§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I beg to move, in page 14, line 40, after "generation," to insert "transmission."
The word "transmission" appears to have been left out by mistake. Surely it should be included.
The word has been deliberately kept out. I will explain the reason why we should still prefer it to be kept out. There has been criticism about the whole of Clause 25 on the ground that, in so far as a large number of experiments have been conducted in other parts of the country it was unnecessary to have duplication. We say that there are special conditions and circumstances in the North of Scotland which require special experiments, with the approval of the Commissioners but not for transmission. There may be no duplication. We think that the Amendment which we shall next propose will meet the whole case.
Does the Minister mean that the word "transmission" was left out on the ground that experiments in transmission are carried out already?
If that is the considered view, of course that is the end of it. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 14, line 41, after "electricity" to insert:in the special conditions and circumstances in the North of Scotland District.
§ Major McCallum
I have an Amendment down about the same matter, but, with your permission, Major Milner, I will say what I have to say now and save the time of the Committee. On an earlier Clause the Minister attempted to give an assurance that certain conditions about wind power would be laid down as part of the activities of the new Board, but he was ruled out of Order by the Chair. I would like to say why the North-West and North part of the Highlands want to emphasise this matter of wind power. Hon. Members who have visited the Northern islands of Scotland will know that the terrain is such that the development of water power may be impossible. On the other hand, in islands like Tiree or Coll or some of those in the constituency of the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan), bordering on the Atlantic, with Atlantic gales more frequent even than breezes, it may be possible that the Board can experiment with wind power and perhaps be able to generate sufficient electrical power in those islands to furnish the islands with electricity and so save considerable expense to toe Board in making surveys and finding ways and means of adapting water power. I believe that the Secretary of State has conducted experiments of this kind in his own private way. I hope therefore that members of the Board, even though they may not know the islands as well as some of us—
I only wanted to say to the hon. and gallant Member that his Amendment is unnecessary. [...]4-Power is implied in Clause 25 to enable the Board to conduct experiments in wind power. For my part, I agree with him entirely as to the absolute importance of these experiments being conducted. I happen to know, from some experiments I have conducted myself, that it is possible to light a small cottage by wind power. I 405 happen to know also that there are certain organisations in England which are willing to sell plant when the war is over at a very cheap price. Of course, there are some experiments still to be conducted about how to prevent overcharging of batteries and how prevailing winds can have their special force abated. All these matters are vital to certain parts of the Highlands.
And Islands, of course. It is obvious that there are parts of the Highlands and Islands where hydro-electricity will not be available for a good many years to come; where, indeed, wind-driven electricity might be a much cheaper proposition. For those reasons I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member need not move his Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I beg to move, in page 14, to leave out line 42 and to add "they may think fit."
This is a small point. The Clause enables the Board to carry out experiments, but is it not remarkable that this Board, which will be composed of very remarkable people, cannot carry out these experiments in wind power without coming up to Westminster and asking whether they can do so? The Board should be left to do this experimenting in the way they think fit. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to agree with me for once that this is bureaucracy gone a little mad.
There is not very much in this matter, and theoretically, what the hon. Gentleman says is probably correct. I would endeavour to enlighten him as to the varied interests that have been struggling in this matter. There are the interests which say, "Please do not conduct any experiments at all, because you will incur expense, which will mean less money for other areas and fat the authorised undertakers." We have had to steer very carefully in these matters. We were advised that on these technical matters the Electricity Commissioners have very considerable experience and information which they will readily make available to the new Hydro Board. I do not think there is very much in the matter either way, but I am sure that it will 406 placate other sections if the words proposed by the hon. Member are not put in.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The Board will be composed of men of common sense. Members of the Government are constantly asking that the Board should have some liberty in these matters. Let us give them some kind of freedom in the way suggested that there is not much in it. the Board might feel a little tied them clown in this matter. [HON MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
—well, the overwhelming wish, shall I say, that the Amendment should be accepted, I willingly accept it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir A. Gridley
I am sorry, but I want to see this Clause out of the Bill altogether. Far be it from me to wish to rob Scotland of anything they may get out of wind power. I can see the Minister of Fuel and Power beginning to look rather relieved if it is suggested that wind power might be developed on a large scale, but I think it is outside practical politics. The reason why I am asking the Committee to leave out the Clause is that all necessary powers exist in present legislation. The Electricity Commissioners already have power, under Section 13 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1919, to carry out experiments themselves or through undertakers, of which this Board will be one, but—and this is the important point—the Commissioners have to get the approval of their Minister, now the Minister of Fuel and Power, before any expenditure can be authorised. In other words, they have to submit an estimate of expenditure and get Ministerial approval. The difference here is that the Commissioners will be free to spend anything they like without having to get the consent of any Minister. May I point out to the Committee that if it 407 be the fact that all necessary powers are in the Commissioners' hands, subject to the financial approval of the Minister, no additional powers are wanted? The only effect of this Clause is to enable the Commissioners to authorise the Board to spend what money they like. Heaven knows we have enough research stations and experimental stations in the country now. The complaint is lack of co-ordination between them. Are we going to add to the facilities that already exist? It is quite unnecessary, and I ask the Government to take out the Clause.
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.