The Consumer and the Nationalised Industries
Nationalisation posed the question of the rights of the consumer. Before nationalisation the problem did not exist, though on occasion consumers, when roused, did band themselves together to resist a powerful public utility. There was, for instance, the famous case of the South Metropolitan Gas Company in 1936, when strong protests led to a public inquiry and a climb-down by the Company. But if you did not like coal ‘A’ you bought coal ‘B’. Many of the gas and electricity undertakings were municipal, and local opinion, through elections, could have a decisive influence on their policy. Even when they were company undertakings, they were local in character and susceptible to local views. Railways were always a cause for grumble and it was often felt that railway companies were too vast to be human.
KeywordsPublic Ownership Domestic Consumer Area Board Domestic Coal National Coal
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