HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc515-6
18. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Minister of Power if he is aware that gas consumers are required to pay twice for gas consumed when a prepayment meter has been robbed; and if he will prepare legislation to relieve consumers of this obligation.

Dr. Bray

The present situation is of long standing. Area gas boards consider the circumstances in each case, sometimes in consultation with the police, and I am not satisfied that a change in the law is justified.

Mr. Iremonger

Could the hon. Gentleman suggest to gas boards that they might include in the standing charge a very small sum which would constitute universal insurance against this for all users so that people who have their meters robbed are not suddenly saddled with an enormous extra bill?

Dr. Bray

This is a matter for the area boards, but it is a difficult one. Each year about 100,000 meters are broken open, involving losses of about £350,000. One would not want to encourage people to regard their gas meters as a sort of "piggy bank".

Mr. Bessell

May I, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment? As the consumer is penalised in this way, through no fault of his own, will the hon. Gentleman look again into this whole question of meters which are robbed?

Dr. Bray

As I have said, I think that a useful purpose is served if the matter is raised with area consultative committees. I know that in the case of the Northern Gas Board, for example, a satisfactory arrangement was reached.