HC Deb 19 December 1946 vol 431 cc2153-5
31. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the estimated weekly tonnage and percentage saving in coal used by gas arid electricity undertakings since his appeal for a 10 per cent, voluntary reduction in gas and electricity consumption.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Shinwell)

The normal seasonal increase in consumption, coupled with other factors, makes it impossible to gauge the extent to which consumers have responded to the appeal voluntarily to economise in their consumption of gas and electricity. Owing to the abnormal increases in consumption I have felt bound, after consultation with representatives of industry, to take additional measures. At the same time, I have made a further appeal to domestic consumers to exercise every possible economy.

41. Sir John Mellor

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, by S.R. &; 0., No. 2087, he has ordered industrial and other undertakings to restrict their rate of electricity and gas consumption during January, February and March, to 97½ per cent, of their rate of consumption during a period preceding 21st December, 1946, thereby penalizing each undertaking in proportion to its economy in the basic period; and if he will give an assurance that undertakings, which reduce consumption below the maximum permitted, will not thereby be prejudiced in subsequent restriction.

Mr. Shinwell

The restriction on the consumption of gas and electricity will be so administered as to take full account of fuel efficiency measures already taken by industrial undertakings. Any undertaking engaged on work of national importance which is unable to secure the small additional saving of 2½ per cent, now required will be free to apply for a licence to consume larger supplies. It is my intention throughout to accord the most favourable treatment possible to firms which practice fuel efficiency.

Sir J. Mellor

As under the terms of the present order those who have been wasteful gain an advantage over those who have been economical, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance that this policy will not be repeated?

Mr. Shinwell

I am afraid the hon. Member is placing a wrong construction on the terms of the order. The order is designed to provide that those persons who are wasting in the sense that they do not promote efficient methods will be treated less favourably than others.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Has the right hon. Gentleman effected any economy by calling a cut in supplies "shedding the load"?

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. and learned Member is quite mistaken. It is not the Minister of Fuel who calls for the shedding of the load. That is a matter entirely in the hands of the Central Electricity Board.

42. Sir. J. Mellor

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the Explanatory Note to the Electricity and Gas (Reduction of Consumption) Order, 1946, S.R. & O. 1946 No. 2087, is inaccurate and misleading; and whether he will substitute for the words, by z\ per cent., which, in the context, imply for each period progressive reduction, the words, to 97½ per cent., so as to show that the Order does not require reduction below 97½ per cent, of basic consumption.

Mr. Shinwell

The wording used in the Explanatory Note was chosen as being clearer to the general reader than that necessarily employed in the body of the order. I am advised that the wording in the note cannot reasonably be construed in the manner suggested by the hon. Member.

Sir J. Mellor

In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of this order, I beg to give notice that I shall move its annulment, on Thursday, 23rd January.

Forward to