HC Deb 16 July 1962 vol 663 cc24-6
27. Mr. Grey

asked the Minister of Power what estimate has been made by the Central Electricity Generating Board, and put to him, of when further consideration will be given to the building of a new power station in the county of Durham.

Mr. Wood

It is expected that the Board will consider in about two years' time whether to resume the investigation of sites for a new coal-fired power station to be commissioned in the early 1970s, but this is a matter which is kept under regular review.

Mr. Grey

There is not much consolation in that. Why has Durham County been selected for such shabby treatment by the Central Electricity Generating Board? May we have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that he will have further talks with the Chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board and instruct him that there should be a power station built in Durham irrespective of what he thinks? If he fails to do that, will he resign?

Mr. Wood

I do not think that the Central Electricity Generating Board has treated Durham shabbily. With the new Blythe B station which will come into operation in about three years, there will be sufficient capacity for local demand until the early 1970s. Therefore, any new power station would have to export, with consequent transmission lines, a large part of its output. I have undertaken to several of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends to talk further with the Generating Board about the estimates of demand which it has made, but I should not like it to be thought that I had any doubt that the demand it has estimated is, in fact, correctly based.

Commander Kerans

Does my right hon. Friend understand that there is vast unemployment in the North-East? In my constituency, it is 6.4 per cent. A year ago, I was given to understand that there was the possibility of a power station in the vicinity of my constituency, and I cannot understand why this cannot be looked into as a matter of urgency. I support my Socialist colleagues in this matter in trying to reduce unemployment in the area. May we have power stations, not pipelines?

Hon. Members: Hear, hear.

Mr. Wood

I found it difficult to hear the end of my hon. Friend's supplementary question because of the noises opposite. I think he was suggesting that attempts should be made to employ men in the North-East in this way. I feel that it would be wrong to try to provide new employment by generating electricity in anything but the most economic way.

Mr. Fernyhough

Did the Central Electricity Generating Board come to its decision not to build a new power station in Durham because it believed that, under the present Administration, economic expansion would not be sufficient to use the power which it would produce?

Mr. Wood

No, Sir. The Central Electricity Generating Board took into account all the facts, including the likely future expansion of industry in the country.