HC Deb 17 June 1974 vol 875 cc20-1
14. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the progress he is making towards the formulation of a policy of energy conservation.

Mr. Varley

I hope to announce my policy shortly.

Mr. Sillars

In view of the economic state of the country and the implications involved for capital expenditure, in the generating boards' next nuclear power programme, would it not serve us better if we concentrated more on energy conservation and a better utilisation of present capacity than on building the number of nuclear power stations which the electricity generating boards have in mind at present?

Mr. Varley

I cannot go into great detail on the nuclear reactor policy. As I have already told the House, we intend to make a statement about that within the next few weeks. Some of the factors mentioned by my hon. friend will, I hope, come out in that statement, but the more general point of energy efficiency and energy substitution is one to which we attach great importance.

Mr. Tim Renton

In view of the Labour Government's total failure to reduce Britain's trade deficit, will the Secretary of State tell us whether his Department is considering introducing rationing by means other than higher prices on domestic lighting and heating and on petrol to private individuals in order to save Britain's oil import bill?

Mr. Varley

The preamble to that supplementary question shows that the Conservative Government certainly have no scruples. There are no plans to introduce rationing along the lines mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Will my right hon. Friend advise his right hon. Friend that one way of conserving energy would be to electrify all main-line railways in this country?

Mr. Varley

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I am sorry that I cannot go into it.