asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many civil servants, and at what grades, in his Department are occupied in analysing the effects of gas and electricity tariff structures on different types of consumer.
In my Department the present study of this question occupies part of the time of one deputy secretary, two assistant secretaries, one senior economist, two principals, one statistician and two higher executive officers along with other officials as necessary.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, contrary to the impression that is being given by some chairmen of nationalised industries, relationships between Government Departments and nationalised industries are not necessarily of the all-or-nothing variety? If this gamut of talent which my hon. Friend has at his disposal were to apply itself a little harder, might he not be able to make more impact on the chairmen of the electricity and gas industries about the problems of small consumers?
The relationships between my Department and the nationalised industries are very good and fruitful. Action has already been taken. The last increases in gas and electricity prices were arranged so as to mitigate the impact on small consumers. The Government have uprated pensions and other social security benefits within the past nine months. A further uprating will be made later this year. We are also engaged in a further review of energy tariffs.