§ Commons' Amendments considered (according to order).
LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
I understand that there are no Amendments to the Commons' Amendments until we come to Clause D on page 3 of the Paper, and therefore I beg to move that the Commons' Amendments down to the words "the City of Westminster" on that page be agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Commons' Amendments down to the words "the City of Westminster," on page 3, be agreed to.—(Lord Hamilton of Dalzell.)418
§ The Commons' Amendments embraced in this Motion were—
§ Clause 2, page 2, line 9, after ("direct") insert ("to the local authority of the district in which the land is situate and")
§ Clause 2, page 2, line 12, leave out ("those") and insert ("such local authority")
§ Clause 2, page 2, line 13, after ("thereto") insert ("This section shall not apply to any station for transforming, converting, or distributing electrical energy")
§ Clause 4, page 3, line 8, after ("tramway") insert ("Provided that a Provisional Order authorising the breaking up of roads outside the area of supply of the local authority or company by whom the supply is to be given shall not be granted by the Board of Trade, except with the consent of the local authority in whose district the road is situate, unless the Board of Trade, in any case in which the consent of any such local authority is refused, are of opinion that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, such consent ought to be dispensed with, and in that case they shall make a special report to Parliament, stating the ground on which they have dispensed with the consent")
§ Clause 4, page 3, line 24, leave out ("authorise") and insert ("permit")
§ Clause 5, page 4, line 14, after ("laboratories") insert ("or observatories or laboratories now or hereafter erected, owned, or managed in pursuance of any present or future statutory enactment")
§ Clause 6, page 4, line 24, leave out from ("situate") to ("the") in line 28.
§ Clause 6, page 4, line 30, after ("situate") insert ("and the undertakers (if any) authorised to supply electricity to such premises"), and leave out ("authorise") and insert ("permit")
§ Clause 6, page 4, line 32, after ("fit") insert ("Provided that, if in the opinion of the Board of Trade, any consent required by this subsection is unreasonably withheld, the Board of Trade may proceed as if such consent had been given")
§ Clause 6, page 4, line 39, leave out ("authorised")
§ Clause 6, page 5, line 10, after subsection (3) insert the following new subsection:
§ (4) Nothing in this section shall enable the Board of Trade, without the consent of the undertakers within whoso area of supply the premises are situate, to give such permission as aforesaid to any undertakers where the last-mentioned undertakers are by any Act of Parliament specifically prohibited from supplying electricity within the area of the first-mentioned undertakers.
§ Leave out clause 13 and insert the following new clause:
§ A. The Board of Trade shall from time to time make a return to Parliament giving such particulars as they may think proper with regard to the reports made by any auditors appointed by them to audit the accounts of any undertakers, and any action taken on such reports by the Board.
§ Leave out clause 16, and insert the following new clause:
§ B. All electric lines, fittings, apparatus, and appliances let by any undertakers on hire or belonging to any undertakers, but being in or upon premises of which the undertakers are not in possession, shall, whether they be or be not fixed or fastened to any part of any premises in or upon 419 which they may be situate, or to the soil under any such premises, at all times continue to be the property of, and be removable by the undertakers, and sections twenty-four and twenty-five of the Electric Lighting Act, 1882, shall extend and apply to all such electric lines, fittings, apparatus, and appliances. Provided that such electric lines, fittings, apparatus, or appliances have upon them respectively a distinguishing metal plate affixed to a conspicuous part thereof, or a distinguishing brand or other mark conspicuously impressed or made thereon sufficiently indicating the undertakers as the actual owners thereof.
§ For the purposes of this section, electric lines, fittings, apparatus, and appliances disposed of by the undertakers on terms of payment by instalments shall, until the whole of the instalments have been paid, be deemed to be electric lines, fittings, apparatus, and appliances let on hire by the undertakers. Nothing in this section shall affect the amount of the assessment for rating of any premises upon which any electric lines, fittings, apparatus, or appliances are, or shall be, fixed.
§ After clause 20 insert the following new clause:
§ C. Money borrowed under the Electric Lighting Acts shall not be reckoned as part of the total debt of a local authority for the purpose of any limitation or borrowing under the enactments relating to borrowing by the local authority.
§ Clause 21, page 11, line 20, after ("arbitration") insert ("This section shall not apply to the station of the Westminster Electric Supply Corporation, Limited, at Horseferry Road, in the city of Westminster")
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ *THE EARL OF DUNMORE moved to amend the new Clause D which the Commons had inserted in the place of Clause 22. The Commons' Amendment ran—
Leave out clause 22, and insert the following new clause:
D. Where in any area a local authority, company, or person is authorised to supply electricity under Act of Parliament or under licence or Provisional Order granted under the Electric Lighting Acts, it shall not, after the passing of this Act, be lawful for any other local authority, company, or person to commence to supply, distribute, or transmit electricity within the same area unless such supply, distribution, or transmission is authorised by Act of Parliament, or by licence or Provisional Order granted in terms of the Electric Lighting Acts. Provided that this section shall not prevent any company or person from affording a supply of electrical energy to any other company or person where the business of the company or person affording the supply is not primarily that of the supply of electrical energy to consumers.
§ The noble Earl said: In moving the Amendment of which I have given notice may I say that I have cut out the words "transmit" and "transmission" in Clause D of the Commons' Amendments. Under this clause, as at present drafted, a company 420 may afford a supply of electrical energy to any other company subject to the provision at the end of the clause. There can be no reason why that same company should not be able by private arrangement to transmit electrical energy subject to the same provision. The question really is one of wayleaves. If any one else's land is in between it will be necessary to obtain power from Parliament, under the clause as at present drafted, in order to transmit the supply of electrical energy across that land. I do not think the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will object to my Amendment.
In new Clause D of the Commons' Amendments, line 6, after the word 'supply,' to insert the word 'or'; to leave out the words 'or transmit'; in line 7, after the word 'supply,' to insert the word 'or' and to leave out the words 'or transmission' in the same line."—(The Earl of Dunmore.)
LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
There is no objection to the Amendment as regards the transmission of electricity.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD BELPER
The Amendment which I have to propose is also to Clause D, which was inserted in the House of Commons after the Committee stage had been concluded. The effect of the Amendment is to meet a difficulty with regard to a practical agreement which had been come to by the Midland Railway Company to have power supplied to them for some large new works at Derby. The difficulty arose in consequence of part of those works being within the town of Derby; and without wishing to strike out the whole of the Amendments in Clause D I have tried to arrange a reasonable means of meeting the difficulty by the insertion of words at the end of Clause D. The point is not a very large one, but I think it is only fair that some means should be found of meeting such a difficulty, and I think the Amendment that I propose will not only commend itself to your Lordships' House, but also to the other House of Parliament.
At the end of new clause D of the Commons' Amendments to insert ' Provided also that this section shall not prevent any company who at the passing of this Act are empowered by their Memorandum of Association to generate electrical
energy from affording a supply to a railway company for purposes incidental to that company's undertaking other than the conveyance of public traffic.'"—(Lord Belper.)
LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
This new Clause D was inserted in the other House of Parliament because certain established undertakers were afraid of an undertaking which had been set up in Scotland whereby certain unauthorised undertakers proposed to give a supply of electricity for commercial purposes. The fear of the authorised undertakers was that these people might take some of the plums of their business, that they might supply to their best customers, and they thought that this was not fair to them. I think the general feeling was that there was a good deal in that contention. However, the Government did not see their way to accept the clause which was originally proposed for the protection of the authorised undertakers, because it would have prevented a man who had a generating station at his residence or works from giving a supply to his neighbours by private arrangement, except with the consent of the authorised undertakers. The Government thought that that clause went rather too far; but eventually another clause was brought forward in the form in which it now appears on the Paper, and that clause the Government accepted. Your Lordships will observe that the prohibition to supply only exists in cases where there is an authorised undertaker in the district, and your Lordships will also observe that it does not apply where the unauthorised supply was commenced before the passing of this Act, I had hoped that this proviso would meet any complaint as to a hard case on account of interference with existing undertakings. Of course, your Lordships will see that it is desirable as a general rule that undertakings for the supply of electricity to customers should be under statutory authority, and we think that it is in the interests, not only of the consumers but of the local authority as well, that that should be so. I am very sorry that the case which the noble Lord has referred to does not come under that exemption, but our position is this, that as the Government accepted the clause in the other House I am not prepared to agree to the Amendment, which the promoters of the clause as it stands may think goes beyond the case aimed at, and it might, in their view, nullify the clause. I cannot accept the noble Lord's Amendment, but if he wishes 422 to press it I shall not put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing against it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE
The Amendment which I now move provides that this section—Clause D—as amended by the House of Commons, shall not prevent any company from affording a supply of electrical energy to any other company or person who are shareholders, or other persons associated with the company affording the supply. The reason for this is that power companies have often failed to give the supply contemplated, and manufacturers and consumers of electricity have, therefore, not hitherto been able to benefit largely from supplies given by power companies. It is not infrequent for a manufacturer who has a large electrical plant to afford a supply to his friends and neighbours, the result being that through the better load factor and lower cost of supply the cost all round is reduced. Under Clause D of the Commons' Amendments this principle is recognised; but the principle has in certain instances been further developed, and it is not uncommon for a supply on co-operative lines to be arranged for—that is to say, instead of a manufacturer supplying other companies—which he can do under this clause as it stands, subject to the provision at the end of the clause—for those other companies to join in the cost of putting down the plant. To take a concrete case, assume that a colliery company is about to put down coking plant and proposes to adopt the German method of utilising the waste gases and heat for the purpose of driving electrical plant. As Clause D stands, so long as the colliery company finds the capital itself it could supply its neighbours with electrical energy, subject to that last provision in Clause D; but if the colliery company's neighbours join in putting down the plant, it becomes at once a question which is the primary and which is the subsidiary object—that is to say, whether the generation of electrical energy is the primary object and coke the by-product or vice versa. The neighbouring local authority would naturally contend the former and apply for an injunction. I see no objection myself to this 423 co-operative method of supplying electrical energy to two or three companies, and I beg to move.
To insert the words 'this section shall not prevent any company from affording a supply of electrical energy to any other company or person who are shareholders in or otherwise associated with the company affording the supply.'"—(The Earl of Dunmore.)
LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
I think I have some right to complain that I have only had notice of this Amendment five minutes before the sitting of the House. As the Commons' Amendments have been before your Lordships since the middle of August, I think I have some cause of complaint of the lateness of the notice given of this particular Amendment. But what I would say with regard to it is this. I explained to your Lordships the reason on account of which the Government accepted this new Clause D; it was because we wished to prevent any unauthorised persons from poaching in the areas of the authorised undertakers for the supply of electricity; but we do not wish to prevent a supply between neighbours; nor do we wish to interfere with arrangements which have been entered into before the passing of the Act. I think the suggestion of the noble Lord, however, really goes a good deal beyond that, because, as I understand, what he proposes amounts practically to a co-operative company for the supply of electricity within certainly a limited area, and as that goes very much further than was contemplated when the exception was agreed to I am afraid that the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE
As regards the co-operative supply for the provision of electrical energy, they would be subject to the same provision as under Clause D of the Commons' Amendments. They would not be able to supply electrical energy to anybody if their business was primarily that of supplying electrical energy to consumers. It is a small point and it comes to this, whether one company can provide electricity to, say, two other companies for their own consumption, or whether those three companies may join together in putting down plant to provide themselves with electrical energy. That is the whole point of my contention. I do not wish to press my Amendment unless I receive some support from the House.
§ LORD BELPER
The difference between this Amendment and Clause D as it stands is, as my noble friend says, an extremely narrow one. It is very difficult to see how the Amendment as it stands can be defended, because, as it seems to me, if two of these companies agreed together they might easily have a private agreement for one of them to be the supplier and to supply the others. The line is so very narrow that I hardly see myself how you can defend an Amendment which allows a company to supply to three or four other companies but does not allow two of those companies to join together and each pay their share of supplying it to the two other individuals. It really comes down to a point of very small difference, and the only question is whether it will not be got round even if the clause is left to stand as it is.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Commons' Amendment agreed to.
LORD HAMILTON OF DALZELL
I beg to move that your Lordships agree to the remaining Commons' Amendments—viz.
§ Clause 23, page 12, line 25, after ("gas") insert ("or water")
§ Clause 24, page 13, line 2, after ("electricity") insert ("to whom the Electric Lighting Acts apply")
§ Clause 24, page 13, line 6, leave out ("or works")
§ Clause 24, page 13, line 7, leave out from ("electricity") to the end of line 8.
§ Clause 24, page 13, line 18, leave out from ("places") to the end of the clause.
§ Clause 25, page 13, line 29, after ("June") insert ("Section ninety-nine of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, as applied by section forty-four of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894, shall be read as if the words ' subject to the provisions of the Electric Lighting Act, 1882, or any Act or Acts amending or superseding the same 'were repealed")
§ In the Schedules, First Schedule, page 14, line 16, after ("Acts") insert ("and the expression 'company' in the Railways Act (Ireland), 1851, the Railways Act (Ireland), 1860, and the Railways Act (Ireland), 1864, means the undertakers under the Electric Lighting Acts")
§ Moved, That the remaining Commons' Amendments be agreed to.—(Lord Hamilton of Dalzell.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to; and Bill returned to the Commons.