asked the Minister of Power if he will issue general directions to the nationalised fuel and power industries so as to bring about greater coordination between them.
Mr. Frederick Lee
I promote coordination between the nationalised fuel and power industries through discussion in my Co-ordinating Committee and in other ways. No occasion has arisen for the issue of a direction.
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that much of the existing competition between these nationalised industries is expensive, wasteful and unnecessary? Therefore, would he look at this problem again and consider the possibility of strengthening the co-ordinating functions of the Energy Advisory Council or alternatively setting up a new national power board under his own chairmanship?
As I said in the White Paper, the scope for further co-operation will be kept under review. We are indeed doing a great deal now. I have set up machinery by which there are regular meetings under my chairmanship between the chairmen of these various boards and, in the wider context, there is the Energy Advisory Council itself. However, I do not look upon this as the end of the story. Rather, it is the beginning of it.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if he were to follow the advice given by his hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Park), it would be tantamount to telling the customer to take what he is given and like it? Will he bear in mind that by far the best guarantee of satisfaction to the customer, indeed the only one, is competition between these industries?
I think that where there are nationalised industries there is more to it than competition. The very basis upon which the Statutes were drawn presupposes some competition between them. Because of the overriding responsibility, to the nation, it is right and proper that the Government should supervise them.