System Expansion: The Area Boards

  • Leslie Hannah


Although the Central Authority initially resisted the more direct encroachment of Whitehall on the Area Boards (successfully insisting that communication should normally be through the Authority), the semi-political process which determined the Whitehall allocation of resources to electricity was mirrored within the British Electricity Authority. The division of power and cash between the Authority itself (responsible for generation) and the Area Boards (responsible for distribution) was subject to a complex process of bargaining not only with the Ministry but also internally, with discussion there directed as much to political, consensual ends as to traditional commercial disciplines. This was pre-eminently the case where the Area Boards were united in opposing the Central Authority or the Government (as on the Clow differential), though Citrine was more willing to give in to such pressure on matters where he respected the Board Chairmen’s views, such as tariffs, than on matters where he was determined to impose his own, as in labour relations. However, the statutorily-entrenched power of the area chairmen meant that they were more successful than any other group within the Authority in forcing reconsideration of headquarters’ views.


Central Authority Capital Expenditure System Expansion Capital Budget Electricity Service 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Sir Henry Self, Problems of Decentralisation in a Large-Scale Undertaking (British Institute of Management, 1951) p. 42.Google Scholar
  2. D. J. Bolton, ‘Measuring Area Board Performance’, Electrical Review, 17 August 1956.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    L. Hannah, Electricity Before Nationalisation: A. Study of the Development of Electricity Supply in Britain to 1948 (London and Baltimore, 1979 ) pp. 234–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    C. E. Knight, An Area Board Accountant’s Contribution to Management (British Electricity Authority, 1954 ) pp. 54–5.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    E.g. Lord Citrine, Two Careers (1967) p. 296.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    L. Needleman, ‘The Demand for Electrical Applicances’, National Institute Economic Review, no. 12, November 1960, p. 40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 9.
    G. D. N. Worswick, ‘The British Economy 1950–1959’ p. 25, in Worswick and Ady, The British Economy in the Nineteen Fifties (Oxford, 1962 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Electricity Council 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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