HC Deb 09 July 1968 vol 768 cc188-9
15. Mr. Emery

asked the Minister of Power whether he will announce the financial target of the gas industry for 1969–70.

Mr. Mason

Yes, Sir, when it has been decided.

Mr. Emery

It appears that the general approach of both Ministers is that there is no progress to report. In pressing the Minister, I realise that he has only just taken over, but we have had from both—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions, please.

Mr. Emery

Will he, therefore, speed up the inactivity—

An Hon. Member: How can one speed up inactivity?

Mr. Emery

—of his two previous colleagues in getting a result in order that we can properly assist the financial state of this industry?

Mr. Mason

I expect to reach a decision on this question before the end of the year.

32. Mr. Palmer

asked the Minister of Power if he will state the expected rate of return on the£1,600 million to be spent by the gas industry up to 1973 in the provision, among other things, of natural gas supplies to consumers.

Mr. Freeson

Investment by the gas industry is expected to earn at least the d.c.f. rate of 8 per cent. prescribed for the nationalised industries generally.

Mr. Palmer

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving a figure which the previous Minister of Power seemed unable to give. Is he satisfied that this expenditure has been properly reconciled with comparable expenditure on nuclear power and on the coal industry?

Mr. Freeson

The answer, of course, must be "Yes, Sir", because the expenditure derives from the policy laid down in the White Paper following a very long series of very detailed studies.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Can the Minister say how much the public will gain in a reduction in prices by this natural supply? There is a general feeling at present that this great discovery will give very little advantage; in the form of cheaper prices to the people who buy the gas?

Mr. Freeson

As I have said previously, it will take quite some time before the full effect of natural gas coming fully on stream will show itself in price levels, but we believe that it will have an effect in real terms on gas prices.