HC Deb 20 May 1981 vol 5 cc85-6W
Mr. Critchley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when the report by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the Central Electricity Generating Board will be published; and whether he will make a statement.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

My right hon. Friend has laid before Parliament and published this report today. It is a very thorough and valuable report which brings out a number of important issues.

The commission has seriously criticised certain aspects of the board's operations where there is significant scope for reductions in cost and for improved efficiency.

Flag 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
UK 3 2 4 1 5
Gibraltar 1
Cyprus 1 3 2 1 2
Greek 2 4 2 3
Dutch 1 1
Singapore 1
Panama 5 5
Cayman 1 1

The above detentions occurred at the following ports: Southampton (5), London (5), Liverpool (4), Grimsby (4), Belfast (4), Cardiff (3), Newcastle (3), Hull (3), Bristol (2) and one each at Rochester, Dover, Swansea, Milford Haven, Newport, Avonmouth, Colchester, Wisbech, Grangemouth, Mostyn, Garston, Hartlepool, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Aberdeen, Leith, Inverness and Shetland.

Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will outline in the Official Report the steps

The Government are seeking comments and proposals from the board as to the action to be taken in the light of the report. As levels of costs and efficiency are reflected in the prices paid by domestic and industrial consumers for electricity, it is important that improvements should be sought. To this end, the Secretary of State for Energy will now be discussing the report with the board.

At the same time the commission commended other features of the board's operations including, for example, aspects of the CEGB's division at Gloucester (Barnwood) responsible for managing major construction projects.

The report illustrates the value of the new system of independent inquiries into nationalised industries introduced by the Competition Act. There is plainly a need for some independent scrutiny of efficiency and costs in public sector monopolies not subject to the full rigours of competition. The commission has again shown how effectively it can carry out this task. The results can in the long run only be to the benefit of the taxpayer and the consumer.