§ 14. Mr. Ridley
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what he now expects to be the total subsidy, including interest due but forgone, to the electricity supply industry for 1975.
§ Mr. Ridley
Why will not the hon. Gentleman answer the Question on the Order Paper in terms of figures? How many hundreds of millions of pounds is it? Will he please come properly briefed to this House?—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman has not made any attempt to answer the Question.
Will the Under-Secretary explain the justification for paying heavy subsidies in respect of the use and consumption of the fuel oil part of a barrel of crude at the same time as he is imposing swingeing taxation on the lighter fraction of petrol? What is the point of that?
§ Mr. Eadie
The hon. Gentleman, rather characteristically, is assuming 16 certain things. He should not do so. The deficit is expected to be about £300 million, but the amount of compensation has not yet been determined. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned pricing policies in his last Budget speech. It is not unknown to the House. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on the other matters to which he referred, I shall be happy to answer it.
§ Mr. Palmer
Does my hon. Friend agree that these so-called subsidies—in fact, price stabilisation payments—were not asked for by the electricity supply industry, were not wanted by the trade unions in the industry, and were introduced by the previous administration?
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
It has been widely assumed in the Press that there will be an electricity price rise of 37½ per cent. Will the Minister now answer the Question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) as to where that will leave the electricity industry in the next financial year?
§ Mr. Eadie
The right hon. Gentleman is aware that the increase was referred to the Prime Commission. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned getting back to proper pricing policies, but said that we could not get back to them because of the legacy and the inheritance, for which the right hon. Gentleman had some departmental responsibility. We cannot do everything at one time. We have made a policy decision and we are implementing it.