HL Deb 04 March 1924 vol 56 cc526-30

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name to approve of certain Special Orders made under the Electricity (Supply) Acts. When I moved, two or three days ago, a similar Resolution, I think there was a little misunderstanding as to what it is exactly that takes place when provision is made for a confirmatory Resolution to be passed in this House with reference to an Electricity Order, and indeed to some other classes of Orders. It does not seem to have been appreciated in the House that in the first instance, in the case of these Orders, there appears a note in the Minutes when the Orders are first laid upon the Table, and that the Orders are obtainable in the Printed Paper Office of this House for a considerable time before a Motion is put down and the House signifies its approval.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, who has left the House but from whom I understood that he was going to raise the Question to-day, has probably, after some conversation which I had with him, seen that the case is by no means so bad as it appeared to be when it was discussed the other night. I hope, therefore, that- no objection will be raised to the Motion being carried as it appears on the Paper. There is, however, one qualification. I think it would have been right, upon the Motion before the House, to have stated the dates when the Orders were placed upon the Table, so that the House might know that all that could be reasonably required had duly been done; and in future cases, if I have anything to do with the matter, upon moving a Motion of this kind I shall include a mention of the date when the Order was laid upon the Table.

Moved, That the Special Orders made by the Electricity Commissioners under the Electricity (Supply) Acts, 1882 to 1922, and confirmed by the Minister of Transport under the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1920, in respect of the under-mentioned districts be approved:

  1. 1. Urban district of Heysham and parts of the parishes or townships of Slyne-with-Hest and Heaton-with-Oxcliffe in the rural district of Lancaster, in the County of Lancaster, and for the amendment of the Morecambe Electric Lighting Order, 1897.
  2. 2. Parts of the parishes of Dalziel, Cambusnethan, and Carlake, in the County of Lanark.
  3. 3. Parts of the parishes of Bothwell, Old Monkland, New Monkland, and Shafts, in the County of Lanark.
  4. 528
  5. 4. Borough of Port Talbot, in the County of Glamorgan.
  6. 5. Urban district of Finedon, part of the urban district of Irthling-borough, and the parishes of Orlingbury, Little Harrowden, Great Harrowden, Hardwick, Wilby, Great Doddington, Wollaston, Strixton, Grindon, Easton, Maudit, Bozeat, and part of the, parish of Irchester, in the rural district of Wellingborough, all in the County of Northampton.
  7. 6. Urban districts of Burley-in-Wharfe-dale, and the parishes of Menston, Arthington, Pool and Bramhope, in the rural district of Wharfedale, all in the West Hiding of the County of York.
  8. 7. Urban district of Raunds, the parish of Stanwick and part of the parish of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott, in the rural district of Thrapston, the parishes of Newton Bromswold, Higham Park, and part of the parish of Irchester, in the rural district of Wellingborough, all in the County of Northampton, and the parishes of Wymington, Podington, Harrold, Odell, Soul-drop, Sharnbrook, Bletsoe, Riseley, Knotting, Melchbourne and Yeldon, in the rural district of Bedford, all in the County of Bedford.
  9. 8. Urban district of Newmill, in the West Biding of the County of York.
  10. 9. Urban districts of Gildersome, Hunsworth, Birkenshaw and Drighlington, in the West Riding of the County of York.
  11. 10. Parts of the parishes of Paisley, Eastwood and Neilston, in the County of Renfrew.
  12. 11. Rural district of Cranbrook, in the County of Kent.
  13. 12. Parts of the rural districts of Axbridge and Long Ashton, in the County of Somerset.
  14. 13. Urban district of Sherborne, and part of the parish of Castleton, in the rural district of Sherborne, in the County of Dorset.
  15. 14. Urban district of Chaddeiton, in the County Palatine of Lancaster.
  16. 529
  17. 15. Borough of Malmesbury and parts of the parishes of Brokenborough, Charlton, Loa and Cleverton, and Saint Paul Malmesbury Without, in the rural district of Malmesbury, all in the County of Wilts.—(Lord Muir Mackenzie.)


My Lords, I do not propose to go, as did my noble friend Lord Buckmaster the other night, into the policy which was adopted under the Electricity Act, 1919, in regard to electricity supply, and I have only to say that I have considerable sympathy with those very distinguished men who opposed the whole policy of the Act. In the last conversation which I had with Lord Moulton upon this very subject, I remarked that the provisions of the Act would want some watching and control. Lord Moulton stated that it was not nationalisation of electricity that would be achieved, but bureaucratic control in its worst form, and this is exactly what we have seen. I have no doubt that the procedure recommended by Lord Buck master might prove to be cumbersome, but at the same time it would, I think, give great satisfaction in the country, because in many cases proposals by private individuals, industrialists and local authorities have been held up, and the development of industry has been retarded.

I have come across many cases of that kind, some of them even of comparatively recent date and there would. I think, be more confidence among local authorities and industrialists in the working of these Acts if it were known that Ministers were able to explain in either House of Parliament the decisions arrived at by the Electricity Commissioners, because the fear is—and I think it is not altogether unfounded that there is no Minister at the Board of Trade or the Ministry of Transport who is able to give information upon the Orders in either House. That, I think, is necessary if full confidence in the working of these Acts is to be obtained.


My Lords, I will only say. upon the point which my noble friend has raised, that the opinion of Lord Moulton which he quoted, and which I remember very well, was expressed in this House in opposition to the general principles of the Acts of 1919 and 1921. Lord Moulton said that these things had been very much better done by private enterprise. That which carried the House against Lord Moulton was the truth, which was pointed out, as to what private enterprise had really done. Prices of 5d., 6d., and 7d. per unit of electricity had been charged by private concerns, when it had been furnished elsewhere for ½d. and 1d. Private enterprise had been ruining the chance of obtaining cheap electrical motive power in this country.

These schemes are highly detailed, involving relations of various local authorities, great electrical power companies, and so on. The scheme of the Act is not nationalisation but co-ordination of the interests of these various local undertakings, and the close watching of the scale of charges which they make. The scheme has so far gone very smoothly. There has been one controversy in connection with London, but I understand that this controversy is now on its way to a settlement. My noble friend will be able to obtain abundant information about these Orders it he will go to the Vote Office and obtain the Reports for last year.

On Question, Motion agreed to.