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Electric Cables, Membury Airfield

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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26.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that the people of Woodland St. Mary and Lambourn Woodlands, in Berkshire, are being denied a public supply of electricity by reason of his Department's requirement that the lines in the proximity of Membury airfield must be laid underground, which adds £3,650 to the cost of the proposed supply scheme; and if he will make some payment to meet the extra cost of laying the cable underground.

No, Sir. I am not aware that the residents of the two villages referred to have been denied a public supply of electricity by reason of any action on the part of my Department. Where, as in this case an R.A.F. airfield is in existence prior to the laying of electric cables close to it by an electricity authority, it has always been the practice that the extra cost of laying such cables underground should be borne by the electricity authority concerned. In these circumstances, the last part of the Question does not arise.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consult with the Minister of Fuel and Power? Does he not agree that it is outrageous that these villagers who want a public supply of electricity should be charged expenses which properly are his concern and have nothing to do with them or the electricity board?

I certainly agree that every village should be provided with electricity, but the question of paying for it is a different matter, at least when my Department is asked to pay for it.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that this practice by the Service Ministers—it was confirmed by the Admiralty today—is preventing residents in these rural constituencies getting a supply at anything like a reasonable cost, and as the Government promised that they would provide the cost themselves is this not another case of a broken pledge?

That is a question which should be put down to the Minister of Fuel and Power.

I understood that this Question was put down to the Ministry of Fuel and Power, as was the Question to the Admiralty, and that they were transferred to the Service Departments?