§ 7. Mr. Deakins
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether his Department has had any discussions on the privatisation of the electricity industry.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Alastair Goodlad)
There have been no recent discussions on this subject. The Government have no present plans to privatise the electricity supply industry,.
§ Mr. Deakins
Will the Minister confirm that the Government have no objection in principle to privatising the electricity supply industry, which has the largest holding of state assets in western Europe? Will he also confirm that the Government will seek to ensure that this is a manifesto commitment for the next general election?
§ Mr. Proctor
Will my hon. Friend take steps to privatise the electricity industry as soon as possible, in view of the fact that it is not sensible to have the gas industry in private ownership and the electricity industry in public ownership because of the unfairness of that situation to the electricity industry?
§ Mr. Goodlad
I note my hon. Friend's view, but as I said earlier, the Government have no present plans to privatise the electricity supply industry.
§ Mr. Bruce
The House might welcome that, but it is a less than complete assurance. Will the Minister acknowledge that there would be great anxiety about the privatisation of the electricity industry, as that would involve the privatisation of nuclear power, which he may have something to say about later? Will he also acknowledge that there is a great desire to decentralise electricity in the public sector, and will he undertake to give more discretion to regional boards and less control to the Central Electricity Generating Board?
§ Mr. Goodlad
The Government have already encouraged a more open market in electricity supply by 10 removing the legislative and institutional constraints on private generation and establishing a framework for fair dealing between private generators and electricity boards.