1509 STANDING COMMITTEE C Thursday, 22nd July, 1926.

[Sir ROBERT SANDERS in the Chair.]

ELECTRICITY (SUPPLY) BILL.
[OFFICIAL BEPORT.] FIFTH SCHEDULE.
AMENDMENTS OF SCHEDULE TO THE ELECTRIC LIGHTING (CLAUSES) ACT, 1899.

S. 7. In paragraph (1) for the words from "The undertakers shall carry" to the words "maximum rate of profit" there shall be substituted the following words:

  • "The undertakers shall apply the net surplus remaining in any year and the annual proceeds of the reserve fund when amounting to the prescribed limit—
  • "(a) in reduction of the charges for the supply of energy; or
  • "(b) in reduction of the capital moneys borrowed for electricity purposes; or
  • "(c) if the reserve fund amounts to more than one-twentieth of the aggregate capital expenditure on the undertaking, to the credit of the local rate:
  • "Provided that the amount which may be carried to the credit of the local rate in any year shall not exceed one-and-a-half per cent. of the outstanding debt of the undertaking."
  • s. 13. In Sub-section (1) the proviso shall be omitted.

    Major GLYN: I beg to move, at the end of the Schedule, to add the words "s. 20. After the words 'wire or line' wherever they occur, there shall be inserted the words 'or apparatus,' and after the word 'communication' there shall be inserted the words 'or of electrical control on a railway.'" The purpose of this Amendment is to bring up-to-date what is necessary for the safety of the travelling public on railways. The Minister of Transport fully recognises the progress that has been made in electricity, and I feel certain that he will accept this proposal when he realises that the safety of the travelling public depends upon it. The 1510 Electric Lighting Clauses Act, 1899, lays down in Section 20, Sub-section (2), that "seven days before commencing to lay down or place any electric line, or to use any electric line in any manner whereby the work of telegraphic or telephonic or electric signalling communication through any wire or line lawfully laid down or placed in any position may be injuriously affected." In the year 1899, wireless telegraphy was not invented, and we want British railways to continue to be the safest lines in the world. We should, therefore, encourage them to make use of every possible contrivance to ensure safety. Anybody who knows anything about electrical apparatus, realises that if you instal highly delicate and complicated machinery of communication, it may prove a trap and a danger if that apparatus does not work regularly and properly. It is possible to arrange signals to the drivers of locomotives so that a single man can keep in touch with the driver of a train, and warn him of the condition of the signals ahead. If that arrangement was affected by induction in a high tension wire, coming overhead, it would be dangerous to the public. In my view, those who know what is safe and what is not safe would be the electrical technical experts, and I ask the Minister of Transport not to allow this Bill to become law in such a way as will prevent a proper development of the most modern electrical contrivances for ensuring the safety of the travelling public on the railways. We do not want to go back in this respect, and we believe the railways will be able to make use of the grid as population develops, and as areas require electrification. We do not want to sacrifice the efficiency of the railways owing to the fact that high tension wires might conceivably interfere with the development of wireless communication. The right hon. Gentleman may say that we are already sufficiently covered by the Section dealing with electrical signalling communication, but I think the words of that Section might be construed to mean that they do not cover wireless. If the Minister of Transport will undertake to consider this matter, and receive an expert report, which we hope to send him, then I am prepared to withdraw this Amendment. I ask the Minister of Transport to recognise that what is at stake in this matter is neither more nor less than the safety of the travelling public.

    1511

    The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon): I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend has really made his case good on the basis of the safety of the public, because whatever electrical control or remote control a railway may introduce must always be governed by such outstanding featues as high tension cables in the vicinity, and these matters of safety must always be considered with due regard to the current flowing in a neighbouring line. I regret my hon. and gallant Friend has not sent to me the expert opinion to which he has referred. I should imagine that the existing law under Section 20 of the Electric Lighting Clauses Act, 1899, does cover in a large degree all he wants by the words "telegraphic or telephonic or electric signalling communication." Some of the new devices may not be for signalling, but for the operation of points and, possibly, shunting, but until we know what is in the air, I must refuse to give a blank cheque, which is practically what I am asked to do in this Amendment. The Committee must understand that the railway companies, under the present law, are protected as a second comer, and it is in that way that this proposal is objectionable. It means that if an undertaker has a line already in existence, and a railway company at a later date elects to put down some difficult and complex remote control apparatus, the original holder of the high tension cable must move his wire. Those are very extraordinary powers for the railway companies to possess. It may well be in future that electrical development, from the point of view of control, may go very quickly ahead. At the present time, however, railway companies are super-saturated with steam, and to mention to them electricity, is like yelling, "To Hell with the Pope!" in Dundalk. By a proposal of this kind you may be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, if by the complexity of your control you are going to move your high tension cable further and further away. I think the concessions we have already made to the railway companies are going to be very valuable in the future, and no Government could be expected to give the blank cheque which is being asked for in this Amendment.

    1512

    Major GLYN: I understand the reply to be that the Government will be prepared to consider anything which is submitted to them on this point. We do not ask for more than is justifiable, but if we submit this case, and the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is worth while acceding to our request, we shall be satisfied.

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: If my hon. and gallant Friend will send us exactly what he means technically, we will go into it but I must refuse to give a blank cheque in regard to this matter. From the point of view of the general powers, I cannot accept this Amendment.

    Mr. HARDIE: May I ask at what height a high tension wire has to be placed where it crosses a railway?

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: That is all provided for under separate Clauses. The Commissioners have power to deal with high tension cables, and to see that no undue hardship is going to be put on the undertakers from the point of view of expense. I do not think there is any country in the world where they have so many safeguards on the railways, and some people seem to think that many of them, are quite unnecessary.

    Major GLYN: I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

    SIXTH SCHEDULE.
    MINOR AMENDMENTS OR ELECTRICITY (SUPPLY) ACTS, 1882–1922.

    Enactment to be amended and nature of Amendment.

    Electric Lighting Act, 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 56): s. 3. In paragraph (5), the words "until after the expiration of a period of three months from the date of the first publication of such advertisement nor" shall be repealed.

    Electricitv (Supply) Act, 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 100): s. 13. In Sub-section (2), after the words "comprising the area of the local authority" there shall be inserted the words "or by any amending order under Section seven by this Act." s. 21. After the words "local authority" wherever they occur, there shall be inserted the words "(including a county council)." s. 32. In Sub-section (3), the words "unless it is an order made under Section seven of this Act, shall be a special order and" shall be omitted.

    1513

    The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley): I beg to move, after the words "Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 100)," to insert the words "s. 1. In Sub-section (7), after the words 'on retirement,' there shall be inserted the words 'or death.'" This is a small Amendment, in order to bring the payment of gratuities to the Commissioners and their staff into line with the ordinary common form Clause. At the present moment, gratuities can only be paid on retirement, and not on death. In the case of the ordinary civil servant, gratuities are paid, under suitable conditions, of course, on death as well as on retirement. A substantial number of ex-civil servants are now employed by the Commissioners, and it is thought right that they should all come under the same regulation, namely, that they should be eligible for the payment of gratuities on death as well as on retirement.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Colonel ASHLEY: On a point of Order. Before you call the next Amendment, Sir Robert, may I submit for your consideration, and, possibly, for the approval of the Committee, whether, as there are three or four different Amendments dealing with the reservoir question, you would allow a general discussion—I hope a short one, because the point is not wide—on the first Amendment, and then we could get the general sense of the Committee, concentrating, probably on one Amendment, and thereby saving time?

    The CHAIRMAN: I think that that would be the best plan. I take it that the Amendments referred to are, first, the Amendment standing in the names of five hon. Members, after the Amendment to Section 13 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, to insert "s. 15. In Sub-section (1,c), after the word 'Parliament,' there shall be inserted the words' or from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertakers.'" the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Rye), to insert the words "s. 15. In Sub-section (1,c), after the word 'Parliament,' insert the words 'or from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertaker.'" 1514 the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Members for Central Leeds (Sir C. Wilson) and Cambridge (Sir D. Newton), to insert the words "s. 15. Sub-section (1,c), after the word 'Parliament,' there shall be inserted the words 'or from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertaking.'" the Amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Western Derbyshire (Marquess of Hartington), to insert the words "s. 15. In Sub-section (1,c), after 'from any dock regulated by Act of Parliament,' insert 'or from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertaker.'" the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) and the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn), to insert the words "s. 15. After paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) the following paragraph shall be inserted: (cc) in any order authorising the abstraction of water from any reservoir used by any statutory water undertaker for the purposes of the undertaking there shall be inserted such provisions as the Minister of Health (or in the case of Scotland the Scottish Board of Health) may consider proper for safeguarding the interests of the water consumers." the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee), to insert the words "s. 15. After paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) the following paragraph shall be inserted: No order shall be made authorising the abstraction of water from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertaker without the consent of the owners thereof, which consent shall not be unreasonably refused, and subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed, any question as to the reasonableness of such refusal or as to the terms and conditions to be laid down shall, failing agreement, be referred to a sole arbitrator to be named by the Lord Chief Justice or in Scotland by the Lord President of the Court of Session."

    Mr. R. MORRISON: I beg to move, after the words "Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5, c. 100)," to insert the words "s. 15. In Sub-section (1,c), after the word 'Parliament,' there shall be inserted the words 'or from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertakers.'" As the Minister has indicated, there has been some considerable negotiation on 1515 this question, and the results of the efforts of several Members of the Committee to find a solution are to be found on the Order Paper this morning. The object is to prevent the abstraction of water from any reservoir except with the consent of the owners and on such terms and conditions as may be imposed. In brief, it is to endeavour to put water undertakings in exactly the same position in which dock undertakings are at the present time. I do not know whether the Minister has yet made up his mind definitely whether he can accept the Amendment which I am now moving, but, if not, I should be very glad if, in the course of the discussion that will take place on all the Amendments, he will indicate exactly why it is that the Government are unable to see their way to put reservoirs in the same position as docks. It has been suggested to me that one objection to this Amendment may be that it opens the door to the possibility of, if the Committee will excuse the word, blackmail—the possibility, for instance, of an electricity undertaking being at the mercy of a water undertaking, and the latter becoming unreasonable. Various efforts have been made to get over this objection, and I thought that, perhaps, the Government would have tried their hand at drafting an Amendment which would have met the position, but, so far, there is not one on the Paper. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) has made an effort, and I see a new Amendment on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee). If the Government are unable to accept my present Amendment, I have no hesitation in saying that the Amendment which comes nearest to my idea, at any rate, is the one which has been put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse, who proposes, in effect, to add to my Amendment provisions that the necessary consent shall not be unreasonably refused, and that the question as to the reasonableness of the refusal, or the terms and conditions to be laid down shall, failing agreement, be referred to a sole arbitrator to be named by the Lord Chief Justice or, in Scotland, by the Lord President of the Court of Session. I do not know that I need add anything further, except to say 1516 again that personally I see no reason why water undertakings should not be put in the same position as dock undertakings at the present time. If the Minister can show me some good reason, then, so far as I am concerned—I cannot speak for all the Members who are associated with me—I should venture to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse. I take it that, if the sense of that Amendment were accepted, and if any minor adjustments were necessary in the wording, the Government would be able, between now and Report, to make some slight adjustments in order to make the working more perfect.

    Mr. ATTLEE: I should like to say briefly why I have put down the Amendment which stands in my name. I do not much care for the docks being given quite such absolute power of refusing water, and I do not want to put the water undertakings in exactly the same position. There is no question of partisanship in this, because, as everybody knows, water undertakings and electricity undertakings may be either municipal or company-owned. If, however, we give the water undertaking an absolute power of veto, it may, in effect, hold such a strategic position that it can hold up electricity undertakings. The kind of case that I visualise is this: You have water undertakings all over the country, but electricity is still comparatively new. You may have an area in which it may be desirable to place a station, but in which practically all the water supplies may have been taken by some statutory water undertaking, and it may be that it is perfectly reasonable that they should give facilities to an electricity undertaking. It may be, of course, that they have only just enough water for themselves, and in that case they certainly ought to have power to refuse, but they may, while having available supplies, be able to act the dog-in-the-manger, and say that, except on exorbitant terms, they will not let the electricity undertaking have any water. If we adopt the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) we shall put them in that position. I want to insert, after that, provisions that their consent must be reasonable, and that certain important conditions to safeguard matters of health—such as the temperature of the water to be returned, the question of the purity 1517 of the water, and so on—shall be laid down. If it is left purely as a matter of agreement, it rather brings the parties to a standstill. It has been suggested in one Amendment that there should be provisions by the Minister of Health, and, again, it has been suggested that it might be submitted to the Minister of Transport; but it seems to me that in this matter both of those offices are more or less pledged, the one to health and the other to electricity, and we have on several occasions in this Committee been desiring to set up an independent tribunal. I suggest that this simple reference to an arbitrator to be appointed by the highest non-political legal authority in either of the two Kingdoms will meet the case of a simple tribunal. I do not think the case will often arise, and if it goes to the arbitrator, he will be able to say, on the evidence, whether the consent is reasonable or not—in a clear case, of course, he would refuse altogether—and, if the consent should be given, what conditions should be laid down. I think that there we should get the necessary impartiality, and that the existence of a provision for such arbitration would facilitate negotiations. I do not think that the arbitrator would often be called in, because both parties would know that, if they cannot come to an agreement, the matter is not final, and neither has an absolute right of veto. While I suggest that this principle should be put in, I am not at all tied to the particular wording, which is probably very amateurish. I suggest, however, that it provides a via media which might reconcile the conflicting interests.

    Sir DOUGLAS NEWTON: As this Amendment is the most comprehensive and far-reaching of those we are considering, I think it is only right that one should say a word or two upon it. It raises the whole question of principle as to whether another business should be entitled to interfere with the work of a water undertaking. My own view is quite clear on the matter. It is that each of these businesses, important as they respectively are to the community, stands on its own basis, except there be mutual agreement between the one set of undertakers and the other. That view, 1518 I think, is strengthened by the wording of the Act of 1919, which clearly lays down, in Sub-section (1,c) of Section 15, that no order shall be made authorising the abstraction of water from any dock regulated by Act of Parliament, except with the consent of the owners thereof, and subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon. The Water Companies' Association, the British Waterworks Association and the Municipal Corporations Association desire that an Amendment in the same terms should be put down strengthening that provision, and that really is the position so far as these three important bodies are concerned. They feel that it may prejudice and may interfere with the supply of good water, that it may raise the temperature and bacilli may breed more freely than they otherwise would, or that impurities may get into the water as the result of its passing through the various processes through which it will have to pass. As to how much substance there may be in that objection it is not for me to venture to express any opinion, but that is the point of view that they desire to put forward. If it is decided that there is to be a right of abstracting water—that is the first point that we have to decide—I am not prepared to say that I should venture to resist the Amendments which I see later on the Paper.

    Mr. G. BALFOUR: I hold the view that our first duty is to make quite sure that nothing shall be done which will affect detrimentally the water supplies of the country by tapping reservoirs for the purpose of electricity supply. I think that all Members of the Committee will agree that that is absolutely necessary, and that no electricity undertaker should be allowed to interfere if there is any danger either of shortening the water supply or detrimentally affecting it, as water is even more important than electricity. On the other hand, it is necessary to try to make such use as can safely be made of any water resources, and I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Minister that perhaps the best solution at the moment would be if the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) were taken, inserting before it the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Whitehaven 1519 (Mr. E. Hudson). The whole Amendment would then read:— "s. 15. After paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) the following paragraphs shall be inserted: (cc) in any order authorising the abstraction of water from any reservoir used by any statutory water undertaker for the purposes of the undertaking there shall be inserted such provisions as the Minister of Health (or in the case of Scotland the Scottish Board of Health) may consider proper for safeguarding the interests of the water consumers. No order shall be made authorising the abstraction of water from any reservoir or other work belonging to any statutory water undertaker without the consent of the owners thereof, which consent shall not be unreasonably refused, and subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed, any question as to the reasonableness of such refusal or as to the terms and conditions to be laid down shall, failing agreement, be referred to a sole arbitrator to be named by the Lord Chief Justice or in Scotland by the Lord President of the Court of Session." That seems to me to be businesslike, although, perhaps, it is rather long. If it could be done between now and Report, I think it would probably meet the case.

    Sir PHILIP DAWSON: This is a very important question, and I entirely agree with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. G. Balfour). I am also entirely at one with what has been said by the hon. Member for Lime-house (Mr. Attlee). I must, however, join issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Sir D. Newton) as to its being essential that the two businesses of water supply and electricity supply should be kept entirely apart. It is absolutely necessary that the water supply should be secured, but between that and a statement which will make it impossible for electricity undertakings to utilise without detriment to the water supply the large amount impounded for water supply, is quite a different story. That would be a very dog-in-the-manger policy, and one which in certain circumstances might very seriously damage the electricity supply.

    Sir D. NEWTON: My hon. Friend has misunderstood my argument. I said, "without agreement," and not "under no circumstances."

    Sir P. DAWSON: A business of any kind does not like to be interfered with, or to have anything to do with some other 1520 kind of business, and, as a matter of actual practice, it will be generally found that the water authorities would be afraid of things which might never eventuate. They would never agree, or only very exceptionally agree, to their large water supplies being used for electricity purposes. The water supply people ought to be safeguarded in every possible manner, and the composite Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Hampstead would carry that out. I hope an Amendment of that kind will be passed, and not the original Amendment, which would mean that, to all intents and purposes, electricity supply companies would be entirely cut off from utilising large supplies of water, which they could do without in any way damaging those who own the water for other purposes.

    Mr. ATTLEE: I should have no objection whatever to adding the Amendment of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) to mine. I think that will, probably, meet the case.

    Mr. ROBERT HUDSON: Judging by the speeches, everyone is agreed that it must not be taken without consent, and that consent must not be unreasonably withheld. The only trouble is how to get those provisions reconciled. That is the reason I put down the Amendment, because you could not get the words "consent must not be unreasonably refused" into the existing Section of the Act and make it read in any coherent form. The hon. Member for Hampstead suggested that we should combine my Amendment with that of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee). The only objection to that is that it will mean, in effect, three hearings. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Limehouse will need two complete hearings before the order, and again before the arbitrator.

    Mr. BALFOUR: When the order is made, the Minister would know of these proceedings, and would watch them, and insert certain provisions, but there would be no hearing. It would be simply the insertion of such terms as would be laid down by the Minister for the protection of the public.

    Mr. HUDSON: If the intention be not to have another hearing, but simply that the Minister shall be a party, I have no objection.

    1521

    Colonel ASHLEY: I think the discussion, which has only lasted a quarter of an hour, shows the wisdom of the Minister of Transport in not interfering with the Committee, because we have now reached what is, I think, a unanimous and a Solomon-like decision on this important matter. I entirely support the words which have fallen from my hon. Friend, with this proviso. Let us do what the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) suggests, and put in these two Amendments, first of all, that of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee), followed by that of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson). It may be that on the Report stage we may have to put them in the proper order, but I accept the principle, and I think the decision is a wise one.

    Mr. MORRISON: In view of the decision, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Mr. KELLY: I beg to move, after the Amendment to Section 13 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1919, to insert the words "s. 16. The words 'before the said eighth, day of May' where they first and secondly occur shall be repealed, and where they secondly occur the words 'before such transfer, scheme, agreement, or arrangement' shall be substituted therefor.'" Under the Act of 1919, the date set down is 8th May, 1919. We feel that there is no necessity for that date to be in the Act at this time. It is dealing with the matter of compensation for those who are displaced, and those who have had their duties changed, and we ask that the date shall be one that deals with the time of the transfer, "before such transfer, scheme, agreement, or arrangement" is made.

    Division No. 53.] AYES.
    Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
    Dennison, R. Hardie, George D. Townend, A. E.
    Gosling, Harry Kelly, W. T. Viant, S. P.
    NOES.
    Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
    Apsley, Lord Hanbury, C, Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
    Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
    Balfour, George (Hampstead) Holt, Captain H. P. Nuttall, Ellis
    Burman, J. B. Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n) Radford, E. A.
    Clayton, G. C. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Sandeman, A. Stewart
    Dawson, Sir Philip Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Waddington, R.
    Fielden, E. B. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Wiggins, William Martin
    1522

    Colonel ASHLEY: Section 16 of the Act of 1919 provides for certain compensations to be paid to people employed in whatever capacity and whatever rank, if they lose their employment or get a worse paid employment in consequence of the Act, and it states that the people who come under that provision shall only be those who were in employment before or on the 8th May, 1919. I think the hon. Member can hardly realise the scope of his Amendment. He now says anyone who came in after 8th May, 1919, shall be entitled to such compensation. Surely, anyone who came in since May, 1919, knew perfectly well the conditions of employment which he was undertaking. The people before May, 1919, were probably put in a worse position, and it is right that they should be compensated, but those who came in with their eyes open, under new conditions, when the Act of Parliament was in operation, knew exactly what was going to happen, and it would be putting an unfair burden upon the industry to do this. These people are really not entitled to it. I am sure the Committee has shown itself very sympathetic to the claims of the staff and the wage-earners.

    Mr. KELLY: We do not agree to that.

    Colonel ASHLEY: It has not been unsympathetic. In any case, the Committee has no right to give compensation in circumstances which do not justify it. I could not accept the Amendment.

    Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

    The Committee divided: Ayes, Noes, 24.

    1523

    The CHAIRMAN: Now we come to what I may call the Solomon Amendment. Perhaps the best plan would be that the Minister should move it in the agreed form.

    Colonel ASHLEY: I beg to move, after the Amendment to Section 13 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, to insert the words "s. 15. After paragraph (c) of Subsection (1) the following paragraph shall be inserted: (cc) in any order authorising the abstraction of water from any reservoir used by any statutory water undertaker for the purposes of the undertaking there shall be inserted such provisions as the Minister of Health (or in the case of Scotland the Scottish Board of Health) may consider proper for safeguarding the interests of the water consumers, and no such order shall be made without the consent of such undertaker which consent shall not be unreasonably refused, and subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed, any question as to the reasonableness of such refusal or as to the terms and conditions to be laid down shall, failing agreement, be referred to a sole arbitrator to be named by the Lord Chief Justice or in Scotland by the Lord President of the Court of Session."

    Mr. HARDIE: We have read about Solomon in all his glory, and we have also read that he was not arrayed in a certain way. What I wish to bring in now, in the name of Solomon and his wisdom, is the fact that here we are nearing the end of this Committee's work, and still we are in the grip of that which has characterised everything national in this Bill. What is the fear? Certain hon. Members have told us what they fear—blackmail or a hold-up. Here is a great national scheme for the supply of electricity, and we are told that the nation has to fear the blackmailer and the holder-up. That does not augur well for the success of a national scheme. The thing we have to fight against is not where the community owns an electrical station and the water supply, because in that case it is in the interests of the citizens to see that each undertaking is run for the benefit of the other; but it is where there is a private owner of the water supply that we have to look out for blackmail and a hold-up. Where municipalities are dealing with their own production of electricity, and they own the water supply, there is a combination of the two in the interests of the people. That takes place 1524 generally. [Hon. Members: "No!"] You may have places in England where that does not take place.

    Sir P. DAWSON: I know several places in Scotland.

    Mr. HARDIE: Not in Scotland. Even Loch Katrine, if we had not that fine silver band called the Clyde, would have been used. What we have to guard against is that when they get the water and use it, it will not have in it when it is returned anything that will make it less valuable as a domestic supply than before. That is a question which ought to have been dealt with in the Bill. The question of the use of water and its return is a subject which requires very close investigation, because taking domestic supplies and reservoirs, it means that you will have long distances both ways, and the question of cooling then becomes one of great expense. It would have been far better had those technical experts who are behind the Bill seen to it that provision, was made for working various factors together in conjunction. You cannot have anything national unless you work together. The drainage scheme of Great Britain ought to have been considered in connection with this matter. The whole drainage of the British Isles ought to have been co-related with the water required for electricity. Water is just as important as coal in getting the "juice." The position of the station will be determined largely by these two supplies and their convenience, and not necessarily in the place where it is most needed. I should have thought that the Government would have been able to get some Clause whereby, instead of having to protect themselves against the blackmailer and the holder up, they would have had supreme power to say, "This is for the good of the community. We are looking to the national interest, and we will allow no one, whether a private company or municipality, to interfere." If the Government had gone on those lines, I should have believed that someone in the Government had some idea of a national scheme for the benefit of the people, but I have no such belief now.

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: In regard to the question of national schemes of drainage and of water for the 1525 supply of electricity, I should like to say that, before this Debate came on, I took the trouble to find out exactly how much water was required for a generating station. Taking quite a small station as we shall look at stations in the future, say, a station of only 50,000 kilowatts, the amount of water that passes through that station per hour is 6,000,000 gallons. To associate that figure with something that we all know, it means that all the water in the Serpentine would go twice through that station in 24 hours. It is an enormous amount of water, and, consequently, it is rather bigger than a small drainage scheme.

    Mr. HARDIE: That is what makes the cooling.

    Amendment agreed to.

    The CHAIRMAN: The next Amendment, which stands in the name of the right hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) and other hon. Members—After the Amendment to Section 21 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1919, to insert the words "s. 23. After the word 'provide' there shall be inserted the word 'sell,' and the words 'or sell' after the word 'manufacture' shall be omitted," would enable the undertakers to sell fittings. That has already been negatived by a previous decision of the Committee.

    Lieut.-Colonel M00RE-BRABAZ0N: I beg to move, at the end of the Schedule, to add the words "Electricity (Supply) Act, 1922 (12 and 13 George V., c. 46) s. 21.—In Sub-section (1), for the words 'not made under the principal Act was in consequence of that Act,' there shall be substituted the words 'was made under or in consequence of the principal Act.'" On the Clause dealing with compensation, I said that among the points which I had discussed with various associations, there was one which had caused them considerable difficulty in the past, namely, the question whether compensation under the 1919 Act arises in consequence of that Act or under the Act. A lot of trouble has been experienced, and many men have had to go to Court to decide whether it was in consequence of or under the Act. The proposal in this Amendment is that the Commissioners should decide this point in both cases. It will be simpler and cheaper for all concerned.

    1526

    Amendment agreed to.

    Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

    SEVENTH SCHEDULE.
    RULES FOR DETERMINING THE FIXED CHARGES COMPONENT, AND THE RUNNING CHARGES COMPONENT.

  • The total cost of production shall be ascertained in acordance with the Second Schedule to this Act.
  • The total cost so ascertained shall be allocated as between fixed costs and running costs in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the Electricity Commissioners for the purpose.
  • The amount of the fixed costs divided by the number of kilowatts of maximum demand shall be the fixed charges component.
  • For the purposes of this provision the "number of kilowatts of maximum demand" shall be deemed to be twice the largest number of units of electricity supplied from the generating station during any consecutive thirty minutes in the year of account.
  • The amount of the running costs divided by the number of units supplied from the generating station during the year of account shall be the running charges component.
  • Sir JOSEPH NALL: I beg to move, after the word "Fixed" ["Rules for determining the Fixed Charges"], to insert the word "Kilowatt."

    Lieut.-Colonel M00RE-BRABAZ0N: This Amendment and the next two Amendments are consequential upon the changes which took place in Clause 39, and I am prepared to accept them.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In paragraph 1 leave out the word "total."

    In paragraph 2, leave out the word "total."—[Sir J. Nail.]

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: I beg to move, to leave out paragraph 3, and to insert instead thereof, a new paragraph: "3. One-twelfth of the amount of the fixed costs in the year of account, divided by the average of the monthly maximum demands in that year, shall, subject to such variations whether by way of decrease or increase as the Electricity Commissioners may by Regulations prescribe, according to the magnitude of the maximum demands of supplies furnished, be the fixed kilowatt charges component." This is one of those very difficult and complicated Amendments to the explanation of which I am never quite sure 1527 whether the Committee like to listen or not. I have to move it, because we accepted on Clause 39 a very considerable Amendment on the question of the maximum costs, from the point of view of electricity. The original Bill said that the fixed charges should be based on the highest amount of current taken at any time during the year. It was felt that this was somewhat inequitable, and we accepted an Amendment whereby you paid the maximum demand monthly. That is to say, if in January you asked for a certain amount of current as the maximum, if that amount of current fell in February, you were still liable for the maximum demand made in January. In that way, you spread the average cost throughout the year; otherwise, if you got your maximum demand in December that maximum demand would have to be retrospective over the whole year, and it would penalise the undertaker. It is in order to put the Schedule in line with the changes that we adopted in Clause 39 that I am moving this Amendment. There are words in the Amendment which give power to the Commissioners to vary the charges. It is interesting that under the old Acts of Parliament no preferential treatment may be given to anybody; but it has always been felt that where you have two customers each with the same load factor, it was inequitable that a person who has only a demand of five kilowatts maximum should be treated on exactly the same basis of costs as those who ask for 50,000 kilowatts. It is to meet that point and to give a certain amount of elasticity that the latter part of the Amendment is drawn in its present terms. There will be an alteration later which is wrapped up in the proposal of the hon. Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nail), but I ask the Committee to insert this particular Amendment first. To those people who are interested in the technical side I would say that the particular change that we have had to effect is due to the change in the construction of Clause 39, and is not a party matter or one which can be discussed here with any feeling of heat. If any technical experts can show us that there are any flaws in it—we do not think there are—we are always ready to discuss them between now and the Report stage.

    1528

    Mr. BALFOUR: I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that it is necessary to have elasticity, and to make these points clear. I do not propose to oppose the Amendment in any way now. It does not contain anything controversial, but it does contain details about which we should be very careful when we are putting them into a Statute in the form of a general Regulation as to costing for the supply of electricity in the future. It would be wise to consider this matter carefully between now and the Report stage. We are prepared to hammer out this Amendment and see whether it will meet the case. I do not say that it will not meet the case, but I can see certain difficulties that might arise to hamper the Commissioners. It would be wise to sit down and talk the matter over with those people who understand it, and see whether we can get it in proper shape and whether there is any weakness in the Amendment, as I think there is, between now and the Report stage. It is not a question of one party wanting to get an advantage over the other; it is a question of putting them on equal terms in the future, and doing it by simple and understandable words in the Schedule.

    Sir J. NALL: In view of this Government Amendment, I do not propose to move the two following Amendments which stand in my name.—In paragraph 3, to leave out the words "the number of kilowatts of maximum demand," and to insert instead thereof the words "the total of the respective numbers of kilowatts of maximum demand for each month of the year of account"; and in the same paragraph, after the word "fixed," to insert the word "kilowatt."

    Amendment agreed to.

    The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Sir J. NALL and other hon. Members: In paragraph 3, to leave out the words "For the purposes of this provision the 'number of kilowatts of maximum demand' shall he deemed to be twice the largest number of units of electricity supplied from the generating station during any consecutive thirty minutes in the year of account"

    and to insert instead thereof the words "For the purposes of this provision the number of kilowatts of maximum demand for any month shall be deemed to be twice the largest number of units of electricity 1529 supplied from the generating station during any consecutive thirty minutes in that month. "Provided that if the number of kilowatts of maximum demand so ascertained for any particular month shall be less than the number of kilowatts of maximum demand for any previous month of the same year of account the higher number shall be taken as the number of kilowatts of maximum demand for the first-mentioned month."

    Sir J. NALL: I will not move my Amendment, because I understand that the Government have an Amendment which covers same what the same ground.

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: I beg to move, in paragraph 3, after the word "in" ["in the year of account"], to insert the words "each month of." I move this Amendment simply to secure the maximum.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON: I beg to move, in paragraph 3, at the end, to insert the words "Provided that if the number of kilowatts of maximum demand so ascertained for any particular month shall be less than the number of kilowatts of maximum demand for any previous month of the same year of account the higher number shall be taken as the number of kilowatts of maximum demand for the first-mentioned month." This Amendment is moved in order" to preserve the state of affairs on the monthly basis, because if you start on a higher number in the first month, you are not allowed to have less during the subsequent month.

    Mr. BALFOUR: I do not propose to argue this Amendment now, but I wish to point out that it contains many points which require further consideration, and I am afraid the Commissioners will find themselves in a difficulty in regard to its administration. It is a question which will require further consideration on the Report stage.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

    Question, "That the Bill, as amended, be reported to the House," put, and agreed to.

    Sir JOHN MARRIOTT: I am sure that this Committee would not desire to adjourn before expressing its very grateful sense, Sir Robert, of your con- 1530 duct in the Chair. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear!"] We have had, from many points of view, a prolonged, though not an unamicable discussion, and that our proceedings have been conducted so amicably has been very largely due to the great tact with which you have presided over our deliberations. On behalf of the Committee, and as one of its oldest members, I desire to tender to you our very grateful thanks for your conduct in the Chair.

    HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

    Colonel ASHLEY: May I associate myself with the expressions which have just fallen from the hon. Member? My hon. Friend said that we have had very amicable discussions.

    Sir J. MARRIOTT: I said "not unamicable."

    Colonel ASHLEY: I think the greatest testimony is that, although our discussions were not so amicable at first, as months went on we became more amiable, and, no doubt, that was due to the fact that we began to appreciate our different points of view, and at the conclusion, I am glad to note, that we are such a very happy family.

    Mr. ATTLEE: On behalf of those who sit on the Labour Benches, I desire to associate myself with what has been said by previous speakers. I am very pleased to see the hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) kissing the Rod so gracefully, and, on behalf of Members on these benches, I wish to convey our thanks to you, Sir Robert, for the way you have treated us, and the way you have conducted these very protracted discussions.

    Mr. BALFOUR: I feel that I have been the Member of this Committee who has thrown the greatest strain upon your patience, Sir Robert, and I wish to say that I fully appreciate your conduct in the Chair, and I agree with everything that has been said in this respect. Not only have you treated me, but all the Members of the Committee have treated me, with the greatest possible kindness and consideration.

    The CHAIRMAN: I beg to thank hon. Members who have been good enough to say such nice things about the Chairman. Although our discussions have been long and contentious, I think, on the whole, 1531 it has been a good-humoured Committee, and I should like to thank all those who have contributed towards making our discussions good-humoured. I think, perhaps, we ought particularly to thank the hon. Member for Upton (Captain Holt) and the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Hanbury), who have sat here through almost every meeting of the Committee, and have silently endured prolonged suffering. I think it is that 1532 sort of patient heroism on the part of Members of Parliament which really should do much to earn the gratitude of the country. I hope this Bill, if it does not achieve every result which its authors may have prophesied, will, at all events, not do so much harm as the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) anticipates.

    The Committee rose at Seven Minutes after Twelve o'Clock.

    THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

    Sanders, Sir Robert (Chairman)

    Alexander, Mr. Ernest

    Apsley, Lord

    Ashley, Colonel

    Attlee, Mr.

    Balfour, Mr.

    Burman, Mr.

    Burton, Colonel

    Clayton, Mr.

    Crookshank, Colonel

    Dawson, Sir Philip

    Dennison, Mr.

    Fielden, Mr.

    Glyn, Major

    Gosling, Mr.

    Grenfell, Mr. David

    Grotrian, Mr.

    Hanbury, Mr.

    Hannon, Mr.

    Hardie, Mr.

    Holt, Captain

    Hudson, Mr. Robert

    Kelly, Mr.

    Macdonald, Sir Murdoch

    Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn

    Marriott, Sir John

    Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Colonel

    Morrison, Mr. Robert

    Nall, Sir Joseph

    Newton, Sir Douglas

    Nuttall, Mr.

    Radford, Mr.

    Rentoul, Mr.

    Sandeman, Mr.

    Townend, Mr.

    Viant, Mr.

    Waddington, Mr.

    Wallhead, Mr.

    Ward, Lieut.-Colonel Lambert

    Wiggins, Mr.

    Womersley, Mr.