HC Deb 22 November 1963 vol 684 cc1420-36

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Gordon Campbell.]

3.33 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

This Adjournment debate is on a subject of great interest and concern in the City of Bristol. It arises because the Central Electricity Generating Board has proposed, and the Minister has accepted, that a line of 275 kV cables should go on pylons through my constituency towards the centre of the city. This it is felt in Bristol generally will ruin the amenities of some beautiful valleys, the Avon Valley and the Golden and Nightingale Valleys, and will involve danger to the inhabitants, particularly children, and will reduce land values.

These pylons are universally opposed in Bristol. The corporation has the support of members of all parties. Civic bodies and those most directly concerned have all united to oppose them, and it is only by this debate that I am able to question the Minister's decision.

I should like to begin by saying what the debate is not about. There is no dispute whatsoever about the need for more electricity in Bristol. It is estimated that by 1978 there will be a demand for four times as much as is now used. There is no argument against the urgency of the need for more electricity supply. This is not a Luddite attack on progress, nor is it a local appeal which conflicts with the general interest. It is certainly not a last hopeless appeal against the inevitable. I hope very much, therefore, that the Minister in replying to the debate will not brush this off, however courteously, and suggest that the matter is really over, because it is not.

The issue is whether the extra cost of putting an underground cable for part of this line into Bristol would be justified on amenity grounds as compared with the loss of amenities if these wires are carried on pylons. There is no other issue. I submit that the Central Electricity Generating Board has handled this matter very badly, that the inquiry was unsatisfactory, that the Minister's decision is wrong and that it is not too late for something to be done about it. I shall finish with a specific proposal.

I shall go into the background of this story very briefly because the Minister knows it well. The demand for electricity is rising. In 1956 the Central Electricity Generating Board wanted a 132 kV. cable to go along this line. The planning committee in Bristol at that time agreed in principle, however reluctantly, to this proposal. Later the electricity authority asked that this should be upgraded to the present proposed 275 kV. on pylons which is part of the supergrid.

The complaint of the people that I represent is, first, that the Central Electricity Generating Board failed to take account of the amenities which would be affected by its pylons. I have here a report from Mr. Goulty, who was the architect appointed by the Board. In this report, from which I want to read only short extracts, the architect thought that amenity would be affected. He deals with a number of sections. One of them which greatly concerns my constituency is section 2, towers 16–13, which includes these words: It may be argued that as this land is zoned industrial, an overhead line could be easily absorbed in such a situation. … These factories are likely to be of the light industrial category, well designed, well laid out and …considerations of amenity apply just as much to people at work as to those at home. I come to the next area, which is the Avon Valley. I quote from parts of this paragraph but which in no way destroys the sense. It says, talking of section 3: For convenience this could be called the 'valley' section of the line. The valley is formed by an unnamed tributary flowing northwards into the Avon. …The present aspect of the valley, although not of high amenity in any national sense, is of very considerable amenity value in this area of fairly intensive residential development and as part of a green finger between two neighbourhoods. Later on the same section says: Nevertheless, because nearly the whole of this section runs through existing public open space and is so close to housing, a substantial proportion of which will be viewing the conductors at or below eye level, it is considered that this section of the line constitutes a serious affront to amenity. The Electricity Board rather boasts about the care it takes in siting these lines. Indeed, it put an advertisement in the Daily Mail, some months ago, in which it said about its own work: Experienced architects and landscape architects are engaged to advise on the design and siting on buildings and transmission lines. Then when it gets a report from its own architect describing its own proposal as a serious affront to amenity, it rejects that advice out of hand.

This is most unsatisfactory. It is the first part of our charge that the Board when it looked at this did not take the advice of its own experts.

Next, we come to the Central Electricity Generating Board's own report, 10th September, 1962, in which it says about this line that it does not cross residences nor affect notable countryside". That is to say, it rejected the architect's view outright. As a result of this—this was about 18 months ago when the news first began to leak out publicly—opposition mounted in Bristol to the siting of the line on this route.

This opposition is a remarkable story of local democracy at work. I should like to describe the work of the Pylon Protest Committee in Bristol, and I am glad that I have a little longer than is usual in an Adjournment debate. The Committee was a vigorous, dedicated all-party group which worked very hard on this pylons issue. It did not consist just of a group of people who got together one evening and wrote a letter to their Member of Parliament, although that is always worth doing, but they studied the details of the Board's proposal. They went into the technical data in great detail. They included architects and other skilled and qualified people. They sought expert advice when they were in difficulty. They inquired into what happened in other cities, and they followed up. other inquiries in detail. They kept complete volumes of Press cuttings and technical details about work in other cities. They offered alternative proposals which were reasonable. They analysed alternative costs and worked out ways in which these could be funded. They worked out what rights they had, such as they are, under the Electricity Act.

They campaigned and won almost universal support in the city. They wrote to all Members of Parliament in the city and, although I cannot say that all Members supported them, they certainly took an interest in the matter. They won the support of the corporation;26 organisations in the city, including the Civic Society, supported them; 174 individuals including headmasters and clergymen—all sorts of people in the area—wrote in, and nearly 1,500 people in the area signed the petition. I am very proud to see this example of local democracy at work, and I think the case they put before the inquiry deserved better treatment than it got.

May I briefly go over what their case was against this transmission line? It was primarily on the effects that it would have on amenities. I want first to deal with the case for the city generally rather than the local interests of the residents themselves. Bristol is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, manufacturing city in Britain. It escaped the worst industrial horrors of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is the regional capital of the West Country, and one of its beauties is that, being built on hills, one gets a wide view of the city right across to the other side.

These pylons would come to within one-third of a mile of St. Mary Redcliffe Church which Queen Elizabeth I described as "the fairest and goodliest parish church in the whole realm of England", and within a mile of the Council House which is at the centre of the city. Even when the railway came 100 years ago and Brunei, the engineer, was devising the route he paid great care and attention to the way by which Bristol should be approached, in order to avoid spoiling its amenities. When the Portishead cable was brought to the city 30 years ago it was laid underground. Bristol is proud of its planning of open spaces, one of which is to be disfigured by the line of cables. For the people who live in Brislington and St. Anne's who are most immediately concerned it means that the Golden and Nightingale Valleys are to be disfigured, and one park which is the only park available for children is to be disfigured by two pylons.

I have a picture here which has been constructed in the city, showing the size of the pylons and their siting in the park at Brislington. The pylons will ruin the amenities of these valleys. There will be 17 of them within the city boundary at an average height of 118 ft. for the super-grid lines, and they will dwarf the houses. Because of their size they cannot be hidden by trees.

In other cities the Board has been more careful. In Edinburgh 4½ miles of 275 kV cable have been laid underground. In Nottingham trenching has taken place so that the cable may be taken under the city. In Plymouth there are new grids, but none have come within the city boundaries. I hope the Minister will confirm that Bristol is the only city in the south-west of England and, for all I know, in the whole of Britain which is to have super-grid cables of thisheight and voltage within the city limits.

This raises the question of danger. I do not wish to say anything which would encourage fears of danger to get out of proportion, but it is one thing to have pylons across open country where children have a choiceas to where they can go, and it is another thing to have them in the middle of a park in a residential area. These cables, at their lowest, will be only 25 ft. above the ground.

The Bristol Pylon Protest Committee has carefully collected evidence about children hurt or killed climbing pylons or in some way involved in overhead electricity cables. The examples which it has given me—I have not verified them individually myself—all come from Press cuttings: a 14-year-old boy in Kent, a 10-year-old boy in Crewe, a 9-year-old boy in Chepstow, a 13-year-old boy in Durham and a young man of 19 in Hartcliffe. All these were involved in accidents, some fatal, as a result of climbing pylons in those areas. Recently, in Nailsea, very near Bristol, the power was cut off because a kite had flown across one of the power lines. The possibility of danger is very much in the minds of mothers in this part of Bristol.

I have dealt with amenity and danger. I come now to the fall in the value of houses. Undoubtedly, partly because of the loss of amenity, partly because of the danger, and for other reasons, there is a real loss which not only affects the individuals concerned but which will restrict the planning use which Bristol Corporation can make of this part of the city in future. I believe that, on those three grounds, there is legitimate complaint. The Pylon Protest Committee, the Civic Society and others, have put forward the alternative proposal that, over that part of the route where the amenity factor is so important, the overhead wires should be replaced by underground cables. They added to their arguments, which I have summarised, three other points of importance, demonstrating the care which has been taken to study the technical side of the matter. First, cables can be fairly cheaply duplicated whereas pylons cannot. If one builds a pylon, it is for a particular voltage. If one starts with 132 kV, and one wants to make it 275 kV, the wires and the pylons cannot carry the load; whereas, if cables are put underground, and the demand for electricity is likely to rise dramatically over the next twenty or thirty years, one will be involved in less cost than in trying to rebuild the pylons.

Second, cables have a lower energy loss than overhead wires. I am not an electrical engineer so I cannot describe exactly what this means, but I believe that it is accepted that there is a lower energy loss with underground cables, and this difference in energy loss compensates for about 10 per cent, of the cost difference between the two methods. Third, of course, cables inevitably call for a lower maintenance cost underground than if carried on pylons.

Here is the simple problem. The only argument which the Central Electricity Generating Board has advanced, the only argument which, to the best of my knowledge, influenced the Minister, is the argument about cost. There is an argument about how much the extra cost would be, but this arises because the electricity authority has itself altered the figures which it has given at different times. However, the figure I am going on is the figure in the memorandum of the Central Electrity Generating Board dated September, 1962, in which it is said that the extra cost would be £280,000 to put the cable underground at this particular point.

It has been argued that, if one under-; took expenditure on this scale—I think that this is what was said by Mr. Irens, the chairman of the South-Western Electricity Board—it would mean £7 to £10 per consumer in Bristol. Were this so, it would certainly be more difficult to get Bristol to support the plea, but it is not a completely accurate account of the financing involved.

If one accepts the £280,000 and funds it over 40 years, which is a reasonable expectation of life for pylons, and one then divides it by the 800,000 consumers in the south-west of England, the result is 2d. per consumer per year to preserve the amenities of the Avon Valley in Bristol.

It may be asked, why should the south-west of England pay to keep amenities in Bristol? I will tell the Minister one very good reason why. It is the consumers of Bristol who are financing rural electrification in the South-West. Electricity prices would be very much lower in the City of Bristol if Bristol, the only major city in the South-West, were not carrying the cost of rural electrification throughout Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. To ask the consumers of the South-West to make an infinitesimal contribution to the preservation of the beauty of the regional capital of the South-West is not at all unreasonable. Coupled with this, of course, the underground cables coming in would themselves generate and meet new demand and, therefore, the cost involved would be very small, taking into account the resultant increased profits of the electricity authority. At any rate, these are the arguments brought forward—amenity, danger and land value. These are the people who brought them forward, the local citizens, and these were the courses which they proposed. This is what the argument is about.

I come now to the public inquiry held, is a result of the Corporation of Bristol demandingan inquiry, from 27th February to 5th March this year. Mr. Grimmitt undertook the inquiry and a Q.C. was briefed by the Electricity Board. I submit that this inquiry was unsatisfactory for the following reasons. First, Mr. Goulty, the architect the Board had engaged, the man it boasts about in its newspaper advertising, was tot called by the Board as a witness at the inquiry. It may be that the Board vas right and he was wrong, but if an inquiry means anything alternative views about pylons must be tested in public. As I say, the Board did not call Mr. Goulty, although Section 37 of the Electricity Act, 1957, requires the Minister to take amenities into consideration when reaching decisions about pylons. The Board called no witnesses to support its assertion that no amenity interests were involved.

The second objection is that the cost estimates put in by the Board at the inquiry had doubled within the previous six months. When I wrote to Sir Christopher Hinton on 28th May, 1962, I was told by him that the cost per mile of underground cable would be £190,000. Less than 12 months later the figure of £265,000 was given at the inquiry. In the Regional Director's memorandum of 10th September, 1962, he gave as an estimate the figure of £280,000. But by the time the inquiry was held in March, 1963, the Board had jumped the figure up to £465,000.

I do not think this discrepancy can be justified on grounds other than the fact that the C.E.G.B. thought that by topping the figure up it would make it look less and less reasonable that it should be asked to put the cables underground. I have given the Minister all the relevant details and he can therefore explain the discrepancy. The Board would not accept from the residents who appeared before the inquiry any evidence on danger of 130 kV cables because, it said, these would be 275 kV—a very curious argument when we think of the extra voltage carried by the bigger cables and the fact that they would be at least as great, if not a greater, risk.

At the inquiry Mr. Grimmitt was forced to admit: I have sufficient evidence that the whole of the residents of Brislington object. In his report which I have been reading he put this most extraordinary phrase: Had there been no protest committee, the City Council would not have objected. Of course it would not have objected. What is the object of democracy in local government if it is not to respond to the clearly expressed views of residents when their local interests are involved? This opposition was brushed off by Mr. Grimmitt and the Minister on the ground that it stemmed from local protests. I shall return later to the logic of accepting the Minister's ruling in so far as it applies to public inquiries. On 24th September the Minister accepted Mr. Grimmitt's report dismissing the objections. This is the first opportunity that I have had to raise this matter in Parliament, partly because this is the first time that I have been back and partly because the House has not been sitting. I am grateful to Mr. Speaker for allowing me to take a vacant Adjournment debate at short notice in order that I might raise this matter.

May I try to sum up the position. The whole of Bristol's case has been dismissed and its arguments overruled. This is not a question of balancing the private interests of one area of Bristol against the needs of the City. Bristol needs more electricity, but the corporation still supported the case. No technical data or alternatives were made available by the Board at the inquiry. I put it seriously to the Minister: if inquiries are not to include examination of technical disagreements within the Board, and if the views of the local people are not to be taken into account when expressed with such force, is there not a danger that these inquiries will be made a mockery?

On balance, the Minister has decided that the amenities of the City, with its wide panoramic views over the Avon Valley, and the amenity needs of the area are not worth £280,000 funded over 40 years. I believe this to be a betrayal of the interests of Bristol—and I say this plainly.

I hope that the Minister will not try to escape his personal responsibility, for it is the personal responsibility of the Minister and his senior colleagues to decide whether this scheme should go through. I am sure that he will not try to escape his responsibility; he is much too courteous to do that.

Is it too late? What is to be done about it? There is no point in my just raising the matter, making my speech, sitting down and then going away. There must be a proposal, and I want to put a proposal today. I am grateful to the Minister for confirming that the work on these pylons has not yet started. The Minister can vary his decision now, if he thinks it right, without any loss of money to the Electricity Board arising from the new decision. I ask him to suspend his decision to authorise these pylonsthrough these areas, and I invite him to come to Bristol, with me, to walk along this route, to meet the people and to hear their case, to examine it himself and then to see whether, in the light of what they say, he still thinks it right to confirm the findings of Mr. Grimmitt.

This is not an unreasonable proposal, because Parliamentary democracy is built on two principles. One is that we, as Members of Parliament, on the back benches and the Front Benches, are here to represent the interests of the area which elects us—and I have tried to do that today to the best of my ability. The second principle is that those who exercise these powers, in this case the Minister, should exercise them being conscious of their own personal responsibilities. I believe this decision to be wholly wrong and a result of an unfortunate chapter of mismanagement and misjudgment from the beginning right through to the Minister's confirmation in September.

If, in the light of all this strongly held feeling and the well-argued technical information which is available to the City of Bristol, the Minister will look at the matter himself, I believe that the City of Bristol will be grateful for what he has done.

3.58 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. John Peyton)

The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) has developed his case with his usual eloquence and very fully. I am sorry to say that at the beginning of his speech he anticipated what my reply would be. He obviously feared a brush-off, which he said would be most unacceptable, even though courteous, and I am afraid that I have no alternative but to make it quite clear that the inquiry went fully into the points which the hon. Member very fairly raised and that the inspector subsequently reported to my right hon. Friend, who accepted the report. I am afraid that I cannot do what the hon. Member asks me to do—to go back on that decision or to suspend the operations of the Generating Board.

I have no quarrel with what the hon. Member said in his opening remarks about this subject. The proposal of the Generating Board is for a 275 kV light duty line passing for 2½ miles of its length over parts of the City of Bristol and ending at Feeder Road. This is a network which particularly needs reinforcement.

May I fill in a few facts and details? The pylons will be standard height of 121 ft. and the average span between them will be 1,200 ft. About 1,000 ft. of this line will go across residential land; 1½ miles of it will be across open spaces and what I think can fairly be called fringe development areas; and ¾ mile will be over the industrial area near and in the neighbourhood of Feeder Road.

I must make it clear that the line will be required for service next winter, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for stating that he did not challenge the need for electricity and for increasing the distribution capacity.

It being Four o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. McLaren.]

Mr. Peyton

The inquiry took place, as the hon. Gentleman knows, in February, 1963. I hope that he will forgive me if I say that the points he has raised in his speech were, I think, very fully ventilated at that inquiry. The points with which it was mostly concerned were those of amenity, danger, property values; and I think that some mention was made, also, of interference with television and radio, which the hon. Gentleman did not worry to pursue this afternoon.

On the question of amenity, I would say that it is very easy to represent the Generating Board, and indeed area boards as well, as vandals who do not consider the very important questions of amenity which people in Bristol and in other cities in other parts of the country naturally value very highly. Of course there is a conflict here. It is a conflict which, I hope, the hon. Gentleman will not suggest that the electricity industry in general disregards. He did say that this particular incident was an unfortunate chapter of mismanagement. I do not believe that that is really justified.

I think that the Generating Board has done its very best to work out a line which, though it will, 01 course, as is always the case, have an adverse effect on the view—this was the inspector's opinion—is, nevertheless, along a carefully chosen route taking full advantage of the contours and being for most of its length not only a winding route but also along fairly low-lying country.

Mr. Benn

If amenity was a major factor in the inquiry, why did the Board not call any witnesses to defend its assertion that amenities were not to be disturbed, nor call its own architect, who thought they would suffer a serious affront?

Mr. Peyton

I really do not think that it is for me to comment on whom the Board should or should not call at such inquiries. It is for the Board to make out its case to the satisfaction of the inspector, and, of course, it is for those who object, on any grounds, to assertions made by the Board, such as, in this case, that there was no intolerable interference with amenities, also to make out their case.

I will deal with the points which the hon. Gentleman made about the Board's architect at a later stage, but I want to say now that I think that the inspector was justified in coming to the conclusion that the Board had chosen this route with care and had certainly taken full note not only of the effect upon amenities but also of the fact that there would be strong feelings aroused by these proposals amongst the people of Bristol.

The hon. Gentleman has raised, as it was raised at the inquiry, the question of danger. The inspector's view was that this problem had been exaggerated, and that as a result undue anxiety had been caused. I think that perhaps it is worth mentioning that along the 7,000 miles of lines of 132 kV and above in this country, in the four years 1958–62, there were very few serious injuries from accidents. There was one case of a child who suffered injury as the result of climbing a tower. There were two cases in which youths threw wires across conductors, but no injury was reported in either case. There were 10 faults due to kites hitting conductors but there were no fatalities, though in one case a boy received a shock. There were two faults due to the flying of model aircraft, and in one case a youth of 18 was killed and a man and boy injured. However, considering the very great length, the immense extent, of the distribution system the number of accidents or even incidents has been very few.

So far as property is concerned—the hon. Gentleman did not really pursue this point, but perhaps I might just mention it—the inspector's conclusion was that there was no evidence of serious reduction in rateable values except in those cases where the pylon or tower was actually placed in the property concerned. The House may be interested to know that about 8,700 new houses have been built in England and Wales underneath transmission lines.

Mr. Benn

Is it only the possible loss of rateable value which is taken to be valid in this case, or would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the sale value of these houses in the open market, as distinct from rateable value, would certainly be affected by having pylons coming over the lines of a house, a garden and so on?

Mr. Peyton

I do not think that I can really answer that question. What I am concerned with is the conclusions of the inquiry on this point, and one of the points which the inspector made particularly was that there was no evidence of a decline in rateable value except where a tower was actually placed in the property itself.

The hon. Gentleman said that Bristol had been singled out for specially adverse treatment. I do not believe that is true. There are a number of other cases, even in the West Country and in Bristol itself. There are nearly six miles of 132 kV. overhead line in the north and west of Bristol, two miles of which go over a heavily populated area in which playing fields are crossed. I admit that it may be argued that that line is not quite as damaging to amenity as the one now being discussed. There are six miles of overhead lines going across Plymouth, and playing fields have actually been created under that line. There are three miles of line at Newton Abbot.

In other parts of the country there is no lack of examples. In the Greater London area the lines go deeply into residential parts—Woodford, Harrow, Hatch End, Pinner, Moore Park, West Byfleet, Maiden, Ewell and Croydon. There are four miles of 275 kV lines to Stuart Street, Manchester, from Stalybridge, and there are eight miles of 275 kV lines at Carrington, West Manchester, which is an area not dissimilar from Bristol. The voltage is the same, and the density of population is the same.

I am sorry to have wearied the House with such a catalogue as that, but it is by no means exhaustive. It is important that one should make the point that the treatment which Bristol is receiving is by no means exceptional, though I am certain that the hon. Member and others will continue to regret it.

I come to the very important, indeed, crucial, matter of cost. It is the duty of the Generating Board to supply electricity at an economic rate. Since I have been in my present office I have had to answer on a number of occasions complaints by hon. Members about increases in the cost of electricity. It is a highly technical matter and not one which is very easy to debate across the Floor of the House. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the figure of £564,000, the difference between the cost of putting the line overhead or using an underground cable, was finally accepted at the inquiry,

The hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that a figure of £280,000 was at one stage mentioned by the Board. I do not challenge that at all, but I must make it clear that this was a mistake. In fact, the Board estimates that the difference in cost that would be involved would be £564,000.

Perhaps at this point I should also make it clear that the cost ratio per mile of putting a cable underground, as opposed to overhead lines of this type, is 14 to one. That is a very steep and serious increase and one which the electricity consumer has to bear. I ask the House to bear in mind that the Board has the duty to provide a supply economically. Of course, in performing that duty it has to weigh most carefully considerations such as amenity, safety and the rest, which the hon. Gentleman has, perfectly fairly, ventilated today.

Mr. Benn rose—

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Gentleman has already interrupted me and he made quite a long speech. I hope that he will give me the chance to answer.

Some of the comparisons which are made are occasionally invalidated by the fact that they do not strictly compare the cost of an underground cable which is required to carry the same amount of current with the cost of overhead lines. I make the point clear that the question of cost is crucial and decisive in the mind of the Generating Board.

I must remind the hon. Gentleman that, with an immensely increased demand for electricity—a demand which continues to go up very rapidly—this is not just an isolated case. There will be and there are others all over the country in which people, I am very much afraid, will very much regret the use of overhead lines both in urban areas and areas of countryside which are, quite rightly, regarded as examples of great natural beauty.

But how does one resolve this problem? As I have said, I have heard a number of hon. Members complain strongly on behalf of their constituents about the rising prices of electricity. The Board in this case has done its best to resolve the conflict and has decided, despite local opinion and, indeed, its own dislike of flying in the face of local opinion, that it would be wrong to commit itself to the extra cost of an underground cable. In that decision it was confirmed by the inspector after a full inquiry and the Minister did not think that he had any ground for reaching any decision other than to confirm the inspector's report.

I will now pass for a moment to a point raised about the architect employed by the Board, although I have already dealt with a good deal of what I would like to say under that heading. The Board, of course, employs architects in order to get opinions of the effect of its proposals on amenities and the other considerations we have mentioned, but particularly on amenities.

I accept fully what the hon. Gentleman said about the architect's opinion in this case, but it was still for the Board to decide. The Board, in employing an architect, is not bound to accept his advice. It was only when the full facts and estimates of the costs involved were before the Board that it was in a position to make a decision. It made that decision and was confirmed in it by the inspector and subsequently by the Minister.

I realise only too clearly that what I have said this afternoon will not satisfy the hon. Member, nor many of those other people in Bristol who rightly value the amenities—it is not a word I like very much—the beauties of a historic city. I accept this and I ask him to believe that neither the Generating Board nor my right hon. Friend nor myself has any joy in rejecting appeals which are made in the interests of preserving such things. None the less, the economic pressures upon this industry are so great that my right hon. Friend did nothing but his duty in confirming the inspector's decision.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at a quarter-past Four o'clock.