HC Deb 27 April 1981 vol 3 cc512-3
15. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when next he expects to meet the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to discuss the efficiency of the industry.

Mr. Norman Lamont

My right hon., Friend and I meet the chairman from time to time as necessary.

Mr. Hannam

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is widespread concern at the failure of the CEGB, first, to achieve realistic forecasts, and secondly, to contain its costs? Can he give any indication as to when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report will be published? Will he also apply that form of monitoring the efficiency of a nationalised energy industry to the other energy industries?

Mr. Lamont

As my hon. Friend says, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission was asked to investigate this very issue of the containment of costs and the efficiency of the electricity industry. The report will be published in a few week's time. On the general question of cost increases—particularly since it was argued by the Opposition as being unfair to the electricity industry—I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that the major increase in the electricity industry's costs has been fuel. Electricity prices have risen very much less than the rise in the price of fuel. Since March 1979, oil prices have risen by 150 per cent. and coal prices by 65 per cent., but the industry's prices have risen by only 50 per cent. so it is absorbing costs to the extent that it can.

Mr. Palmer

Will the Minister comment on the complaint of Mr. Glyn England to the effect that although the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report has been with Ministers for a considerable time he and his board are not allowed to see a copy? Secondly, why are the Government sitting on the report?

Mr. Lamont

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade.

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