§ 9.14 p.m.
Mr. H. WILIAMS
I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, to leave out from "company" to the end of the paragraph.
With this Amendment must be read a later Amendment which I have on the Paper—in page 5, line 11, to leave out "to be provided for by the agreement." The effect would be to leave the Central Electricity Board in the position of supplying electricity directly to any railway company, but it would not give the board the power to do that upon such terms and at such prices as may be agreed upon. In other words, it would say that, if the board enter into this business, they must do so on the same terms as everyone else would. I think it is Section 12 of the Act of 1926 which prescribes the terms on which current may be supplied to a railway company. What are those terms? If it is an authorised undertaker supplying the railway company, the company will pay to the authorised undertaker the same price as the authorised undertaker pays to the 1696 Central Electricity Board plus the cost of transmitting the electrical energy from the authorised undertaker to the railway company. In other words, there is no element of profit in that except that represented by the charges on the transmission lines. If the Central Electricity Board is going to enter into the business of electricity distribution in competition with authorised distributors in supplying railway companies, there seems to be no reason why it should have any privilege in-the matter and should be in a position to quote to the railway companies different terms from those that they would quote if they were supplying them through the medium of authorised undertakers.
Clause 2 deals with the question of exceptional supplies and says that they are to be passed on to the consumers on the same terms as they receive from the board, adding only the transmission charges. So far as the question of price is concerned, it seems to me that the whole supply of the railway companies could be dealt with under Clause 2, because I take it that the supply to a. railway company involves exceptional circumstances. The circumstances of a railway are obviously different from those of any other consumer. If a railway is electrified, it becomes a very large consumer. It takes current during long periods of the day at a very steady average. If Clause 2 were used for the supply to the railway companies, the terms would be the price of the electricity plus the essential cost involved in handing it on. I see not the slightest reason why a railway company should be permitted to make a contract direct with the board on terms which they Could not make if an authorised undertaker intervened. In other wards, railway companies are not entitled to buy on terms which are frankly preferential.
When we discussed this the other day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), who made a very impressive speech, urged upon us that one of the things that worried the railway companies was the problem of negotiation. He was not primarily concerned in his support of Clause 4 with the question of the price at which the railway companies should buy. He was primarily concerned with the difficulty which he alleged had arisen in negotiating satisfactory terms. The hon. Member for 1697 Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Macmillan), in replying to me, said the reason they wanted to deal with one body was that their charge would consist partly of a charge based on the maximum at any time in the 12 months and partly on the actual consumption of electrical energy. It was because they wanted to negotiate with one supplier rather than any question of the general return that he was anxious that Clause 4 should become law.
I should like to remind hon. Members opposite, who regard themselves as the defenders of municipal electricity, that two-thirds of the undertakings whose interests are likely to be affected adversely by this Clause are municipal and not private. It is not unreasonable to say that when the board enters into these direct relationships with railway companies they should not be permitted to offer specially favourable terms of a kind that they would not offer if they were supplying the same electricity through the medium of an authorised undertaking which happens to be a municipal council or a limited company. In both cases there ought to be fair treatment. I do not deny that there is an argument in support of the Clause on the grounds of convenience of negotiation and of planning and for technical reasons, though I think it has been rather over-stated.
The difficulties which it is suggested that the Southern Railway have had were not insuperable, and in fact they were overcome. I am told that they are having certain difficulties at the moment in connection with certain further electrification that they have in view. Negotiation and planning a system of supply is the difficulty and not the general question of price, because the price depends on whose network you are going to use. If you become an authorised undertaker, you will use your existing network, with such additions as you may have to make to it in order to make contact with the railway circuit. If you take the supply from the board, there will also be certain extensions to the network involved, and conceivably the additions to the transmission system will be greater if the board do it than if the existing authorised undertakings do it.
There will probably be more expenditure of that kind involved, but the original supply if the Central Board come in directly should not be given at 1698 different terms from those that would be given by authorised undertakers. That is a questionable attitude. It will definitely mean that any cheapness to the railway companies will be at the expense of every domestic and industrial consumer in every other part of the country. If the Electricity Board have to raise a certain revenue and raise less than they ought to do by supplying the railway companies below the average price, everyone else will have to make up the difference. I am amazed at the attitude of the party opposite towards this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "We will take the risk!"] I wish hon. Members would take the trouble to read the Bill and understand it. If they did, they would realise that throughout they have been supporting the interests of a monopoly, and those who have some connection with the electricity supply industry have been representing the interests of the general mass of the consumers.
Not in the least. If the hon. Member had been listening, he would know that I am defending the interests of the users of electricity. The last three minutes of my speech were devoted to that subject alone. My reference to municipalities was 15 minutes ago. I am sorry the hon. Member is so slow to draw his conclusions as to what I was talking about. I do not think I was unintelligible, because others seemed to understand me. I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
My hon. Friend really raised two rather different issues, one being the issue of prices, in regard to which he has professed somewhat great anxiety to protect the consumer. I should have thought that in arrangements for bulk supply in exceptional circumstances, which railway electrification affords, you might very well enable cheap prices to be given concurrently with other consumers not being affected adversely. It is admitted that this particular aspect of the matter was really settled when the Committee accepted Clause 2. Experience has shown what an extraordinarily difficult thing it is to negotiate with a number of different undertakings, each looking at the matter 1699 from the purely local point of view, and not be able to negotiate the technical question with the people who do all the technical work. I do not wish to follow that point further, but that is justification for this Clause. On that ground, and because of Clause 2, the words should remain.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
Can the right hon. Member give an explanation why the board should be permitted to quote more satisfactory terms direct to railway companies than if the quotations were made through the authorised undertakers?
§ Mr. AMERY
That is my suggestion. In so far as they are quoting to railways as a system they can quote specially favourable terms under Clause 2. If Clause 4 be not accepted, they will still be able to quote special terms, but only after the railways have approached the different undertakings and they have negotiated with the board.
§ 9.28 p.m.
I must confess I have been gravely disappointed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), because after the Second Heading Debate I came to the conclusion that if we got support from no other quarter we should get it from Members like my right hon. Friend who is a director of a railway company. It was very significant in the Debate on the Second Reading that the railways wanted this Measure, not because of the reduction in rates, but purely because they might get a unification of contracts. On Second Reading many of us drew attention to the fact that this Bill would enable the board to supply railway companies at preferential rates. I think everybody who spoke on behalf of the railway companies skirted round that point as though it were an unworthy suggestion. I certainly was under the impression that those who spoke for the railway companies were only interested in the unification of contracts, and, secondly, in the management of the load. I was under the impression that the Bill would result in preferential terms for railway companies as far as costs were concerned. Now the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook takes the view that the railway companies, which are such great 1700 consumers of electricity, are entitled to preferential rates because they are bulk consumers.
Even if we grant that hypothesis, which is one that; can be argued, whether the right hon. Gentleman argued it or not, that railway companies are entitled to preferential rates as bulk consumers, I cannot see why they should receive this direct from the grid rather than from authorised undertakings. If it is desirable to reduce prices to the railway companies, the supply might still come through the usual channels, and authorised undertakers would still derive such benefit as they can from this supply. The benefits which authorised undertakers would obtain would not be at the cost of the railway companies themselves. They would be benefits which authorised undertakers derive purely from management. It would not cost railway companies a penny more to take their supply from authorised undertakers, unless the board are going to supply at special preferential rates. If that be so, why cannot the supply be continued as it is at present? This Clause as it stands goes right against the principle of the 1926 Act. It is making the board a direct competitor with undertakings in their own areas. I cannot see how the Minister can reject this Amendment when he considers his own speech on the Second Reading, because he then said there was nothing at all in this Bill to infringe any existing right or monopoly. If the board has power now to enter into competition with authorised undertakings, obviously the Minister's statement during the Second Reading is not justified, because the monopoly of local undertakings will be infringed to the extent to which the board comes into competition with them at preferential rates.
I hope very much that in these circumstances my right hon. Friend will feel able to accept this Amendment. It is an Amendment which will, if accepted, redound greatly to the benefit of the ordinary domestic consumer. The reason has been explained more than once during the Debate, and I will endeavour to explain it again. If the railways are to 1701 be supplied at less than the cost price, which will have to be the case if they are to be supplied at less than the prevailing rates, because under the prevailing rates the authorised undertakers have to supply the railways at cost price, or if they are to be relieved of the charges which every other undertaker has to pay, the effect must be that either the board will be operating at a financial loss, which is impossible under the Bill because it is forbidden to operate at a financial loss, or else the loss will have to be passed on to somebody else. The only persons to whom it can be passed on are the authorised undertakers who are worse situated than the railways, and they will have to pass it on again in turn to the consumer. If the railways are to be supplied more cheaply, and if the board is not to stand the financial loss, then somebody else will have to stand it, and that somebody else is the ultimate domestic consumer of electricity. For that reason, I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept the Amendment, or to devise some other Amendment to meet the case which we are trying to put.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Sir G. ELLIS
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) claimed some preference for the railways because they were big users of electricity.
§ Sir G. ELLIS
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon, but he said most distinctly that the railway was entitled to be considered because it was a large user of power.
§ Mr. AMERY
I said that if the railways, as large users of power were given specially cheap terms, it need not necessarily involve loss to the board. I was simply answering the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams), and was not entering a plea for reduced terms at all. The thing with which the railways are most concerned is the simplification of the negotiations.
§ Sir G. ELLIS
The point of my right hon. Friend is, in essence, that as a big user of power the railway is entitled to special treatment. If it were a big user at a time when other people were not demanding electricity there would be some ground for it, but if it were a claim for 1702 preference when other people were using it, the preference would be all the more unfair.
§ 9.39 p.m.
§ Mr. A. C. REED
The supplying of the railway companies at special or preferential terms opens up a new problem altogether. I understand that the argument is that because the railway company, for example, wants electric current between London and Newcastle, it has to take its power from three or four stations. Does not that equally apply to many industries who have three or four branches? If the railway companies can have preferential terms, why should not other industries with three or four branches in the country be entitled to the same treatment? I am rather afraid that it opens the way to direct trading by the Central Electricity Board throughout the country. It is the beginning of a nationalised direct supply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] My hon. Friends on the Opposition benches agree with me and, therefore, I presume that I am right in my statement. I do not see the necessity for this, because there are certain selected stations everywhere supplying practically every area in the United Kingdom. These stations have been selected by the Central Electricity Board because of their cheapness in the production of electricity. It would be, and has been, a very simple matter for the railway companies, as well as other industries, to go to three or four sources of supply and get a combined price. I urge the Minister to agree to the deletion of this matter simply on the one principle that it is a very dangerous precedent. If you once give preference to the railway companies, you will have enormous pressure from other industries asking for the same privilege and for equal rights.
I should like to have from the Minister the definition of a railway company. Is every colliery in South Wales which has a private railway of its own to be entitled to special treatment and if one colliery receives it, why should not all others? The wording of the Bill is simply "railway company." We think of the big passenger railway companies, admittedly, but I should like an explicit statement as to what is a railway company within the meaning of the Act? Has a colliery which has its own private railway, perhaps from the colliery to a port, the right to have this special privilege?
§ 9.42 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
Either one accepts the premises on which this Clause is based or one does not. If one does not, it is no good trying to alter this or that phrase in the Bill, because the details of this Clause can only be changed by sacrificing the main principle. I do not hope to carry conviction to those whose minds are closed on this subject. The argument has been set out in the most lucid language in the Weir report, and that argument will commend itself to some and not to others. Here you have two great parallel systems—the railway system on the one hand, and the electricity system on the other. Is it not reasonable that the railway companies, running parallel as they do in most instances to the grid system, will be able to make one single contract for their supplies at a price known in advance? My hon. Friend wishes to take out the reference to an agreed price. If you take out that reference and fail to establish any machinery by which the railways may know what their supplies are to cost them, you fall back on the existing system, which implies that the railways must make separate arrangements with every single authorised undertaker at each point along their line. It is just that system of which we desire to get rid thereby putting the railway companies in the position, in the national interests and if they desire to electrify, to make a single bargain.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) and other hon. Members who have spoken seem to think it is surprising that a large purchaser should obtain a special price. Every authorised undertaker makes a special price for an exceptional customer. There is no doubt about that in the electrical industry as a whole, and I really fail to see why, whenever we come to deal with the Board, we should put it outside its capacity to deal upon the ordinary principles upon which every business must be conducted if it is to make a success of its enterprise. Of course, if hon. Members do not like the board, their attitude is understandable, but if you have these great national boards and entrust them with a task, it is really unfair to take from them the means by which they can discharge that task. The advantage to be brought by 1704 such a Clause as this was well known before the Weir Committee reported, and I think that one sentence in their earlier report on which the 1926 Act was based is the real answer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon. This is the sentence:At the same time, a real demand for energy which might approximate to 20 per cent, of the whole national demand for other purpose would most favourably affect the national load factor and thus reduce still further the cost of energy.I submit to the Committee that that is a recognised principle of the industry, that by making a special price you do not, as suggested, involve the seller, in this case the grid, in any loss, but you give it the positive benefit, as any business man must know; otherwise no power company would operate on the very principle that is contested here. Either this great question of national policy appeals to hon. Members or it does not. I do sincerely appeal to the Committee. I have tried to be as conciliatory as I possibly could, and hon. Members have conducted the Debate in a reciprocal spirit, which I deeply appreciate. We have to stop this business at 10 o'clock, and if the Committee will not think me impertinent I should like to ask whether it would not be possible to get this Clause before that hour.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I recognise frankly the very conciliatory spirit of the Minister. As one who has taken a large part in the day's proceedings, I wish I could respond to his appeal, but there are still nearly four pages of Amendments on the Order Paper dealing with this Clause, and if the bargain made two nights ago is to be carried out we shall have to bring these proceedings to an end in 15 minutes from now. I do not think it would be fair either to Parliament or to any of the interests concerned to respond to the appeal. I rose, however, to ask a question. The Minister bas based his case not on my Amendment but on Clause 4. My Amendment is based on the assumption that Clause 2 becomes the law. The Minister says that if the railways are electrified they will take 20 per cent. of the electricity generated, thereby improving the power factor, and therefore they are entitled to make excep- 1705 tional bargains. That is guaranteed, because we have passed Clause 2. Why should the board make a bargain more exceptional when they are dealing direct than the bargain they would permit authorised distributors to make if they were dealing through them? We are not now dealing with the question of exceptional bargains; that is begging the question.
I want to know why the board should be put in a favoured position over and above those who have built up this great industry, and who were there long before the board was thought of? I have no prejudice in saying that of the board. They are the newcomers. It was laid down in 1926 that they were not to be distributors, but they are going to be made distributors. If they become distributors, they should not become favoured distributors, entitled to rights which are denied to other authorised distributors, whether companies or municipalities. Let us suppose that a supply is going to be given to, say, a railway company in Hammersmith, which district is full of railway stations. If the board supplies the Hammersmith Corporation with electricity on specially favourable terms, and the Corporation pass that on to the Great Western Railway, who have a station in Hammersmith Broadway, on specially favourable terms, out of which Hammersmith gets nothing except a bare payment for the use of its transmission lines, which are brought into operation for that purpose, I see no reason why the Central Electricity Board should be entitled to go behind the back of the Hammersmith Corporation and quote the Great Western Railway Company lower basic rates than they quote to the Hammersmith Corporation. The sole purpose of my Amendment is to secure that there is not to be that form of differentiation. I say that with the profoundest respect to the Minister, whose handling of this discussion I admire. It is a most complicated and difficult matter, and, if I may say so, he has discharged his duties admirably. But I do not think that on this occasion he has answered in the slightest degree the argument that I put forward in my original speech.
§ 9.49 p.m.
Some of the hon. Members who have been moving or supporting 1706 Amendments to-night have made the point or the excuse that they did so because they were trying to protect the poor domestic consumers. If that be true—I think the hon. Member for South-West Hull (Mr. Law) tried to make that point and gave us a lecture because we were not quick enough in the uptake to understand it as well as he does; and I confess that I am still slow, after his explanation—we are faced with the explanation of the Minister. The Minister has quoted a statement from the Weir Report, which was based upon the ideas of famous experts, who probably know as much about this question as the hon. Member for South-West Hull, and they gave quite a contrary opinion. One of their main points has been that if the railway companies are able to take very greatly increased loads from the national grid, the result will be, obviously, to bring about large scale economies, with the result that there will be lower prices to the domestic consumers. We are told by the experts that that is so, and on the other hand, we are told by the hon. Member for South-West Hull that the opposite will be the case.
I believe the Weir Committee are a better authority than the hon. Member and his friends. In any event, I am not quite certain that those hon. Members who have been speaking in that vein have been concerned only with the interests of the poor domestic consumers. That old widow and orphan kind of argument has been done too often and too thoroughly for us to believe it. The truth is that this is not a question of the poor widow, or the poor orphan, or the poor domestic consumer. Those hon. Members are protecting, as well as they can, and they are doing it very efficiently and very assiduously, the vested interest for which they are concerned, and that alone. I believe that this Bill, although it does not go far enough, in this Clause will be of some benefit to the domestic consumer, in spite of what has been asserted, and we are, therefore, well advised to support it.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. A. C. REED
Can the Minister give a definition of a railway company in this Clause? If the term "railway company" applies to private railways it may raise very difficult questions.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
If the hon. Member will refer to the regulations of the Railways Act he will find a definition. This definition is incorporated in the Electricity Supply Act, 1919, which has to be read with this Bill. Does he want me to read out the definition?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Sir J. NALL
I beg to move, in page 5, to leave out lines 5 to 12, and to insert:Provided that no agreement shall be made under this sub-section for the supply of electricity by the Central Electricity Board to a railway company without the approval of the Electricity Commissioners, and the Electricity Commissioners shall not approve any such agreement unless notice of the application for the approval has been given by advertisement or otherwise in such manner as they may direct and an opportunity has been given to any authorised undertakers who appear to the Electricity Commissioners to be affected of making representations thereon, and unless the Electricity Commissioners shall be satisfied that the receipts on income account in respect of the supply of electricity to be given by the board under that agreement shall, over a term of years to be fixed by the Electricity Commissioners (not exceeding five years), be sufficient to cover expenditure on income account incurred in giving such supply together with a proper proportion of the board's general expenses including interest and sinking fund charges with such margin as the Electricity Commissioners may allow.The Amendment speaks for itself, and I shall not enlarge upon it. I should like to say that the argument of the Minister in regard to railway electrification is not quite fair to the Committee. There is not a single railway electrification scheme in the country hung up or in any way delayed for want of this kind of provision. We know perfectly well that the railways have been extraordinarily loth to adopt electric traction. The Southern Railway Company have one of the biggest electric systems in the world, with the electricity laws as they are. The Department knows perfectly well that, in spite of the Weir Report and in spite of every kind of influence, the railway companies here and there where they could do it have proceeded with electrification. The Southern has the largest system. The real opponents and the real obstructionists in regard to electrification are the members of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers, not from any profes- 1708 sional jealousy but because they are able to demonstrate that the Weir Report is founded on fallacies and that electrification is uneconomic.
This railway business has been brought into the Bill merely as a camouflage to try and conceal the real object of the Bill. I do not believe that the railway companies are at all concerned about this Clause. Not one single case of electrification will be held up or prejudiced by the want of the Clause. I am not going to waste the time of the Committee in considering the various Amendments on the Paper. I have put them down, and if the Minister will consider them he will find that in general they do not in the least detract from the general intention of facilitating the railways in any case where they are genuinely handicapped, and are drawn with the intention of meeting the kind of difficulty which it is said to have existed in the case of the Southern Railway, although in one single case only. On Bills of this kind I beg him to allow us to consider them on their merits and not these irregular agreements, with which the Bill is concerned, covered up and camouflaged by a whole lot of hypocritical humbug about a lot of railway schemes which do not exist.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
My hon. Friend has indicated that he does not propose to press his various Amendments. I understand that but for the circumstances which exist he would like to have amplified the language in which he has characterised the Bill. I sympathise with him, and I think he will certainly not misunderstand me when I thank him for being so helpful in regard to the other business with which the Committee wants to deal. I understand that he does not desire me to deal in detail with the terms of his Amendment. Obviously, it is a substitute for an agreed arrangement, and, if I had to go into the matter, I think I should show good reasons for preferring a plain agreement rather than his Amendment. I thank him for helping us to get on with the Bill.
§ Sir J. NALL
I am much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. If I thought there was the least hope that the railways would go ahead with electrification I might have pressed the matter.
§ Amendment negatived.1709
§ Sir J. NALL
I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, at the end, to insert:and that the authorised undertaker in whose area the supply is proposed to be taken is unwilling and not in a position to give the supply on those terms and prices.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 10.1 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 5, line 18, to leave out "subject to the provisions of this Section."
This Amendment raises the whole question of whether electricity which is supplied to railway companies for the purposes of traction and haulage may also be used for the driving of railway work-shops. On the Second Reading of the Bill I devoted some attention to this subject, and the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Macmillan) pointed out that my arguments were not quite sound, as the circumstances which I contemplated could only arise if the railway company was already receiving a supply for traction. I admit that I did over emphasise my argument. Hon. Members who have been concerned with this electricity Debate have endeavoured not to waste the time of the Committee. I understand that hon. Members opposite desire to enter upon another Debate, and I shall make my remarks as brief as possible in order that their Debate may commence as soon as possible. But if they desire to make it difficult for me then I shall make my speech last as long as circumstances demand. The Bill involves important considerations and those who have been putting forward serious Amendments, and who have also endeavoured to expedite the proceedings as much as possible, are entitled to some consideration. When we are trying to meet the convenience of hon. Members the minimum of courtesy might be extended.
The Amendment is intended to deal with the whole question of the supply of electricity to railway manufacturing works, where locomotives are made and repaired, and carriages built, and any other manufacturing works of a railway company, which are clearly outside the normal sphere of railway electrification. Generally speaking these undertakings are supplied by the local electricity company or the municipality, which happens to be 1710 the authorised undertaker If general electrification comes along and, as a consequence, this particular line is taken away from the local supplier obviously that supplier will be gravely prejudiced because his distribution works and plant will be rendered partially idle, and the costs will have to be borne on the rest of the supply. Once again we come to the question that other consumers will be compelled to pay more for their electricity. In these circumstances, I suggest that if there is a supply to the manufacturing works of a railway company that supply ought only to be given subject to the same general restrictions which apply in the case where electricity is supplied for traction purposes. I think the supply for manufacturing works ought to be dealt with outside Clause 4, although there are cases where the one is incidental to the other. I hope the Minister will give careful consideration to this point.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I think the Committee will agree that my hon. Friend has put a most important argument in a very brief form. I do not in the least detract from the importance of that argument when I say that if the Committee is not prepared to come to a decision about it now, we must pass from it, and proceed to our other business. If, on the other hand, the Committee is prepared to come to a decision, so much the better and it will be a perfect end to a very amicable discussion. The purpose of the Amendment is to prevent the Board supplying a railway company directly except for traction purposes, and the effect of the Amendment if taken literally would be to prevent a railway company using electricity supplied for traction purposes or the lighting of railway carriages, for such nocuous purposes as heating and cooking. I do not think the Committee is prepared to take a course so unjustifiable.
For the rest I assure the Committee that the proviso which requires the Minister's consent to the use of electricity for any other purpose is imported direct from Section 47 of the Act of 1926 which provides that where an authorised undertaker supplies electricity for traction purposes, the electricity may, with my consent, be used for other purposes. The House for some reason seems to have placed great reliance upon the common 1711 sense of the Minister of Transport. They felt that he would not reach a decision without taking all the circumstances into account, as indeed he is bound to do by the proviso, and giving an opportunity to any person who appears to him to be affected, of making representations on the matter. I appreciate the reluctance of the Committee to import these powers but if we are going to allow the Central Board to do what an authorised undertaker now does, it seems reasonable that we should allow the supply to be used in other ways, under the supervision of the Minister of Transport whom the House has already decided to be the proper authority to exercise such supervision. It is for the Committee to decide whether they will reject this Amendment now or prolong the discussion. I can only thank them sincerely for the spirit in which they have conducted all these discussions, and I am particularly grateful and I am sure the Government are to my hon. Friend the Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nail) for having been so constructive in his criticism instead of taking up an obstructive attitude.
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
In view of the Minister's statement and in order to facilitate business, I am prepared to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment on the understanding that I shall put this proposal down again on the Report stage, after there has been an opportunity for further consideration of it by the Department and in the hope that having regard to the reasons why I have withdrawn, I may succeed in catching Mr. Speaker's eye and that he will select this Amendment when we come to the Report stage.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Sir J. NALL
I hope that the Minister appreciates the main point of the objections which have been raised, and that, if they are put in a reasonable spirit and in a few Amendments on the Report stage, and explained to the House, the House will then be asked, quite shortly, to accept or reject them.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Ordered, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain Margesson].
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.