HC Deb 31 January 1994 vol 236 cc587-9W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what(a) costs and (b) benefits accrue to Britain from the reduction in electricity voltage agreed with the European Community.

Mr. Eggar

All EC countries are changing their low voltage supply systems to a nominal voltage of 230/400 volts to provide voltage harmonisation throughout the EC. The United Kingdom decided to do so after extensive consultation.

Region Number (thousands)
East midlands 1,049.2
East Anglia 521.2
South-east 4,574.0
South-west 1,145.7
West midlands 1,390.7
North-west 1,642.0
Wales 694.2
Scotland 1,389.4
Northern Ireland 345.7
Region unknown 221.8

Note: Figures relate to numbers of people not number of employments. Data derived from Inland Revenue statistics, 1 per cent. sample.

Mrs. Beckett

To ask the Secretary of state for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the number of people holding(a) personal and (b) occupational pensions (i) in total and (ii) in each region of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hague

[holding answer 21 January 1994]: The number of people accruing benefits with personal pensions in 1991–92 was 7.8 million. The number of people accruing benefits in an occupational pension scheme in 1991–92 was 10.7 million. Only the numbers of people with appropriate personal pensions and contracted-out occupational pensions can be broken down by region. Information for 1991–92, the latest year for which information is available, is in the table.

The costs to Britain of this standardisation will largely be borne by the electricity supply industry. Estimates put these at £680 million, at 1992 prices, over a 30-year period, together with an annual increase in distribution losses of £20 million.

The benefits are less readily quantified but are those arising from standardisation which brings greater market opportunities to manufacturers, exporters and importers, and to consumers.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his estimate of the conversion costs of the electricity supply industry to reduce voltage on supplies.

Mr. Eggar

The electricity supply industry has advised that to move from a reduction of 230 volts+10 per cent./-10 per cent. to, say, +6 per cent./-6 per cent. will require the replacement of many distribution transformers. The cost is estimated to be £680 million at 1992 prices assuming a phased replacement programme over a 30-year period.

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