HL Deb 15 July 1943 vol 128 cc529-53

Amendments reported (according to Order).

Clause 2:

General powers and duties of the Board.

(3)The Board shall, so far as their powers and duties permit, collaborate in the carrying out of any measures for the economic development and social improvement of the North of Scotland District or any part thereof.

LORD SEMPILL moved, in subsection (3), to leave out "so far as their powers and duties permit" and insert "as far as possible, actively." The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the first time I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships on this Bill, and you will understand how someone who sits as a Scottish representative feels on a matter of this kind. I would like to express appreciation of the time your Lordships have given to considering this Bill so that it may be made more useful in every sense for the people of Scotland without in any sense marring the beauty of her face. Clause 2 deals, as your Lordships will be aware, with the general powers and duties of the Board. Reference is made in the clause to measures being taken for "economic development and social improvement." The clause aims obviously to give the Board powers to collaborate with users in the fullest possible measure, but the words do not quite convey that meaning in the manner I think they might. We read in the clause the cold, stereotyped wording, so pregnant with possibilities of delay that we have often seen before, "so far as their powers and duties permit." Those words are not sufficiently directive, I suggest, to the purpose that the Bill has in view. I hope, therefore, your Lordships will support me in suggesting to His Majesty's Government that those words should be removed and the following words put in their place: "as far as possible, actively." I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 28, leave out ("so far as their powers and duties permit") and insert ("as far as possible, actively").—(Lord Sempill.)


My Lords, I hope the noble Lord as a friend of the Bill will not press this Amendment. The words in the Bill to which he has alluded are very wide. They are "so far as their powers and duties permit" to collaborate and so on. The effect of this Amendment would require the Board "as far as possible, actively" to collaborate. As the subsection stands the Board can only collaborate in measures of economic and social improvement by providing electricity. If the purpose of my noble friend in moving the Amendment is to suggest that the Board should collaborate in matters other than providing electricity, I am afraid that would be quite inappropriate to the operations of a commercial electrical undertaking. If, on the other hand, my noble friend does not have that in mind but simply means that in matters affecting the supply of electricity the Board shall have these powers, I suggest for his consideration that the words of the Bill are ample as they stand to cover that contingency, and that the Amendment is therefore unnecessary. I hope he will not press the Amendment.


My Lords, in view of what my noble and learned friend Lord Alness has said, I will, at his suggestion, not press the matter any further, but I do still feel that it would have been better had he accepted the Amendment, as the words would have been more appropriate to the purpose in view. However, having regard to what he has said, I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD SEMPILL moved, at the end of subsection (3), to insert "and shall establish a research and development section for the study of the uses of electricity for all purposes, and shall make public the results of research initiated by the Board." The noble Lord said: My Lords, something, I think, should be said with regard to what is particularly in view of His Majesty's Government and most definitely in view of the Secretary of State for Scotland, to encourage and promote the economic development and social welfare of the Scottish people. In order that that may be done there should be provision made for engineering—electrical or other—research. Electrical engineering, as your Lordships are aware, is in no sense a static branch of development and constant change and improvement does and must take place. I want, therefore, to suggest that what is required is a research and development division continually looking into these matters, and where such research is undertaken at the instigation of the Board its results should be published forthwith. Of course, where research may be undertaken at the instance of a private individual or a private group the situation would be different. Where research is undertaken out of public funds I think that the fruits thereof should be made known as soon as possible. I therefore beg leave to suggest that those words be added after line 31, as set out on the Paper.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 31, at end insert ("and shall establish a research and development section for the study of the uses of electricity for all purposes, and shall make public the results of research initiated by the Board").—(Lord Sempill.)


My Lords, I should like very briefly to support my noble friend. I suggest that he has truly said that electricity is not a static science and that the new Board is going to have a magnificent opportunity of testing various experiments in the field as well as in the laboratory. The Board should be able to make experiments that will help in solving special problems applying to the distribution of electrical power over widely dispersed areas and in comparatively small volume. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Alness, will be prepared to accept this Amendment.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Sempill is always so moderate in his proposals, that it is with all the more regret that I find myself unable to accept this Amendment. I would remind my noble friend of the contents of Clause 25 of the Bill, which gives the Board power to "conduct experiments or trials for the improvement of methods of generation, distribution or use of electricity in the special conditions and circumstances in the North of Scotland District." This power is in entirely general terms, and in exercising it the Board have a free hand to incur such expenditure as they may think fit. They can make use of that power to establish, if they think fit, research stations such as my noble friend has in mind. But I am afraid that the Board cannot be committed at this stage to any particular form of research or experiment. The Board have to run their undertaking as a commercial concern, and the funds they devote to experimental purposes must come from the profits of the sale of electricity to the grid. What these profits will be it is, of course, impossible to predict. The Board will be required, in the first place, to assist in developing supplies of electricity in isolated areas where the cost of electricity is high, and it will be for the Board to decide, in the light of their experience and the amount of the funds at their disposal, whether they can devote a certain amount to research and experiment. I venture to say to your Lordships' House that that is a reasonable point of view to take up. To tie the hands of the Board in advance to spend money which they may not have would be an unwise procedure. I therefore beg to suggest that my noble friend should agree to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, I am sorry that my brother Scot comes here to-day with this turning down idea in his mind. I am very depressed indeed that he wishes me to withdraw this Amendment about a research and development division. After all, your Lordships know well—there are two noble Lords here to-day who know very well—the value of research and development. I hope therefore that if I withdraw my Amendment, as my noble friend, Lord Alness, suggests, that he will give very careful consideration to the point which has been raised and see whether a later clause can be-strengthened in some way because no technical undertaking of this character can proceed successfully without a continuous research and development programme.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3:

Powers of the Board for Discharge of their functions.

3.The Board may—

LORD SEMPILL moved to add to the clause: (d) with a view to encouraging the re-establishment of crofts and the modernization of weaving and kindred crafts carried out therein, and also scientific and technical development supply electricity within Scotland at special rates.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment submits for your Lordships' consideration the suggestion to insert a further paragraph in Clause 3 following the line as stated on the Paper. The clause, as your Lordships are well aware, gives the Board power to make surveys, to acquire land, to divert waterways and roads and so forth, and to do other things for the efficient discharge of their duties. But I think that some more specific direction should be given in regard to the, perhaps, smaller issues relating to the use of electrical power. The vast power development that the Bill envisages will certainly add, in effect, many millions of extra hands to those at the moment available in Scotland. But we do not want to see all Scottish people regimented into monotonous soul-destroying industries which employ large factories. There will be many smaller developments. There are many technical developments of a useful character and of a comparatively small nature to which attention could be devoted. The question, for example, of encouraging small metallurgical and mineralogical enterprises and matters of that kind might well be considered. I feel that something should be done towards the re-establishment of the crofts and the modernization of weaving and other industries that have been carried on for many centuries in these crofts on a small basis. I therefore beg to move that the additional paragraph as set down on the Paper should be embodied in the Bill

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 5, at end insert the said paragraph (d).—(Lord Sempill.)


My Lords, I find myself in sympathy with the intention of this Amendment but, so far as its wording is concerned, it would be impossible for me to accept it. The Board, as the House will remember, have a duty laid on them in Clause 2 "to provide supplies of electricity required to meet the demands of ordinary consumers in such parts of the North of Scotland District (including isolated areas) as are outside the areas of supply of other authorized undertakers." And they have to give such consumers priority in the supply of electricity. The Board are also required by Clause 2 (3) to collaborate in carrying out any measures for the economic development and social improvement of the North of Scotland District or any part thereof. As the Bill stands, therefore, it will be the Board's duty, so far as possible, to give effect to the intention of my noble friend's Amendment.

Your Lordships will observe that the Amendment ends with the words "supply electricity within Scotland at special rates." So far as the cost of the supply is concerned, that is one of the most important aspects of this Amendment. A supply of cheap electricity in isolated areas and in remote rural areas in the Highlands is one of the principal objects of the Bill. The Board will, it is hoped, earn a profit by the sale of electricity to the Central Electricty Board, and that profit will be applied to further developments where distribution is desirable; but it seems to me impossible at this stage to say precisely what will be the cost of the electricity which is to be supplied to consumers in these areas. The Bill specifically provides that the rates are to be fixed at a later stage, in accordance with regulations which will be laid down by the Secretary of State for Scotland. These regulations have not yet been formulated, and the rates, therefore, cannot be fixed. I see insuperable difficulty in accepting this Amendment. I regret to adopt that attitude towards an Amendment moved by my noble friend, but I have no option but to do so.


My Lords, I understand from what my noble friend Lord Alness has said that the Bill itself gives power for preferential treatment to be given to small users of electric current, whether for domestic or for industrial purposes. It is very necessary to encourage in every way these small enterprises in the mineral and metallurgical fields. For example, there is the question of the recovery of potash from felspar, and the electro-end osmosis of peat for industrial purposes, and the fine grinding of felspar talc and quartz. If the Bill envisages such possibilities, as I understand from my noble friend Lord Alness that it does, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5:

Constructional Schemes.

(5) Every order made by the Secretary of State confirming a constructional scheme shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made together with a copy of the scheme as confirmed, and if either House of Parliament within the next forty days after such an order as aforesaid is laid before it resolves that the order be annulled, the order shall thereupon be of no effect without prejudice, however, to the making of a new order.

In reckoning the said forty days no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.

LORD O'HAGAN has given Notice of Amendments to make subsection (5) read as follows: Every order made by the Secretary of State confirming a constructional scheme shall be laid before each House, of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made together with a copy of the scheme as confirmed, but shall not ocme into operation unless and until it has been approved either with or without modification by a Resolution passed by each such House and when so approved shall have effect as if enacted in this Act.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the permission of the House I should like to take the two Amendments which I have put down on this clause together. I do not propose to delay the House for long, but there are one or two observations which I feel called upon to make. First of all, I should like to make it perfectly clear that I have no desire whatever to prevent the passage of this Bill, and I hope that the action which I have felt impelled to take will not be considered that of an enemy of the Bill, but rather that of a friend. I think we all recognize that the Bill is an honest and sincere attempt to deal with a very difficult problem and a problem which is really of first-rate importance. A very strong case has been made out for legislation. With my personal knowledge of the Highlands of Scotland, I should be the last to wish to jeopardize the success of any serious scheme to tackle this urgent problem, and I believe that none of your Lordships would wish to do anything to prejudice the re-establishment of favourable conditions in the Highlands, a part of Scotland which is a priceless possession of this island in which we live, and one which has produced men who have shown their worth not merely in the ordinary avocations of life but also in the discharge of their duty as soldiers, both in the last war and in this war. That naturally constitutes a claim upon us all to try to improve so far as possible the conditions to which the men who come from that part of Scotland will have to return.

We all recognize the implications of this Bill in that direction, and we also appreciate, I think, the very great ability and persistence of the Secretary of State for Scotland in having, with great labour and with immense trouble, put forward this experimental effort to the final arbitrament of Parliament, after the many abortive schemes which have been put forward before. This Amendment is based on a question of principle, the principle of adequate Parliamentary control. I need not emphasize again, as I endeavoured to do in Committee, that this legislation is not war legislation but peace-time legislation. This is a measure which is of an experimental nature, wide in its scope and far-reaching in its intention. The noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill on the previous occasion laid much emphasis on the amount of publicity which has been given and which will be given to the constructional schemes which we hope will be forthcoming under this Bill; but I think that I should remind your Lordships of- the very important Committee, which was presided over by my noble friend Lord Donoughmore in the first place, and afterwards by Lord Justice Scott, and which dealt with the powers of Ministers. The Report of: hat Committee was issued in 1932. It was the considered opinion of that Committee that no system of antecedent publicity, however effective, could relieve the two Houses of Parliament of the duty of exercising effective supervision over delegated legislation.

It is because I believe that the procedure under these Amendments is more appropriate and more likely to secure this end that I commend it to your Lordships. While I am aware that under the procedure and rules of this House the difference between an affirmative Resolution and an annulling Resolution is not very great, I understand that the conditions in another place arc very different. I am assured by those with Parliamentary experience that, as Lord Rushcliffe said on the Committee stage of this Bill, there is all the difference in the world in practice as to the effectiveness of the alternative procedure so far as securing effective Parliamentary control is concerned. As I have said, I am as anxious as anyone for this Bill to come into operation, and for its beneficent purposes to be achieved, but I venture to think that this question of principle is one in which ultimate Parliamentary control is of such importance that I trust that the House will support me in seeing that the Amendments which I have put down are inserted in the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 36, after ("before") insert ("each House of").—(Lord O'Hagan.)


My Lords, in rising to support my noble friend's Amendment I, too, should like to make it clear that: I claim to be a friend of the Bill, and it is a matter of considerable personal regret to me that I should feel it an urgent duty to press for this Amendment, in spite of the opposition to it of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, of whose work I have nothing but the highest opinion and for whose work I have nothing" but the highest praise. This is a case, however, where we are dealing, as my noble friend said, with the question of the power reserved by Parliament over delegated legislation. It is a question which, as your Lordships will know, aroused very considerable interest some ten or more years ago, with the result that the Committee referred to by my noble friend was then set up, under the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore. I reget to say that since the very excellent Report issued by that Committee nothing whatever has been done to carry out its recommendations.

The point which weighs particularly with me in this matter is this. The reservation to Parliament as envisaged in this Bill as it at present stands involves the procedure which is commonly known as that of a negative Resolution, and is one which in the other House is illusory, insufficient and altogether unsatisfactory. In fact, I am not going too far when I say that in practice it gives no power whatever. May I explain to your Lordships what that procedure is and what are the objections to it? Under the proposals of the Bill you get first of all the legislation enacted and brought into effect. Then there is a power, that legislation being laid on the Table of the House, for the House, within the time specified, to annul that legislation. That is the procedure commonly known in another place as a Prayer, because it usually prays His Majesty to revoke an Order in Council. It is of necessity something which, to use a mild phrase, is not supported by the Government of the time, who are responsible for carrying out that delegated legislation. Consequently such a Prayer would have no opportunity of coming before the House if it depended upon the good will of the Government to give time for it. The procedure of the House, therefore, provides that such a Prayer shall be taken as "exempted business," in other words, after the time for opposed business has expired. It means that the Prayer comes on for consideration at 11 o'clock at night, when members, very often after a hard day's work, are anxious to get home. It is very difficult indeed to get people to stay, and if a reasonable House is there to begin with and the matter is one of real importance, as is the case under this Bill, there would be a good deal of talk about it, the number of members present would gradually dwindle, until the Government, keeping their solid body of storm troopers, if I may so call them, in the House, managed to defeat the Prayer.

Supposing by any chance the Prayer was successful, what happens, what can it do? It cannot amend the scheme, it can do nothing but annul it. That is one of the reasons why it is such an unsatisfactory procedure in this case, and, nothing having been done since the Donoughmore Committee reported on this matter, I feel that it is really a duty which is incumbent upon me to oppose, or seek to amend, any provision of this kind in any Bill in which there are delegated to the Government, or a Government Department, powers to carry out important and extensive legislation if the only Parliamentary control is this form of negative Resolution. The form of control which we ask for in this Amendment is that the proposed legislation should be laid on the Table of the House and should require an affirmative Resolution from the House before it comes into operation—an affirmative Resolution adopting that legislation, either with or without Amendment. It is on that constitutional principle that we think it the duty of Parliament in peace-time—and be it remembered that we are dealing entirely with peace-time legislation: there is no question of the present emergency or the difficulties of the war arising—to see that when extensive powers of delegated legislation of this kind are given to the Government, or to a Government Department, effective Parliamentary control is retained. I hope I have satisfied your Lordships that under this Bill it is not really an effective control by Parliament which is reserved.

Perhaps here I ought to refer to the fact that this is what can be described as a matter for the House of Commons rather than for this House, and it may be asked how it is that this Amendment was not moved and discussed in another place. I have read the report of proceedings in Committee there very carefully and, knowing as I think I do the House of Commons, I think I understand how it is that that came about, but I need not burden your Lordships with any attempt to explain how that was. I will rather put it this way, that if your Lordships, as I hope you will, feel that in this case Parliament ought to retain more effective control, and you pass this Amendment, there will then be another added to the already fairly long list of cases within the last twenty-five years when members of the House of Commons of all Parties have said: "Well, after all, we have got to thank heaven for the continued existence of the House of Lords." If you will pass this Amendment I feel certain—in spite of the opinion which I expect will be expressed by my noble friend Lord Alness —that it will not do harm to the Bill.

What is it that we have to deal with here? It is the preparation of schemes— I am told a very large number of them probably—each one of which will be practically the equivalent of what in the old days and under the old system would have been a Private Bill. You are giving the Secretary of State for Scotland power to enact any number of Private Bills for this particular purpose, with no control whatever except this procedure which I have described as the Prayer against it. Let us look for a moment at what is the actual Bill, and what it is to which this applies. It is this power of enacting legislation by the equivalent of a number of Private Bills. Therefore it is extensive, and I need not tell your Lordships, after the discussion there has already been on this Bill' and on others in the past, that it is important; and, it being extensive and important, it is to my mind a matter of principle that we should insist upon the retention of really effective Parliamentary control.

As I have said, I do not think that it will ruin the Bill. It has been said that there has been, and that there will be in the future, so much opposition to any scheme that power will be needed to get these schemes through. I think I am not going too far when I say that what they want is to get these schemes through without their receiving consideration by Parliament. Apart from the political morality involved in that, I venture to think that if there is going to be so much opposition to some of these schemes then, even in spite of the unsatisfactory procedure, by Prayer, that procedure will be adopted, very likely will be successful, and in that event, the fate of the Secretary of State for Scotland's schemes will, to my mind, be far worse than if they had been discussed under the procedure of an affirmative Resolution, when modifications could have been suggested and the whole matter thrashed out. But be that as it may, the principle at stake here, that Parliament must retain effective control over extensive and important legislative powers delegated to a Government, is one which your Lordships cannot afford to disregard. In these circumstances I ask most earnestly that in a matter of peace-time legislation of importance, such as this is, your Lordships will do what I regard as being a good service to the State by insisting upon this Amendment.


My Lords, in accordance with the undertaking which I gave on the Committee stage, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and I have very carefully considered this Amendment, with a view to deciding whether or not it is possible to accept it. Moreover, the noble Lord who moved the Amendment and some of his friends had the advantage of consultation with my right honourable friend, at which consultation it was very clearly disclosed to them that there were grave objections, so far as the Government were concerned, in accepting the Amendment. I think I am right in saying that we are not discussing at this moment the theoretical or technical advantage of an affirmative Resolution over a negative Resolution.


YOU ought to be.


On that I must differ from my noble friend. If he will allow me to finish my next sentence, perhaps he will understand my point. We are not discussing that question in vacuo. The problem before the House is whether the contents of the Bill, including the provisions regarding a negative Resolution, safeguard aptly and adequately the public advantage, and ensure a proper control of the situation by Parliament. I am willing to accept the criterion which was laid down by my noble friend who moved the Amendment when he asked whether the Bill provided for adequate Parliamentary control. I am quite prepared to accept that as the standard, and I shall in a moment, quite briefly, attempt to show that the Bill satisfies that criterion. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me, however, as bearing upon that question, to give you some idea of what I may call the background of this Bill. Many of your Lordships are aware that for more than twenty years the Highlands of Scotland have been rent and riven by controversies relating to hydro-electricity, and regarding the development of one of the most precious assets which are to be found there— namely, water power. Your Lordships are also aware that various attempts have been made by private companies to improve the situation, and you are also aware that all these attempts failed. In fact, as I said on the Second Reading, the Parliamentary strand is strewn with the wreckage of various measures which have been intended and devised to utilize these water-power resources, but all of which failed.

In these circumstances my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland cast about him for a better way. The first thing he did—your Lordships will forgive me if I repeat what I may have said before, but the history of the subject is vital—was to appoint an authoritative Committee, of which the Chairman was Lord Cooper, the Lord Justice Clerk for Scotland, and formerly Lord Advocate, and of which another member was a respected representative of your Lordships' House, Lord Weir. That Committee sat and recommended—advancing very cogent and forcible arguments in favour of their view—that there should be one large and comprehensive development scheme submitted to Parliament for approval once and for all, and that, that scheme having been approved, the Board should be at liberty to proceed with its constructional schemes, to buy land, erect buildings, and so forth. When once Parliament had given this general charter by legislation, the Board, under the Cooper Committee's recommendations, would be left free to erect machinery and to carry through these constructional schemes, of which they envisaged some seventy. The Committee's intention, in so endeavouring to get away from slow, tedious, and costly procedure, was simply this, that the difficulties which had arisen in the past from contending sectional interests to which hydroelectric schemes had been subject, were so numerous and so menacing that they thought that the best and, at the same time, the constitutional way out was to proceed as they proposed.

That there has been in the past with regard to these hydro-electric schemes most fractious and fissiparous opposition and obstruction, no one familiar with their history can possibly deny. The Cooper Committee felt that one reference to Parliament would not be so open to this fractious and fissiparous opposition, and that was their recommendation. In the light of that recommendation the Secretary of State for Scotland considered the matter, and came to the conclusion that, because the constructional schemes were important, and notwithstanding that a Public Services Board of non-profit-making character was to carry them out, nevertheless there should be full and ample safeguards inserted in the Bill during the progress of the construction schemes, and that there should be a Parliamentary veto when they had been concluded and submitted for approval to the Houses of Parliament.

That view, which my right honourable friend adopted, was shared by his Council of State, which includes all the past Secretaries and Secretaries of State for Scotland. Accordingly, detailed and careful provisions have been inserted in the Bill, setting out the procedure through which every constructional scheme must pass before it reaches Parliament. In the first place, there is to be full consultation with the Amenities Committee not only during, but before, the scheme is put into being. In addition, the approval of any scheme is required by the Electricity Commissioners, who, of course, will ensure that, technically, the scheme is a sound and desirable one. It is also provided that there shall be full advertisement in the public Press, that there shall be consultation with certain interests—I will not delay your Lordships by going into details—that there shall be, if necessary, a public inquiry, held at the instance of the Secretary of State, at which the views of all those interested can be heard, considered, and adjudicated upon, and, finally, that the constructional scheme shall be submitted to both Houses of Parliament and shall lie on the Table for forty days, during which a right of veto can be exercised.

In the light of the explanations offered by my right honourable friend in this regard, particularly as to the elaborate and anxious provisions for hearing all interests, there was no suggestion from any quarter in another place that the Parliamentary safeguards were insufficient. With the knowledge which members of another place possess, and of which, of course, my noble friend Lord Hemingford is a past master, I should have thought that someone there would have been impressed with the views he has sought to impress upon your Lordships' House to-day if they are sound. But there was not one voice crying in the wilderness. All the members were satisfied. Indeed I go so far as to say that, so far from there being complaint with regard to the insufficiency of Parliamentary and other control, the criticism which came in another place was to the effect that the safeguarding proposals during the progress of the constructional scheme and at the end of it were so lengthy and tedious that they would obstruct the completion of schemes which everybody wants to see.

I think I am correct in saying that the onus of showing that an affirmative Resolution is better from the point of view of the public interest and Parliamentary interest than a negative Resolution lies upon my noble friends who have moved and supported this Amendment. In my very humble judgment that onus has not been discharged. In these circumstances the procedure of annulling the scheme by negative Resolution has commended itself to the Government as appropriate and adequate, and I do not feel that they would be entitled to incur the possibilities, which would be involved in an affirmative Resolution, of further delays by reference to a Committee, and possibly to a Select Committee, which would hear evidence on the topics that have been so fully canvassed and settled at the earlier stages of the Bill. That, it seems to me, would really be a calamity with regard to a Bill which is urgently needed and of which my noble friends who have spoken profess themselves, and rightly I am sure, to be friends.

In every case there is to be an elaborate inquiry and elaborate advertisement. That was accepted in another place as being quite satisfactory, and the Bill passed in the form in which it comes before your Lordships' House to-day. But if it will add anything to the assurances which the Government have already given, and which my right honourable friend has so often expressed, that the veto rights of Parliament shall be effective, the Govern- ment are prepared to give a pledge that they will lay before Parliament with every constructional scheme an explanatory White Paper, drawing attention to the issues which are involved in the scheme. That pledge I willingly give, and, in the light of it and of the assurances which my right honourable friend has expressed in another place, and which to the best of my humble ability I have endeavoured to repeat here, I hope my noble friend may see his way to withdraw the Amendment which he has moved.


My Lords, in view of the importance of the Amendment I should like quite briefly to make the position of noble Lords on these Benches perfectly clear. I think we are all agreed that it is desirable to maintain effective Parliamentary control over the operation of this Bill. It is simply a question of method. The Government say the desirable method is by a negative Resolution and the noble Lord and his supporters say by affirmative Resolution. Whatever the merits of the arguments presented by the noble Lords, Lord O'Hagan and Lord Hemingford, I think they suffer from one really damaging defect—namely, that they are inviting us to accept an Amendment which would bring about a very important change in the procedure of another place.


No, no.


The Amendment refers to both Houses of Parliament. The difference between an affirmative Resolution and a negative Resolution in another place has been emphasized by the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford; and he pointed out that the difference would be even greater than between an affirmative and negative Resolution in this House. I submit that it is extremely undesirable that we should do anything that could be regarded as interfering with the domestic affairs of another place.


Will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I am sure I can never have been guilty of making any suggestion of that kind. This is not in the least degree a case of interfering with the procedure of the House of Commons. I have said that in some respects the procedure of the House of Commons is at fault. That is another matter altogether. What my noble friends and myself are proposing to do is what the House is perfectly entitled to do —namely, to provide what is to be the form of control for delegated legislation. It is the form of control provided by Parliament and which has to be fixed by Parliament, and it has nothing whatever to do with the procedure of cither this House or the other House.


I am not representing that this House is not perfectly entitled to make an Amendment but the Amendment is to this effect. The noble Lord wants no order to come into operation "unless and until it has been approved either with or without modification by a Resolution passed by each such House." In other words it applies to the House of Commons as well as to this House. I hope your Lordships will refrain from doing anything that might possibly cause ill-feeling in another place.


That is not procedure at all.


I suggest that it would be appropriate for any change of procedure of this kind to be decided so far as the House of Commons is concerned in the House of Commons. The noble Lord in charge of the Bill has pointed out that this measure has passed through another place without any suggestion of the kind contained in this Amendment. I therefore hope, especially in view of the most generous undertaking given by the noble Lord that a White Paper will be laid with every scheme, that noble Lords will withdraw their Amendment. I think that would prove the most satisfactory solution.


My Lords, may I endorse what has been said on behalf of the Opposition? This Amendment is open to certain objections, but the principal one is that to which expression has just been given. As the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, said, the effect so far as the procedure in this House is concerned would be very small whether there was an affirmative Resolution required or a negative one, and the main burden of his speech was that the methods of another place were so inadequate that it was an insufficient safeguard to require only an opportunity for a negative Resolution and not to require an affirmative one. That, I submit, is a matter for the other House and I suggest that the Amendment should not be proceeded with.


My Lords, may I point out that this suggested procedure is exactly that which was followed in the case of the India Bill? The India Bill gave the Viceroy most sweeping powers to make orders of the most important character throughout India and, under pressure of this House, the affirmative Resolution was required in both Houses. Nothing was proposed which for a moment derogated from the powers of the House of Commons. If anything it rather increased its powers. No objection whatever was taken on behalf of the House of Commons to the Amendment that was made here and no attempt to alter it was made in the House of Commons. So I suggest it will be in this case. This will be an Amendment which, if carried, will go back to the House of Commons and the House of Commons, if it feels it is in any way affronted, will have a full opportunity of negativing it; but it is entirely according to precedent and certainly there is no intention of slighting the House of Commons. In fact no slight will be given.


My Lords, I should like to reinforce what my noble friend has just said. If the Amendment is put into this Bill the subsection will be in a form which has been passed scores of times by Parliament. I confess I feel in some difficulty at this moment owing to the fact that, whilst we have been discussing affirmative and negative Resolutions, the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill has now introduced what is really a new form of Parliamentary procedure. We are to have negative Resolutions backed by a memorandum placed on the table by His Majesty's Government. That is an entirely new procedure. My objection to negative Resolutions has always been that nobody ever knows anything about them. I do not think they are printed. They are certainly not circulated. The theory of laying Papers on the Table is that every member of both Houses is thereby informed of what is proposed by the Government, but I wonder if any one of your Lordships has ever read one of these things. As I say, I do not think that these negative Resolutions are always printed. Perhaps they are available in the Printed Paper Office. Provision for a negative Resolution may be sufficient in unimportant matters, but these are very important matters, and although I accept fully the noble and learned Lord's pledge and am certain it will be carried out by him, I wonder whether it will be carried out by his successor. I assume it is not possible to put his pledge in the Bill creating the new Parliamentary procedure outlined this afternoon. Therefore I still feel inclined to follow my noble friend if he proceeds to a Division.


My Lords, I rise to make a protest against the modern tendency to quote what happens in another place. What happens in another place has nothing whatever to do with your Lordships' House, which can pursue what course it thinks best.


My Lords, I hope you will give attention to what was said by the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill on the merits of the case. The whole strand is strewn with wrecks of these Bills and no progress has been possible. The noble and learned Lord has given a very full outline of the safeguards proposed under the Bill. Publicity will be given in every possible way and opportunity afforded to every possible interest to make itself heard through the procedure outlined by the Bill and emphasized by my noble friend to-day in resisting the Amendment. As he has said, not only have the Amenity and Fisheries Committees been brought forward in the Bill, but, as your Lordships may remember, in the passage of the Bill through the Committee stage the whole structure was altered by bringing into the forefront the duty of the Board to preserve amenities and to look after the natural assets of Scotland. That altered the case and altered also the position of the Amenity and Fisheries Committees by bringing them in at an earlier stage, making it possible for them to make recommendations and making it obligatory on the Board, before a constructional scheme is sanctioned, to call them into consultation.

As has been pointed out by the noble and learned Lord to-day, that is not the only safeguard. An inquiry can be ordered if the report is objected to by any party. A full inquiry can be ordered by the Secretary of State and the matter argued; and surely it is enough when that has been done at the public expense and everyone has been given an opportunity of making known their opinions on the subject. When the matter comes before Parliament there will be an opportunity for Parliament to say "No." Surely we do not want to give an opportunity to Parliament to argue the whole question again from start to finish, bringing people to argue again at Westminster the case that has been argued in Scotland. I appeal, therefore, to noble Lords to consider the clause on its merits rather than as a matter between one House and the other, and to see that we give the opportunity which this Bill affords for bringing these facilities into the houses, crofts, and glens of the Highlands, and for development.


My Lords, I rise at the end of this debate only to urge noble Lords who have supported this Amendment not to press it too far. The noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, in his speech pressed for an affirmative Resolution. The object, as I understood him to say, was to retain the control of Parliament over the Executive. I do not suppose any one of us would object to that, especially in this House where noble Lords have always been jealous of the rights and privileges of Parliament. I certainly as Leader of the House would not wish to weaken those rights and privileges. But if I may say so with all deference, I hope we shall not be pedantic in these matters. The noble Lord, Lord Rankeillour, mentioned the India Bill, but I do not think that is an exact analogy. It seems to me that you must judge the necessity of extra safeguards in each particular case in accordance with the provisions of each particular Bill. In some cases the fullest safeguards are necessary, but in the case of this Bill I suggest with all deference that the greatest care has been taken to allow of the fullest inquiry into the schemes.

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Alness, said in his speech for the Government, and as the noble Earl, Lord Elgin, has just repeated, there is provision for

the closest consultation between the Public Service Board and the Amenities and Fisheries Committees both before and during the preparation of the schemes. There is provision for advertising each and every scheme and provision for holding public inquiry into any valid objection. That is to ensure that the views of all interests affected shall be fully taken into account before a scheme is approved by the Secretary of State. I think these provisions give the fullest opportunity for considering the objections, and I suggest that the provisions I have mentioned, in addition to the proposal for a White Paper in each case, are solid safeguards. I do not think that in the case of this Bill there is the same necessity for an affirmative Resolution as there might well be in other cases. An affirmative Resolution, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Alness, said—and I think the noble Earl, Lord Elgin, supported him—would mean avoidable and unfortunate delay. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, and those who have supported him, without any derogation from the general principles to which they rightly attach importance, will feel that in this particular case it would be wise and practicable to allow some relaxation of their principles and to accept the Government proposal.


My Lords, despite the speech to which we have just listened and other speeches in the very full debate on this Amendment, it seems to me that as this Amendment has so many precedents and has been so widely supported, this is a question of principle on which it would be unwise to give way. I come to that conclusion with great regret. I do not wish to be pedantic. I and those who hold the same opinion as I do, wish to be practical in this matter, and I am afraid, in spite of what has been said, the only practical way of securing Parliamentary control lies in the Amendment I recommend to your Lordships.

On Question, Whether the said words shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 13; Not-Contents, 63.

Poulett, E. Maugham, V. Brocket, L.
Hemingford, L. [Teller.]
Bertie of Thame, V. Beaverbrook, L. Lawrence, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Belstead, L. Monkswell, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. O'Hagan, L. [Teller.]
Rankeillour, L.
Simon, V. (L. Chancellor.) Wimborne, V. Geddes, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L.
Crewe, M. Derby, L. Bp. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Keyes, L.
Abingdon, E. Aberdare, L. Keynes, L.
Bessborough, E. Alness, L. McGowan, L.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.) Marley, L.
Dundonald, E. Ashfield, L. Melchett, L.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Barnby, L. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.) [Teller.]
Huntingdon, E. Bruntisfield, L.
Inchcape, E. Catto, L. Nathan, L.
Iveagh, E. Cecil, L. (V. Cranborne.) Palmer, L.
Lucan, E. Cherwell, L. Rockley, L.
Perth, E. Clanwilliam, L. [E. Clanwilliam.) Sempill, L.
Plymouth, E. Snell, L.
Croft, L. Soulbury, L.
Bridgeman, V. Davies, L. Southwood, L.
Camrose, V. Denman, L. Stanmore, L.
Dawson of Penn, V. Desborough, L. Strabolgi, L.
Falmouth, V. Ebbisham, L. Templemore, L. [Teller.]
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Tyrell, L.
Leverhulme, V. Winster, L.
Samuel, V. Ellenborough, L. Wolverton, L.
Trenchard, V. Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9:

Amenity Committee and Fisheries Committee.

9.—(1) In the exercise of their functions the Board shall have regard to the desirability of preserving the beauty of the scenery and of avoiding as far as possible injury to fisheries and to the stock of fish in any waters.

LORD ALNESS moved, in subsection (1), after "scenery," to insert "and any object of architectural or historic interest." The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is moved in response to a suggestion which was made to me during the Committee stage of the Bill by my noble friend Lord Samuel, on behalf of Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, the proposal being to include, as well as the general words relating to amenity, the specific words: "and any object of architectural or historic interest." We have looked into the matter, and, while we think that the generality of the clause as it stands would cover what my noble friends have in view, in order to put the matter beyond doubt, I propose to insert the words on the Paper, and I move accordingly.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 12, after ("scenery") insert ("and any object of architectural or historic interest").—(Lord Alness.)


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, who, with regret, is unable to be here to-day, and my other noble friends, I beg to express warm thanks for this Amendment which Lord Alness has moved.

Clause 22:

Control of new private generating stations.

22. After the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful, except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners, for any body or person to establish in the North of Scotland District a new private generating station operated by water power and having plant with a rating exceeding fifty kilowatts or to extend any existing private generating station so operated in the said District by the installation of plant with a rating exceeding fifty kilowatts.

LORD BROCKET moved to add to the clause: Provided that the Electricity Commissioners shall not refuse their consent to the establishment or extension of any such station if they are satisfied that such establishment or extension would not prejudice the exercise or performance by the Board of their powers or duties regarding the development of further means of generation of electricity by water power.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships may remember that on the Committee stage of this Bill I moved an Amendment in words very similar to the words of my present Amendment. Having made my remarks at that stage, I do not intend to delay your Lordships for more than a few moments now. It was felt that the rating of 50 kilowatts was not large enough for private electricity plants to supply houses and villages, and on the Committee stage I moved an Amendment to increase the figure. After consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland and with Lord Alness, how-ever, I have thought it better to bring forward an Amendment which in effect means that the Electricity Commissioners shall not unreasonably withhold their consent to the erection of a private generating plant of more than 50 kilowatts. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 20, at end insert the said pro-viso.—(Lord Brocket.)


My Lords, this Amendment in substance was moved during the Committee stage of the Bill, and I then gave my noble friend the assurance that, while the wording of it did not seem to the Government to be apt, nevertheless, if it were re-worded, I might, on behalf of the Government, be able to accept it later. That has now been done. The Amendment in its present form is, in my humble judgment, apt and sufficient, and I have therefore pleasure in accepting it.