HC Deb 25 November 1974 vol 882 cc21-2
19. Mr. Gould

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will take steps to ensure that electric night storage heating is able to compete effectively in terms of price with other forms of heating.

Mr. Eadie

Price is not the only factor affecting competition. The Government's aim is to avoid stimulating wasteful consumption by moving as quickly as possible to a position where all forms of heating are sold at economic prices.

Mr. Gould

Is my hon. Friend aware that as a result of the "Switch Off Something" campaign and the adverse publicity given to the proposed increases in off-peak tariffs, sales of night storage heaters have slumped disastrously and the largest manufacturer of such heaters is laying off 300 workers this week, having already reduced its work force by one-half in recent months? Will he therefore encourage the Electricity Council and electricity boards to promote sales of these heaters, which are still a preferred form of heating by pensioners in particular?

Mr. Eadie

I have sympathy with my hon. Friend. I am aware from correspondence of the difficulty he has in his constituency. The point my hon. Friend made about the "Switch Off Something" campaign illustrates graphically that when propaganda campaigns rather than educational campaigns are indulged in to conserve energy, difficulty is experienced. I regret that I cannot give my hon. Friend any help beyond stating that on 29th July when my right hon. Friend made his statement about night storage heaters he said that the concession would not continue indefinitely. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that it will continue through the winter.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that if the concession for reduced rates for night storage heaters does not continue indefinitely all hell will break loose round his ears?

Mr. Eadie

I do not know whether all hell will break out, but the hon. Gentleman was in the House when my right hon. Friend made his statement.