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Fuel Prices

Volume 978: debated on Monday 11 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the increase in domestic gas prices as compared with the commercial gas price, household coal, two star petrol, electricity, heating oil, retail prices and supplementary benefit for the period since December 1975 to the latest convenient date; and what the estimate is for each of these to December.

It is not possible to give a meaningful summary of fuel prices for the country as a whole. Prices vary according to geographic location, quantities purchased and, in the case of coal, petrol and heating oil, individual merchants. I have arranged for the relevant information related to the Northampton area to be tabulated in the Official Report.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend and look forward to reading the remainder of his answer in the Official Report. However, does he agree that even under the new circumstances domestic gas will be a good buy, and that the higher the profit level of the British Gas Corporation the lower the amount of taxation that we shall have to raise? Does he further agree that that is of great benefit to gas and non-gas users?

My hon. Friend is right. Over the past five years, much the lowest price increase of all fuels has been for gas. It has been much lower than for almost all other fuels, and certainly lower than retail prices generally. It is correct that, for the coming year and the years thereafter, a large part of the profits of



Consumption level

Percentage price increase

Gas (Domestic)80 therms/Annum27
400 therms/Annum39
1,200 therms/Annum40
Gas (Commercial)5,000 therms/Annum87
Household CoalDeliveries of 1 ton91
2 Star Petrol53
Electricity (Domestic)750 Kwh/Annum70
5,000 Kwh/Annum69
30,000 Kwh/Annum76
Gas OilDeliveries of 500 gallons97
Retail Price IndexAll Items64
Fuel and Light65·3
Long Term RateSingle Householder73
Supplementary BenefitsMarried Couple75
* The estimated increases for fuel prices to December 1980 are not available except for gas to the domestic sector where the figure is 29 per cent. The estimated increase for supplementary benefit is a question for the Secretary of State for Social Services.