HC Deb 13 January 2004 vol 416 c660
5. Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con)

What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on energy policy. [146395]

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Alistair Darling)

I have regular contact with the First Minister across a range of subjects.

Miss McIntosh

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving such a full reply. What action is he taking to ensure the security of the electricity supply in view of the fact that thousands of homes and businesses lost electricity in southern Scotland over new year? Will he consider the undergrounding of domestic supplies before we have to import our electricity supply, by 2012 or 2020, from external, independent, third-country dodgy suppliers?

Mr. Darling

There are two points there. First, the hon. Lady is right to be concerned at any interruption in electricity supplies. Over the past few months, there have been some quite serious disruptions to electricity supplies not only in Scotland, but in London and other parts of England. The Department of Trade and Industry, my Department and others are looking at the matter, first to find out exactly what happened and secondly to take appropriate action.

Secondly, I may have misheard the hon. Lady, but I am not sure that burrowing electricity cables is a practical proposition. On longer-term electricity supply, she is right to say that all Governments must ensure security of supply. Of course, there will come a point at which, for perfectly good reasons, we have to import electricity. There is nothing wrong with that, but we need to make sure that our supplies are secure, and that is what we are endeavouring to do.

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