Mr. Wm. Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons or households in Northern Ireland have payments due for gas or electricity bills for more than six months; what are the sums involved; and where are the dwellings concerned.
§ Mr. Moyle,
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 11th June 1976; Vol. 912, c. 816], gave the following information:
Debt figures are available for only one of the 13 towns' gas undertakings in Northern Ireland, namely that in Belfast. The Belfast Gas Department, which sells 80 per cent. of the towns' gas in Northern Ireland, estimates that at 31st March 1976 about 47,000 consumers had been in debt for more than six months and that the debts of these consumers totalled approximately £1.8 million accumulated over the last five years amounting to 6.6 per cent. of turnover over the same period. The corresponding figures for electricity at the same date are estimated to be 81,000 and £5.5 million accumulated over the last three years amounting to 5.1 per cent. of turnover over the same period. A breakdown of this debt by Northern Ireland Electricity Service administrative areas is as follows:
Area Number of Debtors Amount owed (£) Bangor … 3,000 206,000 Craigavon … 9,700 821,000 Omagh … 3,300 243,000 Coleraine … 600 40,000 Ballymena … 5,300 340,000 Londonderry … 2,100 230,000 Belfast … 57,000 3,620,000 Total … 81,000 £5,500,000