HC Deb 11 July 1879 vol 248 cc161-2

asked the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, Whether he is aware that the Alliance and Dublin Consumers' Gas Bill was allowed to pass through this House containing clauses which confer, directly or indirectly, powers of Electric Lighting on the Alliance and Dublin Consumers' Gas Company, notwithstanding the recommendation contained in the Report from the Select Committee on Lighting by Electricity, that— Gas Companies, in the opinion of your Committee, have no special claims to be considered as the future distributors of Electric Light; whether he has any objection to state the circumstances under which the Bill containing such powers was allowed to proceed; and, whether he will now, or when the Bill comes back to this House, take steps to have all such powers expunged?


Sir, in reply to the first part of the Question of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan), I have to say that when the Dublin Consumers' Gas Bill passed through this House, it did not contain any direct clause conferring the power to which he refers. I may further state that the Bill was read a third time, and left this House upon the 9th of June; whereas the Report of the Committee on Lighting by Electricity, to which he has referred, was not presented to the House until the 19th of June. I may also say, as he has asked me to state the circumstances under which the Bill was allowed to proceed, that I have given it a good deal of attention. I had several interviews with both the promoters and opponents of the Bill, and I stipulated that any clause, directly or indirectly conferring those powers, should be expunged, and that was done. In Committee, as I am since informed, a clause was inserted at the instance of the General Post Office, which, although it conveyed no new powers, might possibly be misconstrued in connection with a paragraph in the Bill as recognizing some powers as to supplying the Electric Light. The matter, however, was not brought before me by the parties interested in this House. But I have since received a representation from the Corporation of Dublin on the subject; and, the Bill being then in the House of Lords, I at once communicated with my noble Friend the Chairman of Committees in that House (the Earl of Redesdale). I believe that the clause as to the powers has been struck out in the other House, and I am quite satisfied that the Bill as it now stands, contains no power in excess of that already granted to the Company by the Act of 1866.