asked the Secretary of State for Energy what action he has taken on the Fourth Report from the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, on gas and electricity prices, and also on the National Consumer Council's report "Paying for Fuel".
The Government's reply to the Select Committee Report is published today as a White Paper, Cmnd. 6806. I have also written today to the Chairman of the National Consumer Council in reply to the recommendations contained in its report and have arranged for a copy of my letter to be placed in the Library.The Government welcomed both reports, which were concerned with the tariff structures and pricing policies of the gas and electricity industries. The Government considered carefully the recommendations made in the reports and, as the detailed replies show, action has been taken in keeping with some recommendations and further studies are proceeding on others.Two important steps were taken in order to provide assistance to domestic consumers in time for last winter. First, the industries agreed a code of practice on the payment of gas and electricity bills with the Government and put it into effect. This provides for protection of genuine hardship cases against disconnection; encourages the spread and adoption of pay-as-you-go payment methods, and defines the circumstances in which a security deposit is required. Secondly, the Government are providing help to recipients of supplementary benefit and family income supplement through a 25 per cent. discount allowable on one of last winter's electricity bills.