HC Deb 23 May 1939 vol 347 cc2248-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

11.4 p.m.

Mr. Ede

I should like the Minister to give me an answer with regard to the words in line 14, on page 23, "the due functioning." I was surprised to hear yesterday from quarters that I am bound to regard as authoritative that the words might merely mean the physical carrying on of the undertakings in the most technical sense, and that in the case of electricity undertakings all that "the due functioning" means is to provide that the cables shall not be broken and that any work of supervision other than the actual work of repair and maintenance would not be covered. That is a reading which I should not be prepared to accept. It seems to me that "due functioning" must mean the carrying on of the undertaking as a whole, to secure that the particular public supply which is guaranteed by the public utility undertaking will be supplied throughout the period of the emergency as far as is reasonably possible. I hope these words are not meant to be limiting words but all-embracing words, covering the carrying on under as nearly normal conditions as possible the work that the public utility undertaker is charged with.

11.6 p.m.

The Minister of Transport (Captain Euan Wallace)

I am sure the hon. Member is entirely right in the interpretation that he wishes to put on these words. Part V refers to the application to public utility undertakings of certain provisions which have been made in previous sections of the Act in regard to factories and the like. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 23rd December announced in the House that the Government had accepted in the case of public utility undertakings the principle of a Government contribution towards the cost of measures taken by them for "due functioning" in addition to the contribution to providing shelters for their employés, which is the ordinary employer's obligation. "Due functioning" means the implementation of that undertaking in letter and spirit, and that is to carry on the public utility undertaking not only according to the normal standards but in order to enable them to cope with the extra demands which may be made upon them.

Mr. Ede

I am much obliged.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.