HL Deb 07 July 1926 vol 64 cc884-5

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name with regard to this Bill.

Moved, That the Order made on the 25th day of March last, "That no Private Bill brought from the House of Commons shall be read a second time after Tuesday the 29th of June next," be dispensed with, and that the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Donoughmore.)


My Lords, before you consent to the Motion made by my noble friend the Lord Chairman I think you ought to be acquainted with the action of the Swindon Corporation during the General Strike. The Bill now under discussion contains, among other clauses, fifteen clauses dealing with the supply of electricity. During the Strike the Swindon Corporation in my opinion abused the powers which they have under the various Electricity Acts.

I will read a statement which appeared in the North Wilts Herald, which is a local paper issued in Swindon: But the morrow, Wednesday, brought a far greater menace than the withdrawal of union labour. The Swindon Central Strike Committee, it appears, demanded the Corporation to deprive Newspaper House of electricity for power purposes, and the Swindon Corporation did the perfectly incredible thing, it acquiesced. Claiming that right of entry to premises which is a condition of supplying electricity, Corporation workers, bearing with them an order signed by the Borough Electrical Engineer, entered the premises and took out the main power fuses. As a matter of fact the newspaper proceeded to purchase an engine, and in a day or two was able to issue again. But the Swindon Corporation took advantage of the power that it had to supply electricity to go in and stop a newspaper from publishing. Only a day or two ago I read that the Walthamstow Corporation did something of a similar kind and that they had applied to be incorporated, and that the Privy Council, on account of their action, refused to incorporate them.

I do not think that your Lordships ought to suspend the Sessional Order, which is what you are now asked to do, in order that the Swindon Corporation, who did what I venture to think every one of your Lordships will consider to be an extremely wrong thing, should be enabled to get their Bill through, which they could not do unless this particular favour was shown to them. I think that the Swindon Corporation ought to learn that they had no right to abuse the power which had been granted to them, and that some step should be taken to read them a lesson.


My Lords, my noble friend was good enough, just before the House met, to mention to me that he desired to say to your Lordships what he has just said, and of course he is entirely within his rights in taking the course that he has taken. At the same time, I hope that the promoters may be able to satisfy him in the course of time that possibly the penalty with which he threatens them is one that might be mitigated if they can find him in a merciful mood, and I am sure that your Lordships would desire that they should be given the opportunity of making that effort. I will, therefore, move the adjournment of the debate. I think that is the best course in the circumstances.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Donoughmore.)


My Lords, my noble friend only told me as I came into the House about his intention to raise this matter. There is, of course, this difference between the position of Swindon and that of Walthamstow. Walthamstow was asking for a very great favour, which was very rightly refused. The provisions of the Swindon Bill—I forget them for the moment—may be of such a character that, if they are postponed or refused, you may inflict greater penalties on the innocent than you do on the guilty.

On Question, Motion to adjourn the debate agreed to.