HL Deb 21 April 1964 vol 257 cc655-6

My Lords I wish to ask a question of which I have given Private Notice: namely, whether Her Majesty's Government will make a statement on the power failure yesterday evening at 6.32 p.m. in the Western London Area?


My Lords, I understand that about a quarter of a million consumers were affected by this power failure mainly in Central and West London. It occurred at about 6.30 p.m. Most supplies in the West End were restored by 10.30 p.m. and all by just after midnight.

The Central Electricity Generating Board have told my right honourable friend that at about 6.30 p.m. there was a breakdown of the transmission lines connecting the Battersea and Acton Lane Power Stations to the Iver Super-grid switching station. These lines were automatically disconnected and simultaneously fires occurred in cable tunnels at the Battersea Power Station putting several high voltage cables and some generating plant out of action. The fires were quickly brought under control by automatic fire fighting equipment and with the prompt help of the London Fire Brigade. The full extent of the damage to the generating plant and the cables is still being investigated and it may be some time before the damage can be made good.

In the meantime the Generating Board are successfully meeting all demands and they hope to be able to continue to do so from other sources and over all alternative circuits. The cause of the breakdown is not yet known and the Central Electricity Generating Board are conducting a full inquiry. The Central Electricity Generating Board greatly regret the inconvenience caused.


My Lords, while congratulating the engineers who, in view of the nature of the breakdown, made possible a reasonably quick return to service, can the noble Lord give an undertaking that the findings of the inquiry that the Central Electricity Generating Board are setting up in rela- tion to this extensive breakdown will be made available to Parliament?


My Lords, perhaps I had better say that there is no statutory provision requiring a Minister to hold his own public inquiry. I do not know how long the inquiry will take, but a report will be made to the Minister and the result of the inquiry will be made known in due course.