asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will compare the percentage of household costs for a couple on retirement pension with gas as a sole means of energy (a) at the present time and (b) 10 years previously.
For a married couple whose only source of income is the flat rate retirement pension, the cost of enough gas for a cooker and main living room fire—280 therms—has fallen from as much as 8 per cent. of household costs in 1972 to just under 5 per cent. of household costs today.
Does my hon. Friend agree with me that this is very good news and not the sort of news that Labour Members are inclined to let people realise? Will he further say that the Government's policy to free the monopoly in the provision and supply of gas will probably lead to even further reductions in the real costs of pensioners in heating and looking after their houses?
My hon. Friend is entirely right. It is new competition that produces new supply, and competition is always better for the consumer.