Electricity Commissioners

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The Electricity Commissioners were a department of the United Kingdom government's Ministry of Transport, and attempted to regulate the electricity supply industry in its early days.

In 1917, the UK government was planning the reconstruction of the nation's industries after the First World War. The Board of Trade set up the Electric Power Supply Committee, chaired by Sir Archibald Williamson, which proposed the effective nationalisation of the industry.

Subsequently in 1919 under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Birchenough, the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Reconstruction produced the Report of the Committee of Chairmen [1] on Electric Power Supply. The committee were asked to submit general comments or suggestions on the broad administrative and commercial issues which had arisen out of the Williamson Report. The Birchenough Committee generally agreed with the Williamson Report but recommended that generation and transmission should be a single unified system with a state regulation and finance and that means should be found for including distribution as well.[2] This recommendation was very far sighted but considered to ambitious for general acceptance at the time and was ignored. If acted upon it would have anticipated the Electricity Act 1947 by twenty eight years.[3]

Parliament rejected what would have been the effective nationalisation of the industry but enacted the two committee's recommendations in a weaker form, including the setting up of an Electricity Commission and a number of joint electricity authorities formed by the electricity suppliers in each area.

The Electricity (Supply) Act 1919, was based essentially on the Williamson and Birchenough reports and introduced central co-ordination by establishing the Electricity Commissioners, an official body responsible for securing reorganisation on a regional basis.[4]

  • London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority
  • North West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority
  • West Joint Electricity Authority
  • West Midlands Joint Electricity Authority
  • North Wales & South Cheshire Joint Electricity Authority
  • etc.

The commission continued to exist for some years after nationalisation, and finally closed in 1953.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Viscount Haldane, Sir Archibald Williamson and Sir Charles Parsons
  2. ^ "Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology"The Electricity Council, 1987, ISBN 0-85188-105-X
  3. ^ The Transmission of Electricity in England and Wales; land use and amenities, Goulty, George A, PHD thesis, Durham University 1969
  4. ^ "Electricity Supply in the UK: A chronology"The Electricity Council, 1987, ISBN 0-85188-105-X