HC Deb 02 November 1989 vol 159 cc460-1
11. Mr. McCusker

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will indicate the appoximate dates on which he proposes to introduce to Northern Ireland (a) the community charge, (b) the privatisation of water services and (c) the privatisation of the Northern Ireland electricity service.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. John Cope)

There are no present plans to introduce to Northern Ireland the community charge or the privatisation of water services. The Government propose to privatise Northern Ireland Electricity in the first half of 1992.

Mr. McCusker

Why should the people of the most deserving region of the United Kingdom be denied the inestimable benefits of measures whose passage has been so hard fought over the past few years so that Scotsmen, Englishmen and Welshmen could gain from them? Why should the people of Northern Ireland be denied those benefits—if there are any benefits?

Mr. Cope

There are certainly many benefits for Great Britain, but we recognise the differences in the Province. That is why the time scale is different. With respect to local government which we have already discussed this afternoon, only about 10 per cent. of the services that in Great Britain are carried out through local government are currently carried out through local government in the Province.

Mr. Jim Marshall

I am sure that the Minister will accept that fuel costs in the North of Ireland are among the most expensive in the United Kingdom. One of the consequences of privatising Northern Ireland Electricity will be a further price increase. If that is so, what action do the Government propose to reduce the impact of that privatisation on domestic budgets and on industrial costs?

Mr. Cope

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to await the White Paper on this subject which is expected next year.