HL Deb 17 December 1974 vol 355 cc1037-9

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether arrangements have been made, in the event of power restrictions during the winter, to allow continuous process industrial plants to carry on.


My Lords, if restrictions were to become necessary, arrangements would be made to allow continuous process industries to carry on, if only on a limited basis.


My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on a very much better Answer than the first reply, and a more realistic one. Are the Government aware that the fact that British industry achieved 96½ per cent. of its normal output during the three-day week which was forced on the nation by the miners, shows that special provision made by those factories which were on three shifts was a real contribution to the creation of wealth by the nation?


My Lords, it is not the Government's intention to go in for a three-day week again, but to handle shortages of electricity or any emergencies which may arise by a percentage approach.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that it was certainly not the previous Government's intention to go on to a three-day week at this time last year? It is possible that the electricity supply workers, and the miners, may cause industrial trouble; and it is certainly possible that we may have a more severe winter than we had last year. I hope the Government are making the best possible plans, and that they will not utterly reject the idea of a limited working week, should it be necessary.


My Lords, has my noble friend taken into account that a percentage approach towards the economy is one way of encouraging extravagance at the moment? We are all afraid that if we are very economical now we shall be cut down to a percentage of what we can cut ourselves to.


My Lords, is my noble friend also aware that the present measures taken by the Government, with a view to attempting arbitration before confrontation, leads everyone to expect every possible avenue to be explored before there is any question of a three-day week, or anything like that?


Yes, my Lords. A number of contingency plans have been prepared against a number of possible situations.