?

Mr. Morris

Authority for this dates back to the Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act, 1899.

Mr. Tinn

Is my hon. Friend aware that in my constituency of Cleveland his officials have shown great consideration in meeting the needs of industry in this respect?

Mr. Morris

I thank my hon. Friend.