HC Deb 04 December 1950 vol 482 cc20-2W
115. Mr. McInnes

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in view of the loss of production, danger to workmen, damage to plant and the dissatisfaction occasioned by the heavy power cuts in the Scottish South-Western Region without warning, he is prepared to convene a conference with representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, Scottish Council for Industry and the British Electricity Authority to discuss some method of giving timely warning of such cuts.

119. Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the loss caused to production and the danger caused to life by sudden electricity cuts in South-East Scotland; and if he will confer with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and other interested organisations on this matter.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

I am aware of the loss of production, damage and potential danger caused by electricity cuts; as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has said, the Electricity Sub-Committee of the Joint Consultative Committee is now considering in consultation with the British Electricity Authority whether anything further can be done to reduce the number and severity of the cuts that must be made.

Hon. Members will be aware that the Scottish Board for Industry, which is represented on the Electricity Sub-Committee, is responsible for making in Scotland the load-spreading arrangements by which the frequency and severity of power cuts are reduced. There are representatives of Scottish employers and trade unions on the Board and the Chairman of its Edinburgh District Committee is a member of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. I think the Board, which is already in touch with the British Electricity Authority and the South-East and South-West Scotland Electricity Boards, would be the appropriate body to call a conference, if it thought that such a conference would serve a useful purpose.

121. Mr. W. G. Bennett

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in view of the danger to life and property, he will resume the practice of giving warning before any electricity cuts are made in the West of Scotland area.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

As I said on 6th November in answer to Questions by the hon. and gallant Member for Leicester (Captain Waterhouse) and the hon. baronet the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth), the Electricity Boards endeavour, with the help of the B.B.C. and of the Press, to let consumers know beforehand when they think it probable that cuts will be required. When it is definitely known that a cut must be made, there is not time to give individual warnings to all consumers: but as many large consumers as possible are warned by telephone, before a cut takes place. In most areas, there is a rota system, which enables a consumer to know on which day of the week his supply is likely to but cut. I am not aware that this practice has been changed in the west of Scotland.

124. Mr. Vosper

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that supplies of electricity to non-industrial users in some areas are being completely cut off for progressively longer periods, and why the same object cannot be achieved by reducing the voltage to larger numbers of users.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

When the load imposed on the system by consumers exceeds the capacity of the generating plant, some load has to be shed to avert a breakdown of the plant. The Electricity Boards seek to carry out their load-shedding in such a way that inconvenience and dislocation are kept to a minimum, and I am informed that they reduce the voltage of the supply, in areas where this can be done, to the greatest practicable extent. But if this reduction does not reduce the load enough, there is, unfortunately, no alternative but to cut off some consumers altogether.