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Electricity Privatisation

Volume 173: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether any individual who has advised the Conservative party on advertising or public relations was involved in selecting the company awarded the advertising contract for electricity privatisation.

In deciding which company to appoint as advertising agency for the flotation of the regional electricity campaign, I and the companies were advised by a panel of officials and advisers of Government Departments and the regional electricity companies. One of these advisers was Mr. Tim Bell the chairman of Lowe Bell Communications who are the Department's marketing advisers. Mr. Bell has provided general advice to the Conservative party.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what budgetary provision has been made for the cost of the advertising campaigns to promote the flotation of the electricity supply industry in England and Wales.

All expenses in respect of the advertising campaigns for the sale of the electricity supply industry will be met from the proceeds of the sale.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether any individual who has advised the Conservative party on advertising or public relations is involved in the company awarded the advertising contract for electricity privatisation.

The Government and the regional electricity companies have already announced the appointment of WCRS Mathews Marcantonio as advertising agency for the flotation of the companies. The chairman of the agency is Mr Robin Wright who provided some advice on advertising issues to the Conservative party over two years ago.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy in the case of each of those companies advising him and also advising electricity boards on electricity privatisation what is the percentage of fees borne by his Department; and what was the equivalent percentage in 1988–89 and 1989–90.

Where the appointment is solely by the Department it meets 100 per cent. of the costs involved. Where, however, the appointment is made jointly by the Department and the industry, the costs are apportioned between the parties. The precise split in costs varies from contract to contract and is commercially confidential between the Department, the company or companies concerned and the firm of advisers appointed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether before entering into a binding contract with an advertising agency for the campaigns to privatise the electricity supply industry on the basis of competitive tenders, the agency was given an indication of the likely budget for the campaigns.