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Electricity Boards (Finance)

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1962

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement regarding his discussions with the electricity boards in Scotland on the implementation of the policies set out in Command Paper 1337, The Financial and Economic Obligations of the Nationalised Industries.

The South of Scotland Electricity Board has agreed that it should be its financial objective over the five years 1962–66 to secure an average gross return before deducting interest or making provision for depreciation of about 12½ per cent. on its net assets. This will enable the Board to finance from revenue more than 50 par cent, of its capital development.

Discussions with the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board are still in progress.

While one cannot fully appreciate these figures without looking into them, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is a fact that this additional raising of capital means, in effect, price increases? Will the Secretary of State answer the simple question: how much will this cost electricity consumers in Scotland? They are already worried and annoyed about the South of Scotland increased electricity charges.

I understand that the South of Scotland Board, which recently announced its new tariffs to produce an additional 11 per cent. of revenue, had all these matters in mind when making these increases.

Does any consultation take place with the Secretary of State regarding these new tariffs? Is it true that the weight is being put upon the domestic tariff as against the industrial tariff?

The fixing of tariffs is a matter for the Board, but details of discussions which were held were set out in the White Paper dealing with the nationalised industries.

How can the right hon. Gentleman say that these increases are a matter for the Board? Can he answer the simple question: how much is this costing electricity consumers? It must be costing them something. Are we not entitled to know how much?

I cannot answer that in reply to a supplementary question. If, however, the hon. Member would put a Question down, I would try to give him the answer. It would be a fairly complicated matter.