§ Mr. Clapham
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many houses in the UK he estimates are not connected to the domestic gas supply network; which(a) regions and (b) constituencies have the highest proportion of such houses; and what plans he has to encourage gas suppliers to increase connections. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
[holding answer 18 April 2000]: The information requested is not held centrally. The question of gas suppliers increasing connections is one for the Director General of Gas and Electricity Markets. He has duties under the Gas Act 1986 (as amended) to exercise his relevant functions to ensure that reasonable demands for gas conveyed through pipes are met where it is economical, and that there is effective competition in the conveyance of gas to new areas. There are some seven Public Gas Transporters (PGTs). A consumer seeking a gas connection can either seek a connection from a PGT, purchase and lay the pipe himself, or his PGT can use 547W the system of supplemental charges whereby the cost of connection is recovered over a protracted period through an additional charge on each unit of gas supplied.