HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 c1509
8. Sir B. Rhys Williams

asked the Minister of Power what are the conclusions of the Departmental study of joint meter reading and billing by the gas and electricity industries.

Mr. Freeson

Preliminary conclusions are that, although very big savings cannot be expected, it is worth while investigating the feasibility of joint meter reading by the gas and electricity industries. I hope that the two industries will soon carry out joint studies. Investigation of joint billing must await the outcome of this study and further development of data processing.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

May we have an assurance that progress on this matter is not being held up by any opposition to change: in either the electricity or the gas industry?

Mr. Freeson

No. As a matter of fact, I have had a series of consultations up and down the country on the subject recently. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is co-operation in this matter.

Mr. Emery

Does the hon. Gentle-realise that hon. Members on this side of the House have been pressing for this for over 3½ years? Now it appears that we have got to the stage when it is announced that a feasibility study is feasible. Is the Minister aware that European countries are already getting considerable savings from improved meter reading and billing methods. Cannot we get some speed on this matter?

Mr. Freeson

I wish that the hon. Gentleman would not scream about a subject which is rather difficult and quite complicated. Studies are proceeding. There have been extensive consultations on the matter, and work on pilot schemes in two parts of the country will proceed as soon as possible.