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Electricity Fuel Surcharges

Volume 887: debated on Monday 24 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of the electricity fuel surcharges is attributable to increased coal and oil costs, respectively.

About 45 per cent. and 55 per cent. of the present fuel cost adjustment on quarterly tariffs is due to coal and oil price increases, respectively.

In view of the Secretary of State's earlier comments about the need for economic realism in looking at these costs, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he agrees that the latest increases coming through because of the £3,000-a-year coalminer scheme will have a dramatic impact which may price coal and, indeed, electricity out of a number of markets?

I think the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that the latest settlement will lead to increased prices, but I hope he will agree that the Government have never tried to hide that. I am sure he will agree also that it is proper to have realistic pricing policies for energy supplies.

The hon. Gentleman may be happy to know that the position will not be as bad as he indicates in relation to pricing coal and electricity out of markets, but the increase in price will be severe. The Government have never tried to hide that fact.

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the report suggesting that Mr. Arthur Hawkins has informed Sir Derek Ezra that he thinks electricity consumption could fall by up to 3½ per cent. during 1975–76? In view of the significance of that forecast for the power generation programme itself, will the hon. Gentleman arrange to give the House at the earliest possible moment some indication of the Government's own forecast and what they believe this will mean in terms of the proposed programme for power station construction?

I saw the matter to which the hon. Gentleman has drawn attention referred to in the weekend Press. All I can say is that my right hon. Friend is sitting beside me, and if he deems it necessary to make a statement to the House to amend construction and target figures I am sure he will be happy to do so.