asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will give an assurance that during the forthcoming winter every effort will be made to prevent the necessity for power cuts, or to reduce them to a minimum.
Yes, Sir. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that the British Electricity Authority and area boards will make every effort to reduce to the absolute minimum the amount of load shedding that may be required during the coming winter months. Their difficulties arise from the great and continuing increase in the demand for power the B.E.A. are now supplying 27 per cent. more electricity than they were on vesting day—less than three years ago—and the demand during the peak hours is greater than ever before.To mitigate the loss and inconvenience caused arrangements have been made, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has announced, for the load spreading proposed by the Electricity Sub-Committee of the National Joint Advisory Council. The lighting of shop windows and advertisements has been restricted over the peak hours. The general public, including housewives, have been urged not to use more current than they must during the peak hours, and, in particular, not to use electric fires except in cases of real need between the hours of 8 and 9.30 a.m. I would like to express the Government's gratitude to the leaders of industry and to the trade unions for the willing co-operation which they have always given in previous years.
Does the Minister feel that his Department is really fully informed not only of the great inconvenience but also of loss caused to industry by these power cuts, and, further, of the danger to life which often ensues?
Load shedding is, of course, primarily the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, although I have a good deal of information about it.
Is the Minister aware of the great inconvenience which recent power cuts have caused both to schools and hospitals in the Knutsford Division? Are these cuts to continue? If so, why can no previous warning be given.
If we have hard weather it is likely that there will be cuts. The arrangements now being made are designed to minimise the inconvenience and loss caused, and I think the public will co-operate in the future as they have done in the past.
Will the Minister amplify his reference to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour in this connection?
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is responsible for industry, he makes the arrangements for load shedding in industrial concerns.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the agricultural industry will be safeguarded from the kind of dislocation suffered in Hampshire on 30th October last.
I am sure everyone will do his best.
Will the Minister say when responsibility for industry was transferred from the Board of Trade and other Departments to the Ministry of Labour?
I used a loose phrase. My right hon. Friend is responsible for the committee which has suggested these arrangements.