asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many electricity authorities offer transistor radios in commercial promotions; and at what total cost.
I am informed that since the beginning of 1974 three boards have done so. The total cost of the radios was£19,500.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this is yet another example of wasteful competition in a basically non-competitive industry. Would not the money be much better spent in performing some of the energy saving activities suggested today by hon. Members? Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that this matter must be considered in the context of savage increases in electricity prices to the consumer? Surely the Department is fiddling while the consumer burns.
The hon. Gentleman is not correct. The boards have a statutory right to sell and install products. How they should promote them is a matter for their commercial judgment. Why should publicly owned industries be treated differently from private industries which have such promotional aids? The boards are perfectly entitled to do this, but it is a matter for their commercial judgment.