asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will give a general direction to the British Gas Corporation to expand the network of gas supply mains in rural areas.
No, Sir. The statute imposes a duty to satisfy all reasonable demands for gas only so far as it is economical for the corporation to do so, a matter of which it is the proper judge.
Is it not in the national interest that all energy consumers should have the widest possible choice of fuel, especially in the rural areas, and that gas should be more widely available as an alternative to oil for central heating purposes?
This involves the commercial judgment of the British Gas Corporation, which looks at each proposition on its merits. If my hon. Friend has any case or area in mind, perhaps he will get in touch with me, after which I shall communicate the details to the British Gas Corporation.