HC Deb 23 July 1953 vol 518 cc567-8
2. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to safeguard continuity of industrial production during the forthcoming winter, in view of the renewed danger of power cuts arising from shortage of house coal causing householders to resort, promiscuously, to the use of electric fires and electric water heaters during peak hours; and whether he will arrange a 20 per cent. industrial load-spread, as in 1950 and 1951.

Sir W. Monckton

The Electricity sub-Committee of the Joint Consultative Committee has been considering the arrangements that will be required in regard to spreading the electricity load next winter. Its report will be published next week.

After reviewing the prospects in the various regions and taking account of the welcome improvement in the supply position, the sub-Committee recommended that no national load-spreading target should be set, but that regional boards for industry should have discretion to make load-spreading arrangements in the light of conditions likely to arise in their respective areas. It is also recommended that all possible encouragement should continue to be given to the use of private generating plant and that domestic and small commercial consumers should again be asked to exercise maximum economy during the hours of peak load.

The Government have accepted the recommendations and regional boards will, as in previous years, be responsible for working out detailed arrangements. I would like again to thank both sides of industry for their continued assistance in this matter.

Mr. Nabarro

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for that very comprehensive answer, may I ask him whether, when this report is published next week, he will consider drawing the attention of both sides of industry urgently to the grave shortage of house coal which is likely to confront us next winter, with the consequent special call on the use of electricity for domestic purposes which may—as not in previous years—create rather unusual demands at peak hours and interfere thereby with industrial production?

Sir W. Monckton

I raised the point to which my hon. Friend has referred at the meeting of the National Joint Advisory Council yesterday, and both sides of industry have it very much in mind.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that a contribution could be made to this problem if unemployed workers in the Falkirk and Stirlingshire area could be put to work to produce more fuel-saving appliances? There is great redundancy and unemployment there and these are the very appliances which could enable householders to use less coal during the winter.

Sir W. Monckton

I will look into that point.