HC Deb 14 April 1980 vol 982 cc767-8
4. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations he has had from industry on the price and availability of gas.

Mr. Norman Lamont

Over the past six months my Department has received 60 representations from industry about the price of gas and a further 60 about availability.

Mr. Hannam

Does my hon. Friend accept that, in the event of a normal cold winter and no steel strike, gas supplies to industry would be in jeopardy? Will he therefore consider whether, in the Gas Bill now before the House, we should consider the removal of the statutory obligation to provide gas on demand to domestic as well as to industrial consumers?

Mr. Lamont

I note what my hon. Friend said. I think that would be a matter of considerable controversy. The obligation to supply gas is of long standing. However, I shall consider what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. John Evans

If and whenever the so-called enterprise zones get off the ground, will the Department of Energy ensure that firms moving into the enterprise zones will he able to obtain a supply of gas?

Mr. Lamont

We shall do our best to co-operate in the setting up of enterprise zones. But, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the supply of gas to any firm is a matter for the British Gas Corporation.

Mr. Rost

Does my hon. Friend accept that, while we continue to market gas to the domestic consumer below the European and world price, there must continue to be distortions in the market place or shortages?

Mr. Lamont

I very much agree with what my hon. Friend has said.