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Electricity Charges, London

Volume 409: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1945

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will make a statement on the present position with regard to the large increases in charges for electricity which have been made during the war by the Central London Electricity Company and other companies; whether any recent review of the position has taken place; and what action is being taken in the matter.

The Electricity Commissioners periodically review the financial position of Central London Electricity Limited and other companies. Though there has recently been some improvement in the position of the company named, I do not feel justified on the information before me in taking any action in the matter at present.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that, though the Notting Hill and other electric lighting companies advertise all sorts of electric equipment, when inquiries are made by the public as to the installation of this equipment, they are put off with various excuses including the high charges in connection with installation? Does he not think that an inquiry should be made?

If my hon. Friend will communicate with me, I shall be glad to go into it.

Is not this company a privately-owned concern, and will my right hon. and gallant Friend not resist this vicious attack on private enterprise?

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend explain why the charges for electricity by this private company in London are nearly three times the corresponding charges for electricity supplied by municipal undertakings all over the North of England?

My hon. Friend says the North of England. One reason is that, in 1940, the experience of electricity companies in the North of England was very different from that of companies in London. There have been evacuation and damage on a large scale here, and a great increase in the cost of equipment.

Is the Minister aware that the charges of this company have been halved and that the costs of telephone calls have been doubled?

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that the comparative costs of electricity in London and elsewhere in the country before the war, and before any of these considerations applied, were always largely to the advantage of the areas outside London, and that the ratio was always nearly two to one?

I could not answer that question without notice, but I should think it would depend very largely upon the type of area which the company served.