To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of British Gas to discuss the level of gas prices for industrial consumers.
My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of British Gas from time to time to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, including the fact that industrial gas prices have fallen by 41 per cent. in real terms over the past five years.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that excellent news. Does he agree that that implies that a large part of British industry will now have a major competitive advantage? That, in conjunction with the fact that we have the lowest domestic gas prices in Europe, is a major vindication of our privatisation programme.
I agree with my hon. Friend. He spoke about domestic gas prices. Since privatisation the price of domestic gas has fallen by 14 per cent., so all round British Gas has a very good record.
Can the Minister give any assurances and with any confidence that gas prices will not rise when gas is used as a bulk burn fuel in power stations?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the price of gas depends on the efficiency of British Gas and the other North sea gas producers. It also depends on supply and demand.