ABSTRACT

I have returned from three weeks’ leave to find, as always, a great accumulation of matters to attend to, in spite of the fact that this has been the holiday season. The problems of the Economic Plan have restarted in the form of activity in the Investment Working Party. In particular the Central Electricity Board, through the Ministry of Fuel and Power, have put in for the approval of the Investment Working Party all the schemes for new electrical generating plants costing £500,000 or more which they wish to start in the near future. This programme was very large in amount and was put in with very much the attitude that the need for it all must be accepted on the word of the CEB. David Butt with Philip Chantler has been working on this in the Section. We con­ cocted a letter which I sent to Gilbert as chairman of the Investment Working Party, in which we argued that on general employment policy grounds one must be prepared now to delay and postpone capital expendi­ ture even at considerable social cost and inconvenience and that we must go through this programme item by item to see what parts might be at least postponed for a little time. We made the point that the CEB really gave no indication at all about the assumptions which they were making in estimating the future demand for electricity. Was there nothing which could be done (e.g. by continuation of summer time or of the ban on display lighting) to hold back the peak demands? The Invest­ ment Working Party itself went quite well. The CEB demands were not merely rubber-stamped. A group was set up of the Economic Section, Central Statistical Office and Treasury to consider with the statisticians of the Central Electricity Board and of the Ministry of Fuel and Power the assumptions being made about the future demand for electricity. Fuel and Power made the point that the electricity services must supply the demands and that their programme followed inevitably upon other programmes (e.g. the electrification of the railways, the housing programme with its supplies of e.g. electric refrigerators, the mech­ anisation of coal mining which would require electricity as a motive power, etc.). I replied that this was the reason why an exhaustive analysis of the future demand was required, so that if necessary it could be decided to go a bit slower with those other programmes which led to increased demand for electricity. There is to be another meeting of

the Investment Working Party next week to hear the report of the statistical enquiry.1