§ (1) It shall be the duty of the Minister in the exercise and performance of any powers and duties transferred to, or conferred or imposed upon him, by or in pursuance of this Act, to take steps to carry out the purposes aforesaid, and there shall, as from such date or dates as His Majesty in Council may by Order determine, be transferred to the Minister all powers and duties of any Government Department in relation to—
- (b)light railways;
- (d) canals, waterways, and inland navigations;
- (e) roads, bridges and ferries, and vehicles and traffic thereon;
- (f) harbours, docks and piers;
- (i) His Majesty in Council may by Order except from such transfer any particular powers or duties, or provide for the exercise or performance of any power or duty so excepted by the Minister con-currently or in consultation with or at the instance of the Government
896 Department concerned concurrently or in consultation with the Minister, or provide for the retransfer to any such Department of any powers and duties transferred to the Minister by this Section; and
- (ii) Nothing in this Section shall transfer to the Minister any powers or duties of the Admiralty exerciseable in or in relation to ports declared under the Dockyard Ports Regulation Act, 1865, to be dockyard ports, but His Majesty in Council may by Order transfer to the Admiralty, instead of to the Minister, any of the powers of the Board of Trade with respect to dockyard ports, or with respect to the appointment of members of any commissioners, conservancy board, or other body having jurisdiction in the whole or any part of a dockyard port; and
- (iii) Nothing in this Section shall transfer to the Minister the powers of the Board of Trade with respect to the appointment of members or the procedure of the Railway and Canal Commission, but His Majesty in Council may, by Order, transfer those powers to a Secretary of State instead of to the Minister.
§ (2) His Majesty in Council may by Order make such incidental, consequential and supplemental provisions as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of' giving full effect to any transfer of powers or duties by or under this Section, including provisions for the transfer of any property, rights and liabilities held, enjoyed, incurred by any Government Department in connection with any powers or duties transferred and may make such adaptations in the enactments relating to such powers or duties as may be necessary to make exerciseable by the Minister and his officers or by the Admiralty and their officers, as the case may be, the powers and 897 duties so transferred: Provided always that nothing herein contained shall enable the powers so transferred to be increased.
§ (3) In connection with the transfer of powers and duties to the Minister or the Admiralty by or under this Act, the provisions set out in the Schedule to this Act shall have effect.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I beg to move in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "(c) tramways."
I think, if I remember aright, this Clause is in reality excluded from the Bill. I would refer the House to the speech of the Minister-Designate, and I think when they hear the words he used they will agree that there is very little excuse for these words remaining in the Bill, whether this Amendment were moved to-night or not.There are 279 tramway undertakings in the country of which 96 percent, are electrified. That is an important point, which I shall show later in my speech. It shows that these undertakings are almost entirely modern. Taken all over, these undertakings are earning 7 percent, on their capital. They are excluded from the Bill.There can be no confusion about that statement. It was made by the right hon. Gentleman during the first few minutes of his speech in moving the Second Reading of the Rill in this House. I listened to his speech carefully, and noted his words at the time. That I am not alone in that opinion is borne out by a leading article in the leading journal of this country which appeared the following morning. [An HON. MEMBER: "What journal?"] "The Times." A leading article in "The Times" on the day following the Debate in this House contained these wordsTramways— Not municipal tramways, but tramwayswhich at first were placed in the Bill, are now excluded, for reasons which were not explained.Before I proceed further, I should like to allude to a constitutional point. Is it within the power of a Committee upstairs to send back to this House a Bill with something in it which was specifically excluded by His Majesty's Minister in this House? It seems to me that it is impossible, but I should like your ruling whether that is so, assuming I am right in saying that tramways were excluded? I am quite satisfied that 279 represents the total tramway undertakings in the country. There are 171 municipal undertakings covering 1,800 miles of road, and 108 company undertakings, covering about 800 miles of road, making a total of 270tramway undertakings. And we have the definite word, which admits of no possible confusion, that 898 these 270 tramways were excluded from the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is probably reading his words at the moment. I heard them and know they are correctly reported. I should like to know if tramways are excluded or not, and I should like your ruling on the point.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
When the Minister made the speech referred to, the Bill was printed and in the hands of Members. We must go by the words of the Bill, and not by speeches.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
That being so, I must say one or two more words. It is not my desire to speak at length, or in the slightest degree to obstruct the business of the House. On other grounds, even if tramways were not excluded from the Bill on Second Reading, what is going to be done by retaining tramways in the Bill? If I understand the right hon. Gentleman aright, he claims as the greatest merit of this Bill that it is going to coordinate the transport system of the country. How is he going to co-ordinate the tramways? Of the 279 tramways, 171 municipal undertakings are excluded from any possibility of co-ordination, and it leaves the right hon. Gentleman a miserable 100 tramway systems, covering 800 miles of road, and he is going to co-ordinate them with what? Tramways, if I know anything about them, and I think I can claim some experience, in their very essence are local institutions. They cannot be co-ordinated into any part of a great national transport system. There is no excuse for retaining these essentially local undertakings in this Bill. I ask the right hon. Gentleman just to cast his mind over the average tramway system in this country. What is the longest distance any passenger travels on a tramway? In my experience of the tramway systems of England, Scotland, and Wales, roughly ten miles is the maximum. Occasionally you get a system somewhat longer than, that, but very seldom. This is what is going to be co-ordinated ! If the powers and duties of the Minister are to be restricted to the powers mentioned in the Command Paper, then I have no objection. I think it is right and wise to transfer all matters relating to tramways to a Minister who has control of other transport systems, but not to let him for a period of two years take possession of these tramways, and at the end of those two years hand them back in any state he thinks fit. If the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to make an Amendment 899 either at this point or a subsequent state to take over all the executive functions of existing Government Departments in that respect, I have no objection, but if it goes beyond that I would desire to see the word "tramways" deleted from Clause 2.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to second the Amendment.
I must say I think that the Minister-designate will have his work well cut out without having tramways on his very able hands. I believe that the tramways of the country are well administered, and they might well be left out of this Bill. It will only, I believe, mean too much interference with local authorities, and I feel that it is a game—if I may use the expression—not worth the candle.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
You have ruled that we will go by what was printed in the Bill before the House on. Second Reading. Looking very briefly at what I said, although I admit that the wording—when one rereads one's speeches, or possibly those of other Members, they are not always clear—but I think there the reference was intended to be made that the municipal tramways were in a special category and possession would not be taken of them under the Bill. I think it would be a great mistake, in setting up a Ministry of Transportation, to leave tramways out. Tramways and light railways have an almost indefinable borderline. There are tramways worked as light railways, and in setting up a Ministry, which is to co-ordinate the transportation of the country, it would be, I think the House will agree, a fatal blot to leave out this very important, and increasingly important, method of transport along our roads, and I hope eventually through the country. Tramways and motor transport on roads are the two ways which will most readily, and with the least expenditure, be adopted to meet the needs not only of the agricultural community but of new housing schemes which will have to be brought into use. I feel very strongly that it would be a great blot to leave tramways out. In Committee Amendments were proposed, not by the Government, which were accepted by Committee and by the Government. Clause 4 of the Bill gives one of them. It gives the Minister power to require through-running on adjoining tramways. That appears to me, and the Committee thought it was a very important Amend- 900 ment. The reference to the prosperous state of electrified tramways was made by myself, as showing the great importance of electricity in a cheap, convenient, and expeditious transportation. Modern transportation of a frequent kind, and indeed of a heavy kind, would benefit largely by the proper application, not the wholesale, reckless application, of electrical power, and it was to illustrate that that I mentioned the prosperous state of those tramways. It is not intended to interfere in the way of taking possession, in its technical sense, of tramways owned and run by a municipal undertaking. The Bill shows that where the municipality possesses a right to purchase a tramway, even if the Minister has taken possession of it, when that right matures they will be able to purchase.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
If the right hon. Gentleman would say that when we come to Clause 3 he would make it clear that he does not intend to take possession he will meet my point.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
But when we come to Clause 3 will you make it clear that you do not intend to take possession?
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I shall be very glad to consider what modification may be made in Clause 3. I think I cannot say anything more on this point, except that I feel very strongly that it would be a blot on the whole scheme to leave out this important matter of subsidiary transportation which we most require. To leave out tramways and light railways would be a hopeless blot on the Bill.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I feel generally bound to support the Minister in his appeal that this paragraph should remain in the Bill. I do not know that anyone in the House has ever said that the tramways are not well administered, but most of us who have had experience in these matters will agree that, although they may be well administered, there is little co-operation and co-ordination. The real object of the Bill, as I understand it, is to see that not merely in the railway industry and on the light railways should there be cooperation and co-ordination, but that this should obtain throughout the whole transport system. Those of us who happen to be fortunate or unfortunate enough to live in centres not blest with the best of railway services have to rely much upon our 901 trams. I could take many Members to a small tramway system, which does an extensive business, running from the city of Nottingham to Ripley more than a distance of ten miles. There is not that co-operation nor working in harmony with the train service at Nottingham that there should be. When passengers arrive at Nottingham they generally find that a tramcar has just gone, and they have to wait a considerable time, whereas the tramway arrangements should be such that passengers coming by train could catch a car and should not have to wait hours for the next one. What are required, and what it would be the duty of the Minister to ensure, are harmony and unity between the existing services, so that the transport system may be thoroughly effective. The question of through running is contained in this Clause, and if this Amendment is carried the Clause will be almost useless. The question is an exceedingly important one. I hope the Government will not waver on this matter, as they wavered at the beginning of the Sitting to-day, but will see that this is retained in the Bill.
It has been said that the tramway system is a local institution, but I submit that is not merely local but national, and a feeding system for the national and larger transport systems of the country. Reference has been made to the excellent testimony which the "Times" gave. I think the Mover of the Amendment said that the "Times" supported an Amendment of this character. I want to point cut that another eloquent paper, not the "Times," referred to this.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
It was quite the re-terse. I merely suggested that in their leading article the "Times" referred to the matter.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I thank the hon. Member for his correction. Not merely in the leading article of the "Times" has this question been referred to, but also in another paper which dealt with the matter at, almost the same time. I think this paper is read very much amongst the working classes of the community, and that they heartily support it. Seeing that the "Times" has been mentioned, I think it is quite in order to refer to the "Daily Herald."
§ Mr. STEVENS
I am in favour of tramways being included in the Bill. It is quite possible that the Government would care to approach the local authorities to 902 agree with them to include municipal tramways in the Bill, as I think they ought to be included. In regard to the working of the tramways by municipal authorities, and those owned by a company, the difficulty in nearly every case is the failure of the local authority to join up through the private tramways. I say very definitely that the Minister will get little or nothing out of the inclusion of the private tramways in the Bill unless he is able to enforce, as he is not now, means of inter-communication between the private tramways and the municipally-owned tramway.
§ Mr. KILEY
I join in the request to the right hon. Gentleman not to give way on the suggestion to omit tramways from the Bill. It is imperative that not only private but municipal lines should be included. In one district in London for the last five years there has been a dispute between the local and the county authorities as to whether the overhead or the conduit system should be adopted. The result has been that they have had no tramways there for the last five years because of that dispute. It is time some action should be taken to put a stop to a nuisance of that kind.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
As far as I understand it the Bill includes tramways of all kinds—municipal as well as those of companies. The House and even the most intelligent of hon. Members are rather inclined to run away with the wrong idea. They have no grounds for saying that municipal tramways arc omitted from the Bill.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The suggestion was not that they should be excluded. In the present state of the Bill all tramways are included, but the Minister has given a pledge that he will not take possession of municipal tramways.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
If my hon. and learned Friend will look at Section 3, Sub-section (1, b), he will see where the tramways belonging to a local authority are excluded.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Excluded from being taken possession of, but not for any other purpose. The point was made a short time ago in connection with inter-running. The present Minister has full power in regard to this under Section 4. Therefore 903 he has complete power to do what he wants, namely, run private stock on municipal tramlines and vice versâ, by making orders to that effect. I wanted to get from him this. He is not going to take possession of municipal trams. Does he intend to take possession of company-owned trams, and, if so, what for? He has stated that he does not mean to take possession of municipal tramways. I should like to know one way or the other about these tramway companies. Of course, it may be necessary to put it in the Bill without any qualification. If not, could he put in some qualification. It is a very big matter to give orders to thoroughly experienced tramway officials.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
We are dealing with Clause 2 of the Bill, which transfers certain duties and powers of other Departments, to be notified by Order in Council, and in relation to tramways of all kinds it is proposed that they should be transferred. I do not know if it is in order for me to deal with what is in Clause 3—
§ Mr. HOHLER
On a point of Order. Have not all these speeches been out of order? We arc simply on the question of the transfer of these general powers.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think it is clear that questions of running, for instance, do come under the covering powers taken here in Clause 2, although they are detailed in later Clauses, that is, brought in for purposes other than those provided for by clause 2.
§ Mr. HOHLER
May I call attention to Clause 4, which deals specifically with this question? Clause 2 merely transfers existing powers of Government Departments in regard to tramways; it has nothing to do with inter-running powers. In Clause 3 tramways arc dealt with, but municipal tramways are excluded; but in Clause 4 there is specific reference to inter-communication, and surely that would be the proper Clause under which to deal with a question of this kind.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
There is something in what the hon. Member says. The powers taken under Clause 2 are, I presume, the powers exercised by the Board of Trade, which has certain powers when application is made by Provisional Order for dealing with such matters. I think that probably the House will be satisfied now to proceed.
§ Amendment negatived.904
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the wordsIn the case of a draft of an Order in Council proposed to be made under Section two, Subsection (1), of this Act. the Order shall not be made until both Houses of Parliament by resolution have approved the draft, nor, if any modifications are agreed to by both Houses, otherwise than as so modified, and in the case of a draft of an Order proposed to be made under Section two, Sub-section (2) of this Act if either House, before the expiration of thirty days during which the House is sitting after the draft of the Order has been laid before that House, presents an Address to His Majesty against the draft or any part thereof no further proceedings shall be taken thereon without prejudice to the making of any new draft Order.This is the second part of the new Clause which stood in my name on the Order Paper and which by direction of Mr. Speaker I put down as an Amendment to Clause 2.
Captain H. BENN
On a point of Order. May I ask where it is proposed that this-shall be put in? I have an Amendment at the end of paragraph (iii.) of Sub-section (1).
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member for Greenwich does come first. I called him, but did not see him rise. He is entitled to move.
Captain H. BENN
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1, iii.), to insert the wordsNothing in this Section shall transfer to the Minister the powers or duties of any Government Department in relation to foreshore, navigation, pilotage, wreck and salvage. lighthouses, and shipping.The Home Secretary. in Committee, expressly stated that the Government did not intend to take these powers. He raised objection to having them taken out of the Bill, but at the same time gave us a definite assurance that the Government had no intention of taking them. That being the case, I do not see how this Amendment can be resisted.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The White Paper which has been circulated relating to the-transference of powers shows what it is intended at the present time to take from the Board of Trade and other Departments in connection with the rivers and waterways in this country. This Amendment selects one particular class of power and defines what the Minister shall and shall not take. It is not intended to go beyond. 905 the powers which are essential to maintain the transport facilities which we obtain from the use of these waterways, nor to infringe any powers that are of a different character altogether. At the same time it is very difficult now to see exactly how far it may be necessary to go in the transfer, or even the adjustment of the transfer, of the powers, and what powers we shall have to take and what we shall have to leave. It is one of the most confusing items we shall have to deal with, and I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not press the Amendment, but will leave it as all the other powers are left, namely, that the transfer of powers shall be arranged as we get experience of the work. If now it is laid down that these particular powers are not to be transferred it may restrict us at a future date. I am sure he does not wish, now that we have settled the rather vexed question of the docks, to impose what will really be a restriction of the general work of adjustment between the Departments, and I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
Captain H. BENN
The point is not about inland navigation or powers connected with that, but really the powers in relation to outer navigation, pilotage and lighthouses.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he is really thinking in his own mind on this matter? Is he thinking of taking over questions like pilotage, lighthouses, etc.? He is having powers transferred to him at present existing in different Government Departments about which there is no doubt; but does he mean also that he proposes to take over, say, the powers of Trinity House with regard to a lighthouse which is upon a dock? That has nothing to do with the transport of the country. Similarly, there is the case of the foreshore which may adjoin a dock or the entrance to a dock. These are powers which belong to the Ministry of Shipping if to anyone, and certainly cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be considered, either now or at any future time, to be associated with the powers of inland transport which are being taken over by the right hon. Gentleman. He can relieve the anxiety of my hon. Friend and others who are connected with the shipping if he can say that in no way does he want to take over the foreshore, navigation, lighthouses, shipping, and pilotage. I am quite sure the House never thought 906 that there was any intention in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, or the Government either, now or at any future time, to claim the powers I have indicated.
§ Mr. HOHLER
My hon. and learned Friend and others seem to be dragging into this Bill what is not there. A fore-shore is the property of the town, to give one instance. My hon. and learned Friend should give some justification by argument to show that the Clause to which they are referring really does enable the Minister of Ways and Commnunications to do what they suggest he may do. There is nothing in the Bill to justify their observations. But a Clause may be amended so as to be of ambiguous interpretation. It may come before the Courts. Then the Courts may say, "If Parliament has been so foolish as to introduce a Clause which was never intended to be in the Bill there surely must be some meaning in it." So some ingenious lawyer carries it forward to the House of Lords, and the thing is rendered more ridiculous still.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Will my hon. and learned Friend say that he has never heard of a lighthouse at the end of a pier.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It my hon. and learned Friend asks me that question really he must think that I am exceedingly foolish.
I hope the Minister will not give way. 1 could hope that he will be even more greedy for power than the hon. Gentleman wishes, because shipping is the most important part of transport in parts of the country. On the West Coast of Scotland, at any rate, private enterprise has failed, and I hope the Government will take it over, and run the shipping for the benefit of the people. The transport service to which I refer is one of the most important items of reconstruction. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take it into his Bill if it is not already there.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
There is, of course, nothing in the Bill which gives any Minister power to take over the shipping, or pilotage, or anything of that kind as the hon. and learned Gentleman on this side has just said. On page 6 of the White Paper, in that portion which refers to harbours, docks, and piers, I would like to read just two examples of the difficulties which I have mentioned. After showing those difficulties, I hope this Amendment will not be pressed.Power to hold inquiries as to applications to Parliament for authority to construct work on or. 907 across any navigable river or which will affect any harbour and to require the deposit of further explanatory documents it necessary"—That has to do with channels. Then again—approval of pier and harbour works authorised by provisional Order confirmed by Parliament, power to repair, restore or remove any such work which may have been abandoned or become disused; power to examine such work at the expense of the owners.In these cases the Board of Trade will retain these powers so far as they affect navigation. It is extremely difficult at this stage definitely to say that certain things shall or shall not be included, but it is not intended to take over anything that has to do with pilotage or shipping. To lay down, however, in any particular Clause powers in relation to some things which are on the border-line, and say that they shall or shall not come in, would, 1 think, be unduly hampering us. I think the House should leave the matter to the Departments and the Government to adjust them and see how the thing works out
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
I hope my hon. Friend will not press this Amendment. He is unduly cautious in his desire to make more provision against the impossible than is at all necessary. There are no powers, as has been pointed out, in the Bill that necessitate any one of these precautions included in this Amendment. There being no such powers in the Bill, what on earth is the object of saying that they shall not be exercised, or that they shall not exist? It is a double negative, so to speak. The danger has been pointed out by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Holder), that if amended something may be read into such Amendment far more than my hon. and learned Friend expects or intends. Embarrassment and perhaps difficulties in the Law Courts would be caused by this tautology and this unnecessary expression of precaution against something which does not even, as the right hon. Gentleman admits, exist in the Bill. I sincerely hope the Amendment will not be pressed, for it is quite useless, and may be very dangerous, and lead to complications.
Captain H. BENN
After the declaration of the Minister on the subject I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment. I would just wish to add that the powers in question do come under the purview of the Minister as the Bill is drawn.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.908
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the wordsProvided that in the case of a draft of an. Order in Council proposed to be made under Section two, Sub-section (1). of this Act the Order shall not be made until both Houses of Parliament by resolution have approved the draft, nor if any modifications are agreed to by both Houses otherwise than as so modified, and in the case of a draft of an Order proposed to be made under Section two, Sub-section (2). of this Act if either House, before the expiration of thirty days during which the House is sitting after the draft of the Order has been laid before that House, presents an Address to His Majesty against the draft or any part thereof no further proceedings shall be taken thereon without prejudice to the making of any new draft Order.This, Mr. Speaker, is part of the new Clause, which, you told me, I might move as an Amendment to Clause 2. It will be seen that this Amendment deals with two parts of Clause 2. There is not anybody in the House who can prophesy what on earth may not be done under the Section as it stands. w e may wake up one day and find that all sorts of powers have been transferred to the Minister of Ways and Communications, and two or three days afterwards we may find that a great part of those powers have been transferred to some other Departments. Although it is quite true we have agreed that the powers of the Board of Trade and certain other Departments shall be transferred to the Ministry, the House never understood, and I do not believe the-country ever understood, that such a sweeping arrangement could be made merely by an Order In Council, and done at any time when it suited the sweet will of one or two Ministers. I think one of the first duties of this House is to preserve the powers with which it has been endowed for many centuries, and all these Orders in Council ought to be checked and known to the House. How will the public know to which Department they ought to refer if they have a grievance? They may be told by one Department that by an Order in Council we had that particular power, but it has been retransferred by another Order in Council made the day before yesterday, and therefore we must put up with all the bother and trouble and expense you have been put to on the advice of some person learned in the law, like my hon. Friend near me. All I ask is that these Orders in Council shall be laid on the Table of the House. It is really a very simple request, and the House must not forget that we are dealing with questions 909 which five years ago we should never have allowed any Minister or any Government to deal with. We are dealing with most important questions which are touching the life blood of the commercial part of this country. It may be that we have to wait for thirty days before we can carry out these various Orders, but that is not an argument at all. It is absolutely necessary, in the interests of the country, that people should know where they are. That deals with the first part of my modest Amendment. The second part deals with Sub-section (2) and provides that the draft shall be laid on the Table. Sub-section (2) of the Bill provides as follows:(2) His Majesty in Council may by Order make such incidental, consequential and supplemental provisions as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of giving full effect to any transfer of powers or duties by or under this Section, including provisions for the transfer of any property, rights and liabilities held, enjoyed, or incurred by any Government Department in connection with any powers or duties transferred.Here, again, we are going to give powers to the Government to make by Order in Council all those provisions which I have read out which may mean anything or nothing. If they are going to take the enormous powers given under this Bill, it may be impossible to say what it is they are going to do. I think it is a modest request to ask that when the Government have made up their minds they should inform the House what they are going to do, and if the House during thirty days wishes to make any objection the Government should listen to what hon. Members may have to say.
§ Mr. SHORTT
May I remind the House what Clause 2 of the Bill does? Anyone who has listened to my right hon. Friend will have supposed that the Order in Council transferred various powers to the Ministry, but no such thing is the case. This House when passing Clause 2 transferred to the Minister the whole of the powers of the various Departments there enumerated. Take, for example, the Board of Trade or any other Department. The whole of their powers are transferred to the Minister by Clause 2, and the only object of the Order in Council is, first of all, to fix the date at which any particular powers shall be transferred. They have already been transferred by this House, and the Order in Council fixes the date when such transfer shall take place. In the second place, Sub-section (2) pro- 910 vides that where anything is necessary to be done to make the transfer complete that also is done by Order in Council, and it is safeguarded by words that nothing should be done under that Sub-section which would increase the powers of a new Minister over the powers which the old Minister possessed, so that you cannot give to the new Minister any greater powers than the old Department possessed, and all the Orders in Council do is to carry out by fixing a date what this House has already determined. The House has decided already that these powers are to be transferred. Just consider what would happen. In the first place, this House has decided that certain powers are to be transferred to the new Minister. Then you want an Order in Council to fix a date, and before you can do what this House has said you can do, you are to come again to the House to put the Order in Council on the Table, to get a Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament, and to do what you say you are carrying out— something which this House has said must be done at some time; or if something is necessary to be done—some supplementary provision required which does not increase the powers one iota. Again, when you fix a date and decide what it is necessary to do, that has to lie on the Table of the House for thirty days. Supposing, for example, this Bill goes through before the end of this Session, as I hope it will, the Royal Assent is given, and the House adjourns, and the Minister wants to get to work, and ho says, "I want to have transferred to me at the end of August or at the end of September the powers necessary for me to get to work;" it cannot be done. We should all have to go back from holidays or he would have to wait until the House reassembled in order that a draft might be laid on the Table, and you would have to get two residents—one in this House and one in another place—to say that in September the Minister may be allowed to do that which Parliament had already said, months before, he was to do. I hope the House, therefore, will not pass the Amendment. It is absolutely useless. It would block the Minister. It is not giving the House the protection the House would require.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
My hon. Friend does not say correctly what was formerly done, to say these powers are transferred, and to make only the date of their transference depend on the Order in Council- 911 If my right hon. Friend behind me—if his Amendment was adopted, what would really be done would be to give Parliament an effective control, not merely over the date of transference, but over the powers in detail as they were propounded by the Minister. This Clause is in most general terms. My right hon. Friend says that Parliament has decided to transfer— that is to say, general words propounded by the Government have not been dissented from by the House. I venture to say there is not one Member in the House who knows all the powers to be transferred under the Clause. No real assent of Parliament, detail by detail, is referred to in this Clause. My Friend's Amendment is really one of substance. It enables Parliament to prevent the transference of any particular power which it seemed desirable to prevent the Minister having. 1 distrust profoundly an irresponsible bureaucracy—a Minister who can do anything he likes, knowing that he cannot be called to account. I think a Minister would always be willing to postpone the asumption of official duties during the holidays in August and September, and to leave them until Parliament is sitting. I think Parliament should have an effective control over the Government. The words my hon. Friend has called attention to which gives the Order in Council power to transfer such supplementary powers are exceedingly wise. No doubt, it says in a proviso, that nothing therein contained shall enable the powers so transferred to be increased, but he has to decide whether they are increased or not. What remedy is there if they axe increased? Supposing the Government says, the powers are not increased, who is going to say they are wrong? The Government will naturally make up their minds what powers and what date they do intend to transfer the powers. It is an exceedingly good thing that the subordinates of the Government are under Parliamentary control, and that they cannot ask for a more than reasonable intention of Parliament to give them. I press this Amendment on the House because it really embodies the principle of Parliamentary control over the bureaucracy. With the vastly increasing powers of the Government it is very desirable to have this control so that Parliament may remain sovereign in this country and that the power shall not rest in the hands of any particular Minister.
§ Mr. WATERSON
I have not always found myself in accord with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) although I did stand loyally by him in connection with a little measure he tried to get through the House a few days ago. But I am afraid I shall have to disagree with him now. If he had sought to provide that all Orders in Council should be laid on the Table of the House before being put into operation we might have guaranteed him some support from these benches.
§ Mr. WATERSON
The right hon. Gentleman said he was introducing this Clause in the interests of the commercial life of this country. I do not dispute that for one moment, but I want to suggest there have been other measures which have been of great interest to the people of this country and which have been greatly detrimental to the working classes but yet no attempt has been made to insert any such provision as this. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, we contend that all Orders in Council should be laid on the Table before becoming operative, and then we shall be able to do as suggested by the Noble Lord—give Parliament supreme control in all these matters. As far as we are concerned, we must be consistent and vote against an Amendment of this description until the Government can be induced to agree that all Orders in Council shall be laid, irrespective of the reasons for which they are issued.
§ Mr. HOHLER
My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) will not complain, I think, when I express my opinion that these Amendments are wholly obstructive. To begin with, the first proposal simply asks for powers which already are in existence under the Statute. The second Section simply contains a proviso giving power by Order in Council to exempt certain existing powers which otherwise would be transferred. My right hon. Friend raised a point with regard to the difficulty of dealing with the Department which makes the. Order in Council, but he has simply to write a letter to the Department asking under what powers it has issued the Order in Council. Therefore all you have is a transfer of 913 existing powers. It creates no new powers under the Section. Then you have by way of proviso an exception that by Order in Council you may except appropriate powers, for instance, to the Admiralty, with respect to dockyard ports. Now we come to Sub-section (2). That is perfectly simple. When you are transferring these powers supplemental provisions may be made in regard to property which you are transferring. You will relieve the Admiralty of that which should properly belong to the Admiralty and which is necessary for the work it has in hand; but, on the other hand, you transfer to the Ministry these other properties but proceedings may be taken against the Minister. Arguments have been advanced against the Clause, which creates no new powers, and the Order in Council, which is simply to put in order that which is necessary in regard to the transfer, and what they really mean is that the Bill shall never come into existence at all.
§ Sir C. WARNER
I think there is a precedent for this. This House is very much against legislation by Order in Council and so expressed itself some time ago. Shortly afterwards, the Ministry of Health Bill being in Committee upstairs, we pressed this very point. It was not because it was a single instance, but because we thought it was wrong that legislation should be done by Order in Council, and in that particular case, which has been followed in other Bills, it was a question of fighting for various powers from various Departments to the new Ministry of Health, exactly the same thing as this is, and almost these very words were used and incorporated in the Bill, and they have been carried in this House. I should be sorry to see anything that delayed the carrying out of this Bill, because I believe it is essential that the Transport Bill should be made efficient and carried into law as soon as possible. But I do not think the Home Secretary is quite correct in his view that it is delaying it so much. I believe there would not be very much delay, and I think it is rather important that there should be as little legislation by Order in Council as possible, and I think the hon. Baronet is quite right in introducing this, and that there is actual precedent for it and it was understood then, and I think in several cases afterwards that when these Orders in Council were introduced into a 914 Bill with a similar purpose there should always be a Clause of this kind and the House should approve of it.
§ Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS
I am in sympathy with the observations of the hon. Baronet when he says there ought not to be legislation by Orders in Council. However in this case I do not think there is any suggestion at all that there should be legislation by Order in Council. As a mere matter of common sense in draughtsmanship I do not know why those responsible for this measure have ever put forth the suggestion that things that are merely incidental, consequential and supplementary to the provisions of this measure should be subjected even to the process of an Order in Council. If that Clause had been left out it would have followed automatically that the responsible Minister could have made orders that were merely incidental, consequential, and supplemental to the provision, and did not go beyond it, in the ordinary way, without anybody having any justification for protesting. The Government, in their anxiety to meet the opposition of interests, thought they would take a half-way course, and would meet them by suggesting that even in carrying out these incidental, consequential, and merely supplemental provisions, the matter should undergo the advisory process of being laid before the Council, and an Order should be made thereon. I express the profound hope that the Government will not budge a single inch towards this Amendment, but that they will go boldly forward. If the House is willing, as apparently it is, to confer upon them larger powers, the House will take the view that it is a mistake in policy, and only means a waste of time and a good deal of anxiety and dangerous agitation outside if, having conferred upon the Ministry large and comprehensive powers, the Ministry is held up by petifogging questions of detail such as are contemplated in this Clause.
§ Mr. NEAL
With everything that has been said by the right hon. Baronet in point of principle I find myself in agreement, but as I read this Clause to carry the Amendment would prevent the commencement of the operations of the Ministry for an indefinite period. I do not read this Clause precisely in the same way as the Home Secretary. Therefore, I think it right to put my view before the 915 House. Clause 2 is a corollary to Clause 1. Clause 1 refers to the purposes for which the Ministry is determined. Clause 2 puts upon the Ministry the duty in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties transferred to or conferred upon him under the Act, to take steps to carry out the purposes aforesaid, the purposes aforesaid being to improve the means and facilities for locomotion. Then it goes on to sayand there shall, as from such date or dates as His Majesty in Council may by Older determine, be transferred to the Minister all powers and duties of any Government Department in relation to"—certain matters, which are specified. As I read that, no power whatever is vested in the Minister by way of transfer under j this Act. He only obtains his powers by Order in Council as from the date named in the Order in Council. If I am correct it follows that he would have no transferred powers at all until the Orders in Council have been laid on the Tables of both Houses and dealt with in the manner suggested by the right hon. Baronet. The effect of that would be disastrous. It would postpone the commencement of the operations of the Ministry to an indefinite period Notwithstanding that, if this Clause purported to give the Government power to enlarge their own powers by Order in Council, I would vote with the right hon. Baronet, but seeing that the object of the Clause is simply to fix up the machinery of transference as between different Government Departments, I find myself quite unable to do so. The provisions of this Clause are merely incidental provisions. The provision in para. (i) of Sub-section (1) is that an Order in Council may exempt from the general powers transferred particular powers or duties. In para. (ii) there is special reference to Admiralty powers, and in para. (iii). special reference to powers of the Board of Trade. Though the House would be pretty unanimous in the determination not to allow any Government to legislate for itself behind the back of Parliament, I sincerely hope that this Amendment will not be accepted.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I point out to my hon. and learned Friend that my Amendment will in no way delay the real objects of this Bill. This Bill is divided into two parts. The first part transfers the powers of certain bodies to the new Ministry. The second part, which is the more important part of the Bill, gives 916 power to the Ministry to take over railways, docks, etc., as modified by the Clause which is passed now. Therefore, if my Amendment were carried the greater part of the Bill would be unaffected. All that would be touched would be the transference of powers which are in existence at the present time. What my Amendment would do would be to delay the transfer not of powers necessary for carrying out the objects of the Bill, but of certain powers now exercised by the Board of Trade. Assuming this Bill becomes law, if it becomes law within a reasonable time, in all probability there will be time to lay these Orders in Council on the Table before we have risen. Supposing that that is not so, and that the Bill does not become law until the middle of August, and that we had risen then, the effective part of the Bill would go on, but the Board of Trade would continue to administer the powers which it administers now, instead of handing them over to the right hon. Gentleman. The Board of Trade has been administering them for many years. Why should it not go on doing so for another six weeks—because that is all that it amounts to. If we adjourn in the middle of August we will probably come back in October, and it will merely mean that the right hon. Gentleman would have to wait five or six weeks before the powers of the Board of Trade were put into his hands. One Department of the Government I presume is as good as the other. Therefore, why for a few weeks longer the existing President of the Board of Trade should not continue to carry out his functions I fail to see. And I had forgotten to say that it is all in the family. The President of the Board of Trade is the right hon. Gentleman's own brother. They are the superior people who have been brought in to show us old Members of Parliament, who have been here for twenty-seven years, how foolish we are and what a great deal we have to learn. Therefore no harm whatever would result; quite the contrary. I think that the fraternal observations exchanged between the two brothers carrying on these various operations would be most excellent.
I earnestly hope that the House will insist on this Amendment. I have ventured to show quite seriously that while no harm. will result from the passing of the Amendment, we do preserve to ourselves, at any rate in theory,—and it is something to preserve to ourselves in theory—the right that this House has exercised from time imme- 917 morial. We shall still be nominally the masters instead of the servants of the Government, and that is rather a good thing, especially at the present moment. If the hon. Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) considers that the matter is of sufficient importance to go to a Division I shall certainly divide upon it.
§ Mr. G. BALFOUR
I wish in a few words to support the Amendment. I think it is the common view of most people outside the House, if not recognised by all hon. Members, that gradually the control of this House over its Ministers is slipping away. As a very young Member of this
§ House I say, with proper modesty, but none the less with emphasis, that it is time the young Members asserted on every possible occasion that it is necessary to regain that control. I hold that view so strongly that I would certainly urge the Mover of the Amendment to divide the House on this question, so that we may show who are those Members who stand for proper control.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 64; Noes, 215.919
|Division No. 54.]||AYES.||[10.39 p.m.|
|Armitage, Robert||Hayward, Major Evan||Rae, H. Norman|
|Astbury, Lt.-Com. F. W.||Henderson, Major V. L,||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hilder, Lieutenant-Colonel F.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Home, Edgar (Guildford)||Remer, J. B.|
|Banner, Sir J. S. Harmood-||Howard, Major S. G.||Renwick, G.|
|Boll, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich)||Johnstone, J.||Shaw, captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Joynson-Hicks, William||Stevens, Marshall|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Knights, Capt. H.||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Bowyer, Captain G, W. E.||Larmor, Sir J.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Briant, F.||Locker-Lampson G. (Wood Green)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Lorden, John William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Lort-Williams, J.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Meysey-Thompsan, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Weston, Col. John W.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Williams, A. (Conset, Durham)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Murray, John (Leeds, W.)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)|
|Gould, J. C.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir F.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Prescott, Major W. H.||Banbury and Mr. Marriott,|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Clough, R.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Glyn, Major R.|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Green, J. F. (Leicester)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)|
|Austin, Sir H.||Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro')|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Courthope, Major George Loyd||Hallwood, A.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Hartshorn, V.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Craik, Right Hon. Sir Henry||Hayday, A.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Hinds John|
|Bennett, T. J.||Davies, T. (Cirencester)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Dawes, J. A.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Hood, Joseph|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Edge, Captain William||Hope, Harry (Stirling)|
|Bowerman, Right Hon. C. W.||Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)'|
|Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)|
|Britton, G. B.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Hopkinson, Dr. E. (Clayton)|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hudson, R. M.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G|
|Burn, T, H. (Belfast)||Foreman, H.||Hurd, P. A.|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Forestler-Walker, L.||Hurst, Major G. B.|
|Cape, Tom||Gange, E. S.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Carr, W. T.||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Jodrell, N. P.|
|Casey, T. W.||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C (Basingstoke)||Johnson, L. S.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Cambridge)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Stanier, Capt. Sir Beville|
|Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Stephenson, Col. H. K.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Perring, William George||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Sturrock, J. Leng-|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Sugden, W. H.|
|King, Com. Douglas||Pratt, John William||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hen. George||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Thomson, P. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Remnant, Col. Sir J. Farquharson||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Lunn, William||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)||Tootill, Robert|
|Lynn, R. J.||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Townley, Maximillian G|
|McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Waddington, R.|
|Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lanes.)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S)||Rodger, A. K.||Wallace, J.|
|Mason, Robert||Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Royce, William Stapleton||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Mitchell, William Lane-||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Moles, Thomas||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A. W. (Dublin Univ.)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur||Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Mosley, Oswald||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)||Wignall, James|
|Mount, William Arthur||Seager, Sir William||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Murchison, C. K.||Seddon, J. A.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Seely, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. John||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir Rhys (Banbury)|
|Murray, William (Dumfries)||Sexton, James||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Neal, Arthur||Shaw, Tom (Preston)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Newbould, A. E.||Short, A. (Wednesbury)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T., W.)||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Sitch, C. H.||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|O'Neill, Captain Hon. Robert W. H.||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Parker, James||Smith, W. (Wellingborough)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Spoor, B. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Capt|
|Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||F. Guest and Lord E, Talbot.|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Act" ["after the passing of this Act"], to insert the wordsor where as respects any particular provisions a longer period is expressly provided, for such longer period.This provision is merely for the purpose of giving effect to paragraph (e) of Sub-section (1), and if this is passed when we come to it, it enables the period to run for the additional eighteen months provided under paragraph (e). It is really -only a drafting Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The following Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Macclesfield, is out of order, as it imposes a charge.
In Sub-section 1 (a), to leave out the words, "upon the same terms as to payment as those heretofore in force," and to insert instead thereof the wordsupon the terms of payment to the railway companies of any deficit on their profit and loss account, providing that deficit does not exceed sixty million sterling, such deficit to be certified by a chartered accountant in the Treasury employ.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is problematical; it may or it may not. If the amount should be greater it would impose a charge, but no power on earth can say whether it will be greater or not.
I beg to move, in Subsection (1) (a), to leave out the word "payment" [''terms as to payment"], and to insert instead thereof the word "compensation."
I have two Amendments down, which are consequential, and I am anxious to save time by making my remarks on them when moving the first. This Amendment removes the Debate from the vexed question of the powers of the Minister to the, perhaps, equally interesting question, what the exercise of those powers will cost the country. The House will see that under Clause 3 (Sub-section (1) (a) and (b) the railways of this country are classified into two categories. Under Subsection (1) (a) you have those railways which were taken over at the commencement of the War under Section 16 of 921 the Regulation of the Forces, Act, 1871. Under Sub-section (1) (b) you have those railways which will be taken possession of by the right hon. Gentleman under this Bill. With regard to the second class of railways, the question of compensation for these comes entirely under Clause 7, but in regard to the first class of railways, those taken possession of at the commencement of the war, the question of compensation for these comes, not only under Clause 7, but under Sub-section (1) (a) of Clause 3. The object of the Amendment is to bring the whole question of compensation for the railways taken over at the commencement of the War under this present Sub-section. The words affected are as follows, and read that these undertakings arc to be retainedupon the same terms as to payment as those heretofore in force.The Amendment I desire to move is that the word "payment" be left out and the word "compensation" be inserted. I do that because the terms that were arranged were terms not of payment, but terms of full compensation. May I road to the House the terms under which these railways were taken possession of?There shall be paid to any person or body of persons whose railroad or plant may be taken possession of in pursuance of this Section, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, such full compensation"—I would ask the House to take account of those words "full compensation," so that if these railways are to be retained under the terms of that agreement then those terms carried with them full compensation, and there is no reason at all why any question of compensation for these undertakings should arise under Clause 7.
It might be asked, "How it is that in the first place, the railways are separated into these different classifications? Why are not all the railways treated alike?" The answer to that, I suppose, would be that the Government are under a guarantee to the railroad undertakings, which have already been taken over, to continue for the next two years the terms under which these railways are at present held. In the first place, the effect of Clause 3 is to continue that guarantee, not for three years, but it may be for the full term for which the period of compensation may be extended—namely, three and a half years. It may be assumed that the railway companies would not be asked for this guarantee to be extended over the two years if they were not satisfied with 922 the position as it stands. And, seeing that those terms give them what they had agreed to accept as full compensation, it is not easy to see why there should be any effort made in this Bill to extend that compensation so as to bring them under Clause 7. Might I draw the attention of the House first to the agreement made with the railway companies at the beginning of the War? Members probably have received the White Paper 147 of 1919, which sets forth the cost of working the railways of Great Britain during the period of Government control. It will be remembered that the agreement, between the Board of Trade and the railways was based upon a recommendation of the Railway Executive. That recommendation was as follows—I read from an extract taken from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill, and which appears there in one of the speeches made by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). The agreement was arrived at a meeting of the Executive Committee held on 6th August, 1914. This is an extract from the Minutes:The question of the basis on which compensation under the Act of 1871 should be ascertained was discussed andIt was resolved to recommend that to ascertain the compensation payable the aggregate net receipts of all the railways taken over during the period for which they are taken over shall be compared with a similar aggregate for the corresponding period of the previous year. The ascertained deficiency shall be the amount of compensation due. Provided that if the aggregate net receipts for the first half of the year 1914 are less than the aggregate net receipts for the first half of the year 1913, the ascertained deficiency shall be reduced in the like proportion.Any question as to the amount of the deficiency shall, in default of agreement, be determined by the Rail way and Canal Commission.The sum so payable as compensation. together with the net receipts of the railways taken over, shall be distributed among the railway companies in proportion to the net receipts of each company during the period with which comparison is made.That was a recommendation made by the Railway Executive on 6th August, 1914, to the then Government, and an agreement was come to between the Government and the railway companies, and that was announced in the "Times" on 6th September, 1914, in these words:His Majesty's Government have agreed with the railway companies concerned that, subject to the undermentioned condition, the compensation to be paid over shall be the same by which the aggregate net receipts of these railways for 923 the period during which the Government are in possession of them falls short of the aggregate net receipts for the corresponding period of 1913.These are the terms of the full compensation to be paid, and the object of my Amendment is to secure—
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered Tomorrow.