The Diagnosis of Failure

  • Leslie Hannah


The electricity supply industry’s experience of government intervention in its affairs had not, thus far, been a favourable one, but the new body of Electricity Commissioners, set up by the emasculated Electricity (Supply) Act of 1919, stood some chance of gaining the goodwill of the industry by starting with a relatively clean sheet. Many of their powers of compulsion had been dropped from the original Bill but ministers still hoped that they could act as a catalyst for change, using the remaining powers, which included those inherited from previous sponsoring ministries (e.g. to sanction local authority loan issues) as well as new powers to refuse sanction to uneconomic generating plant extensions, to require frequency changes and interconnection for bulk supply where that was economic, and to supervise the formation of JEAs. Their powers were hedged about with qualifications and the Government’s engineering advisers doubted whether they would be adequate to secure effective reorganisation.1 They did have the advantage that they could take a broader view of the electrical requirements of each region than either the individual undertakings or the government ministries which had previously shared the supervision of the industry: the Board of Trade, the Local Government Board and the Ministry of Munitions. The Commissioners had been denied the powers to set up District Electricity Boards, which had been recommended by the expert committees and might have exercised strong executive authority, but they might be able to use expertise and persuasion in their quasi-judicial position to achieve the same object through the voluntary cooperation of undertakings in JEAs.


Electricity Supply Power Company Overhead Line Supply Industry Central Electricity 
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Notes on the Text

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Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.Emmanuel CollegeCambridgeUK

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