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Trolley Buses, London (Replacement)

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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32.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what estimate he has formed of the additional fuel oil consumption that will be entailed in a full year consequent upon the decision to replace approximately 1,800 London electric trolley buses by diesel-powered vehicles, and of the effect upon the load-factor of power-houses in the Greater London area following diminution of the road traction electricity demand, notably at off-peak hours.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power
(Mr. L. W. Joynson-Hicks)

About 28,000 tons of diesel oil, with negligible effect on the electricity load factor in Greater London.

In view of the fuel aspect of this matter, and in view of my right hon. Friend's responsibilities under Section 1 of the Ministry of Fuel and Power Act, 1945, does my hon. Friend consider it judicious to swing over from low-grade indigenous fuel burnt at power houses to imported fuel? In view of our very large investment at the present time in electric power houses, is not this decision by a nationalised authority inimical to the national interest?

No, I do not think it is at all inimical to the national interest.

Is not the overriding factor the easing of the flow of London traffic? If the experts take the view that by switching over in this way the traffic of London will be to some extent relieved, that should be the overriding consideration.

I would not say that that was the sole factor, but it certainly is an important factor.

Does my hon. Friend realise that whatever is done in London is likely also to have a considerable influence on the provinces? Is he aware that in Brighton, for instance, discussions are at present taking place because of what is happening in London? Will my hon. Friend bear this in mind with regard to the possible increase in fuel used over the whole country?

Yes, Sir, certainly. The situation in London is different from anywhere else in the country, because nearly 50 per cent, of the trolley bus electricity is drawn from the London Transport Executive's power houses. It is for that reason, owing to the demand on those generating plants for electricity for railway traction, that the load factor is actually improved by the removal of the trolley buses.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of this decision by a nationalised authority, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.