HC Deb 08 July 1952 vol 503 cc1064-5
3. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Labour what progress is being made in the proposed arrangements for load spreading during the winter of 1952–53.

The Minister of Labour (Sir Walter Monckton)

The Electricity Sub-Committee of the Joint Consultative Committee has been considering the arrangements that will be required in order to spread the electricity load next winter, and its Report is being published today.

The Sub-Committee's principal recommendation is that between 1st November, 1952, and 31st January, 1953, industrial consumers and larger commercial consumers should take steps to reduce their demand at peak hours by at least 10 per cent., and that regional boards should have discretion to vary this percentage in the light of local and regional conditions. The Sub-Committee directs attention to the need for the maximum use of private generating plant, and for the continual exercise of economy during peak hours by domestic and smaller commercial consumers.

The Government have accepted the recommendations and regional boards will shortly be asking firms and organisations to co-operate in putting them into effect. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing warm appreciation of the work done by both sides of industry as well as by the regional boards and the area peak economy committees in dealing with this difficult problem.

Mr. Nabarro

While welcoming my right hon. and learned Friend's exhortation for the maximum use of independent generating plant, may I ask him whether he realises that it is estimated that next winter there will be a deficit of 10 per cent. between the maximum generating capacity of power houses and the maximum demand at peak hours on an average winter day, and a 20 per cent. deficit on a cold winter day? In those circumstances, is it not very dangerous to abate load spreading which has served us so well in recent years?

Sir W. Monckton

I am anxious that everyone should bear in mind the exhortation which the Committee make in their Report, not only with respect to private generating plants but also that it is more than ever necessary that regional boards should have full discretion to take account of changing circumstances.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Does this not mean a greater reduction in load spreading which was arranged for last winter? In view of the fact that the industrial demand for electricity in this country ought to increase far beyond our power to increase power station capacity, and since load spreading means a more economical use of power stations, ought we not to retain as a permanent part of our policy arrangements which worked last winter?

Sir W. Monckton

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree that the important thing is the degree to which it is necessary to retain it, and I am sure that when he reads the Report he may wish to reconsider the matter again and perhaps put another Question.

Mr. Chetwynd

Does that 10 per cent. reduction mean a 10 per cent. reduction in last year's figures, or in the estimated forecast for this year?

Sir W. Monckton

It is 10 per cent. on the estimated forecast for this year, as I understand it.

Mr. Nabarro

In view of the not wholly satisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Forward to