§ Mrs. Castle
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is aware that the fuel boards make a charge for the extra emptying of coin meters and that, in cases where the consumer cannot afford the extra charge, this amounts to a disconnection of supply; and whether he will make a statement on the extent of the problem and the steps he intends to take to deal with it.
§ Dr. John A. Cunningham
I understand that the gas and electricity industries make no charge for emptying meters when the coin box is full, even if this is done outside normal working hours. A charge is made for emptying a coin box in avoidable circumstances, for instance, when use of spurious coin has jammed the mechanism or where access by the board's staff has been repeatedly denied. The problem of full coin boxes is being reduced by the introduction, where possible and acceptable, of meters taking 50p coins. The recently published Code of Practice for the Payment of Domestic Gas and Electricity Bills also draws attention to methods of spreading fuel payments other than the use of prepayment meters.