§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. OLIVER
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
Our relations with this company, I am glad to say, are extremely happy, but we oppose the Bill because it contains a principle which we believe is not in the best interest of the country, and when the House is familiarised with the Clause to which I and those for whom I speak take exception, I am sure they will feel this is a matter to which they should devote some attention before giving the Bill a Second Reading. It proposes to authorise the pro 1252 vision of a trackless trolley system with the usual overhead electrical equipment. The next thing is to provide motor omnibuses to run in conjunction with their trackless system, and they ask that a monopoly should be granted so long as they provide an adequate service, with two exceptions. The company has a tramway system which runs in two sections, one from Parliament Street, Nottingham, terminating in my own constituency, the other being confined to Ilkeston. The company has controlled the first section since 1913. It runs through several urban districts with a population of something like 48,000. The other section is much smaller, providing for a population of 33,000. We shall, no doubt, hear that when the company purchased the Ilkeston section they conferred on the borough a kind of public service in so far as this small municipality was losing money. They lost to the extent of what amounted to a 5d. rate. When the company purchased the concern in 1916. it began to prosper. They bought it for practically half what it cost. The purchase price was £28,000 and it cost over £52,000, so it is not difficult to see how the company is making it pay where the borough was unsuccessful.
In 1914, the first year of the Nottingham section, the gross takings were £23,293. At the peak, in 1921, it had increased to £54,681. When the company purchased the Ilkeston section, the takings in the first year were £7,000, 1253 and in 1920 they touched £10,470, so that, as a tramway undertaking, up to the advent of the motor omnibuses they did exceptionally well. In 1922 motor omnibuses, not only in this area but throughout the country, were very keen competitors of tramway undertakings, and this company, like others, felt a draught. The whole of its capital is held by the Midland Counties Electrical Supply Company, and in 1920 this holding company floated the Midland General Omnibus Company, Limited. They put on their own motor omnibuses to run in competition with their tramcars. Naturally they attracted customers from their tramcars to their motor omnibuses. It will, no doubt, be said that the tramway company has lost considerable sums of money and that certain steps should be taken whereby they may be safeguarded in the future from any possible competition that may arise. Whilst the attention of the House will be drawn to the losses on the tramcars there will be no reference made to the profits on the omnibuses. I understand the Select Committee of the House of Lords, when the Bill was before them, were informed that no accounts were kept of the takings of the omnibus company.
The difficulty which arises comes from the fact that these urban authorities have issued licences to competing motor omnibus companies, and in consequence this company has felt serious competition from other firms and other companies who have been running omnibuses in this particular locality. In the first place, people formed companies and ran motor omnibuses in this district, providing a good and suitable service and meeting the needs of the district, because in the main the capital was raised in the district, and provided in general a more efficient service than the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Tramways Company could possibly hope to provide, because many of their directing heads were not in the vicinity at all, and, in consequence, these small companies were able to make a very successful stride towards establishing themselves. On the other hand, we had this established company, which had been there a very long time, and although we do not want to say a word against them as employers, because they are very good employers and our relations with 1254 them have been of the happiest, yet in fairness, having regard to what they now seek to obtain from Parliament, we must say that when they ran their tram system and their omnibus system, it was irregular, bad in the extreme, and unreliable to such an extent that I myself, who had to use this particular tramway of theirs, could never depend upon catching a train if I had to use their vehicles to get me to the station.
In 1920, when their omnibus company came into operation, they commenced to run omnibuses not only on their own particular stretch of tramway route but on other routes upon which their tramways did not run. We have no objection to that, but they subjected the small companies, who had built up a proper, permanent and regular public system, to the most ruthless price-cutting imaginable, to such an extent that some of the smaller companies who had not £4,000,000 of capital behind them, had to succumb to the price-cutting instituted by this company's omnibuses. While they are complaining about competition running against their tramway system, they have never hesitated to put into operation the most violent competition against omnibus companies running in other districts not associated with their tramway route. Now this company have promoted a private Bill, and the Bill contains a Clause which I shall be very surprised if the House of Commons will ever entertain. So that I shall not be misunderstood or shall in any way incorrectly interpret the Clause, I will read it to the House. It is Clause 37, and it runs:If and so long as the company provides a service of tramways or trolley vehicles along any specified route and such service adequately meets or together with any service of omnibuses operated by the company adequately meets the requirements of such route it shall not be lawful for any other company or any local authority body or person to run omnibuses along such route or along any other route in competition with such service or services of the company.To that there are two exceptions, and I will read them to the House, because they are important. The same Clause, in Sub-section (5), says:Nothing in this Section shall be deemed (A) to restrict the running of any service of omnibuses by any such company 1255 authority body or person along any such route if such omnibuses serve districts beyond the districts in which the specified routes are situate and so long as such omnibuses are not used both for the taking up and setting down on any one journey of passengers on any specified route or any route in competition therewith or (B) to prejudice the renewal by a licensing authority of any license to ply for hire with an omnibus granted prior to the passing of this Act and applicable to any service of omnibuses which was in operation on the thirtieth day of November one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven and has since that date been continuously in operation.The House will have observed that that Clause asks that Parliament shall concede to a public company an absolute monopoly of the public highway. Let me show the fallacy of the two exceptions, and, first, of the one which says that they do not object to competing omnibuses when they serve districts beyond the district which this company covers. What is the value of that, in view of the fact that this company covers no less than 15 miles of the King's highway? They suggest that because they do not object if a competing line goes beyond those 15 miles there is no monopoly. They tell you also: "It is not a monopoly because we make provision for the existing users of the road. We do not want to take off the roads people who are now running omnibuses." That is perfectly true. In the original Bill they did want to do so, but they have slightly amended it by permitting those people who are now using the road to use it along with themselves; but no additional licence is to be granted after the passing of this Bill. Now what exactly does that mean? Since this Bill has been before Parliament, their closest competitor, a company running a fine line of omnibuses, has come under their control, so that there will be no further competition from that particular company. Secondly, as to the smaller companies, what will be their fate? Their fate will be the fate of other companies with which this company has run in competition on other routes. They will either (1) buy them up, or (2) crush them with ruthless competition, and then the whole of this 15 or 20 miles of highway of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire will be absolutely at the mercy of this company.
As I have already stated, we do not oppose this company on any pettifogging ground; we oppose them because they 1256 are asking for something which we believe will be absolutely inimical to the best interests of my constituency and of the country if it is extended. However public-spirited a company may be, it would be absolutely wrong for Parliament to delegate to a trading company the powers which this particular company is seeking. Once this Bill receives the Royal Assent it will be absolutely impossible for the local authorities, in whose power it is at the present time to issue licences, to issue any further licences, and in consequence there will be no fear of any development at all. This is an industrial area, running from Nottingham through the great coalfields of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Naturally, in an area of that description there is at the present time development taking place; new housing schemes have been adopted and houses are being erected by the various urban and municipal authorities. If this competition is curtailed, the whole of that increased business will accrue to this particular company, and with what result? With a result which is inevitable They are not coming to this House seeking powers simply as a luxury; they are coming to this House seeking powers for the benefit of this particular company, and once the Bill is passed, once the power is established and competition is curtailed, undoubtedly prices will be increased as they were increased before we had competition in existence in this area.
Through the courtesy of a very large colliery undertaking in my constituency, I have been presented with a map or plan, which I have here, showing the various mines in the area. One part of this plan shows the mines which are almost derelict, inasmuch as the coal is now being worked out, and therefore it will in the near future be necessary for the colliery companies to transport their workpeople from the areas in which the mines are now being worked out to their newer mines, almost on the same route as that upon which this company seeks a monopoly. What will be the result? No further licences can be issued. If a colliery company desires to run its workmen from one colliery which is worked out to another which is being developed, that is an element of competition which this Bill definitely says must not be allowed. Many of these miners cannot move their 1257 homes from one area to another. Some of them own their own homes, and it is of the utmost importance that the freest and cheapest possible form of transport should be permitted for miners who are unfortunately compelled to live in one area and have to work some miles away in another.
There is another objectionable feature appertaining to this particular Clause. Not only is the company asking for a monopoly on a certain road, but they are asking for a monopoly if another company wishes to take a devious way, coming to some point, on their route, or running on parallel roads. This Bill has been so drafted that there will be no right for any form of competition to come in their way. I ask whether this House can give to this particular company the powers which they are now asking? As I have already explained, in their Tramway Act they obtained certain powers to run tram-cars, but the Tramway Act never granted to the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Tramway Company a monopoly of the highways. Never has a Tramway Act, the 1870 Act or any subsequent amendment to it, if such there be, ever granted a monopoly of the highway. They have given a company the right to run on the highway, but never have they conceded the right that, they and they alone shall carry passengers in the area over which they run.
When this company came into existence, what happened? They, having in their hands a more modern form of transport, naturally crushed out of existence any competition which was then in existence. There was the old carrier carrying goods on this particular road, there were the old wagonettes meeting the needs of the people. The more modern form of transport came along, and naturally the modern form of transport drove the more antiquated form of transport out of existence. There was no request made then for a monopoly. The old carrier made no request for a monopoly of the highway, and when this company got their tramcars along this road they stole, or rather they took, quite a large amount of traffic from the railway companies, but there was no question then of the railway company asking for a monopoly so that their trade should not 1258 be taken. Unfortunately for the company, their time has come. Their obsolete form of tramways has found in the motor omnibus a very successful competitor, and so the company have looked ahead, and they have said, "We can probably provide motor omnibuses along this route now, but in the process of time there may be a new form of locomotion, which may not be in our control, and if we do not obtain this monopoly to keep off any more successful competitor with a newer idea, we shall share the fate with our new undertaking that we have shared with our old undertaking."
I know the line which will be taken in support of the Bill. It will be said, "We propose to spend £90,000 on a trackless system, and unless we can get security that we are not to be run off the road by competition from motor omnibuses, we are not prepared to spend £90,000." I agree that there is some force in that argument, but nobody has asked the company to spend £90,000 on a trackless system. It is one of their own ideas. The local authorities desire to concede to this company a fair deal, but they want to give them no privileges, and they do not want to give any other company any privilege. They desire to do to all alike, all omnibus proprietors and other forms of transport. I make bold to say that had the Railway Bill which has just been upstairs come to this House with the provisions that are in this Bill, it would not have received the large measure of support which it did receive. Had that Railway Bill said, "So long as we provide your town or village with an adequate service, no other form of competition shall come in our way," this House certainly would not have given it a Second Reading. I am not speaking in any party interest. I am glad to say that behind this opposition is the opposition of every political party in my constituency and in the constituencies in which this system runs. Every chamber of trade, every chamber of commerce, and every tradesmen's association in the district has supported the opposition to this Bill.
§ Mr. VARLEY
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so on the broad general principle that this House should never grant a 1259 monopoly to anybody without public safeguards, and so far as I am able to understand the Bill, I do not see that it gives those safeguards. There are other matters upon which this House should be better informed before granting extended powers to this company. I happened to be, in 1913, a member of the Derbyshire County Council at the time when this company took over the tramlines from Nottingham to Ripley. That particular section of their undertaking did not run through the district which I now represent, but I have a very vivid recollection of the trouble we had at that time with this company, which, having acquired Parliamentary powers, promptly proceeded thereafter to do as it liked. Moreover, this particular company was the owner of the tramway undertaking in and around the town of Mansfield. I recollect coming into this House four years ago, when, I hope in all humility, I undertook to point out to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) the great danger of the continuance of their running their more or less animated timber shacks on wheels in and through Mansfield. He treated me somewhat cavalierly.
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent the case. The Mansfield company is quite a separate company, owned by its own shareholders.
§ Mr. VARLEY
Very probably the hon. Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nail) would be able to draw the distinction, but I cannot.
§ Sir J. NALL
I happen to be the chairman of both companies, and I can say that there is absolutely no connection between the shareholders of the two companies.
§ Mr. VARLEY
The explanation accentuates my difficulty in drawing the distinction, and whether or not there be a distinction, the persons involved are the same, on his own admission, but inasmuch as he says that the shareholders are different, and presumably the management of the two companies also is different, I will not pursue that line of argument. What I do say is that if the persons were the same, and the management were the same, and the same spirit 1260 of toleration, or lack of it, animated the company which is now seeking powers that animated the old one, that would be sufficient reason for me to oppose anything which they brought before this House. I do not think I will go into detail, and if hon. Members who are elsewhere than in the House were here, and had read the Bill, I cannot conceive to whatever political party they might belong, that they would favour for one minute the giving of such drastic powers as these to any private company.
There is a third and, in my mind, a more potent reason still against the Bill. I do not know how far the general public has made up its mind that trackless trams are an undisguised blessing. They have been instituted in various parts of the country, and unfortunately for me they have now been instituted along the line on which I live within the City of Nottingham, and certainly I have no cause to wish for any extension of that principle. A perfectly good road was made there less than 12 months ago, and now it is an abomination, and whereas I have no wish to retard the introduction of better facilities for the transit of the population, it is a very moot point whether the ordinary omnibus services as we know them, as distinct from trackless trams, are not far better in the public interest than the trackless trams are. The type of wheels that they have, and that they must have, having regard to the weight of the vehicle, is such that it tears up the road, and the vibration is intense. As I lie in bed, I can have a joy-ride all for nothing, as a result of the trackless trams passing my door. Knowing the route from Nottingham to Ripley and in many parts the contiguity of the houses to the highway, I cannot conceive that if the people on that line of route were consulted they would wish to have the introduction of the trackless trams as against the existing trams. Whatever may be the future of omnibuses, I sincerely hope that this House will pause before it gives to any private company extended powers for the introduction of trackless trams.
§ Sir HENRY JACKSON
I hope that this House to-night will give a Second Reading to this Bill, and so enable it to go to a Select Committee upstairs, in order that the case both for the promoters and for those who are opposing the Bill 1261 may be fully heard and those safeguards which the House may think are not in the Bill may, if necessary in the public interest, be placed in it. I do not pro pose to follow the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Oliver), who moved the rejection of the Bill, into details. Like the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Varley), I propose to confine myself to one single issue, which, as I understand it, is the issue that is really before the House, and that is the broad principle which is embodied in Clause 37 of this Bill. Much play has been made of the word "monopoly," but what are the facts of the case? Included in this Bill is a provision, which I will read——
§ Sir H. JACKSON
It is in Subsection (4) of Clause 37, and it reads as follows:Any question at any time arising as to whether or not the Company are providing an adequate service along any route or whether there is or would be any such competition shall be determined by the Minister, and the Minister shall have power to make such order thereon as he thinks fit. Any order made by the Minister under this Section shall be final and binding and not subject to appeal to any Court and shall on the application of the Minister be enforceable by writ of mandamus.I therefore claim that there is an entire disappearance of the word "mono poly." [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If there is any complaint against the efficiency of the service——
§ Sir H. JACKSON
That depends on what we mean by monopoly; it is a question of definition. If there is included in the Bill that safeguard, that if the service is not satisfactory it is open to an appeal to the Minister, and it is in the province of the Minister to make such an order as to secure a service which shall be in every way satisfactory to the travelling public.
§ Mr. OLIVER
Is the hon. Member aware that he is quoting Sub-section (4), which refers to the competition of other routes adjacent thereto or running parallel therewith?
§ Sir H. JACKSON I am assured that it is not so, and that the Sub-section covers the Bill. At any rate, it is clear that we are only asking to give this Bill a Second Beading in order that any safeguard which the House may like should be placed in the Bill by the competent Committee. I have no interest in this company or connection with the district through which it runs. My interest to-night, in rising to support the Bill, is because I have had some experience, as has my colleague the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith), whom I am glad to see in the House, in the lessons of London traffic, and it is because of the experience that I at least have learned in that school that I venture to express the hope that that chaos which was existing in London traffic, and which we have tried somewhat to relieve, will not be allowed to be repeated elsewhere. The opponents of this Bill are asking that there, should continue an unrestricted competition—cut-throat competition, if you like—in transport services in this district.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
At any rate, they are asking that it should be possible for services to be duplicated and, if necessary, triplicated, without any reference to the public needs, and I say that that is unrestricted competition and wasteful.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
The hon. Member knows as well as I that the licensing authority has no powers to restrict the licensing of vehicles. What was the condition in London in consequence of this unrestricted competition? We found that we had starved tramway services. We found congested roads. We found that we had a heavy toll of accidents. We found acute overcrowding leading to enormous developments in the demand for proper transport. In order to safeguard the position, the London Traffic Act, 1924, was passed. What has that Traffic Act done? In Section 7 of that Act this House definitely established the very principle for which this company have asked to-night. It was decided that in certain streets where the service was adequate and efficient, no more omnibuses should be allowed to run. It was 1263 also decided that if an omnibus did run, it should run according to a very definite schedule, and run nowhere else.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
It is done by order of the Minister on the advice of a committee, carrying out the provisions of the Act of Parliament.
§ Sir H. JACKSON
I am only stating the principle. That was the principle which this House embodied in the Traffic Act of 1924, and it is precisely that principle and no other principle which this company is asking to be placed in this Bill, namely, that as long as they provide a service which is adequate to the needs of the people and as long as the Minister is satisfied that a service is being provided according to those needs they are entitled to protection.
§ Mr. VARLEY
What is the position of the present operators under this Bill? Are they to be thrown off the road?
§ Sir H. JACKSON
I understand that the present operators are entitled to remain on the road and to continue as at present. There will be no interference, as I understand it, with their operations or their services. They will simply continue as they do at present. That is the principle. The House is definitely committed to this principle in London, and I venture to say that in London—and I am sure my good colleague sitting on the Front Opposition Bench will agree—it has been singularly successful. The chaos which existed—the crowded streets, the useless wear and tear of the highways, giving to the highway authorities an increasing burden—has, at any rate, been reduced. Our policy now is not so much to prevent more omnibuses being run but rather to remove what is unnecessary and needless and so give protection to existing Transport undertakings and so encourage them to embark on further developments. The London story, if it is worth anything at all to the rest of the country, is, that if any transport authority, be it an omnibus company or be it a tramway company, or be it the suburban railway of a great main line, be it an electric 1264 or underground railway, if the transport authority is giving a service which is adequate to the needs of the community, they are entitled to protection against competition which can give the public no advantage, which can only bring disaster to the transport people themselves.
That is the principle we are discussing to-night. There is nothing else in the picture at all. That is the simple issue, and I venture to hope that the House on this vital issue will be guided by the overwhelming success of the same principle which has been applied to London. After all, this is not the end of our traffic problem. It is merely a step along that line of co-ordination of all services, which, we believe, is the only solution of this problem. We are convinced that it is not in unrestricted competition, that it is not in monopoly, but rather in that halfway house by means of which existing services can be correlated that the public can get the services which they demand. Because of the lessons that I have learnt in the London school, and because of its undoubted success—of that there is no question in any part of the House or in any part of greater London—I hope the House will, at any rate, approve the principle to-night and send this Bill to a Select Committee which can place any further safeguards in the Bill which are necessary.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Colonel Ashley)
I promise the House that I will not detain it for any great length, because I know that the time taken up now will have to be found out of our sleeping time after 12 o'clock tonight. [Interruption.] If we are delayed too long over this Bill, we shall have to spend the time in the small hours in a discussion on the Finance Bill. I, really, think that possibly on both sides of the House there has been rather a tendency to exaggerate the importance of Clause 37 of this Bill. I submit that it is not a new principle which is embodied in Clause 37. It has been—I must make it clear to the House—embodied in legislation with regard to the City of Oxford. It has been passed, without any discussion in this House this year, in the Greenock Bill. So that as far as principles are concerned, we are not discussing something which is quite new, but possibly a departure from what has been 1265 not the invariable practice, but the usual practice. I think I am not putting it unfairly.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I really cannot tell the hon. Member exactly the whole details of all these cases, but I can say that to the best of my recollection they were both private companies. After all, whether they are private companies or not, I am sufficiently an individualist to think that you should not debar a private company because it is a private company from sharing in certain privileges which are given to municipalities, provided that that private company carries out its obligations and gives a good service to the community. One of the duties which I have to perform is to look after the interests of municipalities in their own area when they are challenged as to their road transport systems by outside private enterprises. If they refuse to allow private competition with their own municipal tramways it is my duty, if there is an appeal made to me, to decide whether they are justified in refusing. I, personally, always take into consideration whether the municipal tramway is giving an adequate service, and, if it is giving an adequate service, it weighs very much with me in favour of my coming down on the side of protecting the municipal tramways.
In the same way, if the duty is put upon me to decide if an adequate service is being given by this private company, I cannot see why I should not take into consideration the activities of the company and the efficiency of the company, and if the service is efficient, I do not see why it should be necessary to have an undue number of vehicles on the road. Wasteful competition, surely, I should think all hon. Members would desire to see eliminated. We should keep private enterprise and municipal enterprise out of our minds, and decide what is best in the interests of the community. If we do that, then 1266 surely Clause 37, although I am not saying it is a perfect Clause, might be accepted. It says that if this company gives an efficient service on certain routes, and if the Minister, in the exercise of his discretion and doing his best to come to a right decision, says that they are giving an efficient service, other people should be debarred from running services in competition, just as has been done in the case of municipal services.
§ Mr. OLIVER
Has the right hon. Gentleman read the report issued by his own Department which says, referring to this proposal in Clause 37:It is not the practice of Parliament to allow Clauses of this nature, and the Minister recommends that the Clause be disallowed.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I agree that that was what was sent up to another place. Although it is not the invariable practice of Parliament the fact remains that exception has been made to the practice. Cannot we make changes in our procedure? We must march with the times. The trouble that I find with hon. Members opposite is that they do not march with the times, and make changes where necessary. In all seriousness, I say that this Clause, be it good or bad, has been put in by another place after due consideration. It now comes down to this House for Second Reading. Some hon. Members may not like the Clause and other hon. Members may be very much in favour of it. It is desirable, in the interests of the company and of the public, that the Bill should be given a Second Reading and be allowed to go upstairs to the Committee. In the ordinary course the Committee will deal with it, and if when it comes back to us it has been altered, we shall have a Report stage, and hon. Members opposite can say: "The Committee has not done what we like, and we will press the matter to a Division in regard to Clause 37." To reject the Bill on Second Reading because there is in it a Clause which they do not like very much, without having heard what the Committee upstairs would say, and considering that they can have a Report stage and Third Reading, is against public policy. I hope the House will give the Bill a Second Reading and allow it to go upstairs, and come back to us later on.
§ Mr. OLIVER
Has the right hon. Gentleman any proposition to make to the House or any recommendation to make to the Committee in regard to this Clause, as he has done on other occasions?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
If the House gives a Second Reading to the Bill, my recommendation will go to the Committee upstairs when the Bill goes before the Committee.
§ Mr. JOHN BAKER
Unless I hear some better arguments than I have heard from the Minister of Transport, I hope the matter will be pressed to a Division, and I shall vote for the Amendment. I have sat on Committees upstairs and I know that one of the strongest arguments used for getting a Bill through Committee is that it has passed its First Reading and its Second Reading and that the House has assented to the principle of the Bill. This Clause is a matter of principle. There are big Bills before this House and before Joint Committees where municipalities are asking for these powers which the Minister thinks ought to be given to this private company. Those municipalities are not being treated quite so generously as we are asked to treat this private company. From what we have heard from the Mover of the Amendment, the people who practised competition until they had killed their opponents, now say: "Do not let us have any wasteful competition." Why do not they think about the companies which they have wiped off the face of the earth, when they are talking like that?
I do not think it is the proper thing to give a small group of the community such powers and privileges as this Bill seeks to confer upon this particular company. I have not heard anything quoted by the other side giving municipalities rights other than the right to appeal to a Minister who believes in private enterprise, and who would be bound to be influenced by his own particular belief if an appeal came before him, after this Bill goes through, and some municipalities asked for these powers. The power should not be left in the hands of a single individual—that is no reflection upon the present Minister of Transport, or upon his views—to make it impossible for a huge district to get a proper transport service, because that is what this Clause would mean. What will happen if this 1268 Clause goes through? For years, the district may be badly served, and at the end of a period, which would not be a short one, there might be sufficient public spirit in the district to say, "We ought to put an end to this thing. Let us form a new company and appeal to the Minister of Transport." Those appellants would know that they run the risk not only of losing the money with which they had formed the company, but the costs of the appeal to the Minister or to this House."
Those who are interested in the work of this House know that every week whilst the House is sitting there are thousands of pounds of municipal money being spent in defending the interests of the ratepayers in areas which are being attacked by people trying to get privileges from this House, with no adequate return for the municipality. Thousands of pounds every week are going in skilled advice for the protection of the municipalities, and here we have a calm proposal to give a monopoly in a considerable area of two counties, to a private company. I wonder how the hon. Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir H. Jackson) will vote in regard to the plea of the existing transport companies in relation to the railways. The railways are asking powers from this House, and I voted for them having that power, to run road services, because I believe that is in the interests of transport. I wonder how hon. Members who are supporting this Bill will vote when the Railway Bills come before this House, and it is pointed out that all over the country there are municipalities running efficient road services. They will not then say that is sufficient for the railway companies to appeal to the Minister. They will take the view that these powers should go into the Railway Bills. They are being guided, not by the public good, not by the question of efficient transport, but by some pre-conceived idea as to what is the best to do in every circumstance in relation not only to this but every means of producing and distributing wealth. I hope that the Amendment will be carried.
§ Mr. LEE
The Minister cannot be expected to remember all the details. I put that question for the purpose of saying that all the authorities in the district affected by this Bill are opposing the Bill, from the local authorities to the county councils. Therefore, we stand to-night with the authority of all these councils behind us, in opposing this particular Clause. If we are to judge of the adequate service which this company is likely to provide in the future by the service they have provided in the past, some of us cannot attach much credence to their promises. This service has been running for a long time. I am astonished that the people in the district have stood it so long, because it is a disgrace to the company. The hon. Member who spoke from his experience of London did not teach us anything. London is London, and the country is the country. The experience of London does
§ not help much in a country district like this; and the London Traffic Bill did not provide anything like what is provided for in this particular Clause. The promoters, I know, tell us that they are not asking for a monopoly, but I do not know any other word which will describe the powers for which they are asking in this Bill. They say that they do not want anyone else to run a service except those who are running a service at the moment, but they have bought out the largest company, and, if they can buy out the largest, they can also buy out the smallest, and by and by we shall have one company running over this route on which there is scarcely any railway competition at all. The people in the district are not asking for this service, and every local authority in the neighbourhood is opposed to it.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 192 Noes, 118.1271
|Division No. 231.]||AYES.||[8.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whitsh'n)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Atkinson, C.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Crewe, C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Csn'l)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jephcott. A. R.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Edwards. J. Hugh (Accrington)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Bennett A. J.||England, Colonel A.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Bethel, A.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset. Weston-s.-M.)||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Fade, Sir Bertram G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fielden, E. B.||Laugher, Lewis|
|Bowyer. Captain G. E. W.||Forrest. W.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vero|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lynn, Sir Robert J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Galbraith, J. F. W.||McLean, Major A.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Gates, Percy||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Guff, Sir Park||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Buchan, John||Gower, Sir Robert||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grant, Sir J. A.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of Lender||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Burman, J. B.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hanbury, C.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Campbell, E. T.||Harland, A.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hartington, Marquess of||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Haslam, Henry C.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Henri, Sir Sydney f-t||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Couper, J. B.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||O'Neill. Major Rt. Hon. H.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Holbrook. Sir Arthur Richard||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Holt, Captain H. P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Pilcher, G.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Preston, William||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Savery, S. S.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Radford, E. A.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Raine, Sir Walter||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Ramsden, E.||Shaw, Lt.-Col, A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Shepperson, E. W.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Remer, J. R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Smithers, Waldron||Wells, S. R.|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stratford)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Withers, John James|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Rye, F. G.||Storry-Deans, R.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sandeman, N. Stewart||Tasker, R. Inigo.||Sir Thomas Watts and Mr. Clarry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardle, George D.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Ritson, J.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayes, John Henry||Robinson. W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sexton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H. Huddersfield||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Bromfield, William||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smillie, Robert|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Connolly, M.||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawrence, Susan||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lee, F.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lindley, F. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Dennison, R.||Lowth, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dunnico, H.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Fenby, T. D.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gibbins, Joseph||March, S.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Maxton, James||Whiteley. W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Greenall, T.||Montague, Frederick||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Murnin, H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Naylor, T. E||Wragg, Herbert|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wright, W.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Varley and Mr. Oliver.|
Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.