HC Deb 08 March 1966 vol 725 cc1892-3
31. Mr. Hamling

asked the Minister of Power what has been the result of the further steps he is taking to introduce an early warning system in the event of power cuts so that consumers will not be taken unawares.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The electricity industry issues general warnings usually in the morning of days when a serious risk of power cuts is foreseen. The industry and my Department have also considered whether last minute warnings could be issued but have concluded that these would not be practicable because the electricity boards must act very quickly to protect plant once the load has reached a certain level.

Mr. Hamling

Is my right hon. Friend aware that every summer for the last fifteen years we have been told by the power industries that there would be no cuts in the next winter and that every winter for the last 15 years there have been cuts? What will the power industries do this summer not to fall into that trap?

Mr. Lee

I have described on other occasions the problems of the electricity industry, with a margin of 7 per cent. as against one of 14 per cent. for which it laid out its capital. As my hon. Friend knows, if we were to make absolutely sure that there would not be any shortages, it would mean spending hundreds of millions of £s extra to deal with conditions which arise about twice in a century.