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Problems of the Gas Industry

Nature volume 154, page 604 (11 November 1944) | Download Citation



ON October 24 Mr. A. E. Sylvester addressed the Fuel Luncheon Club on some immediate problems of the gas industry in Great Britain. The speaker, as managing director of the Gas Light and Coke Co., London, spoke on administrative rather than technical problems. He appealed for freedom of choice for the consumer of fuels, while recognizing the need for some sort of control to see that prices are reasonably related to cost of supply taking into account all the circumstances. The gas industry includes far too many small units, which, though possibly manufacturing gas satisfactorily, are unable to maintain the technical staffs adequate to give the service to consumers which present-day conditions require. The aggregation of the industry into larger groups would provide openings for more specialist technicians, while a national pension scheme would favour a freedom of movement which would be beneficial both to themselves and to an industry national in scope. Mr. Sylvester pleaded for sales tariffs which deal justly as between one type of consumer and another. It is sound policy to relate changes to cost as closely as circumstances permit, otherwise one article has to subsidize another. When gas is supplied to a factory, the charge must cover not only manufacture but also capital costs up to the works, and little more. For domestic fuel the charge must go further, covering the heavy costs of services to the consumer. The resultant charges must differ, otherwise justice is not done as between consumers. It was emphasized that gas is a refined fuel and is used because of the service it gives; this emphasis implying the necessity for a high standard of service throughout the country.

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