HC Deb 21 June 1966 vol 730 cc263-4
12. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Minister of Power if he will give a general direction, in the public interest, to electricity boards to suspend their practice of imposing initial charges for electricity connections on new housing estates, pending his discussions with the gas and electricity industries on initial charges policy.

21. Sir J. Eden

asked the Minister of Power when he expects to complete his discussions with the gas and electricity industries on the present system of initial connection charges.

25. Mr. Hall-Davis

asked the Minister of Power if he is aware that area electricity boards are specifically discriminating against gas in their connection charge policy; and what is his policy regarding this practice.

Dr. Bray

As my right hon. Friend announced on 16th May, he is discussing this matter with the gas and electricity industries. He hopes to complete these discussions as soon as possible, but in the meantime, it would be wrong for me to anticipate the outcome.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Since the Electricity Board has a virtual monopoly of the supply of light to consumers, is it not an abuse of that power to use that weapon to distort competition in the supply of heat?

Dr. Bray

Someone has to pay the connection charges, and it is important that the connection charges plus the subsequent tariff should economically reflect the cost of the supply. These matters are now being discussed with each of the industries.

Sir John Eden

How much longer does the hon. Gentleman expect these negotiations to take? Will he do his best to ensure that the interests of the consumer are taken fully into account here, and that the ultimate agreement will preserve the consumer's freedom of choice?

Dr. Bray

Yes, Sir.

Dr. Hugh Gray

Will the Minister encourage the Gas Board and Electricity Board to collaborate in the production of a joint gas-electricity domestic stove? All cooks, whether Members of Parliament or housewives, know that one form of heat is better for producing some dishes and another for producing others?

Dr. Bray

I think that this might come in the same category as the suggestion that postmen should deliver the milk.