HL Deb 17 May 1927 vol 67 cc288-90

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to consent to the Second Reading of this Bill I would venture to state that it is an agreed Bill which has the full consent of the parties concerned. The Bill aims at putting in statutory form an agreement which was arrived at by the Imperial Conference of 1927. This Bill is necessary to consolidate with certain amending clauses the previous law on this subject and to bring together agreements for Pacific cables that are spread over something like thirty years. Your Lordships will be aware that the scheme for the Pacific cable was considered as early as 1879. The first cable was opened in 1902. At the outset it was not a successful enterprise and some £700,000 was lost before the cable began to pay. In 1914 and onwards the venture became a successful one, and by 1924 there were £2,000,000 undivided profits. The question of duplicating the line has been clamant since 1920 and, although matters were delayed on account of certain disagreements with other partners, it was decided to proceed with the cable in 1925 and, as your Lordships will be aware, the second duplicating line was opened this year. The cost of £2,750,000 was defrayed out of the profits made and a certain residue in hand.

This Bill is a very simple one. It deals in the first place with the board of management, with the method of election, representation, and salaries. It also provides for the disposal of profits and for the procedure to be adopted in the case of loss. These points are covered in the three Schedules. This matter has been considered in conjunction with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who have given their consent to the Bill in the form in which it now stands. I would urge upon your Lordships not only that it should be passed in its present form but that it should be passed without delay. Some of the financial clauses refer to the year 1927, and the Bill should really have been passéd before Easter and the beginning of the new financial year. I beg to move.

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


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord if he can give me some explanation of subsection (2) of Clause 8. That subsection says: The Board shall, so long as they undertake work in connection with telegraphic communication in the West Indies, have power to provide and supply to the West Indies a news service similar to the news service supplied by telegraph companies at the commencement of the Pacific Cable Act, 1924. I should like to know if that subsection empowers the Governments working the Pacific cable to interfere with private enterprise.


I can answer the noble Lord's question in a word. This sub- section leaves the matter in exactly the same position as under the provision of the old Act, which, I need hardly remind the House, was inserted on the noble Lord's Motion.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.