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Fuel And Power

Volume 526: debated on Monday 5 April 1954

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Efficiency Service


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the appointments have been made for the

As the reply to the first part of the Question contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The estimated additional annual cost of raising, to the rates paid to ex-warrant officers, Class 1 and 2, the disability pensions paid to all lower ranks is £9,400,000 and £7,400,000 respectively.

As regards the last part of the Question, I can assure the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend has under constant review the provisions for all classes of war pensioners.

Following is the information asked for in the first part of the Question:

board of directors and staff of the National Industrial Fuel Efficiency Service; and when it is expected that operations will start.

Yes, Sir. The directors, general manager and secretary have been appointed; staff recruitment is proceeding and the service expects to start operating on 1st May.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent he proposes to make available to the new fuel advisory company details of private industrial processes, entrusted to his Department by manufacturers and others, when his Departmental fuel efficiency service is brought to an end and the new company takes over.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has any estimate of the amount of fuel saved in industry over a convenient accounting period as a result of the installation of better plant and employing better heating methods; and whether the improvement in the heating of houses which has been undertaken in recent years has gone to reduction in consumption of fuel or to greater amenities.

No estimate is available, but substantial savings have been made. Comparison between the increase in industrial fuel consumption and that of general economic activity shows a saving of about 3 million tons of coal a year. Improved domestic heating is thought, at present, to result more in increased comfort than in reduced fuel consumption.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the saving has been greater in industrial or domestic consumption?

When the right hon. Gentleman says that 3 million tons have been saved in industry last year, with what is that compared—the previous year?


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that a waste of public money, effort and educated manpower results from the overlapping of functions of the fuel departments of Ministries, of various local authorities and of the new fuel efficiency service; and what steps he intends to take to secure economies by preventing such overlapping.

As at present advised I could not accept my hon. Friend's view of these matters, but I would be glad to consider any information he may care to send me. I can assure him that steps have already been taken to prevent overlapping when certain of my Department's responsibilities are transferred to the new service.

Gasworkers, Stoke-On-Trent (Medical Supervision)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what medical supervision is available for workers in the gas industry of Stoke-on-Trent; and how many of the men have X-ray examinations of the lungs, and at what intervals.

The West Midlands Gas Board employs three full-time and a number of part-time medical officers; but as the main subject of this Question is part of the Board's day to day administration, I am asking the Chairman to write to the hon. Member about it.

While thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether he will bear in mind the work which has been done so far, and is still being continued, by the Medical Research Council upon the specific risks which gas workers have to undergo, especially with reference to cancer of the lung? Will he see that as far as possible the gas boards throughout the country provide ample medical services for their workers?

As I think the hon. Member may be aware, I have brought that subject to the attention of the gas boards and impressed on them the importance of medical services.

Departmental Staff, Eastern Region


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many non-industrial established civil servants, temporary civil servants and non-industrial staff, respectively, were employed in or by the Eastern Region of his Department at the end of 1951 and at the latest date for which figures are available; and what percentage of the temporary staff employed at the end of 1951 has since become established.

Thirty-seven, 20 and nil; and, in February, 1954, 33, 11 and five. Since 1951, 15 per cent, of the temporary staff have been established.

Power Stations (Sulphur Oxide Gases)


asked the Minister of Fuel what proportion of the dangerous sulphur oxides will be removed from the fuel gases at Dunston power station, County Durham, by the apparatus installed for the elimination of dust and smoke.

Does the Minister really believe that the removal of grit will do much good? Is not the question of gases, which destroy health and property and everything else worth keeping, important?

I think it is worth while removing the grit. I agree that the gas is also important and I have another Question to answer on that subject.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the limited possibilities of existing processes for ridding the flue gases of power stations of harmful sulphur oxides, he will arrange for investigation and research into this question.

Will the Minister give special attention to this matter, in view of the fact that present methods involve the use of large quantities of water; and that the River Thames, I am informed, will already be saturated with the effluent of calcium sulphate when two of the power stations only are in use on its banks?

Yes, Sir. I am informed that the hon. Gentleman is correct when he says that the limit has been reached in regard to the River Thames, owing to the effluent which he mentions. Work is now taking place in connection with a new process involving the use of gas works liquor, but it is in an experimental stage.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many extra tons of sulphur in the form of sulphur oxides will be discharged into the atmosphere annually when the extension to the Barking power station now contemplated is complete; and what methods are proposed for eliminating these dangerous sulphur oxides from the flue gases.

A steady decrease in fuel consumption at this station is expected from now onwards and the discharge of sulphur oxides will, therefore, be reduced. The new part of the station will disperse its oxides at high temperature and great velocity through chimneys 375 feet high.

Is the Minister aware that the local authority is very anxious about this question, as are the people living in that area; and that I receive many letters from my constituents and people further afield saying how much they are suffering already from the gasworks and the power station in that area, and how anxious they are that a further station is contemplated?

As I have just said, we must face the fact that the method of sending out the smoke at high temperature and, by fans, at a high velocity, is the best practical method known to the engineers apart from the method of gas washing, which some experts consider not to be very satisfactory. However, it is fortunate that the old A station, which is probably the cause of most of the trouble, is due for retirement shortly. The new part of the station will go from a three-shift to a two-shift system of operation owing to the general policy of concentrating electricity production, as far as possible, in the Midlands coalfield.

Is it not a fact that in case of fog those gases sent out at a high velocity will descend on this area and produce all the troubles which have existed in the past?

I am a bit of a fog expert myself, and I would say that that is not true of radiation fogs of limited height. It would be true with regard to the denser fogs which grow up after fog has continued for a period of several days.

Gas Boards (Workers' Representation)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far it is proposed that there shall be employee representation on the area gas boards.

I do not contemplate any such change in the constitution of the boards.

Gas Prices


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the action he has taken on the recommendation of the Ridley Committee on national policy for the use of fuel and power resources that gas prices should reflect local differences in costs of supply.

I have satisfied myself that, in general, the principle of this recommendation has been applied by the gas boards in revising the tariffs.

In view of the importance of this recommendation to a fair fuel pricing policy, would the Minister explain just what he means by "in general"?

It is the responsibility of the local gas boards, which have, in fact, accepted the principle.