New Clause. — (Development of Electricity Supply and Efficient Utilisation of All Forms of Energy.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1957.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Cleveland 12:00 am, 3rd April 1957

Yes. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) refers to thermal insulation. He knows that I have had the pleasure to attach my name to the Bill which he is promoting towards that end.

It is easy enough to state general principles in a matter of this kind, but the issue is how to attain them within the flux of ever-changing practical circumstances. I hope, quite shortly, to discuss these three principles in turn, and in that way, perhaps, to put before the House the considerations which we have in mind.

I have said that in that policy we should make provision, from all sources, for sufficient energy for the needs of the country. Since the end of the war, of course, full employment has created difficulties in relation not only to coal supplies but to electricity supplies, resulting, in the latter case, in load shedding and electricity voltage reduction. Load shedding—and, to a great extent, absolute shortage of coal—has apparently been cured for the moment, thanks to the energy and the hard work of the Central Electricity Authority in installing vast quantities of new generating plant, mains, transmission lines and the other services that go with them.

5.0 p.m.

It seems to me that all this is at any time at the mercy of two climates. It is at the mercy of our own natural climate in these islands. If we get a difficult or bad winter, we might once again have a fuel crisis. This matter of our energy supplies is also at the mercy of the climate of international politics, as we have seen in recent times in the matter of oil supplies.

The second point which I have put forward as being the basis of a fuel policy which we think should be in the mind of the Minister when directing this industry in the national interest, is that we should use the most economical and suitable sources. It will be noticed that our Clause speaks of primary forms of energy. There is no doubt what are the primary sources and forms of energy in this country.

In the first place, we must put coal, which is for the moment and will be in the measurable future our mainstay. In the second place, we put oil, and thirdly, nuclear energy. There are, of course, other sources which can be utilised in some cases for the provision of electricity. There are water power, tidal power, and electrical inter-connection with Europe. But all these, we must confess, are in themselves extremely marginal, apart from the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board's tremendous efforts, but even these taken together are marginal sources of energy and do not make any great contribution to our total needs.

It is possible to work out the calculations showing how the energy needs of the country are being met at the moment and how the gap is being filled largely with energy derived from oil, and there are figures—