§ Order of the day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Plymouth.)
My Lords, I would like to make a few remarks on this Bill before it goes to another place. I should like first of all to congratulate the noble Earl on the manner in which he has conducted the proceedings in connection with this Bill in your Lordships' House and also on the way in which he has met a good many of the Amendments put forward by noble Lords. At the same time I wish to reiterate on behalf of the supply companies that they do not like the principle contained in this Bill, and that they regret intensely that the definite principle laid down in the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1926, has been reversed to the extent it has in the Bill now passing its Third Reading. In that particular Act of 1926 it was definitely laid down that the Central Electricity Board should not supply direct to railway companies. That principle has been entirely reversed, and in future supplies may be given direct to the railway companies by the Central Electricity Board. But, at any rate, in the passage of this Bill through your Lordships' House, we have at least managed to secure that there shall be an appeal in nearly all instances to the Electricity Commissioners on actions that may be taken by the Central Electricity Board.
There are still one or two Amendments which were not accepted by the Government but which, I hope, will be brought up in another place for reconsideration and will receive more sympathetic treatment there. There is the Amendment introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, and discussed at great length on both the Committee and Report stages of the Bill, in connection with what con- 499 stitutes financial loss to the Board, and it was sought in this House to include words in the Bill that would express more distinctly and clearly what "financial loss" would involve. I hope that that matter may still be considered in another place. Then there is another Amendment which was originally moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, in Committee, and subsequently by myself on the Report stage, and which was connected with the payment of compensation to authorised undertakers who were deprived of giving supplies direct to railways, supplies which they were giving at the time. I do not wish to reiterate all the arguments as to why it is only fair and just that capital expenditure which is going to be rendered nugatory and dead should be taken into consideration when supplies are taken away and granted direct by the Board. But I hope that those two Amendments at least will receive further consideration.
Finally, I trust that the Board and the railway companies will not regard this Bill as a charter for the indiscriminate electrification of the railway systems in the country, and that they will use it only where it is definitely economic to do so. The policy of the wholesale electrification of the railways should in my judgment not be slipped in, if I may use the phrase, by means of a small disingenuous Bill as this appears to be. I hope, therefore, that the Ministry of Transport, which has made itself responsible for the Bill, will keep a very watchful eye on this matter and see that this Bill is not used for any but the purposes for which it is being passed. With those few words I do not propose to raise any further objection to a Bill which I confess I do not like at all.
§ THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH
My Lords, I do not think the noble Viscount will expect me to answer in detail the points that he has raised in opposition to this Bill. I would merely say I am grateful to him for the reference he has made to myself in connection with this Bill. I was never very sanguine that any arguments I could adduce would commend to the interests he represents a Bill which was clearly distasteful to them, but I think it will be admitted that the Government have made substantial concessions to his point of view and to that 500 extent have gone some way to meet his objections.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a.
§ Clause 3:
§ Amendment of s.12 of Electricity (Supply) Act, 1926.
§ (2)If it is made to appear to the Electricity Commissioners by any authorised undertakers or railway company that it is in the general interest so to do, the Commissioners may direct that the charges and allowances to be included in the price to be charged for electricity under the said Section Twelve by the undertakers to whom the direction relates shall be computed as if all such electric lines used by the undertakers (for whatever purpose) as are specified in that behalf in the direction—
- (a) were transmission lines; and
- (b) were used for all purposes for which any of them were used;
§ Provided that the Commissioners shall not give any such direction as aforesaid without giving to all authorised undertakers and railway companies affected by the direction an opportunity of making representations with respect to the matter.
THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH moved, in subsection (2), to leave out all words after "relates" down to the end of paragraph (b) and insert:
shall be computed
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this is really a drafting Amendment, and I do not think it is necessary for me to say anything about it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.