HL Deb 01 December 1909 vol 4 cc1375-7

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Denman.)


My Lords, before this Motion is passed, may I, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Londonderry, who is unavoidably absent at this moment, say a word or two with regard to the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1904. Strong representations have been made to my noble friend from newspaper proprietors about this Bill being put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. It is well known that Bills that go into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill get passed by both Houses at the end of the session, and are very apt to go through without any discussion and without any attention being drawn to their provisions, and the newspaper proprietors wish to enter a protest against this Bill being put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. They anticipate that very great developments will take place in the near future in wireless telegraphy, which affects them very considerably, and being, as it is a monopoly of the Post Office they think that that Bill ought to be brought up separately so that there may be a full opportunity for discussion in both Houses of Parliament as to these new developments. My noble friend Lord Londonderry does not desire to press for an undertaking that it should come up separately next session, because I do not suppose that His Majesty's Government would care to give any undertaking as to what may happen in the next session of Parliament, but I think I might ask for some expression of opinion about this Bill, and some indication that His Majesty's Government do not think it unreasonable that this question of wireless telegraphy should be dealt with outside the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and that an opportunity should be given for full discussion and for those who are competent to do so to state their opinions on the subject.


My Lords, I had something to do in the first instance with this Bill. It was originally introduced by me at the close of the session in another place, and was got through as an agreed Bill. There was an express stipulation then that it should be put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, because it was felt that there were likely to be so many developments occurring in wireless telegraphy in the course of the next few years that it would be a pity to make a permanent Statute of something which might require alteration. It was therefore introduced by me and passed through both Houses of Parliament, and it was put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. It was amended, if I remember aright, at Mr. Sydney Buxton's instigation two years afterwards, and it has expressly been put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill so that every year it should come up and there should be an opportunity for dealing with any new features which have arisen. I do not think that your Lordships could possibly consent to any Bill being taken out of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill and made a Bill renewable every year. It has either got to be placed permanently on the Statute Book, or, as in this case, put in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, which does give an opportunity to members of both Houses to raise any question of interest that comes up.


On behalf of Lord Granard, who represents the Post Office, I wish to say a word in reply to the, noble Earl, Lord Plymouth although I think that his remarks have been entirely dealt with by the noble Earl, Lord Derby, and that I am absolved from saying anything more in the matter. I would only like to add this to what Lord Derby has said, that in view of the Radio-Telegraphy Convention and the purchase of the Marconi stations by the Government, it might be necessary to alter the Act, and in that case a more definite and comprehensive measure might be introduced.


That is exactly the reason it was put in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, because it was felt that there would be a more comprehensive Act required later on.

On Question, Bill read 2a. Committee negatived: Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill read 3a, and passed.