HC Deb 22 June 1953 vol 516 cc111-3W
91. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will now make a statement upon the action he proposes to take in connection with the recommendations of the Pilkington Committee for providing an enlarged industrial fuel advisory service; and what contribution, financial or otherwise, is to be made respectively by the National Coal Board, the Gas Council and the British Electricity Authority.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Yes. The Committee, set up under the Chairmanship of Sir Harry Pilkington to work out a scheme for increased fuel efficiency advisory services in industry, recently made their Report and I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.

Broadly, the Committee recommend that an independent non-profit-making company should be formed to develop industrial fuel efficiency advisory services. This would be a company limited by guarantee, not having share capital, and should be set up by the British Productivity Council who would appoint the governing body. The Committee consider that the company would need an annual income of about £500,000; it should be staffed at the outset by suitable technical staff from the Ministry, willing to be transferred to it, together with such qualified persons as can be obtained elsewhere; the advisory services of the new company should, both in quality and quantity, start on the same scale as those now provided by the Ministry and should thereafter expand as rapidly as possible; the company should collaborate with, and where desirable work through, bodies engaged in fuel efficiency work; the Government should maintain close relations with the company and the Ministry should be kept fully aware of its progress and should transfer to it, free of charge, such testing instruments and equipment as are surplus to its own requirements.

I have now completed my discussions with the appropriate representatives of industry and am glad to be able to announce that the Government accept in principle all these recommendations.

The Report stressed the need to provide financial incentives to encourage industrialists to install fuel-saving equipment. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already informed the House how the Government propose to modify the existing loan scheme for fuel-saving installations. These modifications are in line with those recommended by the Pilkington Committee. I should like to assure the House that everything compatible with the safeguarding of public money will be done to ensure that loans are issued with the minimum of formalities, to genuine applicants. Full details of these arrangements will be made known as soon as possible and will be obtainable on request from the Ministry's Headquarters or regional offices.

I am glad to inform the House that the British Productivity Council has accepted the responsibility for forming and sponsoring a fuel efficiency company on the lines recommended by the Pilkington Report. I have asked the Council to ensure that the board of the new company is as representative as possible of all the appropriate interests, including Scottish interests. The company when set up can expect an income of £450,000 thanks to the promise of annual contributions of £250,000 from the National Coal Board, £100,000 from the British Electricity Authority and £100,000 from the Gas Council. These contributions, which will be guaranteed for an initial period of five years, will be supplemented by fees charged for certain services and, I hope, by voluntary contributions from individual industrial concerns, who will also, I am confident, give all possible support in other ways to the company.

I do not consider that it would be possible to operate economically two separate industrial fuel efficiency advisory services. The Ministry's industrial advisory services will therefore cease to function as the new company establishes its own. The testing instruments and equipment surplus to the Ministry's needs will be transferred to the new company, free of charge. The Ministry's technical staff will be given an opportunity to apply for appointment to the new company.

Since I shall retain my responsibilities under the Ministry of Fuel and Power Act, 1945, for the promotion of the efficient use of fuel and power, I propose to arrange for one of my officials to be responsible, as an assessor, for liaison with the new company.