HC Deb 22 March 1910 vol 15 cc1011-5

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the second time."—[Mr. Tennant.]


There was an understanding that this Bill should not be taken to-night.


I was unaware of any such arrangement, but I am quite ready to explain the purposes of the Bill if the hon. Baronet desires.


I think the Bill should not be taken to-night.


I am afraid there has been some misunderstanding. The Bill is two years overdue. It is a harmless Departmental measure, which I am prepared to explain if the hon. Baronet desires.


Go on, certainly.

7.0 P.M.


This Bill is introduced in pursuance of a pledge given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, when he was President of the Board of Trade. When the London Electric Bill of 1908 was introduced it linked up the various companies of London for the purposes of supply. There were, however, five companies to which it was impossible to give these powers at that time, and they unfortunately were left over until a later period, and it is now proposed to deal with them. This Bill makes the purchasing authority of electric lighting undertakings the London County Council, and if the hon. Member has any doubt about the making of that body the purchasing authority, I should like to inform him that the borough councils cannot become such a purchasing authority of the electrical undertakings in their districts, because two or three of them have already given up these powers and transferred them to the London County Council. It is very important that the London County Council or some authority should be responsible for the whole electric lighting of London at some future time, and therefore in 1931 these arrangements will take place, and the purchasing authority will become the London County Council. There are only two electric lighting authorities involved of any importance, only two borough councils involved, and I should think that this would be found to be a useful Bill, because it will simplify the work of the authorities which now supply electricity to London. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) would like any further information on this Bill which deals with a very complicated subject. I think there are sixteen borough councils authorised to supply electricity in London, and besides that there are fifteen companies. Surely it is in the interests of the consumers and in the interests of the public as the industry depends upon motive power, that some large body should deal with the undertakings, with a view to cheapening production.


I daresay the Bill is a very good one, but it has come on unexpectedly, and as I see the Parliamentary Secretary on the Treasury Bench, may I appeal to him to assent to this Bill standing over?


If the hon. Gentleman insists I cannot avoid it. But it is a little hard upon the Board of Trade.


I move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.

Debate to be resumed to-morrow.

Mr. FULLER (Vice-Chamberlain)

moved "That this House do now adjourn."


On this Motion may I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and ask him whether some facilities cannot be granted for bringing on the Police Weekly Rest Day Bill at an early period? All the Government Amendments are in the Bill, and there is no opposition whatever, although we should like to see it extended. As the Bill stands to-day it will not be opposed, and we are of opinion that one day's rest in seven should be granted to policemen. This is the second night upon which we have been ready to pass this Bill, and I will ask the hon. Gentleman whether he will undertake very early after Easter that he will give us an opportunity of doing so?


Before the hon. Gentleman replies, I should like him to bear in mind that the Bill as it stands will encounter some little opposition, although the feeling of the House is generally in favour of it as far as it goes. The opposition to it arises in this way, that as far as the Bill was originally drafted it applied to Scotland, but as the result of a representation from the Scottish office, Scotland has been excluded, and that is what generally takes place. Therefore Scotland is not to get anything at all. Unless the Bill is restored to what it was when it was brought forward, we cannot ensure its being passed without opposition. I fear if it is maintained in its present condition of excluding Scotland some little opposition may be offered to it.


I hope the Government will reconsider the question as to whether this Bill should not be restored to its original condition. I certainly will not be a party to preventing the English police getting what the Bill gives them, but I see no reason why Scottish constables should not have the same advantage as the English.


I should like to impress upon the Government that all the municipalities in the country are favourable to the objects of this Bill, and would desire that it should become law, but they want this House to take into consideration the question of expense, because as now drawn the whole of the expenditure would fall upon the ratepayers, and nothing is granted from the Imperial funds towards meeting this increased cost. We are not anxious—I am sure the House is not anxious—that this expenditure should be met by giving increased work to the police.


The hon. Member is not entitled now to go into the details of the Bill. We are not discussing the Bill, but whether the House should adjourn.


May I associate myself with what has been said? I was one of the Committee which inquired into this Bill, and in consequence of the startling evidence given before us, we decided it was an essential necessity that the policemen should have some consideration at the hands of this House. I associate myself entirely with the request that the Government will attempt to bring about the requirements of the Committee.


I will convey to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary the views which have been expressed by Members, and I will also mention to the Secretary for Scotland what has been said by my Scottish col- leagues. To-morrow I will tell hon. Members the decision arrived at.


I desire to associate myself with the remarks which have been made with regard to the Scottish police. There is no desire on the part of the Scottish Members to kill this measure for England and Wales, but they are desirous that the privileges granted to the constabulary in those countries should be extended across the Border. When the bill was introduced, as an hon. Member has stated, Scotland was included, but in some mysterious manner—due, my hon. Friend suggests, to the Scottish Office—Scotland has been dropped out. Whenever a boon is to be given to England and Wales Scotland is always in this extraordinary manner excluded. I have inquired among Scottish Members to-day as to their views, and I have ascertained that they are unanimous in their desire that Scotland should be reinstated in the position which it originally held in the Bill.

Colonel GREIG

I desire to associate myself with my colleagues from Scotland, and I see no reason at all why the law should not be the same in Scotland as in England.


I wish to complain to the Parliamentary Secretary that he has no good reason for adjourning this House at all at this time to-day. Of course, I know very well when the two Front Benches arrange about these matters that there is very little hope in regard to the business of private Members, but it does seem unfortunate that when we have the time, as we have this evening, to assist forward private Members Bills, that the Government should make these arrangements, and shut us out of the advantage which we might have obtained. Private Members do not get much advantage in this House, and there are a large number of Bills— twenty-one, I think—down on the list, some of which might have been taken with advantage. I have to complain especially, because I have two Bills down, the Return Tickets Bill and the Sea Fisheries (Scotland) Bill. Both of them are important, the latter being especially so to the people of Scotland, because it deals with their means of carrying on their legal business. I will not, however, touch upon the merits of the Bills, but generally I want to express my great regret that the Government should join in opposing these Bills when on an occasion like the present we have the time for considering measures which ought to be considered.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Thirteen minutes after Seven o'clock, until to-morrow, at Twelve o'clock Noon.