HC Deb 20 January 1975 vol 884 cc1011-2
16. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the percentage by which domestic gas prices per therm in Scotland exceeded the average price in England and Wales in the most recent annual period for which figures are available; and what were the comparable figures five and 10 years previously, respectively.

Mr. John Smith

In terms of average revenue the percentages were 27 per cent. in 1973–74, and 23 per cent. and 21½ per cent., but this basis of comparison exaggerates the difference in tariffs, which has been reduced from 1st January.

Mr. Taylor

Does the Minister agree that it is monstrous and totally unjust that, according to his own figures, Scottish housewives should be paying more than one-quarter more for their gas than the average housewife in England and Wales? What reduction in the differential will stem from the welcome move on 1st January? Will the hon. Gentleman say that it is the Government's firm intention to achieve a British price for British gas instead of letting the Scots suffer from this aspect of home rule?

Mr. Smith

I shall find out the exact figure as it affects the differential and write to the hon. Gentleman about it. The recent increase in domestic gas prices in Scotland was only 7 per cent., as against the United Kingdom average of 12 per cent. The tariffs are a matter for the British Gas Corporation. The hon. Gentleman no doubt took some interest in the matter when he was a member of a Conservative Government which had an opportunity to do something about it. Under the present Government the gap is narrowing considerably.