HC Deb 16 April 1973 vol 855 cc16-7
12. Mr. Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will give a general direction to gas boards that, whenever the supply of gas to domestic consumers is cut off for whatever reasons, a compensating reduction in charge shall be made to those consumers

Mr. Emery

No, Sir. Gas is charged for as metered. Standing charges relate to the provision and maintenance of facilities required for the supply of gas. irrespective of consumption, and any question of their remission is entirely for the British Gas Corporation.

Mr. Fowler

While thanking my hon. Friend for that answer, may I draw his attention to the situation which prevailed in the Midlands last month, when literally thousands of consumers were deprived of gas and caused hardship and made to incur extra costs through an industrial dispute? Does he not agree that in a situation of that kind there is a moral obligation on the corporation to make some kind of reduction in charges?

Mr. Emery

I sincerely recognise and regret the inconvenience suffered by the public in the constituency of my hon. Friend and other Midlands constituencies. It would not, however, be right to impose a new wide and general obligation on the corporation as a result of events arising out of an industrial dispute. This is a matter for the corporation to deal with. It might be helpful if I asked the chairman of the corporation to write direct to my hon. Friend.

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