HC Deb 30 November 1920 vol 135 cc1148-9W

asked the Minister of Transport whether the scheme for the development of electricity by the use of the water power of the Severn has received the approval and sanction of his Department; and, if not, having regard to public statements made that this scheme would provide regular employment for seven years for 250,000 workmen and would save the country 4,000,000 tons of coal per annum, he will have this proposal expedited so that it can be put in hand before the present period of unemployment passes away?


The scheme which has appeared in the Press is one that has been prepared in my Department, and not submitted from outside. The question arose from the advisability of providing a road and rail crossing of the Severn, which is greatly needed, and on which large sums would have to be spent. It appeared to the Ministry possible to combine with this a scheme for developing electrical power, a problem which was known to be engaging the attention of the Water Power Resources Committee. The engineers at the Ministry have worked out a general plan from a technical point of view, and have reported most favourably. It is estimated that a continuous supply of half a million units, at a cost of a little over halfpenny a unit, can be produced. Apart from the power supply, the scheme under consideration improves road and rail facilities across the Severn. Any scheme will require Parliamentary sanction, and before proceeding further I consider it desirable that the scheme should be referred to outside engineers for further technical consideration, but this is a matter primarily for the consideration of the Water Power Resources Committee. It is estimated that if the scheme can be carried out, employment will be provided for 10,000 men for seven years, but it is not sufficiently advanced from a technical point of view for very early adoption, even if financial considerations did not arise, and necessarily these are of great difficulty at the present time.