To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has received the third response by the electricity supply industry to the report by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the revenue collection systems of four area boards; and if he will make a statement.
I have now received from the Electricity Council, on behalf of all area boards, its third response to the report of the MMC published in January 1985 on the revenue collection systems of the East Midlands, South Eastern, North Eastern and South Western area electricity boards (Cmnd. 9427). I am placing copies of the response in the Library of the House.This final response notes the progress made and the conclusions reached in reviewing the MMC's recommendations since my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad) announced receipt of the second response on 29 July 1986, at columns 361–62. In particular,—each area board has now set itself targets for reducing meter reading, billing and collection costs. Progress in achieving the targets is monitored regularly as is performance between boards;—a detailed study indentifying 'best practices' in revenue collection procedures has been completed and all boards are responding positively to its conclusions;—detailed methods of allocating revenue collection costs based on national accounting guidelines are operated for the purposes of both management cost control and inter-hoard comparisons. All boards have reviewed their allocation practices to ensure that they comply with these guidelines.The industry is continuing to keep revenue collection practices under review and the response concludes by noting that privatisation may bring about further changes in these.The MMC's report and the response of the industry to its recommendations have been a valuable contribution to improving efficiency.