Grampian Electricity Supply Bill (By Order)
Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."It is only due to the House to explain why I am now opposing a Bill which I supported as a member of the Select Committee. My reason is that during the evidence there was a letter put in from the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee practically promising to guarantee some of the capital which was to be raised by the promoters. This letter was sprung upon the Select Committee as a perfectly new thing. This House had not had any opportunity to review this guarantee and therefore although I have no fault to find with the Bill I had every fault to find with this guarantee. I was told that while I objected to this in Committee I was not allowed to let my objections stand in the way of the Bill on its merit. I must confess that owing to my ignorance as a young Member of the House I was rather put upon, if I may say so. If I knew then what I know now I would have made known my position to the Select Committee and objected to this Bill then. I realise that in coming as I do downstairs from a Select Committee and putting down a blocking Motion makes my position seem somewhat peculiar and therefore I feel that it is due to the House to explain why I have taken this course. While my action may surprise this House it is no surprise to the promoters of the Bill. At the end of our sittings I stated:
Therefore I in no way sprang a surprise on the promoters and they are in no way aggrieved by the position which I am now taking up in this House. I am aware that one hon. Member of the Select Committee differs from me, I do not know to what extent, in the view which I take, and I have been asked by other hon. Members from across the Border why they should set themselves out to prevent the flow of good English Treasury notes into Scot- land. But I am convinced that when these hon. Members realise the circumstances in which this guarantee has been made, their purity of economic thought will show them that the material advantages to be gained under such a guarantee are not such as they as Scotch men from over the Border, tempted by this English gold, would wish to take. I have been asked also why I take exception to this particular instance of a guarantee, seeing that already the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee have already distributed guarantees to the extent of about £20,000,000 out of the £25,000,000 in their possession. I take exception to this particular guarantee because the Company's assets are not such as would warrant a State guarantee. If we take the other guarantees that have been made by this Advisory Committee we find that the concerns which have been guaranteeed are ail established businesses. Take, for example, the underground railways of London, who have received a guarantee of £5,000,000. If we could imagine such a thing as a liquidation of the underground railways, is there any hon. Member who would suggest that the company in liquidation would not be security for the £5,000,000 guarantee, but in this case of the Grampian Electricity Supply Company the assets are waterfalls and salmon fisheries. I suggest that they are assets comparable with the vast workless sheds of another well-known Government enterprise."There is just one point which I have laboured and perhaps over laboured, while the Committee has been sitting, but I think that seeing that the letter from the Trade Facilities Committee was put in as evidence I am allowed to comment on it. If it had not been put in as evidence of course I perhaps could not have raised the point. As it was put in as evidence as a contemplated intention of the promoters to apply for this guarantee I feel myself at liberty to state that in my opinion this project while admirable in itself is of such a highly speculative nature that I do not consider for one moment that it is one in which Government money should be invested or guaranteed, which guarantee could only have one result, that the public would be led to put in their money under a false impression."
Will the hon. Gentleman quote some of the other instances—not only Metropolitan instances?
I am sorry, but I have left the full list of them outside. If my hon. Friend wishes it, I will show it to him, and will show that there is a host of established concerns with considerable assets. An hon. Friend advises me that the South-Eastern Railway is one. I object to this Bill, combined with this guarantee, also because it is speculative in the highest possible degree. It is speculative because it has no customers in hand; it has no group of buyers of its power when that power has been produced. Although we put a question upstairs, the promoters were not able to suggest to us any definite arrangements that have been made as to purchasers. There is an even more fatal objection. The promoters are given ten years to complete the scheme. It is a guarantee as to capital and as to interest on £2,000,000 worth of debentures. It must be evident to every hon. Member that a scheme of this sort—for the sake of argument I will assume that it is to be successful ultimately—cannot pay for some years. It cannot be profit-making until it is complete, or, at any rate, until it is very largely complete, and therefore it will be years and years before the scheme, under the most favourable conditions, can begin to make a profit, and for the whole of that time, under this guarantee, the State has to pay the interest on £2,000,000 of debentures. There is no question about that.I take very strong objection to the guarantee, because it is the declared intention of the promoters to announce on their prospectus that this State guarantee exists. For what object? It can be with only one object—to bring in from the public money which the public would not invest otherwise. I am here, not to defend the investing capabilities of my hon. Friends, but, so far as I can, to defend the weaker people outside, who, when they see a prospectus with the State's name attached to it, do not examine it, but accept it as a State guarantee. Only the other day a clergy man, a very intimate friend of mine, to whom the saving of £100 is a serious effort of self-denial, said to me, "How is it that this investment, which I made purely because I thought the Government were behind it, is going down and down every day?" Those are the people whom I want to defend, and not hon. Members of this House. There is another point that has been raised by some of my hon. Friends opposite, who would otherwise give their support to my Amendment. That is that this Bill, at any rate, would provide useful labour. This Bill would provide useful labour only so far as the Government guarantee for £2,000,000 went. The guarantee, if it does not go into this sky-scraping object away in the Highlands, must go into industry where labour is at present. Are we to transpose labour from its present location in London or Birmingham or Manchester to the heart of the Highlands? I know the Highlands well and they would probably provide a pleasant holiday. But there is a more serious matter than that. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, on the Second Reading of the Trade Facilities Bill, gave utterance to the following idealistic views as to how a Government should act with regard to State moneys. He said:
That justifies my action to-night. The Financial Secretary went on:"At the same time it is recognised—nay, indeed, it is claimed—naturally by a Treasury Minister, that in so vital a matter as the pledging of the nation's credit, it is impossible that the Treasury should demit ultimate responsibility, and it is impossible that this House should not hold the Treasury responsible to it for its action in such matter."
My hon. Friend concluded:"It will, therefore, be essential that the Treasury should remain ultimately responsible for the decisions of the Committee, and that in order to exercise that responsibility it should have power in law to withhold its consent, if need be, to any decision of the Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1921; col. 764, Vol. 147.]
If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is supporting this Bill, I think he must have forgotten those words. I would ask him, is he aware who are the promoters of this Bill? They are many of the banks of London, many of the financiers of London, every one of them men and institutions of such high standing and such immense resources that they would find £2,000,000 in two minutes if they desired to do so. Why do they not do so? Because they fear the risk that they are asking the Government to carry. I would like to prove to the House the spirit in which the promoters view this guarantee. The principal financial witness of the promoters, when before the Select Committee, agreed that the State had already committed itself to £25,000,000, and the only question was, who were to be the participators in that £25,000,000. Speaking for the promoters of this concern, he agreed, "We may as well have our cut from the joint as anyone else." That is a very noble aspiration for a promoter of the strength and character of those men who are putting forward this Bill! It is because I am convinced of the justice of my objection to this guarantee that I oppose the Bill. If the Government or the promoters can see their way even now to withdraw from this guarantee or any guarantee in any form of State money, I, with the consent of my hon. Friend, would withdraw my Amendment. As a Member of this House I think it my duty to try and stop what I consider to be a misuse of public money."Finally, I do not think it can be too clearly emphasised at this stage that only those concerned may hope successfully to obtain the guarantee who can demonstrate that without the guarantee they will not be able to get the money. All those concerned who can put their undertakings in hand without the assistance of this guarantee, and are able to do without such assistance, will not be able to get it."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1921; col. 767, Vol. 147.]
I beg to second the Amendment. It is almost without precedent that two members of a Select Committee should oppose their own Bill in this House, but it is almost without precedent that a Select Committee should sit upon a Bill the finance of which is very much influenced by a State guarantee, while at the same time it cannot discuss that guarantee. Our business upstairs was to discuss and prove the Bill. We could not deal with the guarantee which had been made before we met. I ask the House to consider that position. Here is a Committee selected to consider a Bill which—as the Minister of Transport had already pointed out—in one vital respect violated legislative requirements. The Committee has to take expert evidence bearing in various respects on the scheme proposed, but before the Committee meets and before the evidence is heard, in the face of the fact that the Bill itself violates in a fundamental manner legislative requirements in relation to the Ministry of Transport, the promoters of this company are handed a letter by the Trades Facilities Committee saying that that Committee is prepared to guarantee the company in respect of a Bill not yet proved by the Select Committee. It may he said that that was subject to the finding of the Select Committee, but I would ask the House to listen to the terms of the letter which was read before the Select Committee, and which had been given to this company before we met:
"20th April, 1922.
Gentlemen,—With reference to previous correspondence I am directed by the Trades Facilities Act Advisory Committee to state that they are anxious to encourage schemes such as yours, and subject to the approval of the Electricity Commissioners to your scheme as a whole, including the technical details, plan of construction, public utility, and revenue earning prospects, they would be prepared to recommend a guarantee of a debenture issue equal to the paid up share capital. It is to be understood of course that the Committee cannot reserve any part of the £25,000,000 for this particular scheme, and the above is conditional on your formal application being received at a date when any of the above-named sum is stir available."
I thought it was essential that the House should know the character of the letter which was read to the Committee, which guaranteed State funds regardless of the decision of the representatives of this House, and which finally laid down conditions affecting the subject-matter of their investigations. The Mover of this Amendment has pointed out that the guarantee will have an effect in connection with the promoting of this company, and I believe it will. A Labour representative is not usually considered to be very careful of the interests of investors. I think no company ought to be dependent for its success on the influence which a State guarantee will give it with the investing public. There is not the slightest doubt about the effect which this will have upon investors, and sometimes little people will put their money into a company on the strength of the understanding that the Government is behind it, little knowing the serious character of the venture in which they may be taking part.
I would not for a moment say anything which would interfere with the success of this company which has a very laudable object, however little one may think of the possibility of its success. It is a very daring project. Let anyone consider the project, which is that of using the water power of the Highlands, at a point where, I think, the nearest town is about 41 miles away. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] A good deal of use was made of the fact that there was the possibility of attracting industry to this particular area. I think, under cross-examination, the promoters of the scheme practically dropped that suggestion. At any rate, the suggestion that there was the possibility of attracting an aluminium industry or something of that kind, was the furthest they would go. I understood when the Trades Facilities Act was before this House, that its object was to provide a, substitute for grants to local autho- rities and bodies of that kind, which were giving work described as of a non-remunerative character. This was stated to be wasteful. We are not permitted now to discuss the Trades Facilities Act over again, but I think if the House had to discuss it again, a different point of view would be taken and more interest would be shown in it, than was shown originally. While I know I am not allowed to discuss that particular Act, may I express the opinion that money put into road-making for local authorities would be more remunerative than the State guarantee which it is proposed to give to this company. Therefore I second the Amendment, principally on the ground that I think the Trades Facilities Committee has pledged the finance of the country and violated the authority of the House by giving this letter to this particular body before the Select Committee met, and also because I think the guarantee will cover the real nature of the venture to the investing public, many of whom may be very humble people.
I must confess I feel in a somewhat embarrassing position, rising to speak as Chairman of the Select Committee to which this Bill was referred, immediately after two of my colleagues have taken the rather drastic course of moving the rejection of that Bill. Their arguments were not so much directed to the merits or demerits of the scheme contained in the Bill. They made a very natural use of the forms of the House to express their censure of the Treasury and the Government in regard to a letter which I agree with them in thinking was improper. I hope they will not press the opposition to the Bill, because I think that would be unfair to the promoters and the company, and to the object which those promoters have in view, namely, the supply and development of electricity, not from coal, which is being exhausted in this country, hut from a source which committee after committee which has sat upon the water power resources of this country has pointed out should be developed in the national interest. With the development—
I do not know whether it is put across the Floor of the House to me, but an hon. Member opposite rather insinuated that I was looking for a contract. Will he say if that is so or not?
I have nothing whatever to say on the matter. I was conducting a private conversation with my neighbour, and if the hon. and gallant Member opposite chooses to listen to a private conversation, he can do so.
I will put the cap on your head outside, and let you have it.
I think we had better proceed with the discussion on the Bill.
I therefore hope the House will approach the consideration of this question on the merits of the actual proposal. I feel I am bound, as Chairman, to refer in the course of my remarks to the letter which has caused all the trouble, and I will do so later, but first let me point out, in answer to my two hon. Friends, that any scheme —I do not care where it is—for developing the water power of the Highlands must, on the face of it, appear of a somewhat speculative nature. There have hitherto been no available natural resources such as would be attractive to industry in that particular part of Scotland, and, undoubtedly, if you are to attract electrical and chemical industries and other modern industries to that part of the country, you have got to provide the power first. Power must precede the industry. That seems to me to be common-sense. I must confess that I regret the attitude taken up by the City of Dundee and other potential local consumers. When this Bill was originally before the House it was met with a great deal of opposition, and the promoters—wisely, I think—met that opposition by agreeing with the City of Dundee to a Clause which in effect cuts them out of supplying electricity to the industries of the City of Dundee, except with the consent of the corporation of that city, and it must be admitted that as the Bill now stands it would be extremely difficult for the promoters of this scheme, and of any other scheme for developing the water power of the Highlands of Scotland, to say, "We can show to Parliament that we have got this, that, and the other consumer ready to hand," but I am convinced that the water power which it is proposed to utilise in this scheme is considerable and useful, and, as far as I could gather by very close cross-examination of the witnesses, it can be produced at a remarkably cheap rate.After all, the particular scheme now under consideration of the House is the scheme which Sir John Snell, Chairman of the Water Power Resources Committee, placed first of all the schemes which they considered. Sir John Snell is head of the Electricity Commission which formerly went into this question, and I think there is no doubt that the centre of this scheme, which is Loch Ericht, is the finest existing natural reservoir for the development of water power. It is one of the highest lochs in Scotland, very long, very deep, and it has very steep sides, and by erecting dams at both ends it is possible, without inundating a large area of land or removing a single man, woman, or child, so to raise the level of Loch Ericht as to conserve and provide a source of water power second to none in the United Kingdom, I think my hon. Friends will agree that on its merits they agreed with me that they were bound to pass the preamble of the Bill and bound to suggest to Parliament that the scheme should be allowed to go forward; and if any water power—if I may express my humble judgment in this matter—is likely to prove successful in developing cheap electricity, this scheme is likely to be able to do it. The other reason why the Committee agreed to pass the preamble of the Bill was the reason that all the petitions which were lodged against the Bill were either settled or withdrawn, and that is an important consideration to a Select Committee on a private Bill. I think, when I was first appointed to the Committee and I asked the clerk how many petitions there were against the Bill, he said,
That was very formidable, but I am glad to say that, largely before we actually came to grips with the matter in Committee, a considerable number of the petitions were met by the promoters, and we were able amicably to adjust all the other petitions without any fighting. In particular, I would refer to the fact that both the Spey Fishery Board and the Tay Fishery Board were satisfied by the way in which they were met, and I would point out, in passing, that that is very significant, because Parliament last year passed an Act, a somewhat similar Act, in connection with Loch Laggan, which permitted the diversion of some of the waters of the Spey into the Spean, and this Bill provides for a further diversion of the headwaters of the Spey tributaries into the Tay system. and in spite of that further diversion of the Spey waters into the Tay, the Spey Fishery Board are satisfied that their interests are not now in any way affected by this Bill. We therefore come to the main responsibility which fell upon the Committee, after the withdrawal of all these petitions, and when the Bill practically became an unopposed Bill, namely, the financial question, and I must confess that I did consider the terms of the letter of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee, written under the date it was written, when the Bill was an opposed Bill, to be a very extraordinary letter, of which Parliament ought to take cognisance. I want the House to realise, in ease of future legislation, what it means handing over to extra Parliamentary Committees of business men, who are not Members of Parliament, matters that are Parliamentary and statutory matters. In the first place, it has been the invariable custom of Parliament, in dealing with statutory companies, to limit the amount of debentures which may be issued, to a fixed relation to the ordinary share capital of a company, and it was formerly the practice of Parliament that a statutory company, requiring powers under a private Act of Parliament, should only be authorised by Parliament to issue debentures to the amount of one-third of the ordinary share capital. Getting more lax financially, this House went a little further, and allowed an issue of debentures equal to one-half of the ordinary share capital of a statutory company, and now, for the first time in this Bill, we, the Select Committee, had the ground cut from under our feet by a, Treasury Advisory Committee, who informed us that the Government were prepared to guarantee a debenture issue, not to one-half of the amount of the ordinary share capital of the company, but to the full amount of the ordinary share capital, and this Bill is constituting a new precedent, which, of course, will be quoted in the case of every other statutory company that will come before Parliament in the future, and will affect the debenture issue of railway and other companies in the future to that extent. 9.0 P. M. I do feel that for a Committee like the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee to make that precedent, and practically to force it upon Parliament, was very improper action indeed, and worthy of the censure of this House. It is not for me to attempt to justify the manner in which the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee are using £25,000,000 voted by this House. My hon. Friends have expressed their opinion, and it is for the Government and the Treasury, who are responsible for the disbursement of the £25,000,000, to make out their case upon this issue. As I have said, Parliament voted that £25,000,000, and, therefore, it was not for the Committee upstairs, in my opinion, to say whether this company, or any other company, should get their cut from the joint, and I think we were quite right in refraining from going into that question. But I would suggest to my hon. Friend who is representing the Treasury on the Government Bench tonight, that it would be advisable in future, before any guarantee of the taxpayers' money is given to a company such as this seeking powers from Parliament, that they should wait until the Committee stage of the, Bill has gone through, and we know where we are. It seems to me that the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee were wrong on the question of half as against the whole of the debenture issue, and wrong in regard to time, because when they wrote that letter on the 20th April, they did not even know what the capital of the company was going to be, and I think I ought to explain why I, in consultation with my colleagues, altered the figure in the Bill which is set down to he the ordinary capital of this company, and therefore regulates the amount of the State guarantee. When this Bill was before the Committee, the amount of capital set down in Clause 9, which was then Clause 8, was £1,000,000, that is to say, the State guarantee would have amounted under the letter of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee to £1,000,000, the equivalent of the ordinary share capital. The Committee decided that the promoters of the Bill should be required to increase that, and I think I had better give the reason. The reason was that the engineers who appeared on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, presented to us all their statistics regarding the cost of supplying electricity, the amount of electricity that they would supply, the prices they would have to charge consumers at varying distances, according to the load factor of any given consumer, and varying matters of that kind, on the basis that the two principal power-houses of the company would be constructed and worked together as part of a single scheme, namely, the power-house at the end of the Ericht and Loch Bannock, which really develops the power coming out of Loch Ericht, and the subsidiary power-house at the other end, which is known as the Dunalister or Tummel house. On the engineering evidence, it was commercially sound in every way, and the Committee felt—and I think rightly felt—that it was no use doing a thing of this kind piecemeal, and starting the company with a small capital, so that the company would have to come to Parliament again to make a decent job. Therefore, we required, as a condition of passing the preamble of the Bill, that the capital of the company should be fixed at such an amount as would enable the two further parts of the scheme to be carried out without the company having to come to Parliament for further powers for raising capital. This is the amount which we require to be raised as ordinary share capital, before which the State guarantee does not begin to operate. We therefore increased the amount which the company is required to raise before the State guarantee becomes available from 1,000,000 to £1,750,000, and under the letter of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee—which letter stands—the Committee is liable to produce another £1,750,000 guarantee. That explains the increase of the amount of capital. It is right, I think, that I should explain this point to the House in order to illustrate my point that in future the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee should not write letters of that kind until the matter has been thrashed out before the Select Committee, and until we know what the capital of the company is going to be, and what the undertaking that is passed by Parliament is going to be. I therefore think that, as Chairman of this Committee, I should advise the House that, in my opinion, the scheme is as good a scheme as is likely to be produced by any company or any promoters for the development of water power on the Highlands. I feel that the Preamble of the Bill to that extent has been proved. The private opposition to the Bill has been met, the petitioners have withdrawn, and it would be unfair to the promoters of this company, whose names you will find clearly set out in Clause 6 of the Bill, not to pass it. The names are: The Duke of Atholl, Sir Henry Babington Smith—who is well known as a distinguished ex-civil servant—Sir Austin Ed. Harris, Mr. James E. Cox, and Mr. J. W. B. Pease —and I may acid the name of Lord Revelstoke, who also handed in evidence in support of this company, the head of the firm of Barings. I think the House, after that, will not be justified, because of this most unfortunate letter, because of its terms and its time, in turning down the request—almost the right—of this company to be allowed to proceed with their scheme, which, I believe, will make for the development of the Highlands and the development of electrical supplies, which is much needed throughout this country. I therefore urge the House to reject the Amendment of my hon. Friends, while keeping a very careful eye in future on the administrative actions of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee."I think there are 24 petitions, and the Solicit-or-General for Scotland is appearing against the Bill."
The mistake in relation to the letter of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee, to which attention has been drawn by my hon. Friends, should not, I think, lead us to turn our attention from the merits of the Measure before us to provide capital by which the promoters of this Bill are to bridle the water-power of some of the lakes and rivers in the Highlands of Scotland. Anyone acquainted with that portion of the Kingdom has, no doubt, at once in mind the fact that there is a very large amount of power running to waste there. I have on more than one occasion drawn the attention of the House to the advisability of endeavouring to lay hold on the power running to waste in the Highlands of Scotland and bridling it for use for commercial purposes. The Mover of the rejection of the Bill, in a very scornful way inquired what were the assets of this company, and said they were asking for money to be invested in a few waterfalls! There are undoubtedly a few waterfalls concerned, but I would remind my hon. Friend that they are waterfalls of vast potentialities that can be bridled and made into commercial concerns. I think the House would be well-advised to very carefully consider a proposition of this kind. Hon. Members would be more usefully employed considering a proposition of this kind than we have been on many occasions in which much larger sums of money have been involved than in the present proposal. Millions of money have been spelt, in Persia, in Mesopotamia—
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that this is not a Bill for bridling the waters of the Euphrates!
I will not oppose your ruling, Sir. The object of this Bill is the development of our own country. That is one of the things that ought to have very careful consideration. Personally, I should have liked it if the Government themselves had undertaken the task of exploiting the water-power of this country. As a matter of fact on the former occasions to which I have drawn the attention of the House it was that the Government. should themselves undertake the task of developing and exploiting the natural resources of the country. While they have not seen their way to go the whole distance with me, I would yet remind the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment that they have gone a considerable way. They at least have provided, according to figures quoted in the course of the discussion, a part of the capital asked for; and may I remind the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) that while providing it it is not the first time the Government have undertaken to raise half the capital of an industrial concern. We are reminded that in the case of the Persian Oil Company—
Yes, and Cellulose Company.
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me. They took shares and were entitled to participate in the profits. This is merely a guarantee. This does not give the State a single farthing.
Yes, and I deplore the fact that they do not provide the whole of the capital and exploit the concern themselves. It would have been much better if they had done that. At the same time they are providing a part of the money, and that is going a part of the way that I would have liked them to have gone. I am going to give this proposal very careful consideration before I follow my hon. Friend who moved its rejection into the Division Lobby. A short time ago we were considering the question of giving £25,000,000 to the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee for the purpose of stimulating industry in order that more employment might he found for our people. That, at any rate, is a merit which this Bill possesses, for it will undoubtedly provide a considerable amount of employment in a part of the country that has been very much neglected and where the provision of employment is badly needed. I think this Measure demands at our hands very careful consideration before we take the advice tendered by the Mover and Seconder of the rejection of this Bill. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) said this Measure is a daring project. I think it is, but I am convinced that its object has all the elements of success in it like the schemes undertaken by the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson) and the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Gould) and other industrial magnates.
But we do not sponge on the taxpayer.
If we begin to discuss this question from the point of view of sponging, I think we shall have a very interesting Debate, but I am afraid if we proceed along that line, Mr. Speaker will call us to order. Even if this company obtains these powers and gets the money promised by the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee, they will not be sponging upon the country. I think we ought to develop our own country. The proposal in this Bill is not sponging, and it is not wasting money. I am going to vote in favour of this Bill, and I hope a large majority of Members of this House will follow the same course, because here we have a. proposal which has in it all the elements for enabling us to begin with the development of our own country, and I think we should adopt that policy before we spend money developing other countries.
I should like the House to consider this point of view. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Measure did so, not upon the merits of the Bill, but because of an unfortunate letter which has "queered the pitch" and complicated matters. I think if it had not been for that letter my hon. Friend would never have moved the rejection of this Bill. I asked the principal witness on behalf of the promoters of this Bill whether they were prepared to go on with the Measure if they did not get this guarantee, and he said that they were, although they would much prefer having the guarantee. If the House rejects the Bill on the plea raised by my hon. Friend the result will be that the promoters will have no opportunity of proceeding with the Bill at all, because it will be lost. It would have been better if my hon. Friends had moved that the Government do not give this guarantee, and it is quite competent to move that the Trade Facilities Committee should not give this guarantee.
There is no other way.
If my hon. Friends persist in their Motion for the rejection of the Bill and the House approves, it means that this Bill and the expenses attaching to it will be lost for the time being and the promoters will have to proceed with a new Measure. I do not think there is anything wrong in the promoters approaching the Trade Facilities Committee. I am not so sure that there is so much in the letter which the Committee sent to the promoters because they safeguard the position all along. They say:
Therefore they are not granting this money of their own free will, and the Electricity Commissioners will have to approve of the technical details and the revenue earning prospects of the scheme. All these things are taken into consideration by the Advisory Committee, and when this scheme comes before them again they have not committed themselves only under certain conditions. If the Committee are not satisfied with the revenue-earning prospects they can withhold their grant, and let the promoters proceed with their own resources. Let me bring this point again before the House. If you adopt this Motion the Bill is lost and the promoters will have no possible opportunity of proceeding with the Measure. On this point let me supplement what was said by the Chairman of the Committee as regards the promoters. What the promoters proposed to do was to get powers to raise over £4,000,000, but they wanted to proceed in instalments, and the first instalment required was £1,000,000. The rest of the money they desired to get on a certificate of the Board of Trade, but we did not agree to that. We stipulated that they should complete the first stage of their scheme, the Loch Ericht, the Loch Bannock, and the Tummel, and complete the power stations in that portion of their scheme. The cost was divided into share capital of £1,750,000 and debentures of £875,000, making a total of £2,625,000. We said: "We will give you sanction to borrow an additional sum of £875,000, provided you get the consent of the Electricity Commissioners to borrow that amount." So the total sum they may raise ultimately for carrying forward this first part of the scheme amounts, in the maximum, to £3,500,000. Let me say this about the scheme—I would like to give, the House a little information about it—all the information I have is what I gathered in the Committee; I had no knowledge of the scheme prior to that—it was brought out that the hydrographic system of the river Tay is by far the most important of all the river systems in Scotland. It covers an area of 2,510 square miles. The Tweed covers an area of 1,880 square miles; the Clyde of 1,590 square miles, and the Forth of 1,500 square miles. What it is proposed to do is to take one of the most likely schemes in the British Isles. That is borne out by the report of the Water Power Resources Committee. The whole of this area has been surveyed by an eminent Italian engineer. It is rather significant that an eminent Italian engineer, who could not speak a word of English, should come to Scotland and prepare a most valuable report upon the water resources of the North of Scotland. He states that in this whole area there is an enormous potential water power, and that the ultimate cost of the complete scheme in the valley of the Tay, if carried out, would amount to nearly £20,000,000. What it is proposed to go on with is that portion of the scheme which will cost ultimately about £3,500,000. In no part of the British Isles is there a more abundant supply of water. Taking the matter as a whole, he says:"The Committee are anxious to encourage schemes such as yours, and subject to the approval of the Electricity Commissioners to your scheme as a whole, including technical details, plan of construction, public utility, and revenue earning prospects."
not in the British Isles only—"The scheme proposed constitutes one of the largest ever projected, nor are there any schemes or series of schemes in Europe"—
Let me say this, further. In this part of Scotland, which consists largely of deserted and uncultivated country-sides, the scheme would permit of works to be undertaken on a scale which might otherwise be prohibitive on account of the cost of the land. You have in this part of the British Isles a great rainfall, as heavy and as regular as in any district of Europe. The question of the rainfall is very important. It may be a very uncomfortable and disagreeable thing for those of us who have to live in those parts of Scotland, but in connection with a water power scheme of this kind it is of enormous advantage to have an abundant rainfall. The proximity of densely populated and industrial districts, together with easy means of communication, combine to make the conditions unique. May I say, in regard to what the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) said, that the final Report of the Water Power Resources Committee was in favour of the State conserving its great water resources and of the State exploiting them, but I am afraid the time has gone past for the State to dabble with ventures of this kind, so it is left to public companies of this sort to promote this scheme. At the head of this company there are men of great experience, great knowledge, and great influence; and there are powerful corporations with immense resources. I think, on the whole, when you consider this scheme and its backing, the probabilities are that a most successful undertaking will be carried out to develop the waste water power which, from the foundations of the world, has run to naught. The Water Power Resources Committee stated:"enjoying such favourable technical and economic advantages."
One of the objects of the promoters is to attempt to re-populate the Highlands, and to bring industry to them. They may be able to sell electricity in bulk. They may be able to sell electricity in bulk to the works at Kinlochleven. They agree not to compete with the municipal authorities in Dundee, but there are other towns which may be largely developed if this cheap power, conserving our coal supply, which at present is running to waste, can be utilised, and it may transform the whole face of the countryside. The Report continues:"For the most part the potential water power resources which our inquiries in Great Britain have revealed, are situated in the Scottish Highlands, and the development of these resources might have profound effects on the life of this region. The Highlands are very sparsely populated and we understand that the generally prevailing low standard of comfort in the area is responsible for an abnormal amount of emigration which it is highly desirable to arrest."
"Generally speaking, the land is poor and affords little promise of agricultural development, there are few minerals of value, and apart from sheep-rearing and what agriculture is practiced, the population are dependent on the fishing industry, forestry and sport for a difficult existence. A main contributory factor to the emigration which takes place is the absence of social and domestic amenities.
Then the Report goes on to deal with the conditions at Fort, William and Kinlochleven, where aluminium works are in operation just now. It says that in 1926 £170,000 was distributed in wages.It has been represented to us that the development of water powers in the Highlands would tend to stop the tide of emigration, and would actually lead to immigration of labour from the Lowlands, and that at least in some cases the growth of an industrial population would cause a demand for foodstuffs which would lead to an improvement in the pastoral agriculture of the adjoining area."
that is another company altogether—"The company, when it is installed at Fort William"—
I think that that justifies the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee in giving its guarantee. Finally, the Water Power Re- sources Committee summaries its Report as follows:"will be able to give employment to from 2,000 to 3,000 men; and during the actual construction of the works a great many more men will be employed."
"Considering broadly the results of our inquiries, we find that in Scotland, especially the Highlands, the natural conditions are such as to facilitate the production of power. In this area the bulk of the larger water powers of the British Isles is situated, and although it is remote from the present industrial centres, no part of it is far from the sea or the Caledonian Canal…
I submit that there is a good case to attempt to carry out this great experiment in the Highlands. The chances are in favour of the proper construction of this great scheme, utilising water power which is now running to waste, without doing any harm to the fishing interest and without polluting the rivers. The water is to be returned to the stream, it is passed from power station to power station, and the fullest possible energy is taken out of it. Then, too, there is the coal saving which on a small part of the scheme represents about 200,000 tons per annum. There is also the prospect of the repopulation of the Highlands, and the bringing of industry there. I have in my hand a note in connection with the manufacture of aluminium in which it is stated that the trade with Germany during the last three years has quadrupled. In the year 1913 the total German imports were 200 tons. For the first three months of 1920 they were 75 tons; for the first three months of 1921 they were 116 tons; and in the first three months of 1922 they were 470 tons. There are possibilities there with this cheap power of establishing in this desolate deserted waste district in Scotland an industry that will utilise the population of the Highlands, bring prosperity to the Highlands, and establish on a firmer footing the manufacture of aluminium. I say, therefore, that a good case has been made out for this Bill. I implore the House not to be led astray by what has been said against the action of the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee. That Committee saw fit to communicate with the promoters of the Bill and to give them an assurance that, provided certain conditions were fully fulfilled, and pro- vided they were satisfied with all the details of the scheme, and that they had the recommendation of the Electricity Commissioners, they would give their sanction to guaranteeing the interest upon the debentures. Do not let us decide this question upon a question of prejudice against the action, whether foolish or otherwise, of the Advisory Committee. Let us deal with the scheme on its merits. The final point is this, that if we accept this Motion and reject this Bill, then the Bill is lost, the scheme is lost, and the promoters will have no choice but to go back. They are prepared to go forward without a guarantee, but they would much prefer to have the guarantee. I hope the House will hesitate before finally rejecting the Bill.We consider that the utilisation of the water powers of the United Kingdom would tend to relieve the increasing congestion of our large centres of population, and in the case of the Highlands of Scotland would assist materially in improving the present low standard of comfort of the inhabitants of that area, and thus arresting the abnormal emigration from it."
This is a Private Bill. It is not introduced as of the nature of a Government Measure, and nothing could be further from the intentions of the Government than to take any step to make it a Government Measure by putting on Government Whips or doing anything of that sort. I most earnestly desire that, if possible, so extremely useful and promising a Measure may obtain its next stage in procedure to-night, and it is because I may possibly be able to do something to remove one of the principal obstacles in its path that I venture to trouble the House at this hour. I understand that the principal objection that has arisen is in connection with a letter written by the Advisory Committee. Let me remind the House that that letter was written on behalf of a Committee which is obviously a Committee of the Treasury. It consists of three gentlemen of unique experience in business matters. [An HON. MEMBER: "They have never been in this House!"] No, their experience is not in Parliament or in legal procedure. I should like to make it quite clear that that Committee, being an Advisory Committee responsible to the Treasury, full and absolute responsibility for any act of culpability on their part attaches to no one else than to Treasury Ministers.These three gentlemen perform duties, day in and day out, at an immense cost of time and energy to themselves, and with the greatest possible profit and advantage to the State. They act within their instructions. They act under the authority delegated to them, first. from this House to the Treasury and then from the Treasury to the Committee, so that if any blame there be for any act of theirs, that blame really falls entirely on the Treasury for not adequately and properly limiting their authority and their powers. Somewhat harsh language has been used about this letter. I cannot but think that the House will not regard it as necessary to use language more harsh than need be. It is, I believe, necessary to make it clear that in everything this Advisory Committee does, it always specifically and clearly tells those who go to it for help that they must have the necessary legal and Parliamentary authority. That is made perfectly clear to every applicant to the Committee for a guarantee. I take it that the criticism that is expressed against this letter amounts to this: that in this particular letter no special reservation was made of the authority of the Committee. The House will, I am confident, allow me to assure it that nothing would be more startling—I might even say more shocking to the Members of the Committee—just as I admit I would be startled and shocked myself—than for it to be supposed that their action has been in the nature of a disregard of the authority of the Committee or of this House. I am perfectly certain the House will let me assure it that nothing could have been further from the intention of these three gentlemen. Let me suggest to the House this practical difficulty as regards the situation. In the nature of the case schemes which come to the Advisory Committee for their assistance and a guarantee, are schemes which without that guarantee could not come to birth, and if I may say so the hon. Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone), with whose observations I was in full agreement, certainly made something of an error in saying that the scheme could be proceeded with without The guarantee, because I am assured by the proceedings of the Advisory Committee that it could not proceed to a prosperous birth without the assistance of the guarantee. That being so, suppose that the scheme cannot come to birth without the assistance of the guarantee—
I was not giving that as my own opinion. It was given in answer to a question which I put to the principal promoter of the Bill, as to Whether the scheme could be proceeded with without the guarantee.
I am not, of course, aware of the conditions under which the question was asked, but the fact that, in the judgment of the Advisory Committee, the scheme was entitled to the guarantee, carries with it the absolute assurance that without the guarantee it could not proceed. The point I was about to make clear to the House is this. Since these are schemes which cannot hope to succeed without the guarantee, it must be obvious that there will be a great practical difficulty if some preliminary pronouncement from the Committee cannot be received before all the expense is incurred of launching the scheme as far as the undertaking of an inquiry before the Private Bill Committee. It would not be worth the promoters' while to incur all the expense of going so far as a Private Bill here, unless they can have some assurance that, if they are successful before the Private Bill Committee, the guarantee will afterwards be forthcoming.
Surely they will not need that if the scheme is inherently sound?
I think the hon. Member has not fully appreciated the essential purpose of the Trade Facilities Act It is not to help schemes that can help themselves. Nothing would be more foolish, if I may say so, than to do that. It is to help often useful and promising schemes to get over the point which they cannot surmount without the help of the guarantee. I think the House will see that there is a real dilemma unless some preliminary inquiry by the Trade Facilities Advisory Committee can be undertaken before the expensive procedure is entered upon which culminates in a Private Bill Committee. I am deeply impressed by the suggestion that in any pronouncement from the Treasury—because such a letter is, indeed, a Treasury letter, for which the Advisory Committee must not be blamed—there should be any hint of disregard of the full and absolute power of the Private Bill Committee to try every case fully and completely on its merits. Nothing could be further from our intention than that any such indication of opinion by the Advisory Com- mittee should in any way flout—I think that that was the horrifying word which was used—the authority of the Private Bill Committee. I think the hon. Member for East Renfrew really sees what must have been in the mind of the Advisory Committee. The House, I am sure, will realise that the point at which this Committee of business men conies into contact, in the case of such a Bill as this, with the proceedings in Parliament, is the Electricity Commission. The approval of the Electricity Commissioners is the preliminary stage leading up through the Ministry of Transport to the statement of opinion for the use of the Private Bill Committee. It is only when the step of the consideration of the Electricity Commissioners has been overcome that this long road which leads into the recesses of Westminster is seen to be clear. I am sure that in reserving the assent of the Electricity Commissioners it would be present to the mind of the Advisory Committee that they were really reserving the whole question of Parliamentary consent. For the future I give the House the assurance that it shall be made very clear that the result of any application to the Advisory Committee, and through them to the Treasury, which necessitates the assent of this House in any shape or form, would —as we, of course, know to be the case —only be, and can only be, subject wholly and absolutely to the consent and approval of this House.Into the merits of this Bill I will not venture to go. It is not a matter for me to discuss. From the Treasury point of view, it is enough that the Advisory Committee, to whom the consideration of these matters has been delegated under an Act of Parliament, is in favour of the Bill, and that in the course of the ordinary procedure the merits of the Bill have been considered in detail. The merits of the Bill, as I understand the matter, apart from these questions as to the action of the Advisory Committee, really were not questioned before the Private Bill Committee. Some questions as to the merits of the Bill have been raised tonight in the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the opposition, but that may have been due rather to the emotions of the occasion than to a desire to bring that matter on to the Floor of the House. Another line of argument which very naturally has occurred in the Debate is one which was really more relevant to the Second Reading of the Trade Facilities Bill. The question of policy was then decided by the House. Many of the criticisms that have been advanced against this Bill were really directed against the policy of the Trade. Facilities Act. This, if I may say so, is a typical case under the Trade Facilities Act. If the policy of that Measure has to be discussed, there are other and, no doubt, far more favourable opportunities for doing so. The whole administration of the Act can be discussed on those all too frequent occasions when the administration of the financial services of the country by the Treasury is under discussion, and the policy of the Act can also be discussed on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. So far as the particular merits of this Bill go, the matter is clear from the decision of the Committee. As far as this unfortunate stumbling block of the letter goes, I trust I have been able to do something to remove the obstacle to the Bill which lies on the path of the House. Finally, I certainly would say that, from the point of view of one who has watched the extremely assiduous and careful and cautious work of the Advisory Committee, I sincerely trust that every obstacle may be removed from the path of the Bill, the immediate effect of which will be to employ 3,000 men this year and 6,000 in the third year.
The Financial Secretary has certainly thrown oil on troubled waters, but I must say he has not made out a case on the question whether this Bill is economically sound or not. In fact, he appeared to have considerable doubt on that point. I was much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), but until its concluding sentence I was not aware whether he was going to support the Bill or not. At any rate, he was not at all satisfied with the way in which the money was to be guaranteed by the State. I want to know whether the fact that this money is guaranteed by the State is going to appear on the prospectus of the company or not? It is all very well to say that the State under exceptional circumstances may dabble in possibly unprofitable enterprises, but are you going to allow the good name of the State to attract the unwary who invest their money in a scheme which personally I believe to be economically unsound? That is the real point, and I do not think it has been touched upon by the supporters of the Measure. There has been a lot of talk about unemployment, and the hon. Gentleman has stated that this scheme will result in employing 3,000 men this year and 6,000 in the third year; but how are these people going to live at a height of 1,500 feet, and often higher, during the winter? Are houses going to be built for them? Is Government assistance by way of loan going to be given for the purpose of housing people at a height of 1,500 feet in the North of Scotland? It was pointed out, I think by the Seconder, that only a limited amount of money is available. Therefore bring the work to where there is a population that needs it instead of taking people up to what are very delightful places in summer, but are not such places as you would like to take working men from London, Manchester or Glasgow, on the Highlands of Scotland, during the winter months.Allusion was made to aluminium, and an hon. Member appealed, owing to the imports of German aluminium goods, for cheap power which would enable us to compete. Why was not this credit facility given to the British Aluminium Company, which obtained a Bill last year for the Lochabar scheme, which was to provide cheap power for the British Aluminium Company. The difference between the two schemes is that in the case of the British Aluminium Company you have solid assets and here you have nothing—not even customers. I most strongly oppose it, not only from the point of Government credit but from other points of view, because I do no think the Bill is economically sound or will be of benefit in the end to the community as a whole. It is easy to talk about harnessing rivers. Harnessing one river is very different from harnessing a number of smaller rivers, including a large number of Scotch burns. It is far more expensive, and I am certain the promoters will have to come for more money. If the firms of the highest repute in the City which have been enumerated were to go to the money market and put their names to what they believed to he a sound scheme they would get the money in five minutes, and the State would not be called upon to guarantee it. We have had some experience of dams for power and for irrigation, and I would remind hon. Members of what happened in the Blue Nile scheme and the amount of money which has had to be expended in trying to complete a scheme which was thought to be far cheaper than it turned out to be in the end. 10.0 P.M. I should like to call attention to one or two Clauses of the Bill. I was rather struck with Clause 27 which says, rightly, that every effort shall he made to preserve the beauties of the district. I am sure the House will entirely agree with that, but in Sub-section (6) it says:
So far as preserving the beauties of the district is concerned the provision is not worth the paper it is written on. Again, Sub-section (7) says:"Provided always that no recommendations or orders made under this Section shall be of such a character as would be likely to imperil the financial success of the undertaking."
That means that on every one of these steel girders which are to carry the electrical power you can have advertisements inviting companies to come to the Highlands to bring power into every home. You can have cheap power and cheap whiskey, and you can have the whole countryside decorated. There is not much safety there. I do not often find that Scotch lairds and riparian owners are caught napping in respect of their own business, and they can generally look after themselves pretty well. I think I know the district quite well. I have not been approached either by the Spey Fishery Board or the Tay Fishery Board in any way whatever, and I understand they are satisfied with the Bill. I was rather struck by a letter I saw the other day from a firm of agents in Perth. They were advising all their clients along the Tay that they should not object to the Bill because it had this advantage, that it took the water from the Spey. As far as the Spey is concerned, the promoters say, "Do not worry about the Bill, because you are being guaranteed a certain minimum flow, which will prevent the river running down too low." Then when you examine the provisions themselves in Clause 43, it says, "So many million gallons must he allowed to go down the rivers Truim and Tromie before the power company can take any water at all, and at the end there is a penalty Clause which says that for every day in which the apparatus registering the amount of water that goes down is out of order the sum of £20 shall be paid to the Spey Fishery Board. But if you turn to Clause 12 you see that that again is not worth the paper it is written on, because it says that, supposing the company defaults in supplying power, as in a, dry summer it very likely will, every customer who has a contract with the company can claim for £10 a day for each particular work in which he is engaged and each enterprise may ask up to £500. Therefore, if they run short of water, naturally the companies will say, "We will forfeit the £20 a day to the Spey Fishery Board and will take the whole of the water of the rivers Truim and Tromie and try to avoid paying £10 a day to each customer along the river. There are provisions made forforce majeure, which, I think, excludes liability.Force majeure means, I suppose, an act of God, which I have heard described as an act which no reasonable person will believe God will perform. That is, I suppose, to provide a safeguard to the company as far as penalties are concerned. I want to know where are the customers who are coming for this water power? We are told it is going to attract numbers of companies there, but I understand the whole of the horse power is only 56,000. There are some single generating stations in not very large towns in this country which have an equal amount of power to sell, and they have someone to sell it to, but in this Bill, as far as I can make out, there is no certain customer. You have in Clause 45 the counties of Perth, Kinross, and Forfar, and various parishes in the Highlands with a few houses in each, and you are going to supply power to places which are mere shooting boxes. It is too absurd to bring power up there. Even Perth and Dundee are excluded from the Bill, so that you have to rely on industries which may potentially be developed in the future owing to the presence of this power. As to customers themselves, there seems to be hardly one, except shooting lodges and detached villages. There is even a provision to safeguard the Duke of Atholl, one of the promoters of the Bill, because Sub-section 1 of Clause 74 says the company shall not interfere with or object to the owner affording supplies of electricity from his own generating station at Blair Atholl or any other generating station he may have or may erect on premises on his estates. He is one of the promoters of the Measure, and yet he thinks so little of it that a special Clause is put in to protect him. This is a Measure which we ought to deal with on broad principle, and the broad principle is this, that by giving guarantees in a way like this we may attract the small investor to put his money into an uneconomic concern, and, therefore, cause him to lose it. That is the reason why I oppose the Bill."The company shall not exhibit or permit to be exhibited any advertisement other than advertisements relating to the undertaking."
Any temerity which I feel in addressing the House has been nullified by the effective speeches which have been made in favour of the Bill, and the apparent sterility of the speeches which have been made in opposition. It was a significant fact that the Mover and the Seconder of this postponing Amendment spoke, not with a Scottish accent, which might have charmed us even though the arguments had not convinced us, but with one voice from Manchester and the other from Chester-le-Street. Lest the economic pride which must always be associated with a Member for such a great industrial centre as Manchester should carry, in the speech of the Mover, more weight than is justified, I rise as a Member for the same city to differ with such emphasis as I can from the Mover of the Resolution. If I have followed the Debate correctly, it has been alleged that the real difficulty about this Bill is the fact that a letter has been written, with the authority of someone who had no right to give it, giving a guarantee which the Government had no right to give without the leave of this House. May I briefly allude to the terms of that letter. It says:
It does not say "to encourage your scheme," but "to encourage schemes such as yours.""I am directed by the Trade Facilities Act Advisory Committee to state that they are anxious to encourage schemes such as yours"—
That is not a guarantee. I appeal to the Committee to tell me what a letter of that nature would be worth in the city. What could business men collect on a guarantee of that nature? It is written with a legal ability which as a lawyer I cannot help admiring. It means nothing in £ s. d., and would be perfectly worthless in a Court of Law. That letter guarantees nobody anything. It is a conditional encouragement which has no worth. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury referred to the scheme as of prosperous birth. Perhaps he will allow me to adopt his simile and say that that letter has not even a reasonable conception. The Mover of the Amendment did not attack the Trades Facilities Act. He could not do it. That is already the considered opinion of this House. He confined himself to attacking the particular Bill which we are considering. He forgot that it was owing to his own recommendation as a member of the Advisory Committee that a large number of us held our hands and did not oppose the Bill on its former introduction into the House. The hon. Member is reported as having said that the Grampian Electricity Supply Bill was an admirable project in itself. It was owing to that opinion from him that the opposition was withheld at a former period."and, subject to the approval of the Electricity Commissioners to your scheme as a whole, including technical details, plan of construction, public utility, and revenue earning prospects, they would be prepared to recommend."
That remark was made before the Select Committee.
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. From my point of view it is not material when the hon. Member made the remark, whether before or after the Select Committee. He is prepared to admit that at some period or another he gave his blessing to the scheme which he is to-night attacking. What has led to this still-born caution? What are the grounds on which he asks those whom he formerly convinced to change their whole views of the case and to follow him in his apostacy? May I briefly review those grounds? He condemns this Bill on the ground that it is of a speculative nature. I suppose by that he means that there is no guarantee for those who invest their money that they will get a reasonable return. That sounds good business, but could the hon. Member commend any scheme in this country or in any country since the world began that could give a guarantee that it was not a speculative concern? If he could come down to this House and say that for every pound we put into some scheme we should get 20s. back in the course of years, we shall all retire from our labours in this worldly career. There is no scheme that is not speculative, and if it was not speculative, in my humble opinion nobody would put their money into it. [Laughter.] I am glad to be able to congratulate my hon. Friend, if I interpret his laughter correctly, on having discovered some commercial enterprise which he is prepared to guarantee. I hope he will give me the benefit of its name.He went on to a second proposition. He said, apparently with conviction, that the test whether a scheme should be recommended to this House was whether it had assets which would guarantee the Government, in case of subsequent failure, the return of its money. That is not what the Act says. By giving that interpretation my hon. Friend has adopted a judicial position. He has given an interpretation of a legislative decision of this House, and he is not entitled to do it. May I assume for a moment that that is a correct proposition, and that this House is only entitled to guarantee schemes which in their judgment have assets available for subsequent remuneration or compensation. That only means one thing, and that is, that in the first place you must never subsidise any proposition which has not already got a large amount of capital invested in it, and that you must never subsidise any proposition that has not some natural gifts which will subsequently reimburse you. That is not in any sense the intention of the Act. The Act, if I may be so bold as to interpret the spirit of it, is for the purpose of encouraging or even beginning undertakings which, according to human probability, may promise prosperity and remuneration and, on the way, may guarantee employment. My hon. Friend in moving the rejection of the Bill asked, with studied contempt, "What are the assets of this Highland scheme?" He replied, with an assumption of contemptuousness: "Waterfalls and salmon fisheries." He has yet to learn that waterfalls are in fact among the greatest national assets that any country can possess. He has yet to travel to America and find that a great deal of American commercial stability is due to the fact that she can develop motive power at a minimum of expense and on a maximum of efficiency. He was followed by a representative of that distinguished party who sit on my right There it was difficult to catch the Scotch accent, but it was possible in the right hon. Gentleman who spoke later to discover a Scotchman who was in favour of this Bill, and it is a significant fact that the Scotch people as a body are in favour of this scheme. We have yet to learn that they are a bad business people. It is a significant fact that all the engineering experts have recommended that this scheme may be reasonably undertaken with every prospect, humanly speaking, of success. It is a significant fact that the bankers are prepared to back it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is a remarkable fact that, the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. Briggs) in his first thoughts, which are always the best, was prepared to support it, and with what small capacity I have I ask the House not to consider a worthless letter which, if I may adopt the contemptible simile, is only a red herring, and not even good red, drawn across the merits of an excellent Bill which will produce employment and develop a barren part of the country in which at the moment there is nothing but sporting rights and desolation.
This Bill has for its object the utilisation of water power to generate electricity and thus bring great benefits to a part of the country with which I am very well acquainted. I have had the advantage of studying the detailed plans of this scheme upon the spot, and in my belief it will do a great deal of good in the way of economising coal and distributing industries over a large area along the route over which the electricity is to brought. Some speaker said that this sort of scheme ought to be confined to the great centres of population. I do not think so. I think that in the future we ought to endeavour to bring our people out of these great towns, where they are so much overcrowded, and start industries in small towns and country districts where industries do not exist at present. One thing leads me to advocate this scheme—in which I have no financial interest whatever—from the patriotic point of view. We are very far behind other countries in this matter of generating electricity from water power. Allusion has been made to the fact that the chief engineer who reported on this scheme is an Italian. The fact is that in Italy they have got far ahead of us in this particular line long ago. Even in Spain, which we usually consider a backward country, they are far ahead of us in this matter of generating electricity by water power. I have seen the examples myself.Some fourteen years ago I saw a scheme of bringing electricity from certain falls to the gold mines of Mysore, a distance of 60 or 70 miles. The electricity was brought through wires on poles which went for miles across the country. At that time, although that was a native state and the scheme had been carried out by a native prime minister, it was the biggest thing of the kind in the world. It has been superseded since. We are, therefore, very far behind in our country in this matter. We have heard to-night statements by hon. Members that this is the most promising scheme which can be projected with the British Isles. I think it would be a thousand pities if this House were to do anything towards rejecting the scheme. The only thing that is brought against it is the letter with regard to the Government guarantee. When I listened to the speech of the Mover of the Amendment I fancied I was listening to a Second Reading speech on the Trade Facilities Bill, which the House passed last year. I am not an advocate of State interference with industry. As a general rule I should oppose that sort of thing. But the Trade Facilities Act has been passed, and anything against guarantees of that sort ought to have been said while that Act was a Bill. Is this scheme one under which a guarantee should be given in accordance with that Act? I have never heard what guarantees were given under that Act, but I read in the newspapers the other day that there was to be a guarantee of £3,000,000 to Portugal, to encourage trade between Portugal and this country, and I believe we have guaranteed the Under- ground Railway of London and various Colonial schemes. I do not know of any scheme under which a guarantee is being given to my own country of Scotland. I do not see why we should not participate in the advantages, if there be any, of such a guarantee. Under the Trade Facilities Act it was proposed to give guarantees to those schemes which might be carried out in the course of years, the guarantee being required in order to make the proposers start their project at once and so relieve unemployment. That, I understand, is the distinction between a proposal which requires a guarantee and a proposal which does not require a guarantee. In the circumstances, I can see no harm it, the proposal to give a guarantee under this Bill. Therefore I give the Bill my most hearty support.
I rise, with the utmost possible pleasure to support the attitude towards the Bill of my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken. There has been a great deal, not only of loose thought, but of still looser talk, about what is behind this Measure. My hon. Friend the Member for the Blackley Division of Manchester talked about Scotland desiring English gold. Why "English" gold? Hon. Members know very well that we send Scotsmen here in large numbers, in order to make gold for the English. Why, then, try to raise this racial distinction as to whose gold it is? I hope sincerely, when the discussions on the Bill are finished, some portion of it will most distinctly become Scottish gold. What has surprised me in this Debate is the extraordinary combination of forces arrayed against the Bill. We had the hon. Member for the Blackley Division, whom I take to be a fairly sound reactionary, opposing it on this side, and opposing it from those benches, the occupants of which purport to represent Labour, we had the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). The case he made against the Bill was that this was a most ludicrous scheme because it was going to generate power in a part of the country where no industries have been established. He seemed to suggest that the power should be put into those areas where industry is thriving. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Fife (Sir A. Sprot) has alluded to that point. I should like to meet the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street on that point on any platform in any industrial area. What is the substance of his argument? It is chat we should congest industry and employment into the very areas where at present there is hardly any decent air to breathe, where there are far too few houses, and where the conditions of life are wretched, dismal and miserable. In effect, he says: "For heaven's sake do not take the working people into the cleaner, brighter and more wholesome surroundings, but keep them in those surroundings which every political party agrees are not surroundings in which people ought to be kept, if it is possible to put them else where." I think the attitude of the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) was much more to the point, and I was glad for once in a way to see one of the leaders of the Labour party who did himself justice, took his courage in both hands and administered a mild rebuke to the hon. Member behind him.This Measure deserves support, and I think the sort of opposition which it has received is the best guarantee that we ought to allow the Bill to proceed. I emphatically say that if we pass the Bill, it is going to do a very great thing, not merely for the Highlands, but for many parts of the Lowlands. I listened to the criticisms of the hon. Member for Ton-bridge (Lieut.-Colonel Spender Clay), who made an interesting and entertaining speech, but left out of account the great fundamental purpose of such a proposal as this. The Government guarantee has been criticised, and that is perfectly legitimate. We are entitled to call in question the manner in which the Advisory Committee offered this sum, but that point has been adequately dealt with, and, to my mind, a guarantee of anything up to £2,000,000 is, in any case, perfectly justified. It is being offered to develop a great scheme which, undoubtedly, when in operation, will, sooner, I believe, than later, afford employment over wide tracts in our own land which suffer and have suffered increasingly since the War from depopulation. The other day this House passed with great enthusiasm a Measure for Empire settlement, involving great guarantees from the Government. Why should we not offer Imperial settlement at home as well as abroad? Why should the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) cavil at this financial transaction, if he is willing to go on to any platform in the country and advocate the spending of money on the development of the Empire? Let them begin by developing the Empire in the Highlands and the Lowlands of Scotland. I hope that the hon. Member and other hon. Members will join in supporting the Bill.
If either the hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill or the hon. Gentleman who seconded it was in his place, I should venture to appeal to them not to put the House to the trouble of a Division. Most of the arguments adduced against the Bill have been dealt with by previous speakers, and the bogey of what may call the famous letter has been shattered. It has been pointed out by the hon. Member for the Blackley Division (Mr. Briggs) that he objected to the Bill because its passage involved, he said, a misuse of public money. What did he mean by that? It really means that the operation of the Trade Facilities Committee can be shot at only in respect of Bills which happen to come before this House. That is a very material point. There may be very serious objection on the part of some hon. Members to the activities of the Trade Facilities Committee. Objections have been raised on that score from all quarters of the House to-night, but when the hon. Member for the Blackley Division, who is not now in his place, cited a case which he considered to be a good case for the advance of public money by the Trade Facilities Committee, and that was the case of the Metropolitan railways, I asked if he would also give the House other instances in which that Committee had recommended schemes, and the hon. Member was not able to comply with my request. There may have been instances which, had they come before the House, the House would have considered unwise on the part of the Trade Facilities Committee, and therefore it comes to this, that this is not an occasion on which to criticise the operations of the Trade Facilities Committee, because it is only in respect of some Bills which come before this House that the operations of that Committee can be criticised, and I submit that that is a material point against the argument of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill.I am bound to say that the famous letter, when it was read out, did not make my flesh creep. It seems quite clear to me that the Committee, when it wrote that letter, had in mind—did not emphasise the fact, but had in mind—that the guarantee could not take effect until the Bill had passed through this House. They did not specifically draw attention to that fact, but it must be apparent to the simplest intelligence that, whatever the guarantee suggested by the Committee, it could not take effect until the House had given its approval to this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Ton-bridge (Lieut.-Colonel Spender Clay), and, indeed, the hon. Member who moved the rejection, objected to the probability that in the prospectus issued to the public the fact that this guarantee was to be given would be disclosed. I venture to ask this. If the gentlemen who are promoting this Bill do not in their prospectus disclose how part of their capital is to be raised, will they not be obtaining money under false pretences. The hon. Gentlemen who object to this Bill say that the public will be brought in and will be allowed to subscribe by reason and by virtue of the fact that the Trade Facilities Committee are guaranteeing a certain sum under the Bill. I say that it is imperative that they should disclose that fact, and I believe the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) will bear me out.
No; certainly not. There is no reason why a company should say who is going to subscribe to its debenture stock unless it thinks that, by stating that the Government are going to guarantee the debenture stock, that will give an incentive to the investor to come in.
Assuming that the right hon. Gentleman is correct in what he says—
—and, of course, the House always listens to him with great respect on these matters, although I differ from him in this instance —but assuming he is correct, then I say this: There have been speeches made in this House to-night by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment and by the hon. and gallant Member for Tonbridge, and now an interpolation by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, of which the public outside will doubtless take note. The public always listens to the right hon. Gentleman.
No; I wish they would.
No one can say, after the Debate which has taken place in this House to-night, that the public are being asked to subscribe money under false pretences. On that matter, if there be a doubt in the minds of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and others who disapprove of this Bill, let them print their speeches, and circulate those speeches throughout the country. Le them pay for their publication in the public Press. If they do that, I venture to say that that will remove any misconception on the part of the public, and, indeed, remove most of the arguments that have been adduced against this Bill. In view of all the arguments that have been submitted this evening in favour of this Bill, I hope the hon. Member who moved its rejection will withdraw his Amendment, and not put the House to the trouble of a division.
During your absence from the Chair, Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Deputy-Speaker was in the Chair, I misinterpreted a whispered conversation more or less between my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Lieut. - Colonel Spender Clay), who has since left the House, and I made use, probably, of some silly observation across the floor of the House. It is my duty frankly to admit it, and apologise for what I said. I feel I was wrong, and frankly admit it. I may say that, until Friday, I had hardly any knowledge that this Bill was in existence. It was only on Friday that my attention was drawn to it, and I then took some interest in it, because, after travelling in distant countries, it is always present to my mind, on my return, that we seem to have made no effort in this country to try to utilise the water-power wherever it exists in Great Britain. It has been with me a constant tonic of conversation with those who are interested in industrial concerns—which I am not—why they did not endeavour to cheapen the cost by ascertaining the possibility of harnessing the water-power in one part or other of the country.This is one of the proposals that has been thoroughly investigated, and I have tried latterly to inquire into it, and I want to tell the House that I had no idea who were the directors until I heard the list read out by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore). What I did assume was that the Government would safeguard the public interest by being satisfied with the proceedings in Committee upstairs, and I assumed that evidence would be produced to this House that the scheme was a satisfactory one. Therefore in all the circumstances it seems to me I am justified in doing what I am going to do, support this Bill. Hon. Members who preceded me spoke of the Government guaranteeing the principal and interest on the prospectus, but really there is not much in that point. I think I am right in saying that before any prospectus can be issued it will have to be submitted to the Treasury for their approval.
Before any prospectus is issued it will have to come before the Advisory Committee for their approval, but the final tribunal for this purpose is the Treasury.
This point seems to have been taken outside, but I took it that the Treasury would have the final say as to whether they would or would not approve of the prospectus in relation to the Government guarantee.
Then I think we will be safeguarded there. The question before the promoters seems to have been taking advantage of the Trades Facilities Act and the guarantees possible under it to accelerate the work with a view of helping forward the relief of unemployment. If the scheme be successful, it might very easily revolutionise the trade of the country. I appeal to hon. Members who have not had the opportunity of seeing the way in which water power has been developed in every country in the world except this, to give this Bill some encouragement.
I am not going to say anything about the details of this Bill, because the fact that the Committee were unanimous in recommending it is a sufficient guarantee to me in regard to a Measure of this kind, more especially coming from a body of hon. Members of that character. I also support this Measure on the broader issue, that is the necessity of creating some industry in the Highlands of Scotland, where depopulation has been going on for a generation. Even if the scheme does involve the spending of a little money, it would be beneficial in the future. The hon. Member for Tonbridge (Colonel Spender-Clay) said that working men from Manchester would not be tempted to go and live in the Highlands at a height of 1,500 feet, but, at any rate, the scheme would prevent men coming from the Highlands to Manchester and Glasgow and competing with them in the labour market. I think we ought to spend money as freely in developing the natural powers of this country as we are willing to do in Mesopotamia and other places abroad.
I wish, in the first instance, to withdraw as fully, I hope, and as sincerely as the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir J. Norton-Griffiths) any remarks which passed between us earlier in the evening. Surely, however, the littlecontretemps between us shows the extreme danger of dallying with matters of this sort, and what was a perfectly innocent remark of mine, under the circumstances of a Bill of this sort being before this House was strongly resented by the hon. and gallant Member I would ask the House to consider whether it would not be wise to reject this Bill, on two grounds. In the first place, there is a financial objection, and, in the second place, there is a technical objection. I would remind hon. Members that this is not the first appearance of this scheme. The original scheme embraced a very large region of Scotland as the area of supply. With that large area it was quite possible that a financial success might have been made of the scheme, but opposition was raised by municipalities and other power companies, and the original area was reduced to a figure of about 25 per cent. of what it would formerly have been. All the richer parts of that area were taken out of the scope of this proposal and given to other power companies.Therefore, so far as the financial position is concerned, the whole of the gilt has been washed off the gingerbread. As a result of that, it would be impossible in the City of London to raise the necessary capital for carrying out this scheme. I would point out to the supporters of this proposal that the mere fact of the names of great bankers and financiers being behind the promoters of the Bill, does not prove in the very least that there is anything useful in the future of the company. Bankers do not put their names down for the promotion of Private Bills with any intention of holding the shares subsequently issued, but entirely in the ordinary course of their business of underwriting those shares and ultimately selling them to the public at a profit. Therefore, the mere fact that they are Concerned in this matter does not prove that this is a sound financial proposition. I would touch upon the technical point. Of all the mare's nests and plausible ideas in engineering, probably waterpower schemes are the worst. It is extremely doubtful whether in the industrial parts of this country it is not more economical to transmit power by gas than by electricity. The thing is being fought out at present by eminent engineers, and it is a very doubtful point indeed whether, in a small radius, particularly of metallurgical industries, where there is great concentration, producer gas is not a much more economical method of transmission of power than water. Attention has been called to the gigantic water power schemes abroad, but in every case these have been in countries where no coal supplies are available. It is no use drawing a parallel with Italy, where there is practically no coal at all, nor with Mysore, where, again, there is no coal nearer than Hyderabad. It is no use trying to parallel the case of Niagara Falls, or the great schemes of California, or Mexico, or of Central America. In every one of those schemes it is practically impossible to get coal near the place where the power is going to be used. In a country like this, where coal supplies are available, it is perfectly ludicrous to be going to the top of the Grampian Mountains to start power schemes there in the hope that some business men will subsequently go out and start works. The finance of this scheme is entirely bad. It is perfectly easy for a Committee upstairs to come to a completely wrong judgment on technical points, particularly when there is no opposition to a Bill. If the expert evidence comes entirely from one side, and they have no opportunity of comparing it with expert evidence on the side of these who oppose the scheme, a non-technical Committee, knowing a good deal, it may be, about present-day politics are absolutely as wax in the hands of the experts in a case of this sort, and therefore it is unwise for any
Division No. 119.
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gillis, William||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Glyn, Major Ralph||Naylor, Thomas Ellis|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Neal, Arthur|
|Baird, sir John Lawrence||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Banton, George||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gregory, Holman||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Grenfell, E. C.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Parker, James|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Grundy, T. W.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hallwood, Augustine||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Pratt, John William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Richardson, Sir Alex, (Gravesend)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hinds, John||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bromfield, William||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Robertson, John|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Cairns, John||Hudson, R. M.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hurd, Percy A.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Irving, Dan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Casey, T. W.||Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Scott, sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Kennedy, Thomas||Seddon, J. A.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kenyon, Barnet||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cope, Major William||Kidd, James||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lunn, William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter k. (Lanark)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Swan, J. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Evans, Ernest||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Taylor, J.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Finney, Samuel||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Manville, Edward||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac||Mason, Robert||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Matthews, David||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Forrest, Walter||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wallace, J.|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||waiters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Murchison, C. K.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
one to come down to the House and say that, because the Committee was convinced of the technical and financial practicability of this scheme, therefore the House must agree to it without further discussion, I submit that technically the scheme is rotten, and as a. result of its technical rottenness its financial rottenness is all the more obvious. I appeal to the House to reject what in the City of London is termed more or less a ramp.
Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 78.
|Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)||Younger, Sir George|
|Wilson, James (Dudley)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Windsor, viscount||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)||Mr. Ormsby - Gore and Mr.|
|Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)||Young, w. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Johnstone.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Renwick, Sir George|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hills, Major John Waller||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|8enn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Stevens, Marshall|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Clay, Lieut-Colonel H. H. Spender||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lindsay, William Arthur||Waddington, R.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Stale||Lort-Williams, J.||Wallace, J.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Morrison, Hugh||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Myers, Thomas||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Fa||Nall, Major Joseph||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Forestler-Walker, L.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wise, Frederick|
|Grant, James Augustus||Perring, William George||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Pickering, Colonel Emil W.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Held, D. D.||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Brings.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Remer, J. R.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, considered accordingly; to be read the Third time.