§ MR. WALTER HAZELL (Leicester)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Board have declined to grant Orders in the Metropolis under the Electric Lighting Acts unless the power of purchase in favour of the Local Authority be reserved at the end of 42 years from the 22nd August 1889, and upon the terms of Subsection 2 of the Act of 1888; whether, in view of the fact that this section provided for the Companies working the electric light for 42 years from the date of the Order, it is intended to require a company to sell its undertaking before it has had 42 years of working life; and, if so, whether, as the period of 42 years reckoned from 1888 is already reduced by nearly seven years, and is daily diminishing, he will consider the desirability of giving terms more favourable to the Companies in consideration of their Order lasting for a shorter period than the 42 years provided by the Act?
§ MR. BRYCE
Yes, Sir; that is so, but Section 2 of the Electric Lighting Act, 1888, provides that the Local Authority may purchase the undertaking after the expiration of a period of 42 years, or such shorter period as is specified in the Provisional Order. The Board of Trade have held that it is in the interest of London that the power of purchase by the Local Authority or Authorities shall, as far as possible, operate at the same date over the whole of the Metropolis. To this policy the Board of Trade adhere. The time does not seem to have arrived when it becomes necessary to consider whether any relaxation in terms on which such undertakings may be purchased may require to be made in order to render it worth the while of Companies to enter upon new enterprises.