HC Deb 04 April 1967 vol 744 cc31-3
Q5. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Prime Minister if he will discuss with the Prime-Minister of Northern Ireland the possibility of amending the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, so as to restore responsibility for electricity generation in Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom Parliament.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Prime Minister aware that, according to the figures issued by the Ministry of Power, the cost of electricity generation in Northern Ireland is approximately 65 per cent. higher than the United Kingdom average? Is there not a prima facie case for saying that the electricity undertakings of Northern Ireland must be highly inefficient? Would it not be worth while discussing with the Government of the Republic the amalgamation of electricity undertakings throughout the whole of Ireland with a view to promoting increased efficiency?

The Prime Minister

It is a fact that the Governments of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have agreed in principle to the provision of a link to the electricity supply networks of each country, the main purpose of which is to increase efficiency and to reduce the need for excessive reserve capacity on both sides of the border. The two electricity boards are considering a form of agreement, and this is the most useful step which can be taken in the matter of efficient electricity supply.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the Prime Minister aware that the average price per unit generated is slightly less in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales, so that question does not really arise? Is he further aware that the two countries, North and South, have agreed on the question of reserves being available in the event of breakdown in one country or the other?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the information which he has given to the House. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has welcomed this link between North and South, because during the Recess one of his hon. Friends attacked it on the basis that he did not want any Southern electricity in Northern Ireland. I have been into this question. I find that there is no problem of the miscibility of green and orange electricity, because my inquiries suggest that electricity is colourless.

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