§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will set up an inquiry into the differing practices of the electricity boards in respect of the charges they make for units of electricity and in respect of the standing charge, and to ascertain the reasons for the substantial differences in these charges, despite similar costs, as, for example, in the London area where the Eastern electricity board makes a standing quarterly charge of £5.85 and charge for unit costs at 4.44p, whilst the London electricity board has a standing charge of £7 per quarter and a unit cost charge of 5.02p.
§ Mr. Mellor
The Price Commission report on area electricity boards (MC132 (1979)) examined the charges made for electricity, including standing charges. It looked in some detail at the reasons for the differences in charges between the London and Eastern electricity boards and identified a number of factors contributing to higher costs in the LEB area, including the much higher proportion of underground cables, which are expensive to repair, the declining level of demand, the higher wages in the London area, and the incidence of bad debts. No useful purpose would be served by holding a further inquiry at this stage. Area boards do of course discuss their tariff proposals including standing charges, with their respective consultative councils.