§ (1) It shall be lawful for the Minister to establish, and work transport services by land or water, and to acquire either by agreement or compulsorily such land or easements or rights in or over land, to construct such works, and to do all such other things as may be necessary for the purpose:
§ Provided that—
- (i) if the establishment of any such service involve an original capital expenditure exceeding one million pounds, or the acquisition of land compulsorily, or the breaking up of any roads, the Minister shall not exercise his powers unless authorised to do so by Order in Council a draft whereof has been approved by a Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament, and the Order may incorporate the provisions of the Lands Clauses Acts, subject to such modifications as may be specified in the Order, being modifications of those Acts made or authorised to be made by the Development and Road Improvements Funds Act, 1909, or any other enactment, and the Order may also incorporate or apply any enactments relating to the construction and maintenance of the works in question; and
- (ii) where it appears to the Minister that the establishment of any such service could properly be undertaken by the owners of any existing undertaking, the Minister shall not himself establish the service without first giving to such owners an opportunity of establishing the service, and where such an opportunity is given to the owner of an undertaking of which possession has been retained or taken under Section three of this Act and those owners prefer that the establishment of the service should be undertaken by themselves rather than by the Minister, they may require the Minister to give them directions under that Section to that effect, but shall not be deemed to have thereby concurred in those directions.
§ (2) The expenses of working services established by the Minister under this Section, shall be paid out of the revenues derived there from, and the Minister shall keep such accounts of the receipts from and expenditure on the undertakings and in such form, and those accounts shall be audited in such manner as the Treasury may prescribe.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "that" ["Provided that"], to insert the words, 1438no new transport undertaking shall be established by the Ministry until an estimate of the capital expenditure required to complete it has been approved by the Treasury.This Motion, with which the hon. Member for Oxford City (Mr. Marriott), and the hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) are associated with me, was put on the Paper in connection with the Money Resolution for the Ways and Communications Bill, and was considered just before the Bill went to a Committee upstairs. I was unfortunately through indisposition unable to take any part in the discussion on that Resolution in this House, and for the same reason, although I was a member of the Standing Committee to which the Bill was referred. I was unable to take any action with regard to it upstairs. Neither of my hon. Friends who are associated with me in this Amendment were on that Committee, and very little consideration was given to this point upstairs. We, therefore, thought, bearing in mind the unsatisfactory manner in which the Bill left the House, we were justified in putting the matter down for further consideration on Report. It will be in the recollection of the House that many Members speaking on the Money Resolution, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), expressed the view that either the Standing Committee upstairs or the Report stage would really be the proper time for the consideration of this question. I do not propose to make any lengthy remarks in submitting the Amendment, as I understand that the Government are ready to accept it. It was not designed in any sense to be an Amendment inimical to the Government, but in these important matters we who are responsible for the Amendment felt that the House was not reserving to itself a sufficient measure of control over the vast sums which are intended to be expended for the purposes of this and similar Bills, and we felt that all the more strongly because the Treasury itself recently informed the Select Committee on National Expenditure that the control which it used to exercise before the War has not as yet been by any means re-established, and that even if it were re-established the Treasury has not the power to enforce its-will upon other Departments.
The Government, on the Money Resolution, gave a pledge which they have carried out, I think, in the Clause which we 1439 are considering, that a Treasury official should be directly appointed in the Department of the Minister of Ways and Communications. This will make the connection between that Department and the Treasury much closer and more complete than is, I think, the case in any other of the Government Departments at present. But we felt that that alone was not sufficient, because, if the Treasury had not any direct Parliamentary authority to sanction estimates before the money was spent, even the fact that it had a better source of information than is usually the case would not really serve the purpose which we had in view. I think the House will agree that, if that appointment is supplemented by the giving of power to the Treasury to call for and sanction estimates before the work is proceeded with, then the power of control which this House desires to establish will be complete. I am very glad indeed that the Minister-designate has seen his way to accept that view. I should like at the same time to say that in framing this Amendment we had no distrust whatsoever of the Minister-designate. I myself had the opportunity of seeing and inquiring into the work of that great Department which he established at Rich-borough, and I was one of those who reported to the last Parliament that we considered that that work was justified, not only as a war measure but on business grounds. I have great pleasure in making that statement. Our conclusion was come to after very full inquiry. Similarly, I had the advantage of inquiring on the spot into some of the Minister-designate's work in France, and I have also seen Chepstow. The result of the inquiries which I then made has not inspired me with any distrust of him. Quite the contrary. He is a very practical man of affairs when he gets to work on business which he thoroughly understands. I am glad to say that, in order to remove any misapprehension as to the reasons for this Amendment. It is a question of principle with me and with those with whom I am associated, and I hope the principle which will be established by the Government's acceptance of this Amendment will be acted upon in other cases. It is our duty, I maintain, to see that in the expenditure of the vast sums of public money which will have to be expended if the reconstrue- 1440 tion programme is to be carried out properly and successfully, all reasonable business precautions are taken to ensure that the cost is counted before great works are embarked upon, and that the nation does not stand committed to expenditure which cannot be foreseen, and which, later on, if a complete original estimate is not made in the first instance, may be found to amount to a far greater sum than even its authors contemplated.
I may be permitted to say that there are two other Amendments in my name, a little further down on the Paper, which are really consequential upon this Amendment, and I will reserve any further remarks until those arrive.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I desire to say only a very few words in seconding the Amendment which has been proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth. In my view, he has put the whole matter on precisely the right basis. This Amendment is not moved in any spirit of hostility to the main proposals of the Government contained in this Bill. It is not intended in any way at all to impair the value of the Bill or to lessen or curtail its efficiency in working; but I and the hon. Members with whom I have been associated in this matter feel very strongly that, as a matter of principle, this Amendment ought to be pressed. My hon. Friend has reminded the House that on several occasions, when the Financial Resolution was before a Committee of this House, we did endeavour to obtain from the Government a more precise estimate of the expenses which were likely to arise in connection with this Bill. We perfectly understood that precise figures were not available and could not be produced, but we made those Motions in support of the principle, which I desire very strongly to emphasise. Over and over again, in the course of the last Parliament, the Committee on National Expenditure proposed that the White Paper, which is issued on the introduction of a Bill involving any expenditure of public money, should embody as precise a statement as possible of the figures, and should be in the hands of hon. Members before they were asked to go into Committee on the Bill. We pressed that upon the Government on several successive occasions before some of the Members of this House went into Committee on this Bill, but we were unable to obtain complete satisfaction in that regard, and therefore we thought it our duty on the Report stage, 1441 not having had an opportunity of dealing with the matter upstairs, to put this Amendment upon the Paper, and I am very glad indeed to hear that the Government have intimated that they will accept it.
The MINISTER (Designate) of WAYS and COMMUNICATIONS (Sir Eric Geddes)
There is no difference between the Government and the Movers of this Amendment in what we desire. Subject to the alteration of one word in it, which is merely a matter of drafting, the Government will accept it. I would like to alter the word "undertaking" to "service." We have used the word "service" throughout. With regard to the question of Treasury control, nothing definite, of course, can be done until Parliament has decided whether this Ministry is to be set up or not, but I think it will be of interest if, in reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for Tamworth (Mr. Wilson-Fox), I were to tell the House that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with my full accordance and agreement, has obtained, he hopes, the services of a very eminent outside business accountant, who will undertake the financial side of the matter on behalf of the Treasury, supervising the work of the new Ministry, in which he will represent the Treasury; and he will be charged with scrutinising everything that it does from the financial point of view.
§ Mr. RENWICK
I listened with very great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Tamworth, but I cannot see that he has carried us much farther in the direction in which some of us wish to go. We desire that no sum exceeding 1,000,000 shall be expended for transport services without the consent of this House. This Amendment does not mention Parliament at all. It simply mentions the Treasury, which is a very different matter. The Treasury may consent to certain expenditure without Parliament knowing anything about it.
§ Mr. RENWICK
It does not deal with any subsequent Amendment. We 1442 want control by the House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman would substitute ''Parliament" for "Treasury" we might agree to it.
I should like to take your ruling, Mr. Speaker, upon another point. The hon. Member for Tamworth said— I do not know with what authority—that he thought this Amendment would make some future Amendments upon this Clause consequential. I have two Amendments on the Paper later on which I hope will not be regarded as consequential. I think they are extremely important, and I should like to take your opinion as to whether they are in order. I am very anxious to move them.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There is nothing to prevent the hon. Member moving his Amendments. This Amendment is a separate proviso coming first. His Amendments are to the proviso which appears in the Bill.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I congratulate the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment upon the start which they have made on the Report stage in the direction of establishing some form of Treasury control in the Bill itself. That is far more important than any undertaking by any Minister, however competent and reliable ho may be. I hope that subsequent Amendments will make it perfectly clear that, in the case of each transport undertaking, not only the original expenditure, but any subsequent expenditure, shall be a continuous operation. I understand that that was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill.
§ Sir E. GEDDES indicated assent.
§ Amendment made in the proposed
§ Amendment: Leave out the word "undertaking" and insert instead thereof the word "service." — [Sir E. Geddes.]
§ Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, i), after the word "if" ["if the establishment of any such service "], to insert the wordssuch estimate as in the preceding paragraph provided in connection with.The object of this Amendment is to have a really definite figure on which the House can go in connection with the definition which comes later on of the amount which may be spent after permission has been obtained. I understand that the Government are willing to accept this also. The 1443 whole point is that "an original capital expenditure" is a somewhat vague phrase, and I should prefer to have it in the Bill—and I understand the right hon. Gentleman accepts this—that the test shall be the estimate which, under the Amendment that has just been passed, will now have to be submitted to and approved by the Treasury before any work is undertaken in connection with any new service, and that the rather vague phrase "original capital expenditure" shall not be the test as to whether the amount exceeds the limit which is fixed later on in the Clause. I beg to move.
§ Mr. RENWICK
I am a little uncertain as to the meaning of this Amendment and as to whether, if it is passed, my two Amendments which follow will be in order. If they are not, I should like to take the present opportunity of making some remarks on the subject.
§ Mr. RENWICK
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. As I shall have the opportunity of speaking later upon the matter I will reserve my remarks until then.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move in Sub-section (1, i) to leave out the word ''service," and to insert instead thereof the word "services." The object of this Amendment is to carry out what I, and I believe most Members of the House, understood was the undertaking given by the Government that no services should be established without coming to this House and moving a Resolution describing what the new services were to be and their cost, provided that the cost did not exceed £l,000,000. The words in the Bill do not carry out that undertaking, because they will enable the Government to spend any number of million pounds, without the consent of the House, provided that each million pounds 1s spent on a different service. I do not think that was the intention of the House when they agreed to the proposal of the Government, and I am rather inclined to think it is not the intention of the Government. Probably in putting in their Amendment they overlooked that fact. The Clause as it stands provides: 1444If the establishment of any such service involve an original capital expenditure exceeding one million pounds, or the acquisition of land compulsorily, or the breaking up of any roads, the Minister shall not exercise his powers unless authorised to do so by Order in Council, a draft whereof has been approved by a Resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament.That is a very slight check to put upon the Government. Such a resolution only requires one day for its debate. It might be passed in extraordinary circumstances. It might even be passed on a Friday, when not more than 180 Members are present. It is quite clear that every precaution must be taken to see that the Government shall not be able to spend, during these two years, large sums of money without the consent of the House being obtained in such an easy way as by a resolution debated on one day. I am glad that we have the Solicitor-General here, because he would be able to bring his legal knowledge to bear on the question whether what I suggest might take place. There are twelve principal railways in the country. It will be possible under this Clause to spend £999,000 on each of those twelve principal railways, making a total expenditure of £11,988,000 in any one year, without the consent of Parliament. The Government will not have to come down and ask even for a Resolution which could be passed in one day. I cannot speak for the Government, and I do not know what was in their mind, but I am quite certain that it was not in the mind of the House of Commons that powers of this sort should be given. The Clause as it stands is quite delusive. It affords practically no, or very little, precaution. It is absolutely necessary in the interests of economy that the Clause should be amended. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) in his place, because in Committee upstairs he was in charge of the Debate when the understanding was arrived at that the amount should be limited to £1,000,000. I have been endeavouring to find that Debate, but cannot. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman knows where it is. I think it was the Minister-designate who gave the undertaking. There should be no misunderstanding on this matter. If there was misunderstanding, now is the time to put it right. I am quite certain that the vast majority of the Members of the House do not desire that more than £1,000,000 shall be spent without the authority of the House in any one year during these two years.
Sir F. BAN BURY
Yes, by the Department. If it is found necessary in the interests of transport to spend more than this sum of money, what could be more easy than to come clown to the House and put a Resolution on the Paper which could be. passed in four or five hours, if necessary by suspending the Eleven o'Clock Rule, which is becoming rather the custom, and in a few hours the whole thing will be done. That would preserve to a certain extent, although not very efficiently, the control of this House over expenditure. I ask for the support of the Leader of the Opposition on this point. His party were instrumental in depriving another place of any control over expenditure. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that this House should in no way relax that control, but rather that it should strengthen it. As my Amendment is in that direction, I trust it will have the support of the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Mr. RENWICK
This Amendment gives an opportunity to the right hon. Gentleman to answer an appeal which I and other hon. Members have made over and over again. We want to know definitely, is the expenditure limited to a total of £1,000,000, or is it £1,000,000 upon any particular scheme which the right hon. Gentleman may take in hand? I sat throughout the whole of the proceedings in Committee upstairs and on several occasions tried to get this information, but did not succeed. The Clause is extremely vague. It may mean either an expenditure not exceeding £1,000,000 on each scheme or a total of, £1,000,000 for all schemes. That makes a tremendous difference. The right hon. Gentleman said a few minutes ago that he was going to accept my Amendment which stands next upon this very important point. If ha will give us an undertaking that it is to be an expenditure up to £1,000,000 only without coming to the House for further powers, we shall all be satisfied, but we are in a state of uncertainty at present and unless we get an assurance we are bound to press him until we get a satisfactory reply.
Let me give the House an illustration of what the expenditure of £1,000,000 means. I have looked up Lloyd's Register of Shipping and find there are ten of the principal railways who are large shipowners, including the Midland, the Great Eastern, the Great Western, the South-Eastern and 1446 Chatham, the London and South-Western, the London and North-Western, the North-Eastern, the Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the London and North-Western, and Lancashire and Yorkshire jointly. If these railways are handed over to the Department it will mean that the Department would be the largest shipowner in the country. Very few hon. Members have any idea of the very important fleets owned by these railways. Possibly, if the railway companies' fleets are not up to the mark, the right hon. Gentleman will order a new fleet for them. We shall then be up against an expenditure of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000. We cannot say that it shall not be done unless we limit the amount to £1,000,000 altogether. The Government have power to set up transport services by land or water. Land we can understand. Water means by sea. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that they are only taking powers to set up services by sea such as are contained in their statutory powers. Probably they are, but their statutory powers are very large. Many of these railway companies carry on coastal services not only from one British port to another but also on the Continent. There is the service between Brest and Hamburg; the London and North-Western Railway Company rune steamers to and from these Continental ports. I would ask hon. Members who represent agricultural interests to remember that in the pre-war days the railway companies carried fruit, foodstuffs, and other products in competition with those of British agriculturists at a through rate from the Continent cheaper than they were carried from Kent or any other county. There were always enormous complaints about that. We appealed to the railway companies to keep separate accounts for the ships, showing the loss or gain, but we could not get them. They are wrapped up in what are called exceptional rates. In connection with the railways, the right hon. Gentleman has to get over a deficiency of £100,000,000 a year. Probably he will do that,by increasing the oversea coasting traffic or the port-to-port traffic. He told us that he had in view the requirements of transport in connection with housing schemes. That clearly shows that he had in view the competition between one port and another. Does he want power to expend £l,000,000 upon one particular scheme or £1,000,000 as the total on all schemes? If the total is £1,000,000 for all schemes without obtaining further powers 1447 in the House, I should be perfectly satisfied. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us the undertaking we vainly asked for upstairs and which I ask for again. I want a clear answer to the question I have put to him.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
While I sympathise to a very large extent with the view expressed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) and the last speaker as to what is desired, I do not think the way proposed in this Amendment would be the right and proper way to do it. It seems to be an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. At present we are dealing with one bird only. We are trying to find how a limitation can be imposed upon the power of the Department in reference to one single new work. If it is also proposed to limit the Department to an amount which they would expend on all new works put together, that would be better done separately than, in the way now proposed. As I read the Bill, the million included in this Clause is definitely intended to apply not to any amount which may be spent in any one year, but to the amount which, on estimate approved by the Treasury, may be contemplated as the expenditure on a single new service. The actual expenditure might be spread over a number of years. I do see a certain difficulty in fixing a maximum limit which may be spent on all the new services in the aggregate, because it will not be possible for the Ministry to prepare at one given moment all the estimates for the services which they will require over a long period. These things will have to be dealt with as they arise. Therefore. they may prepare further estimates for a number of new services, some of which may require Parliamentary sanction before they are undertaken, while others may require only Treasury sanction. They might quite properly say in connection with those that they wish to undertake at the present moment that they amount to only a certain amount, and then they would have nothing to fear. Here they might be confronted with the necessity for going to the House on the data which they have collected during the past six months.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
All that would happen would be that they would come down to the House and get Parliamentary powers, which they could get in one day.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
My right hon. Friend's explanation does not satisfy me. It appears to me to be the intention of this Amendment that the programme shall be made available at a given moment, and if it exceeds the limit to be fixed by the Bill, which at present is not fixed, they have got to prepare this programme altogether. As far as I can see, the necessities of the case will require a piecemeal preparation of a programme.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Under the Amendment the Department will have to submit an estimate for all services that they are going to carry out, to the Treasury, and, having obtained the sanction of the Treasury, if it is under £1,000.000 they can go on; if it is over £1,000,000 all they will have to do is to give notice that there will be a Resolution, and they can get the Resolution in the ordinary way.
§ Mr. WILSON-FOX
At the same time-it appears to me that there will have to be two distinct limits. That is, the limit for the individual and the limit for the aggregate services. At present the Bill is framed only on the basis that there is a limit for the single services, and to alter that to the aggregate services would, I submit, destroy the value of the provision which has just been inserted in the Bill and replace it with another which will not. fully meet the necessities of the case, and which will probably require consideration of the amount from quite a. different point of view from that which applies in the case of a single service.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The Debate on this, so far as the Mover and Seconder arc concerned, is practically what was said in Committee, and when my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F, Banbury) says he has always understood that it was to be an aggregate million, and that that is; really the purpose of putting in the plural "services," I think that he mast be forgetting what he said in Standing Committee upstairs, when, in reply to the remark of an hon. Member, he said:I thought it was the amount to be spent on any one scheme. It will be open to us what the amount shall be. Personally, I think a million is too large, but we can reduce it when we come to the Government Amendment.There was no doubt in the right hon. Baronet's mind at the time that it was a million on any one scheme, and not an aggregate million. T would like to remind the House of what my right hon. Friend. 1449 the Leader of the House said in the Debate on the Financial Resolution on the 1st of April:Perhaps it may be found when the thing is discussed upstairs that some other arrangement may be better, but we contemplate in every case of expenditure of a large sum on any particular scheme—put it, say, at £1,000,000, not in any particular year, but upon the whole scheme— submitting the matter to the House of Commons. If one were trying to get away from this obligation he might divide it into a lot of smaller amounts. That is not what we mean. Whenever there is a scheme which involves as much as £1,000,000, we will, before it is undertaken, submit it to the House of Commons either in an estimate or in some other way."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st April, 1919, col. 1114, Vol. 114.]The Committee upstairs passed a million, and in the Debate upstairs I said, speaking for the Government, that we very much hoped that the Committee would not accept the proposal to make it an aggregate million, because that is really stultifying the objects of the Bill. No one can tell how many services we will want that will go to make up £1,000,000, and if the Committee upstairs or this House desired to limit the expenditure which we can incur on a new service, then I would point, out that the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Renwick) as to the subsidised and assisted railway companies that we should perhaps allot £999,000 to each of the twelve railway companies, are not applicable to this case, because this is a new service. If Parliament wishes to limit the expenditure which the Minister can incur without coming back to Parliament, then the appropriate way to do it is the way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London proposed in Committee—to limit the amount on any one service, and not to limit the aggregate. That is a far sounder way of controlling the expenditure, in my opinion. In Committee I suggested that we were in no way wedded to a million for the new services, and I gave the reason. The reason was that we are obliged, under the Bill as it stands — I think we have passed the Clause—to come to this House before we break up a road or compulsorily acquire land, and it is inconceivable that a scheme involving as much as £1,000,000 could be undertaken without one of those two things occurring which would bring us to Parliament, and, while I urge the House to reject this Amendment at this stage, for she reasons which I have ventured to give, I would like at the same time to say that when we come to limit the amount—there 1450 are Amendments further down on the Paper—the Government will be prepared to accept a considerably smaller sum than £1,000,000 on any one service.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I appreciate very much the statement which has just been made by my right hon. Friend, that he will be prepared to limit the amount to be spent on any one service, but I do want him to reconsider the question of limiting the total. I really think that the Committee upstairs and the House have not quite realised what enormous powers are given to the Minister under this Clause. It is not only a question of subsidising or starting new steamships, but my right hon. Friend might start a couple of hundred of schemes of transport all over the country. One of the Ministers said this afternoon that the Board of Agriculture have got under consideration at the moment no fewer than 190 schemes of light railway transport in different parts of the country, and if my right hon. Friend is going to undertake 190 different schemes in the next two years, even if the amount spent is something less than a million pounds in each case, that represents an enormous sum of money which he can spend without any reference to Parliament whatever. T would ask my hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-General, to say that there should be some reasonable limit— say, one or two, or even five million, pounds, to what the right hon. Gentleman can expend in the aggregate without coming to Parliament. No other Minister can spend money without coming to Parliament. Every other service has to come to Parliament year after year, and submit detailed proposals of every shilling which they desire to expend. In order to get on' with this transport scheme the House has given my right hon. Friend very large powers of spending money on any one scheme, but by omission it has forgotten to limit his total expenditure in any one year. Under the Clause as it now stands, though lie must not spend more than a million pounds, or even half a million pounds, on any one Service, he could institute any number he liked of transport services all over the country. Inquiries were made as to what is going to be done for Scotland and Wales. Is this to- apply to Ireland also? In addition to the 190 different schemes which the Board of Agriculture are considering, there might be an additional forty or fifty schemes for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. I do not think that the House realises that it is possible for 1451 the Minister-designate to start any number of schemes. When this matter was before the Committee of Ways and Means on the Money Resolution the right hon. Gentleman, who is a Member for one of the Divisions of Devonshire, asked the Home Secretary could he give information as to the amount of liability involved in this Resolution, and the Home Secretary, who was acting on behalf of the Government, said:It is a very difficult thing to say definitely, but the probability is, so far as we know, that there will not be in any one year more than three or four comparatively small sums.That I do not mind, But at present the total sum is unlimited, and I would ask the Solicitor-General to say that there will be some Amendment which will impose at least a limit in the total amount of expenditure, beyond which the right hon. Gentleman cannot go without coming to Parliament.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir E. Pollock)
There is some confusion in regard to this Clause, and the speech of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) is the foundation for that misgiving, in my mind. I think the position is perfectly plain, if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will apply themselves to it. The hon. Member for Twickenham has suggested that there may be some 200 schemes of transport initiated by my right hon. Friend, or 100 light railways, or something of that sort. Of course, those are rather violent or extreme suggestions, put by way of test. They are none the less valuable because they are drawn from circumstances which are not likely to arise. They are put by the hon. Member for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Clause is fully understood by the House as a whole. Let me remind the House of the position. It is not£and here the hon. Member for Twickenham has fallen into a slight error£that the new Minister will be independent of the House, or that he will have a right to spend any amount of money without coming to Parliament. He will be in the position of other Ministers. If he desires to spend money, he will have to come to Parliament in order to secure the money. What is given in this Clause is that he is not to exercise the powers conferred upon him without coming to the House unless the amount that he is going to spend is within a certain limit. In other words, we have two things which 1452 are dealt with in this Clause. In the first place, there is a reference to the exercise by the Minister of certain powers given to him under the Bill. The Clause says that if the establishment of a particular service involves a capital expenditure exceeding £1,000,000, then, before he exercises any of the powers, he is to come and lay before the House the scheme which will involve the expenditure of the money in respect of which he is going to exercise his powers. The other part of the Clause provides that when he intends to exercise his power and not to spend any sum which exceeds the limit inserted in this Clause, he can exercise his power without either the powers that he is going to exercise being confirmed or being granted to him by Parliament.
That is really the answer to my hon. Friend. If the scheme is one that would involve a sum of over £l,000,000, then, as the Clause stands, the exercise of the powers will have to be authorised by Order in Council If, on the other hand, the exercise of the powers will not involve an expenditure of £l,000,000, then the powers can be exercised without further confirmation by Parliament. But, of course, the Minister must come and get the money that he seeks to spend, whether it be above or below £1,000,000. In both cases he must, like other Ministers, come to this House in order to get the money.
§ Mr. RENWICK
If he is compelled to come here for the money, can the Solicitor-General tell us under what Clause of the Bill that is provided?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
The hon. Member is an old Member of this House, but I would remind him of what I should have thought must have been familiar to him for years, and that is that no Minister has the power of spending money without its being put in an Estimate and brought before this House. It is quite impossible for any Minister to draw funds without any responsibility at all and to expend them without making a reference to this House. Of course, he will have to come to this House as the source from which he will receive the money that he is to spend. Therefore, I think it is quite plain.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Is it not a fact that under the provisions of this Bill the House has given a statutory authority to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Geddes) 1453 to establish certain services under the limit of £1,000,000, and that he would be quite in order to establish as many services as he likes under £1,000,000 each, and he could call upon the Treasury to give him the money under the statutory authority conferred upon him by this Clause?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
There is confusion about this Clause, but it seems to me quite clear that this Clause does not alter the financial system of the country. Whether it be the Treasury or whether it be the Minister of any "Department who comes for a Vote to Parliament, in every case the money must be found by this House by the usual methods.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Does ray hon. and learned Friend mean that the Minister cannot inaugurate any single service, in spite of his statutory powers, without coming to Parliament with an estimate in order to get the money?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
My hon. Friend must quite understand that in the case of a general credit which does not involve the voting of any further money, then, of course, the Minister could exercise and make use of the credit which stands to his name, so to speak, and could use money already voted. It is not necessary, therefore, if he has got money already voted by Parliament, to come specially in order to get further money. But in respect of money which has not been provided by Parliament and which has not been given to him, then, of course, it will be necessary to get that money in the ordinary way by coming to Parliament, or it will be necessary for the Treasury, if control is given to them, to come to Parliament for the purpose of obtaining the sanction of Parliament. May I ask the House to look at the Clause? The exercise of the powers of the Minister is not to be free and unfettered without his coming for further authorisation to Parliament in cases where the expenditure involved will exceed £1,000,000. In other words, he will have to come to secure by Order in Council, which has been laid before the House, the right to exercise powers which, if so large an expenditure of money as a million is not involved, he can exercise without 1454 further authorisation. With regard to the money, it may have been voted, and may, therefore, stand to the credit of the Minister, but if he has no money which is available he will have to come in the ordinary course in order to secure the assent of Parliament to the money being spent. I hope that makes the matter plain. There seems to be considerable confusion as to the purpose of this Clause.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
May I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, in this matter as to the circumstances, according to the terms of this Clause, under which it would be necessary for the Minister to come to this House to obtain a Money Resolution in the ordinary way
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
May I ask whether the difference of opinion between the learned Solicitor-General and my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) is not substantially the same as the difference between this House in Committee of Supply and Committee of Ways and Means; that is to say, is it not correct, as an interpretation, that this Clause would authorise the Minister to start the work referred to, but unless and until the House in Committee, by Resolution and Estimates, and by the usual procedure, votes the money to enable the Minister to pay, the Minister would not be in a position to pay, although he might at his own peril have started work under the authority he may have in this Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see where the Minister is going to get any funds to start these schemes unless he applies to the House. Therefore, these projects must be submitted to the House by way of Estimates. I understand this section to be an additional safeguard for the benefit of the House in the event of any large undertaking being undertaken by the Minister.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
Does your ruling mean that this Clause will enable the Minister to start works, quite legally, but it does not enable him to pay for them, and that he can only pay for them by coming to this House and getting a Vote by subsequent Resolution?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Where is he going to get the money from? The only place he can get the money from is by a Vote of this House which, when it becomes operative, will be paid out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Is it not a fact that it will be necessary to get a Vote in Supply, but that there is nothing whatever to prevent that particular Vote being held over until the last moment and put through under the guillotine? That has happened over and over again, without the House having any opportunity of discussion.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
That would involve, would it not, that my right hon. Friend, who at present has no Vote at all, could not start any of these new services. If he cannot start any of these new services until he comes here and gets a Vote, he could not, therefore, do as my right hon. Friend suggests, bring in the Vote at the end of the Session. That would mean that he could not start any schemes at all.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Again I ask the question, where is the money to come from. The money will come out of the Consolidated Fund. How are you going to get the money out of the Consolidated Fund? By a Vote of this House. There is no other way of getting it.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
We are discussing a matter of very considerable importance, namely, the control of this House over the financial part of this great measure. Let us assume that the Bill is on the Statute Book, and in the usual way next year the Minister comes to the House for money. What I understand he will do will be this. He will submit his Estimates, and we will assume that one of the heads of his Estimates will be "New Works." He may put down £5,000,000 or £10,000,000. If the House grants that to him, by the procedure outlined by Mr. Speaker, that would be the authority for the Treasury to pay the money to the Minister without any control except the control which it has in this Bill as to how he is going to deal with it. The question is, how far this Sub-section gives what we think is adequate control by Parliament over the power given to the Minister. The Clause says, "that no new transport service shall be established by the Minister until an estimate of the capital expenditure has 1456 been approved by the Treasury. So far so good. First of all, you have to get your Estimate approved by the Treasury. The next thing is the provision that where the establishment of any one of these services exceeds £l,000,000 the Minister must come to the House for a separate authority to draw on the fund which has been granted to him in the Estimate.
He has a reservoir there. This is the particular tap he can turn on for these special services. As I understand it, the real difference is this. Shall he come when the aggregate of the proposals under the new services comes to £1,000,000 or shall this House say to him in any case in which we are going to spend more than £1,000,000, "come back to us for your Order in Council under the Clause." That is the real issue. I think we have the three steps quite clear in all our minds. Which is desirable in the interests of efficiency and economy? The right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) thinks the right thing to do is to come every time.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Not every time. If the total expenditure of the year does not exceed £1,000,000 I do not want anything, but if it does he must come.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
So far my mind is clear on the point, but I have not yet grasped what the Minister in charge of the Bill meant when he said there were some subsequent Amendments which he was prepared to accept which would go a long way towards meeting that. I do not know whether it will be for the convenience of us all, rather than disputing on this point and pressing it, perhaps, to a division, if we could find out what the Minister really means by meeting the right hon. Baronet and then we might be able to clear matters up.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I think the explanation of the financial control of the House which the right hon. Gentleman has given is quite accurate. The Ministry will lay Estimates like any other Department and they will give in appropriate detail the directions in which the total sum is to be expended. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that in the Estimates for any one year there was a sum of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 for new services. If the total expended on new services in that year came to an excess over the sum which Parliament had sanctioned in the Estimates one would have to come back, but if in the case of any individual new 1457 service the sum did not exceed whatever sum we fixed in this Clause it would be unnecessary to come back again to get Parliament to sanction that particular scheme.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
Yes, or to come back.for that specific service, but in all cases, whether the amount be large or small, the Amendment we have just inserted provides for Estimates being given. The procedure there is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman (Sir D. Maclean) has explained. What I meant by saying I thought we could meet the point in the Amendments which were coming later on was this. We have provided now for Estimates being laid before Parliament which will give the aggregates in the year. We are now discussing, by saying "services" instead of "service," putting in another safeguard, that the aggregate of the new services must not exceed the sum of £1,000,000, whereas Parliament may already in the Estimates have sanctioned £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. I suggest that instead of asking the House to allow the Ministry, within the total sum they have sanctioned in the Parliamentary Estimates for the year, to start a service up to £1,000,000, which is as the Bill left Committee and as the Leader of the House proposed here, we should reduce that sum to £500.000. and then it would stand that whatever sum Parliament sanctioned in the Estimates would not be exceeded in the aggregate. That meets the point subject to the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Joynson-Hicks).
Sir F. BAN BURY
I must admit that this goes some way to meeting my Amendment, but I do not know that it quite goes the whole way. As there seems to have been some little misunderstanding as to the actual sequence of events which will follow if my Amendment is carried, I should like to point out what I believe might occur. It is quite true that a Vote will have to be taken for the expenses of the Department. We have been informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he estimates that the deficiency in the cost of working the railways will be £50,000,000 or £60,000,000, and that money will have 1458 to be acquired in some way or another. Therefore it is quite possible that we might see on the Estimates a Vote for £50,000,000. It is also probable that we shall be asked to vote £30,000,000 on account. Whether the House approves of it or not does not matter. The unemployment dole was passed without one Member in the ten knowing anything whatever about it, and when the question was raised we were informed, "You voted that in the Vote on Account." I am pretty careful, and have some knowledge of the Rules of Procedure, but I never saw it, and I do not believe one Member in ten knew anything whatever about it. We might, therefore, be asked for a Vote on Account. I can imagine myself standing at the Box, at a quarter to eleven, or at eight o'clock, when most Members want to dine or to go home, and saying, "We must have a Vote on Account, or we shall have the whole services of the country disorganised." Very few Members will have looked at the Estimates, and the right hon. Gentleman would go home smiling to his dinner or his bed. That is not a hypothetical supposition. It is a fact which has occurred over and over again.
The other supposition is that unless the ever-vigilant Leader of the Opposition demands that the Vote should be put down when it is possible to consider it, it might be taken, as many Votes have been. The Vote for the payment of salaries to Members of Parliament I have only been able to get discussed once in the last seven or eight years, and then only by making a great fuss about it. It is always gone into the guillotine. The money cannot be paid unless the House has sanctioned the Vote, and the House sanctions the Vote in the guillotine, Nobody knows it is there, and if he did know he could not speak about it, and unless you vote against the whole Vote you are done. Therefore it is by no manner of means certain that a discussion can take place unless my Amendment is carried. I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson-Fox) understands it. His Amendment, though it is very good, does no more than this, that the Estimate is to be approved by the Treasury. What will the Treasury do? The probability is that it will only see that the money is the proper sum. It will be guided by two things only. Can they get the money, and will it be properly expended? If it is going to cost £20,000,000, is that a proper sum? The question of policy will not be 1459 gone into, and all that will happen will be that the Treasury will estimate that £10,000,000, or whatever the sum is, is going to be spent in a proper way, and that there is not too much profit for the contractors. So that the Amendment does not go as far as I should like to see it. That is the position in which we are now, and the position will be the same if we agree with the £500,000, though that is a step in the right direction. The hon. Member (Mr. Marriott) says this is safeguarded very much because you cannot acquire land compulsorily without coming to the House. But you may acquire it by agreement. It would not be impossible to suppose the payment of a little extra money to the landowner to avoid coming to the House. Then under this new system of Votes in Supply going upstairs we might have these questions discussed by twenty Members.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is totally irrelevant. The right hon. Baronet should confine himself to his own Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether the House is prepared to accept the proposal to reduce the £1,000,000 to £500,000. If that is the wish of the House I withdraw my Amendment. But I should like to hear what the Leader of the Opposition has to say upon this and whether he considers my proposal adequate. If it is not, I must persevere.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendments made: In Sub-section (1, i), after the word "service" ["if the establishment of any such service involve"], insert, the words.
§ "is likely to."
§ Leave out the words "an original" ["involve an original capital expenditure"], and insert instead thereof the words
§ "a total." £ [Mr. Renwick.]
§ Leave out the words "one million" ["capital expenditure exceeding one million pounds"], and insert instead thereof the words
§ "half a million." £ [Sir E. Geddes.]
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, i,), the word "of" ["the breaking up of any roads"], to insert the wordsor the laying of any light railway upon.1460 Under the new system of trench railways it will be quite possible to lay such railways along a road without breaking up the road.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
The words are really unnecessary. It would be impossible without breaking up a road to lay a track. You cannot put it down on a hard road.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I think this Amendment is consequential upon an Amendment to Clause 7, which was put down but was not moved. If we adopted this Amendment now, we would have the two-sets of words conflicting. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will not press it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir E. GEDDES
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the wordsand (iv) the Minister shall not after two years from the passing of this Act, unless Parliament otherwise determines, commence the construction of any new works, or provide equipment for any transport service not established before that date.This question was very fully discussed at the last meeting of the House, on a Motion by the right hon. Gentleman who represents the City of London, and the Government undertook then to produce this Amendment, which limits to two years any powers up to now provided in the Bill for the construction of works. I think the House will remember what passed at our last sitting, and I will not go into the matter further.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to insert(v) Not less than thirty days before commencing to establish any transport service under this Section, the Minister shall give to every local authority within whose area it is proposed to execute any works, notice of his proposal and any such local authority shall have the right of being heard against any such proposal. The Minister shall at the request of any such 1461 local authority hold a public inquiry upon the proposal to which objection has been taken and shall make regulations prescribing the manner in which and other necessary particulars in regard to the method of making representations or objections, and of holding such inquiries under this Section.This Amendment I have been asked to move by the Corporation of the City of London. They are rather afraid that unless they have an opportunity of placing their 'objections before a Minister who has issued an order for laying these tramways, such tramways might be put down in narrow and congested streets of the city, and interfere very much with the traffic, which it is very difficult to carry on at the present time. All that the Amendment proposes is that before the Minister establishes in the area of any local authority any given transport service, he shall give the local authority thirty days' notice, and that they shall then have the right of being heard against any such proposal. It is an extremely moderate Amendment, and I hope the Government will assent to it.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I am sorry not to be able to meet my right hon. Friend, because he knows that if I possibly could I should wish to accept any Amendment of his, which is sure to be carefully thought out and drawn. But this Amendment really involves very considerable delay. Notice is to be given to every local authority within whose area it is proposed to execute any works, and then any such local authority shall have the right of being heard against any such proposal; Then the Minister is to hold a public inquiry upon the proposal to which objection has been taken, and regulations are to be made to carry it out. That really means that where you are dealing with transport services—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Of course, "any works" does not mean ordinary works. It only means works connected with transport services.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
Quite so, but a transport service means this, that you must be traversing the area in which there are several if not a great number of local authorities, and every one of these, however important it may be 'to get from one town to another, would have the right of being heard after notice given, and inquiries would have to be held in all those areas. That is a very serious proposition. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will bear 1462 this in mind: In no case can a new service be started without consultation with the Advisory Committee, and therefore any new service or scheme is not started by the Minister without very careful consideration being given to it. I cannot help feeling that the House will consider that this proposal to create the opportunity for inquiries and delay goes beyond even what the right hon. Gentleman intended his Amendment to provide.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If I were to amend the Amendment by putting in "tramway" instead of "transport" it would minimise the delay and achieve the object I have in view.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
My right hon. Friend is so accommodating and obliging that one is tempted to accept his Amendment, but I am afraid the answer I gave was the answer I must adhere to, namely, that sufficient and adequate safeguard is given by consultation with the Advisory Committee, and that it is really unnecessary to hold this sort of inquiry, whether in case of a mere tramway or the larger case of a transport service. I am afraid we are unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. L. SCOTT
I beg to move, after the words last inserted to insert the words(v) It shall be the duty of the Minister in respect of any service established and worked by him under this Section to provide all such due and reasonable facilities for the receiving, and forwarding, and delivery of traffic as under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts a, railway or canal company is bound to provide; and for the purpose of enforcing this duty the Railway and Canal Commission shall have power to award damages and determine all other questions relating to such facilities.This Amendment is of considerable importance. The object of it is to put upon the Minister, when he undertakes the working of the service under this section, the same sort of obligations that a railway or canal company is under to-day in respect of the railway or canal service. As the Bill stands I can see no Clause imposing on the Minister, when he works a service in the interest of the public, the statutory duty of working that service properly, and no obligation to pay damages to the public, commercial or private, or other transport undertakings wanting through facilities, for a breach of any duty. Although we know that the object of this Bill is to co-ordinate our transport services, and make them more efficient, and though we all have the most 1463 profound and humble belief in the Minister-designate of Ways and Communications, it would be more satisfactory for this House, and certainly to the public outside, to know that the Minister-designate was under a statutory duty and an obligation to pay damages. In one shape or another I think this House ought to insist on it. We cannot let this Bill leave this House giving the Minister power to control the transport services by land or by water without his having any statutory obligation to work them properly. At the beginning of the Clause it says it shall be lawful for the Minister to establish and work transport services by land or water, to construct works, and do all such things as may be necessary, but there is nothing in the Section imposing the duty. Further, if you look at Clause 15 of the Bill, you will see that although the provision of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts or the Act of 1888 are applied for certain purposes, they are only purposes of procedure, and apply only if by some other Clause in the Bill the determination of questions involved should have been referred to the Commission. In other words, unless there is another Clause saying that the Commission shall have jurisdiction to decide some particular dispute, the procedure provided by Clause 15 is not applicable. There is no provision in the Bill referring to the Railway and Canal Commission such a question as that to which my Amendment is relevant£the question as to what remedy may be available to a trader, to a member of the public, or to another transport service, where the -Minister working the service started under Clause 8 fails to do so properly. That will not do. I have drafted an Amendment with the idea of imposing on the Minister in regard to any service that he starts under Clause 8 the same sort of obligations as arc imposed by law at present upon a railway and canal company in respect of traffic facilities. It maybe that my Amendment ought to have gone further, and that I ought to have suggested to the House that we should impose on the Minister all the obligations of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, or it may be, on the other hand, that the Government would prefer an Amendment In that form. I am quite content to take it in that form if they do. My Amendment was drafted so as to raise the definite point in the most concrete shape I could. 1464 I put this challenge forward to the Minister-designate: Can he point to any Clause under which he would be under any pecuniary liability at all for breach of his duties in carrying on a service that he had started under Clause 8? I think he ought to be. In regard to railway companies, I need not remind the House that it includes accommodation for traffic sidings, stations for trade and passengers, supplies of wagons, facilities for through traffic, and other things. All these things are necessary, and it ought to be laid down in the Bill, first, that it is the duty of the Minister to do it, and, second, that the public shall have a remedy if he does not. It is very possible, of course, that no such remedy would ever be required, and let us assume that, if the right hon. Gentleman himself had his eye on these services continuously in all detail, and if he remained there throughout the period of two years, we should never want any remedy, because everything would be perfect, but we must face the contingency of his orders not being carried out, of the staff making mistakes, or that other contingency almost too dreadful to contemplate, of his not remaining there for the two years; and for these reasons I submit that something ought to be done. Under this Bill there is not very much provision in favour of the ordinary trader. [An Hon. Member: "No provision!"] I put it gently when I say very little provision to protect the consumer— the man who is going to use the transport services of the country—the general public —and I submit that something ought to be done to do so.
§ Mr. STEVENS
I beg to second the Amendment. The whole system of this country desires an appeal, and it is not only fair, but necessary, chat such provisions should apply to the Ministry of Ways and Communications as those which apply to any statutory undertaking. All that is asked here is that the Minister, if he provides a service, should provide all such due and reasonable facilities for the receiving and forwarding and delivering of traffic as under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts a railway or canal company is bound to provide, and having provided those that they should be maintained subject to an appeal to the Railway and Canal Commission.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
Of course, I appreciate the object with which this Amendment has been moved, and it does not 1465 take many words on the part of the hon. and learned Member who moved it to make his point clear to me, but at the same time I think the object which has caused him to move the Amendment is that foe is afraid that the ordinary trader will not receive sufficient consideration by the Minister, of whom he speaks very reassuringly, but underlying that I seemed to think that he had some doubts as to the way in which the Minister would administer this Bill, and he spoke rather in favour of the need of some safeguards for the consumer. I have given considerable attention to all he has said, and I hope the House will give me similar attention if I make some observations on the Bill. First of all, let it be observed that Clause 8, which is the Clause under which the Minister is empowered to start these services and facilities, does not come into play unless and until an offer has been made to the railway or other established company to provide these services which the Minister is anxious to establish. The House will see that the second proviso to that Clause is as follows:(ii) where it appears to the Minister that the establishment of any such service could properly be undertaken by the owners of any existing undertaking, the Minister shall not himself establish the service without first giving to such owners an opportunity of establishing the service, and where such an opportunity is given to the owner of an undertaking of which possession has been retained or taken under Section three of this Act and those owners prefer that the establishment of the service should be undertaken by themselves rather than by the Minister, they may require the Minister to give then directions under that Section to that effect, but shall not be deemed to have thereby concurred in those directions.In other words, there is an opportunity to existing organisations to carry out the service which the Minister thinks is necessary for the purpose of the transport of the country. If there is a total failure to provide a service the Minister enters the arena for the purpose of giving facilities which did not exist before. which either have been withheld or which the body who could grant the facilities are unwilling to grant, and therefore the House may take it that in all cases the Minister who is establishing these services is acting, not by way of a deterrent and to prevent other organisations providing the facilities, but in order to supplement existing facilities and to make good what has been deficient before.
§ Sir E. CARSON
May I ask, if that second Sub-section is brought into play 1466 and the owners themselves establish that service, would not they be liable to the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
That is what I am wanting to indicate. It is quite clear that they would, and I was going to add that. Therefore, in ordinary course the railway companies would be urged to provide these facilities and to undertake the due service which was lacking and which the Minister desired to establish. If it was established and undertaken by the railway company, then all the ordinary law which applies to a railway company would apply to them, and the consumer would have the same safeguards as he does at present. I am, therefore, putting forward the case of when these powers will be necessary and where same default has been made and where, therefore, the Minister can be rightly said to be providing facilities which were deficient before, and it is in that spirit in which he will undertake the task of providing the service. My hon. and learned Friend said that in no case was there any provision at all in the Act to safeguard the rights of the consumer. I am not quite sure that he was right in that, and I do not think he will think he was right if he will turn to paragraph (e) of Sub-clause (1) of Clause 3, where he will find that the right, and the very important right, which is given to the trader under the existing law to prevent undue preference under the conditions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts is specially safeguarded.
§ Lord R. CECIL
That does not apply, does it, to services established by the Minister, but only to the services retained or taken possession of—not new services?
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I do not think it does. I am pointing out what the existing condition of things is, and I am very anxious to make my point plain. At the present time the consumer is not left unprotected. He is given this provision, which I think my hon. and learned Friend had overlooked, that he still has his rights in respect of a claim which he can make of any undue preference.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I ask whether he realises that the suggestion, he has last made relates to undue preference and that the Amendment we are now discussing is on an entirely different question, that of reasonable facilities, which his colleague, in his absence, refused to-put in that Clause?
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, because I do know the difference between the case of a reasonable facility and a case of undue preference, and I hope I was not confusing those. I was not suggesting that when I was speaking of undue preference I was covering all the safeguards given under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts. If the House has been good enough to follow me, I have indicated to them that at the present time the trader is not left unprotected, that the services which are dealt with under Clause 8 are services which the Minister intends to provide in order to make up deficiencies, not new services which he intends to start where they are wholly unnecessary, but cases in which he is endeavouring to secure that they shall be provided by existing organisations and where they have failed. It is the Minister who is acting in that way that you are asking to put in the safeguards which the hon. Member invited the House to introduce into the Statute. There is another difficulty about doing that. In respect of these services, in Clause 3, Sub-clause (1), paragraph (c), sub-paragraph (iii.), there is power takenas to the working or discontinuance of the working of the undertaking or any part thereof, including directions as to keeping open or closing of any stations.In other words, the Minister has got the right to close as well as to open, to shut down as well as to create, to withdraw as well as to provide. What is the difference between the Minister and an ordinary railway company? A monopoly is given in the case of a railway, and they are given rights to serve a particular area; they are given statutory powers of imposing their charges, and they hold the field against other companies, and in consequence of that the legislation of Parliament in the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts provides that holding that monopoly they shall necessarily provide all reasonable facilities. They are not given rights independent of duties which are imposed upon them. Does that apply to any service which is provided by the Minister? I suggest it is not so, and for this reason. I do not want to go over the same ground again, but I think I have made it plain that the services which will be started by the Minister are not in that sense by way of monopoly granted to a statutory body, not by way of giving facilities to somebody which are not to be enjoyed in competition with others, but are facilities which are initiated by the 1468 Minister because of the shortcomings existing in that particular area in the matter of transport, and for the purpose of supplementing what has hitherto not been made good. At the same time, as I pointed out, in that Sub-section (3) he has the power to withdraw if it becomes unnecessary, and to discontinue if it is found that the service does not serve any useful purpose. Under those circumstances, so far from undertaking a monopoly, he is undertaking a public duty, which is to continue so long as it is necessary, but no longer. Under the circumstances, and having regard to the nature of the service the Minister provides, I venture to say it is a confusion of thought to suppose that the same sort of duties should be imposed upon the Minister which are imposed upon a railway under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts, and for those reasons I invite the House to refuse to accept the Amendment.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I find some difficulty in following the learned Solicitor-General as to why he rejects this Amendment. It seems to me to be a case that can be put very simply. At the present moment, if a railway company does not do its duty towards the public as regards the duties under the Railway Act, including preference and various kinds of facilities, any member of the community who is affected can go before the Railway Commission and can compel the company to give facilities mentioned in the Act. All that this Amendment does is to say that when the Minister of Ways and Communications stands in the same position as a company, if he neglects the same facilities and the same obligations that are put upon a railway company, he shall be in the same position as a railway company and may be compelled to carry them out. That is a simple thing to ask. What is the answer? The first answer is that before the Minister undertakes the establishing of these new works, he may offer certain people, whom we will call the owners, the opportunity of establishing the same. I fail to see why, if the owners accept his request to start these works themselves, they should be under the Railway Act, but if the Minister undertakes them he is not liable under the Railway Act. What is the difference in the position? The same undertaking, the same necessity to the public, but because it is a Minister who is doing it, on the refusal of the owners, he is not to be liable to the jurisdiction of the Railway Commission. The only reason 1469 that could be given, if it could be given as a fact, for the difference, would be that our experience is that every undertaking a Government carries out is so much better done than anything that is done by any individual enterprise, and that therefore the same obligations ought not to be put upon a Minister. But that is not the whole of it. If the Minister takes over an existing railway, then he is subject to the Railway Act, but if he starts a new railway he is not subject to the Railway Act. What on earth is the difference between the two cases? Is he a better man in the one case than he is in the other? He is the same Minister, subject, unfortunately, to the same infirmities, but just because it is a new undertaking, instead of an undertaking he takes over, he is not to be subject to the Act. That seems to be farcical. The learned Solicitor-General says that under Clause 3, when he is taking over an undertaking, he is to give directionsas to the working or discontinuance of the working of the undertaking or any part thereof, including directions as to keeping open or closing of any stations.He says that that shows he has a wider power, and is there not for a monopoly but in the general public interest. But Clause 3 is the very one that puts him under the Railway Act, and even under Sub-clause 3 his railway comes under the Railway Act as regards the rights of the public to insist upon facilities. The truth of the matter is, that whether the railway is a new railway, or a railway taken over, or a new railway made under Clause 8 at the request of the Minister by the owners, it is still a railway for the public convenience, and in all the three cases there ought to be the same facilities as there are in two, mainly, that if the public has any cause of complaint they ought to be able to go and insist upon their rights before the Railway Commissioners. That is the simple point in this case, and, with great deference to the learned Solicitor-General. so far as his argument proves it is not necessary, he has shown that in the two cases to which he has referred, and tried to make an argument out of them, the Bill does not relieve the Minister from the same obligations the company has had, and I cannot see why in the third case the same rule should not apply.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I hope the Minister in charge of this Bill will reconsider the position taken up with regard to the proposed Amendment. I will not for one moment attempt any addition to what my 1470 right hon. and learned Friend said, because those of us who are accustomed to hear legal arguments, I think, will agree that my right hon. and learned Friend gave a smashing answer—if my hon. and learned Friend will forgive me—to his case. I do not see what the answer is to the case put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson). I would only add one point, and it is this: We are really not here to buttress privileges; it is a matter of the interest to the public as to whether the public who are going to use these new services shall be in a position which is similar to, and absolutely identical with, their position with regard to the Post Office to-day. We all know that any redress which the Post Office gives to us they give as a grace but not a right. They say it is a gratuity, which is totally different, of course, from the service rendered to the public by these corporations, from whom we get redress as a right. All that this Amendment seeks, I understand, is that in these new services set up under this Clause the public shall be placed in a somewhat similar position to that in which they are placed by this Bill where the Minister takes over an existing service. That is all. My right hon. and learned Friend demonstrated that to my complete satisfaction. In Clause 3, Sub-section (1, e), it says:In the case of any undertaking of which possession is retained or taken by the Minister as aforesaid."£Then it goes on about rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges:but without prejudice to claims in respect of undue preference under the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts.You are dealing here in Clause 8 with power to establish transport services, and we know that that means new services. There is nothing in this Clause which imports, so far as I can see, any part of the protection given under Clause 3, and all that this Amendment seeks to do is to place this new service, in the interests of the public, in something like the same position as the old services taken over by the Minister.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has furnished the House with an analogy which is exceedingly convenient, and, if I may say so, with great respect, is entirely appropriate. He has referred to the Post Office. Supposing the Postmaster-General were about to establish a new service, we will say a postal delivery in 1471 the Highlands. Would the right hon. Gentleman stand up in this House and advocate that the Postmaster-General should be compelled to give the same facilities for a postal service newly established in the Highlands as he should give to existing postal services elsewhere? Of course he would not.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
I think my right hon. Friend might, perhaps, permit me to complete my argument. Here is the analogy. Here you have an Amendment which desires that the Minister of Ways and Communications shall be compelled to give the same facilities to the public in the case of new services which he may establish as he is compelled to give in the case of existing services. That was the gravamen of the argument of my right hon. and learned Friend opposite, who said, "Why on earth should you allow the Minister to establish a new service and not put him under the same compulsion as regards public convenience that he is under in the case of an old service?" The reason is this, and I think my right hon. and learned Friend will recognise it. Just as the Postmaster-General might start experimenting with a new service for the public convenience, so might the Minister of Ways and Communications be compelled, in the general spirit of his office, to start new services of an experimental character within the two years to which he is limited, and never let the House forget — because it it the test of all these suggestions pro and con — that this period is limited to two years, and within that two years the conception of the improvements must arise, the planning, the execution, the experiment as regards its success, and so if the Minister of Ways and Communications is to be compelled, as he would be by the acceptance of this Amendment, to give exactly the same facility to a new experimental service which he is trying, in the same spirit as the Postmaster-General tries a new service, his hands would be tied, he would be hampered, and prevented from making the experiment and the improvements which are the very object of this Bill. Therefore, I venture to think the argument of my right hon. Friend will not hold, and I for one certainly will not be prepared to support the Amendment.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
With the great deference which I should wish to pay to the remarks and reasoning of my right hon. and learned Friend below the Gangway, I must still point out that I think it would be unwise to accept the proposed Amendment. If the Minister starts any service at all, he does not do it for any profit. There are no shareholders. He will only be doing it in the interests of the country. The moneys that he receives will go to the credit of the accounts of the country. I would also point out that ho will not only be undertaking such a service£and here I would observe that with the stroke of a. great advocate my right hon. and learned Friend rather left this point£in a lesser respect the Minister would only be acting in order to make good and to fill up deficiencies. He will, therefore, be giving, not rights which have been taken from any other member of the public, but he will be conferring a benefit upon persons who hitherto have not been able to get the full advantage of transport. He will come in in respect to that which hitherto has not been undertaken, and under the Section to which I have, but will not further,, refer, and which has been actually refused by the organisation which is in existence. That any service started by the State is to be such an ample scheme that the Minister is to be treated as one who, if he does engage in it, is to take over all the burdens which belong to a railway organisation, is a matter for this House to-say. If in the affirmative, the answer to that might be that, "If you put such a burden upon me, it will be so costly that I could not recommend the House to allow me to start the service. If I have to grant all the facilities and be under the operation of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, very well, I will not try to fill the deficiency. I will leave the matter as it stands." That is the alternative.
One understands the case of the consumer, the trader, and so on, but the trader must remember if he is granted any facilities at all by the Minister he is being granted something he did not enjoy before, and receiving a benefit which be will certainly not receive if this very serious burden is imposed upon the Minister by Vote this afternoon. This Amendment would cover facilities granted in respect of services undertaken by the Minister for Roads, to which at the present moment the Railways and Canal Traffic Act does not apply.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
That is an answer, if I may say so, which I should expect from a speaker at the street corner. If there is no monopoly of the roads the hon. and learned Gentleman knows quite well that the services that will be started, and undertaken, will really be services that would be to the advantage of persons who wish to have transit from one big town to another. It would be a mistake if the House imposed upon the Minister the same duties that are imposed upon railways or other organisations, and I am afraid I must say that I am unable to accept the Amendment. Let me add one word. It has been pointed out that it may be the case that the passage I referred to about undue preference in Clause (3)Sub-section (1), paragraph (e). Without prejudice to claims in respect of undue preference under the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Actswould not apply to these new services. If that be so, after we have had the opportunity of considering it, I am quite ready to undertake that these particular words about undue preference should be made applicable to these services. I myself am not quite certain—being somewhat unfamiliar with the drafting of the Bill—whether it is necessary to put them in. If it be so I am quite ready to introduce "undue preference" in respect of the new services. Beyond that I cannot go. I hope, in the interests of providing good service, and giving the Minister the opportunity of making good what is deficient, the House will not impose upon him what I conceive would be an unreasonable burden.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I rather hope the Government will give a little more consideration to this point. It is one of very considerable importance. The Government take power under this Clause, within two years, as I understand it, to establish any new service that they may think fit. But the working of that service does not terminate at the end of two years; it goes on. Therefore the Government may under this Clause establish in perpetuity any service they may think fit. It is now argued that these services should not be subjected to the ordinary duties to which they would be subject If they were established by private enterprise.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Or if established under this Bill. If the Government go to a private owner and say, "You establish it," they will be subject to every one of these provisions. I think my hon. Friend opposite has not quite followed the provisions of the Bill.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
In addition to the point which the Noble Lord has stated, there is the provision: "new enterprises established within two years."
§ Lord R. CECIL
I do not follow my hon. Friend. But here we arrive at a point of great importance which involves just what I am afraid of in regard to schemes of nationalisation, which, while promising to give greater facilities and greater freedom to the workmen, always end by less freedom and greater control on the part of those responsible for the management. It is that of which I am afraid in this case too. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend wishes to do what is right in these matters. But look at the attitude of his colleagues and himself. Look at the attitude they instinctively assume in respect to imposing public duties on the Government. "The Government must not be controlled in any way! They must be allowed to do what they think right! It is not fair to in any way control them ! They represent the community as a whole!" That is so. But all this ends in bureaucracy. I confess that I hope my right hon. Friend will really reconsider this matter very seriously. There is another point of some importance which I wish to put to the House. Under these schemes the Government may go to an owner and say, "You carry out this new service." Just consider what position the owner is going to be in if he carries out the new service. He will be subject to the ordinary law, to the ordinary powers of the Railway and Canal Commission and Traffic Act, and so on. More than that. I am not quite sure whether I am right, but so far as I can see he will have to go through the ordinary procedure, promote a private Bill—and I can find nothing in this Bill which gives him any power of carrying out the work except in the way in which he can carry it out at present. If that be so, the position is really farcical. You are going 1475 to carry out these services in order to complete your particular undertaking. You will say to him, "Do this, which will be of great advantage to me; will put money into my pocket." He will probably reply, "I shall not do it at all; you do it. You would not be subject to any of the laws or Regulations which the wisdom of Parliament has enacted for the benefit of the consumer, and others concerned." The Government will have to do it at the expense of the taxpayer, who will get a secondary advantage. This seems to me to be a serious matter when you come to consider how, according to my hon. and learned Friend, this Bill is to be used, namely, that this Clause is for the purpose of linking up and supplying deficiencies. Suppose you have a system at the present time in the hands of a private owner, subject to the rules relating to undue preference, reasonable facilities, and the rest of it. The object is to put an end to that system by the Government, which is not subject to all these things. How are you going to carry out the laws in respect to it? How are you going to do it? Is it not certain that the owner will turn round and say, "I cannot do this; the proper way to do this is by the Government. You are asking me to take over all sorts of burdensome obligations which belong to the Government." I should imagine it would throw the whole policy of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts into confusion. I cannot see except for the amour propre of the Government and the instinctive dislike of bureaucracy to control, why they should not accept the ordinary obligations which apply to other undertakings ! Surely that is a fair and a reasonable thing to do. I do hope my right hon. Friend will again consider the matter, and, having in view the great anxiety some of us feel in reference to these questions of Government control, will meet us on this point.
§ Major HAYWARD
If I have understood the position correctly, it is really worse than that defined so clearly by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, because he told us that under Clause 3 the railways taken over by the Minister under this Clause were subject to the Railway and Canal Traffic Act. I put it with trepidation that I do not think that is quite an accurate statement of the case, because, as I read the Clause, they are only subject to the Railway and Canal Traffic Act so far as the question of undue preference is con- 1476 cerned, not otherwise. What would be the position? The right hon. Gentleman the Minister-designate will have very great powers over these railways taken over under Clause 3. If the railways are acting under the control and direction of the right hon. Gentleman, surely the railway company would be enabled to set that up as a defence to any claim which was made under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act! If anyone suffering a grievance claims that they had not proper facilities it would be a perfectly good defence for the railway company to say that they were acting under the direction of the Minister. I think the case put by the right hon. Gentleman opposite is absolutely unanswerable, that if these railways are to be taken over surely the public on that account should not be deprived of remedies which they already have.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I want to urge the Government to reconsider this question. The Minister-designate has assured us of the good intentions of the Government, but Ministers are here to-day and gone to-morrow. If these railways or transport facilities are to be set up for the use of the public, and it is decided that they are wanted, then the public right ought to be established now. I think it will lead to confusion having a set of transport facilities under the control of the existing Acts because it would be impossible to administer the law or enforce, the rights of the subject in regard to these matters. There is no reason why public rights or facilities should not be established. The public want facilities, and they ought to be given by this Act, and therefore I hope the Government will reconsider their position.
§ Mr. ROYCE
Perhaps some hon. Members in speaking to this Amendment have not taken into consideration what class of undertakings the Minister-designate will have to construct. I noticed this afternoon a question with regard to experimental railways. Would those regulations applying to the open lines of this country apply to a farm-feeding railway, which I understand is absolutely necessary and part of the plan of the Government at the present time? Would the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts apply to such a line? I take it that a great many of the lines which will be constructed by the Minister-designate have especial reference to agriculture and an entirely different system and rules to guide those 1477 undertakings will have to be formed. It would be folly to pass this proposal. There will be some confusion as to whether it applies to the ordinary open main lines or subsidiary lines.
§ Mr. NEAL
A great weight of artillery, has been brought to bear on this question. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belfast stated his proposition in. terms which will hardly bear investigation. He said that when the Minister stands in the same position as the railway companies he must accept the same obligations. The whole point is that the Minister does not stand in the came position as the railway companies, but he comes forward to make good the deficiencies of the railway companies, and before he takes that obligation upon himself he has first to give the railway company the opportunity of undertaking that piece of transport work. Upon what terms can the railway company decline it? Surely the reason would be that it was not likely to be a profitable or, in their opinion, a feasible adjunct to their undertaking, and having taken up that view it would be considered from the point of view of the finance of their undertakings.
The whole object of this Bill is that the Minister may take a broader national view than the mere local and parochial financial view of the particular under-taking, and the Minister may say that although this particular piece of transport service in itself may not be what one would undertake as a commercial proposition, yet for the good of that particular district, which it will open and help to take its part in the national scheme, this is something which we will do. The Minister does not stand in the same position as the railway companies in other respects. This is an attempt to attach the provisions of the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts to undertakings that may neither be railways nor canals. As the Solicitor-General pointed out, this is an attempt to attach statutory obligations to undertakings to which the Statutes do not attach in the first instance. I think a little consideration would show how unsound that would be. Suppose the Minister under this Section establishes transport by road, then if the Amendment is carried immediately there 1478 would be upon him in respect of that road transport obligations borrowed from another Statute which are totally irrelevant for the purpose.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I agree, if the hon. Member is right, there is a great deal of force in his argument, but I have read it differently, I have read it to mean that it only compels the Minister to provide all such due and reasonable facilities as a railway company is bound to provide. Therefore it would not apply except in cases in which it would apply to railway companies. If it does not mean that it should be altered. We do not want to apply an Act made for a railway to something which is not a railway at all.
§ Mr. NEAL
I think there would be a very convenient opportunity if this Amendment were included for a little discussion in. the Law Courts, and nobody can foresee what the ultimate result of litigation might be. Notwithstanding that, I suggest that the view I am putting forward is the correct meaning of this Amendment. Under the Section which it is proposed to amend the Minister may establish any form of transport service. Having done that, the Amendment under discussion says:In respect of any service established and worked by him under this Section to provide all such due and reasonable facilities for the receiving, and forwarding, and delivery of traffic as under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts a railway or canal company is bound to provide.Suppose he establishes a road service?
§ Lord R. CECIL
That is not what I understood. If that is the real meaning it ought to be modified and should not go so far, and I am sure the Government draftsman could easily do that. It should administer railway companies under the same conditions.
§ Mr. NEAL
It Is impossible to deal with more than one thing at a time, and I suggest that the reading of his Amendment in the terms on the Paper establishes the proposition I am endeavouring to propose, namely, that there will be attached to every service, whether road or air service or any other form, a like responsibility as is attached to all the railway and canal traffic and to a railway or canal undertaking. I am sure that is not the inten- 1479 tion of the Mover of the Amendment, nor is it the intention of those who support it. I am dealing for a moment with what is a very attractive argument used by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast. When he was speaking I could not help thinking of a distinguished member of the profession, who, having put forward a very attractive argument, unsound as it was attractive, the learned judge said, "Is it really your best, "and he replied," No, my Lord, but it is most superficially attractive." The right hon. and learned Gentleman ignored altogether the position taken up by the Solicitor-General of the actual difference in kind between the Minister establishing a national service for national purposes, and a railway company or a canal company establishing a quasi-national service for monopolistic purposes.
No one up to the present has dealt with what I think is the most serious argument used by the Solicitor-General, and it is that when the Minister is considering "Aye" or "No" and "Shall I advise the Government with the consent of the House to embark upon this particular piece of work which I think will be good," he would be definitely influenced and might be influenced to the extent of determining in the negative by the fact that he would be rendering himself liable to very serious obligations, and he might say, "It is not worth while." The result might be to prevent the very thing which we should succeed in establishing. The Noble Lord pointed out what I think is the one point calling for the very serious consideration of the Government when he pointed out that these services may be permanent services, and they may become in the course of time a substantial part of the existing service, and a difficulty might arise in carrying out the law as it affects the existing undertakings by reason of giving them an opportunity of making the answer, "We cannot give the through-traffic or these facilities because there is in the midst of our undertakings a block by means of the Government ownership of a particular piece." I think this matter might be rectified by some Amendment, or possibly it might be dealt with in this way. It is perfectly understood by every Member of the House that at the end of two years the Government have to come here with their permanent policy. It may be a policy of 1480 nationalisation or it may not, but whatever their policy is, if they are going then to carry on permanently undertakings which have been made under those powers, surely that would be the correct time at which to attach to those services the necessary permanent obligations. I do not think that any speaker who has taken part in. the Debate has dealt with the point raised by the learned Solicitor-General that these services may be temporary and that the effect might be that, if a service were established of a temporary character, some person might come along with onerous obligations which the Government were not prepared to carry out, and it might mean the abandonment of the service, to the great loss of the public in money and facilities. I respectfully suggest that when you are asking for powers to give additional facilities it is not germane to say that to the added facility you shall attach all the obligations which apply to the-original facility.
§ Mr. NEAL
Yes, but the railway company has declined to accept the obligation£that is part of the position£and the railway company having declined the obligation, and nobody having applied for the power, the Government say, "Give us the powers to do this, and by so much we are adding to the facilities. But the Amendment says," You shall not add to the facilities at all unless you are prepared to add to the facilities to the full extent which you would be bound to if you were an existing undertaking." I hope that in the public interest no such handicap will be put upon the Government.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Without going into legal technicalities, may I say that I think the real reason is that in the case of a monopoly there must be an appeal. The reason why under the Railway and Canal Traffic Acts an appeal was allowed to the Railway and Canal Commission was because the railway was a monopoly, 1481 and the traders could not be left to the tender mercies of any monopoly. My right hon. Friend the Minister-designate, in any new service, must himself become a monopoly. Under whatever services he establishes in connection with a railway, he is equally a monopoly with the railway, and therefore the right of appeal should apply against him as against the original railway monopoly.
§ Mr. SCOTT
Some misconception seems to have arisen out of the use of the word "facilities" in the Amendment. The word "facilities," of course, has a technical meaning and a popular meaning, and, although it is quite true to say that the main object of this Bill is to increase the transport facilities of the country, the word "facilities" in this Amendment is not used in that sense. The object is that where a Minister, under the powers of Clause 8, himself starts a new service, and himself as a Government Department works that service as if he were a board of directors of a railway or a canal company—which the Clause authorises him to do—he should be under the same sort of liability to the general public as any other railway or canal company. That is the whole point.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I should like to ask whether this would apply to a Decauville railway for agricultural purposes?
§ Mr. SCOTT
Yes, I think that as drafted it would; but I am perfectly willing to consider an Amendment and deal with that question on its merits. That would be a much more convenient course, because if there is consent to the general principle of the Amendment, but a desire to limit it by the exclusion, for instance, of Decauville railways, that question could be discussed on an Amendment to my Amendment. But even if a light railway were included, the obligation to give traffic facilities would be an obligation to give facilities appropriate to that kind of railway—not the same facilities on a light agricultural railway which would be given on the London and North Western Railway's main line. That is where a little confusion, I think, has arisen in the House. This Amendment does not propose in any sense to say that it shall be the duty of the Minister, in the case of an undertaking which he starts for a special purpose, to give on that undertaking facilities which 1482 are necessary on some long established and big undertakings used for different purposes. It means that the facilities, whatever they are, that are to be given on the new undertaking, shall be facilities in respect of which he is under a duty; so that, for instance, the agricultural community—and that is largely the kind of case that I have in mind, namely, a special section of the community wanting facilities, and the Minister recommending that the facilities are wanted and starting a new undertaking shall be able to enforce their rights under that undertaking. I have had enough of D.O.R.A. We do not want the bureaucratic attitude of allowing things as of grace. It is intolerable that, where an industrial undertaking is being run by a Government Department, those for whom the undertaking is set up should not have a remedy as of right. Unless this Amendment is accepted, that wrong principle is going to be permanently set up in this Bill. In every one of these new services the Minister will be able to say: "I know I have not given you what I told you I was going to; I know I am not doing what I set out to do; I know I am not running the trains which my timetables say; I know I am not supplying the wagons which I have undertaken to supply, and you have no rights whatever in respect of it, and no redress. If I think fit I will give you something. If I don't I won't. "That is an intolerable position, and I consider that it is a matter of vital importance, where industrial undertakings are run by a national administration under State management—and we have to contemplate that possibility that in this, the very first experiment made by the Government in nationalisation, we ought to lay down the principle at the outset that we will not have it unless they are under a legal obligation to serve the community like any private undertaking. I venture to suggest that the danger under this Clause is very great. As the Amendment is framed I only seek to put upon the Minister the sort of obligation that a railway or canal company incurs in regard to a railway or canal. But do not let us forget that under this Bill as it stands the Minister can start a shipping service, he can start a service of motors on roads for short-distance traffic, and he is under no liability whatever in regard to those under Clause 8. I venture, therefore, to ask the House to accept this Amendment as it 1483 stands. If any particular service ought, so to speak, to be excepted from the scope of the Amendment, that could be done by and Amendment to this Amendment.
§ Question put,
§ "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 91; Noes, 208.1485
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[6.41 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Croft, Brig,-General Henry Page||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Ainsworth, Captain C.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Perkins, Waiter Frank|
|Allen, Col. William James||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Perring, William George|
|Armitage, Robert||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Galbraith, Samuel||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banner, Sir J. S. Harmood-||Gretton, Colonel John||Remer, J. B.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Renwick, G.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (G'nwich)||Hancock, John George||Samuel, A. M. (Farnham, Surrey)|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Hay ward, Major Evan||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Smithers, Alfred W.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Joynson-Hicks, William||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Lloyd, George Butler||Wallace, J.|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Locker-Lampson G. (Wood Green)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Lonsdale, James R.||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Casey, T. W.||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Maddocks, Henry||Wilson, J. H. (South Shields)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Marriott, John Arthur R.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Craig, Captain Charles C. (Antrim)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Leslie Scotland Mr. Marshall Stevens,|
|Craik, Right Hon. Sir Henry|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. L. C. M. S.||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Hacking, Captain D. H.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Dalziel, Sir Davison (Brixton)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H.||Hanson, Sir Charles|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. N. (Gorbals)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Dawes, J. A.||Haslam, Lewis|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Dixon, Captain H.||Henry, Denis S, (Londonderry, S.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dockrell, Sir M.||Hilder, Lieutenant-Colonel F.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Duncannon, Viscount||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Hirst, G. H.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Edge, Captain William||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.|
|Bird, Alfred||Edwards, C. (Bedwelty)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. D. F.||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander||Hood, Joseph|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Falcon, Captain M.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Col. A. L. H.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Foreman, H.||Hudson, R. M.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Carr, W. T.||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Hurd, P. A.|
|Carter, W. (Mansfield)||Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Jesson, C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Cambridge)||Jodrell, N. p.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, G, W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Jones, J. (Silvertown)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Glanville, Harold James||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Glyn, Major R.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, E.)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Greene, Lt.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||King, Com. Douglas|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Gregory, Holman||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Griggs, Sir Peter||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Grundy, T. W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro')||Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Terrell, Capt. R. (Henley, Oxford)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W.||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Lunn, William||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Thorne, Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Lyle-Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Philipps, Sir O. C. (Chester)||Tilfett, Benjamin|
|M'Donald, Dr. B. F. P. (Wallasey)||Pickering, Col. Emil w.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Pinkham, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles||Vickers, D.|
|M'Laren, R. (Lanark. N.)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pratt, John William||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Purchase, H. G.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Wardle, George J.|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Mason, Robert||Reid, D. D.||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Mitchell, William Lane-||Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Wignall, James|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Roundell, Lieutenant-Colonel R. IV||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Morgan, Major D. Watts||Rowlands, James||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Royce, William Stapleton||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Royds, Lt-Col. Edmund||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Mosley, Oswald||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Seager, Sir William||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)||Simm, Colonel M. T.||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Murray, William (Dumfries)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Neal, Arthur||Stewart, Gershom||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Newbould, A. E.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Sturrock, J. Leng-||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E.|
|O'Grady, James||Surtess, Brig.-General H. C.||Talbot and Captain F. Guest.|
|Parry, Major Thomas Henry||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|