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Orders Of The Day

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1943

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Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Money

Resolution reported:

"That is it expedient to charge on the Consolidated Fund any sums required. by the Treasury for fulfilling any guarantees which may be given. by the Treasury of the payment of interest or principal of any loans raised under any Act of the present Session to provide for the establishment of a Board for the development of supplies of electricity in the North of Scotland, to authorise the Board to generate and supply electricity and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid; and to authorise the payment into the Exchequer of any sums received by way of repayment of any sums issued out of the Consolidated Fund under that Act."

Resolution agreed to.

Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill

Considered in Committee.

(Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair.)

Clause 1—(Establishment Of North Of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board)

I beg to move, in page r, line 7, to leave out "body," and to insert "public authority."

This Amendment is only verbal. The object is to make it clear that certain enactments which apply to "public authorities" shall apply to the Hydro-Electric Board.

I did not hear very clearly what my hon. and learned Friend said, but I gather that he indicated that this was a purely verbal Amendment. I do not take that view at all, But before I endeavour to explain why I disagree, may I take this opportunity, which I feel sure all Members of the Committee desire that I should, of congratulating my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State upon his safe return to the House, after a somewhat alarming accident? We all sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman in having to face the ordeal of a two days' Committee stage. I fancy we should all have wished, had it been possible, to save him that trial by postponing the consideration of this Bill. That, I suppose, was not possible, in view of the long delay that has taken place. All we can do is to show as much consideration as possible; and I am sure he will show the same consideration towards our Amendments. It is in that spirit that I approach the Bill and this Amendment.

This is a most important Bill. We are dealing here with an Amendment which, as I think, strikes at the very root of the Bill, at the purpose which the Bill is designed to serve. This Bill will be important not only to the Highlands, not only to Scotland, but to the whole of this island. We should be failing in our duty if we did not examine this Amendment with the greatest possible care. The people we represent are going to benefit or to lose by the proceedings of these two days. It is our bounden duty to make certain of what we are doing, and, by our constructive efforts, to make this Bill a good one. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in moving this Amendment, seemed to regard it as being of rather slight importance. I do not take that view. I know that the Act setting up the London Passenger Transport Board uses these words "public authority" to describe the Board, but the Act setting up the Central Electricity Board, which is a much more analogous case, uses the word "body." Therefore, precedent is not of great assistance to us; and my argument does not rest upon precedent. I am concerned rather with the present-day accepted meaning of words, and with what I believe to be the right and only hopeful concept of the functions of the new Board.

"Public authority" connotes in the public mind a body which is elected, which is representative, which makes local laws, which levies rates, which orders and safeguards the rights of the people over whom it exercises authority. This new Hydro-Electric Board is none of these things. It is no more an authority in this sense than is the Grampian Power Company, and I do not see why it should be called a public authority. It is something entirely different. If it is going to be successful, it can only be a commercial concern, manufacturing and selling a product—or, if you like, a service—in competition with other products produced and marketed with skill, with enthusiasm, and with great energy. It is essential that we should grasp at the outset this fundamental conception of the functions of this Board. In order to discharge the duties laid upon it, it must, as my right hon. Friend said in his Second Reading speech, pay its way, like any other business, by efficiency, enterprise and sound commercial methods. Despite the misnomer "non-profit-making concern" which has been applied to this Board, it must make profits. The Secretary of State says so, and so does the Lord Advocate. Under Clause II, it must use these profits as every other concern of that size and character uses them, to pay interest on its capital, to build up reserves, to pay salaries and wages, and to maintain plant.

The hon. Member is making a very wide speech on a comparatively narrow Amendment. If his speech continued on those lines, it would obviously preclude him from making any remarks on the Motion "That the Clause stand part." I thought I ought to warn him.

I appreciate that, Mr. Williams. I am just concluding that point. My contention is that to call this new body a public authority strikes at the root of the purpose of the Bill. You must face that issue. These charges of which I have been speaking are the first charges on the Board. They must be met, and the price to the consumer must be adjusted accordingly. How can you possibly describe a Board performing such functions in such a commercial way as a public authority? In what respect is such a Board as this, with the functions laid down in the Bill, different from any other electricity company or commercial concern? It is only different in one respect. It has a fixed interest-bearing stock but no share capital. I am not at all sure that the consumers of electricity in the Highlands in the future will be altogether benefited as a result of that distinction. If the Board's finances at any time go wrong, the Highland public may well regret that they have not available to them the cushion of ordinary shareholders to bear the burden and tide them over the difficulty.

I apologise for intervening at this early stage in the proceedings, but I regard this issue as fundamental and one which affects our whole outlook on the Bill that we are about to consider. I feel that I must raise it and press it on the attention of the Committee. I can see no wrong with the word "body" at present in the Bill. If my hon. and learned Friend dislikes the word "body," then why does not he insert the word "Board"? It is a Board. It is called a Board 78 times in the course of the Bill. If it is called a Board throughout the Bill so frequently, why introduce this extraneous and wholly unsuitable phrase "public authority"? I regret it and would prefer the Amendment which I have put upon the Paper, which suggests the adoption of the word "Board."

Surely we are to have an answer from the Solicitor-General for Scotland to the speech of the hon. Member?

I can easily reply to the objection which my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) has made. I thought it was a very slight Amendment. This Board—there is no question about it at all—is a public authority and will have certain functions, as the Committee well knows, corresponding to those of the Central Electricity Board. The sole reason for altering the phrase from "body" to "public authority" is, as I pointed out, that there are certain Statutes, in particular the Acquisition of Land Act, 1919, which use the phrase "public authority" Accordingly, it was thought better that the same phrase should be used in this Bill, so as to make it clear that the provisions, for example, of the Acquisition of Land Act, 1919, would apply to the operations of the Board. As the Committee well know, the provisions of the 1919 Act made a modern code for the assessment of compensation where land is compulsorily acquired. Surely, my hon. Friend would not wish us to go back to the 1845 procedure under the Land Clauses Act. The whole idea of the Amendment is to bring this Measure into line with the former Acts which use the phrase "public authority."

I recognise the force of the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but, if this Bill is to be based upon any previous Measure at all, surely it should be based on that closely analogous Measure, namely, the 1926 Act, which set up the Central Electricity Board. In the first Section of that Act these words appear:

"For the purposes of this Act there shall be established, as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, a body to be called the Central Electricity Board."
The Central Electricity Board has also very great powers to exercise and Statutes to regard. It is performing work of very great national importance, and it is not called a public authority because it is not, in fact, a public authority. I confess that I cannot follow my hon. and learned Friend in choosing out of all the string of Acts dealing with electricity and relevant subjects one so little related to the subject with which we are concerned. The 1926 Act is directly relevant to it, and I suggest that, if a precedent is to be found, then that is the precedent he should adopt.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland has referred to the Acquisition of Land Act, 1919, and surely, in coming to a decision, it would be well if we know what is referred to as a "public authority" and that it should be put on record. It says:

" 'public authority' means any body of persons, not trading for profit, authorised by or under any Act to carry on a railway, canal, docks, water or other public undertaking."

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, at the end, to insert:

"The Board shall be responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of its general control and through him to Parliament."
I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to accept this Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) and myself, because we consider it to be essential in connection with a board of this kind. We have had experience in the past of how these boards are set up, and are then let loose to carry on in the most harsh and bureaucratic fashion as far as the workers employed by them are concerned and, very often, as far as the poorer section of the community who are dependent upon their services are concerned. It becomes the most difficult thing imaginable to do any- thing about it or to find any way of dealing with these people when there is a most glaring case of bureaucratic and harsh treatment. This Board is to be appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Fuel and Power. In Scotland we already have experience of the selective capacity of the Minister of Fuel and Power, and it does not at All commend itself to us. It is possible that when the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Fuel and Power get together, we may find such a gentleman as Lord Traprain on this Board, and it would be a terrible thing for the small consumers in Scotland if they were to be left at the mercy of such a man or a set of such men. Anyone can understand that the people who are to be appointed to this Board are all of one particular character. The Secretary of State has no intention whatever of appointing five ordinary workmen to this Board. Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule makes clear the kind of people who are to be on the Board. It is as follows:
"Any member of the Board shall, if he is interested in any company with which the Board has made or proposes to make any contract, disclose to the Board the fact and nature of his interest, and shall take no part in any deliberation or decision of the Board relating to such contract, and such disclosure shall be forthwith recorded in the minutes of the Board."
It is taken for granted in all these things that the members of a Board like this must be company directors of one kind or another. Therefore this will be a Board of company directors, and, as I say, you may have on it Lord Traprain, concerning whom I have a letter in my pocket about some old age pensioners on his estate off whose wages he knocked 10s. a week. They had been getting 25s., and he reduced them to 15s., and when challenged he wrote to the Press to say that that was what old age pensions were for—in order to relieve the poorer estates of their responsibilities. Imagine a man of that kind sitting on this Board.

Is the Committee to understand that the real object of this Amendment is to make an attack upon Lord Traprain?

No hon. Member can, on an Amendment of this kind, make an attack on some other individual. Such an attack would be altogether outside the scope of this Amendment. Though the Amendment is fairly wide, it does not go as far as that.

I do not want to make an attack on anybody or to say anything offensive about anyone. I merely wanted to use that individual's name as an example.

I think this is just the time when I ought to warn the hon. Member that it would be better for him to come back to the original Amendment and leave his illustration without further elaborating it.

I accept your advice, Mr. Williams, and I come back to the purpose of the Amendment. Every Member on this side of the Committee, however it may be with hon. Members opposite, understands the danger which exists in a Board of this kind unless there is a sufficient measure of control. At the present time there is much talk about democracy. Everybody is for democracy. Even the most case-hardened, hard-faced Tories pay their tribute to democracy. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the Communists, too".] If the Deputy-Chairman would allow me to do so, I would be quite prepared, in answer to that interruption, to demonstrate and prove—

I will not go further into that, but I would say that a democracy based upon economic equality is a very much higher form of democracy than that based upon economic exploitation, but of course the Tories will not, and even some of the dull-witted on this side do not, understand that. Everybody recognises the importance of this scheme. It is a very important step, and the Secretary of State fur Scotland is to be congratulated on bringing forward this Measure. We do not want to hinder or obstruct him. We want to help him in every way. We want to see the scheme a really great success as far as Scotland is concerned. We do not want to hamper the progress of this Bill or of the scheme which is to follow it. It will be of the greatest value to Scotland to get it operat- ing in the most efficient and democratic way.

I would like to be able to persuade the Secretary of State for Scotland to get up in his place now and say, "Instead of leaving this scheme to a body of company directors, I will guarantee to appoint five honest workmen." Then one could be satisfied that justice would be done to everybody. But if we are to have a Board of five company directors, controlling this great scheme, men who are all the time associated in their social life with the representatives of big companies who want cheap electricity, then it is a certainty that the poorer consumers will be completely neglected, and we shall have the harsh and bureaucratic treatment of the workers employed in the scheme to which we are accustomed from boards of that composition. If there are complaints from poor consumers, or from those outside the immediate range of the scheme who are, rightly, demanding supplies of electricity—a point which we shall raise later in another Amendment, if the Chairman is good enough to call it —such complaints will be disregarded by a Board of this kind. Demands by poor consumers, or by those claiming the right to be consumers, or complaints by the workers employed in the scheme will arise, and it is essential that we should be able to get these things rectified without loss of time. Members of Parliament should be in a position immediately to approach the Secretary of State and through him to exert a measure of control over this Board and the development of the scheme. It is because we want to see the scheme worked with the maximum efficiency that we ask that at all stages of the general policy of the Board, the House of Commons should have control.

I support the Amendment. It is necessary that the proposed measure of control should be exercised. This is to be a public service corporation, and in Clause 14 of the Bill power is to be given to the Treasury to guarantee loans to the extent of £ £30,000,000. That is a fair sum of money, and as the State is to be in the position of guarantor and to be responsible for the finance of the undertaking, it is necessary that the State should have the last word in the control of the undertaking. If this elementary safeguard is not assured, the Board will simply become a law unto itself and its members virtual dictators. Without requiring to take any financial risk themselves, they are in a position to control without question this great undertaking. If the Amendment were accepted, the Board would be responsible to the Secretary of State and to Parliament. The Secretary of State would be answerable to this House for the actions of the Board. We are all aware of the power exerted by these boards. I am a member of the Ayrshire Electricity Board, and from the moment I was elected by the Ayrshire County Council to become a member of that Board the County Council had nothing to do with me. I am not answerable to the County Council; I am merely a member of the Board. This kind of thing means that very largely officials run the scheme, and poor simple men like myself merely dot the i's and cross the t's. Many questions directly affecting a county council and a fairly large population can arise, and I have always thought it to be an anomalous position that this Board, which is composed of representatives of the Ayrshire County Council, the Kilmarnock Town Council and the Ayrshire Town Council, are not responsible in any way to the people who send them there.

The main function of these boards is to make their undertakings pay, to see that they do not make a loss in any year. Consequently, where transmission lines are so costly it is the general practice to skim the cream in any particular locality into which they go. They tap the industrial areas or the big towns, and the very last thing they think about is becoming suppliers of electricity to people who have no electricity. Although they have a monopoly of the whole area for the supply of electricity, the people who do not get it, because of the cost of these transmission lines, have no redress whatever. They have nobody they can appeal to, and the result is that the Board does exactly what it likes. That is what this Board would do immediately it was set up. I think it would be easy to guess the type of people who would be elected to this Board. All controls set up during the war give an indication of the type of people who would be elected to a Board of this description. That being so, it is necessary that we should have some control. This undertaking, when it is in operation, will produce enormous sums of money, and that is an additional argument for this control. When development takes place the undertaking will be able to produce 4,000,000,000 units of electricity per annum, which means an enormous revenue and enormous responsibilities. Scottish Members of Parliament will be entitled to question the operations of this Board. Beneficial results will accrue to Highlands. We must not be parsimonious in this matter. It would be the easiest thing in the world for the Board merely to produce electricity and carry on as a revenue-producing concern, but that, I hope, will not be the function of this Board.

Glowing pictures have been painted of the development of these Highlands as a result of the operations of this undertaking, and we have been told that the first duty of this Board will be to supply the Highland areas with electricity. In an area capable of producing so much electricity there ought not to be one crofter's cottage or farmhouse left without an electricity supply. What guarantee is there of this? There is no guarantee at all. The Board will be composed of privileged people who will be under the supervision of nobody. This Board must be the servant of the community, and it can only be that if there is somebody responsible in this House. That responsible person must be the Secretary of State, who can be pilloried here in regard to every action of the Board. So I hope the Secretary of State will see his way to accept this Amendment.

I want to support the Amendment and to say that we have no intention of doing damage to this gigantic scheme. We support the Amendment because we believe it will be beneficial to the Highlands of Scotland, the condition of which at present is deplorable. We see through this scheme the opening-up of the Highlands of Scotland. I can see as a result of this a Board of business men being appointed. I have had contact with business men, and when it comes to a question of business they have no conscience. See what they have done with the Highlands already. Why the Secretary of State should resist the Amendment it is beyond me to understand. If he were still a Socialist, he would never resist it; he would back it. I was on the Glasgow Town Council when the Clyde Valley electrical scheme came into operation, and all the wires were pulled to keep the Corporation out of the business. The shareholders pulled the wires in order to see that our activities as a municipality were trammelled. The Glasgow Corporation, which is run now by working men, is producing the cheapest electricity in Scotland. If the Secretary of State gets away with this, there is no danger of his appointing working men on this Board. It will be big business men. The working men of Britain have shown that they can run business as efficiently, if not more so —

I do not think we ought to go into the question of running business efficiently. I have allowed the hon. Member considerable latitude on the point that the Board of directors should be subject to the controlling authority of Parliament, and I think we must keep to that point.

I will keep within your Ruling, Mr. Williams. All I am doing is to prove my argument regarding the type of board that will be appointed. I am only warning the Secretary of State at the beginning of this business that all this is in front of him unless he toes the line. This is a gigantic undertaking. We are practically handing away the Highlands. Do you mean to tell me that £30,000,000 being given to the Highlands does not mean that we are handing them away? We must be very careful what we are doing. We are very anxious not to trammel the right hon. Gentleman's activities and to do what we can to develop and re-populate the Highlands, and the opportunity is here. It is not too much that £30,000,000 should be given for their redevelopment, but this House must have the controlling voice. We must be able to bring the Secretary of State to book here. Some of the most beautiful parts in the world have been absolutely destroyed. I do not want to see a Board appointed which has no soul, no conscience and no love of country. We do not want to see the country completely destroyed for the benefit of shareholders who do not give a damn for it and whose, only interest is making money. We are more anxious to make the country secure and make the lives of the people better than they have been in the past.

This is a matter not for Scotland only but for the whole country. We are all in cordial agreement with the general principles involved in the Measure and cordially congratulate the Government upon its introduction, but Parliament will be, voting these large sums, and therefore Parliament must have a say in the matter. In the language of the Prime Minister, it is certain that in the post-war era there will be an expansion of public enterprise, as there will be an expansion of private enterprise. He did not intend the House to understand that public moneys would be paid out without full democratic control, as is apparently intended in the Bill as it stands. This House long ago established the principle, after considerable struggles, that where subsidies were granted in certain directions there should be the appointment of directors to represent Parliament upon those concerns. All we are asking is that the voting authority of these moneys shall see how the concern is being organised and that Parliament shall have the right to indicate where criticism ought to be directed to the management or control of this board. If we fail to insert this principle, we shall be giving a lead to post-war Parliament that moneys may be freely voted without any democratic control whatever. We are a capitalist country, and we shall be bound to support capitalist movements and the expansion of capitalist industry. Are we to do so following the example of the Bill as it is at present, without the full control of Parliament? I cannot believe that in these days of expansion and planning in every direction, particularly in that of industry, Parliament will be crippled, following the example of the Bill as it is at present, and that we shall leave industry in the full enjoyment of public moneys relieved of all public control.

I must be one of the dull ones on this side of the Committee, because I do not yet understand what the Amendment proposes to do. The Mover at the beginning of his speech led me to understand that the object was to ensure that the employees engaged in this undertaking would be properly treated and that the directors would not exercise tyrannical powers over them. If that were to happen, it would not be the only organisation or industry that was in that position. Up to now the workers have exercised their democratic rights by forming trade unions and having trade-union protection against tyrannical action from employers.

We must not allow this to develop into an argument as to whether Parliament or the trade unions or any other body can protect the workers from employers. We must keep the discussion strictly to the point whether the Secretary of State should be the final authority.

On a point of Order. The hon. Member says that he does not know what the Amendment is about. Why should he then take up the time of the Committee in discussing it?

I have no desire to get out of Order, but if I am out of Order it is because you, Mr. Williams, allowed the Mover to get out of Order.

The hon. Member is going outside the bounds in criticising the Chair. I am pointing out to him that he was going further than the hon. Member who moved the Amendment.

I have stated the impression I received from the Mover of the Amendment. The hon. Member who supported it said that Parliament was being asked to find £30,000,000 for this scheme and argued that we were surrendering all control over it and that the Board would be entitled to do what it liked with the money without any right of Parliament to interfere with it. My hon. Friend referred to Clause 14, which authorises the provision of the money, but I cannot understand the reason for the Amendment if he had read Subsection (5), which gives authority to the Secretary of State to ensure that every year duly audited accounts will be presented to Parliament. I cannot understand how Parliament loses control over that £30,000,000 if every year an account of what has been done by the Board is presented and laid on the Table of the House. In the following Clause the Secretary of State is given power to appoint the auditors and to carry out certain other functions. This House, therefore, is given all the authority and power that it can exercise in connection with the operations of this scheme.

I could have understood and sympathised with the speeches that have been made in support of this Amendment had they been made on paragraph 72 of the Cooper Committee Report, where it was recommended that there should be one development scheme and that Parliament thereafter should divorce itself from the day-to-day powers of the scheme. The Government did not accept that recommendation and the Bill as drawn very largely meets the point made by the hen. Members who supported the Amendment. The Secretary of State for Scotland, in conjunction with the Minister of Fuel and Power, appoints the Board. He can, therefore, be tackled in the House at Question Time and on other occasions as to his action and the composition of the Board. When the Board starts it devises three kinds of schemes. There are a development scheme, a constructional scheme and a distribution scheme. All these schemes have to be submitted to the Secretary of State for his approval, and the constructional scheme, which is the most important one, has to be brought before this House. On the big three operational schemes, therefore, this House can tackle the Secretary of State, who is responsible for approving them.

Not only so, but the Secretary of State is responsible for the appointment of the Amenity Committee, for the appointment of the Fisheries Committee, for the regulations under which the prices of electricity are fixed, for the regulations under which borrowing takes place, for the appointment of the auditor, and for the form in which the annual report of the Board is to be presented to Parliament. Indeed, so far as I can see there is only one phase of the operations of this Board in regard to which the Secretary of State is not responsible to Parliament. That is the technical, electricity side of the operations, which are to be supervised by the Electricity Commission. That Commission is under the general control and direction of the Minister of Fuel and Power. It was, therefore, held to be desirable in a partial Measure of this kind, dealing only with the North of Scotland area, that there should be no interference with the general structure and the technical experience and knowledge which the Electricity Commissioners possess. It was felt to be undesirable. that the Secretary of State should set up an electricity department at St. Andrew's House, and it was decided that it would be preferable to set up a Board instead of a Government Department. With that single exception of the technical side of the operations the Secretary of State is responsible under the Bill, and he can be tackled in Parliament. Therefore, the Amendment is unnecessary, unless it is the opinion of the Committee — which, I agree, is a possibility—that the Secretary of State should take over the purely technical side of electrical development and take it away from the Electricity Commission. On all other aspects of the Board's work the Secretary of State has to be consulted. He is responsible to this House, and the control of Parliament is supreme.

Will not the Secretary of State see that the Amendment will strengthen the Bill and not in any way weaken it? He knows as well as I do that the men he will have to deal with will find ways and means of getting away from him unless it is definitely stated in the Bill that they are responsible to the Secretary of State.

I have been trying to explain that they are responsible to me—responsible in terms in the Bill, and that I am in turn responsible to Parliament and can be asked questions in Parliament.

The control or responsibility of the Minister in regard to the operations of this Board are very limited by the Bill. In such undertakings as this the freedom of the employees is seriously restricted. Therefore, it is all the more important that they should have the fullest and freest approach to Parliament and the Minister. The consumers also have to be considered. There will be great difficulties in connection with the transmission of electricity, and we shall have many hard fights on this question. It is essential, in order that the poorest and most needy shall get electricity, that this House and the Secretary of State should have immediate control over the Board. It is all very well for the scheme to be prepared and submitted in general to the Secretary of State, but after that the application of the scheme can be utilised in such a way as to give the greatest advantage to the people who are interested in business, to the neglect of the poorer and outlying consumers. This House should have day-to-day control over the Board if it is necessary to exercise it. It might be that for months at a time there would be no necessity to interfere or do anything as regards the working of the Board, but a day might come when it was necessary for the House to bring some matter before the Secretary of State and for him to step in and say the Board must do this or that immediately. We do not suggest that every day we shall be watching what the Board are doing, following all the technical details, but at any time when this House demands it the Secretary of State should have a

Division No. 18.


Adams, D. (Consett)Gruffydd, W. J.Smith, E. (Stoke)
Bevan, A.Horabin, T. L.Stephen, C.
Buchanan, G.Leslie, J. R.Stokes, R. R.
Daggar, G.McGovern,.J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Maclean, N. (Govan)TELLERS FOR THE AYES. -
Foster, W.Maxton, J.Mr. Sloan and Mr. Kirkwood
Gallacher, W.Oldfield, W. H.


Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.Emery, J. F.Leonard, W.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)Emmott, C. E. G. C.Levy, T.
Agnew, Comdr. P. G.Erskine-Hill, A. G.Lewis, O.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)Liddall, W. S.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ.)Everard, Sir W. LindsayLinstead, H. N.
Barnes, A. J.Frankel, D.Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)
Barr, J.Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)Loftus, P. C.
Baxter, A. BeverleyFraser, T. (Hamilton)Lucas, Major Sir J. M.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.Mabane, W.
Beattie, F. (Cathcart)Gates, Major E. E.McCallum, Major D.
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)McCorquodale, Malcolm S.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'h)Gibbins, J.McEntee, V. la T.
Beechman, N. A.Gibson, Sir C. G.McEwan, Capt. J. H. F.
Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)Green, W. H. (Deptford)McKie, J. H.
Benson, G.Gridley, Sir A. B.McKinlay, A. S.
Bernays, R. H.Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)McNeil, H.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.Grimston, R. V.Maitland, Sir A.
Blair, Sir R.Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Mander, G. le M.
Bossom, A. C.Hammersley, S. S.Manningharn-Buller, R. E.
Boulton, W. W.Hannah, I. C.Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.
Bower, Norman (Harrow)Hannon, Sir P. J. H.Marshall, F.
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.Harris, Rt. Hon, Sir P. A.Mathers, G.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham)Hayday, A.Mellor, Sir J. S. P.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Heilgers, Major F. F. A.Mitchell, Colonel H. P.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Molson, A. H. E.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Montague, F.
Bullock, Capt. M.Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Burden, T. W.Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P.Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)Hepworth, JMorrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's)
Cape, T.Higgs, W. F.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Cary, R. A.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMort, D. L.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)Holdsworth, H.Mott-Radclyffe, Capt. C. E.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)Hollins, A. (Hanley)Muff, G.
Chorlton, A. E. L.Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)Murray, Sir D. K. (Midlothian, N.)
Clarry, Sir ReginaldHorsbrugh, FlorenceMurray, J. D. (Spennymoor)
Cluse, W. S.Howitt, Dr. A. B.Nield, Lt.-Col. B. E.
Cobb, Captain E. C.Hulbert, Wing-Commander N. J.Nunn, W.
Colegate, W. A.Hunter, T.Perkins, W. R. D.
Collindridge, F.Hurd, Sir P. A.Peters, Dr. S. J.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F W.
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)Peto, Major, B. A. J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Isaacs, G. A.Purbrick, R.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Pym, L. R.
Denville, AlfredJewson, P. W.Quibell, D. J. K.
Dobbie, W.Johnston, Rt. Han. T. (St'l'g & C'km'n)Radford, E. A.
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)Rathbone, Eleanor
Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)Kimball, Major L.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Dunn, E.Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Ede, J. C.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Edmondson, Major Sir J.Lawson, J. J.Richards, R
Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)Leighton, Major B. E. P.Rickards, G. W.

right to step in and say to the Board that they must supply power and light to this, that or the other place or must immediately negotiate and settle any difficulties or any grievances which exist in the undertaking. Surely the Committee will understand the importance of that.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 17; Noes, 221.

Riley, B.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)Watkins, F. G.
Ritson, J.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.Watson, W. McL.
Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.Summers, G.S.Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh, Cen.)
Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)Sutcliffe, H.Westwood, J.
Salt, E. W.Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)
Sanderson, Sir F. B.Tate, Mavis C.White, H. (Derby, N.E.)
Sandys, E. D.Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)Whiteley, Rt. Han. W. (Blaydon)
Schuster, Sir G. E.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Windsor, W.
Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)Thomas, I. (Keighley)Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Shepperson, Sir E. W.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Silverman, S. S.Thomas, Dr. W S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)Wise, Major A. R.
Simmonds, O. E.Thorne, W.Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Smith, E. P. (Ashford)Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)Woodburn, A.
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Smith, T. (Normanton)Tinker, J. J.York, Major C.
Snadden, W. McN.Tomlinson, G.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Spearman, A. C. M.Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.
Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Storey, S.Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Strickland, Capt. W. F.Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.Mr. Young and Mr. Adamson.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2—(General Powers And Duties Of The Board)

I beg to move, in page line 17, after "electricity," to insert "by water power."

This Amendment is moved to make it perfectly clear that the Board are to be responsible for initiating and undertaking the development of all further means of generation, of hydro-electricity, and are not to have a monopoly in the production of electricity by steam, thermal process or air process or any other process of producing electricity now in operation say in a local authority area.

I am sorry to have to stop the Minister but I must ask him not to go into the question of air power or any other power at this point, because there are Amendments which I wish to safeguard and which deal with those subjects.

Of course, I accept your Ruling, Mr. Williams, but I was trying to explain why we are limiting the Board to water power.

I appreciate the difficulties confronting the Secretary of State but I am not sure whether he is wise to insert this restrictive Amendment. I should have thought it would have been better for the Board to retain general power to administer the production of all forms of electricity in the area, recognising certain exceptions such as the case of an undertaking which is able to produce electricity by steam as a by-product of its ordinary work and at a lower price than could otherwise be offered. Later I shall endeavour to make a number of suggestions to avoid hamstringing the Board in its actions. I should like to feel that the Board stood for all forms of electrical development in. the Highlands.

On a point of Order. Have we not already decided by Clause r to describe the Board as a Hydro-Electric Board? Surely that rules out the other forms of production. I should like your guidance on that point, Mr. Williams, because the hon. Member is indicating that there are many other suggestions of the kind to be made, with which the time of the Committee may be unnecessarily taken up.

I think the hon. Gentleman who was addressing the Committee has been reminded that there are other Amendments to be considered later. I was listening to his remarks very carefully. If he were to expand them much further he would, undoubtedly, be infringing the subject of those later Amendments and I must warn him of that.

I appreciate that. I was going on to make a further observation. The Board will take the place in the Highlands of the Central Electricity Board and will perform more or less the same duties. The Act of 1926, by which the Central Electricity Board was set up, is quite clear in this regard. Section 5 (I) of that Act states:

"The Board shall make arrangements with the owners of existing generating stations which by virtue of a scheme become selected stations for the stations being operated in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and for such extensions and alterations thereof as may be required by the scheme, and for such additional extensions and alterations as the Board, with the approval of the Electricity Commissioners, may from time to time direct."
The Committee will observe that the part of the Bill which we are now considering says that the Board shall be responsible for
"initiating and undertaking the development of all further means of generation of electricity."
Those words are somewhat similar to the concluding words of the Section of the Act which I have just read, and which mean that the Central Electricity Board has power over all kinds of electricity production. I am doubtful—I put it no higher—of the wisdom of restricting the proposed Board and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has noted the facts to which I have referred and if so what he thinks about the matter.

I am somewhat uneasy about the proposed restriction. I do not know whether it would prevent the Board from setting up an installation in some district where it would be more suitable to use a method other than the hydro-electric method.

That could be done only if there were a constructional scheme for such an experiment and it would have to come before Parliament and be authorised.

We should do the job properly now, so that it would not be necessary to come to Parliament for further powers. It should not be necessary to put this restriction upon the Board. The communities of the Highlands are in need of electrical power and I can easily conceive that some districts would require a method of generation more suitable to their own conditions than the hydro-electric method. If the Board has to come to Parliament every time it wants to meet such a case it will mean very heavy expense in the promotion of separate schemes. The Bill should make it clear that the business of the Board is to produce electricity by the hydro-electric method but that, in particular circumstances, the Board should have power to initiate installations of a different character on a limited scale, when that would make for the more efficient development.

Will the Minister explain why he wants to restrict the Board to water power? To bring electrical supplies to some of the remote islands will need wind power. Why should not the Board have power to introduce any other method?

The Secretary of State was proceeding to develop the subject of air power but I, having remembered that there are other Amendments dealing with wind power to be taken later, asked him not to deal with wind power, but to keep the discussion strictly to hydro-electric power.

If we carry the present Amendment, will not all those subsequent Amendments be ruled out, because we shall have laid down that the one function of the Board is to produce electricity by hydro-electric methods?

We have gone into the matter again and I do not think that those particular Amendments would be ruled out of Order.

Will not the proposed Amendment prevent individuals having power to use windmills?

I understand that the intention of the Amendment is to limit the new Board so that it will have a monopoly for producing electricity by water power, but it will not prohibit the Hydro-Electric Board from dealing with other forms of producing electricity. All it does is to prohibit outside organisations from producing electricity by water power. I should be glad to know whether the interpretation I have put upon the Amendment is correct.

May I be allowed to explain the matter a little further? The words of the Bill at present confine the operations of the Board to

"all further means of generation of electricity."
That means that a local authority which had a steam or thermal plant would be unable to develop its installation. Local authorities have asked us whether their hands are to be tied henceforth. It is in order to make it perfectly clear that we do not wish to prevent or try to prevent the further development of the generation of electricity by other means than waterpower that we are inserting these words. But several hon. Members—including I think the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen)—have raised some question as to whether the Board, by the insertion of these words, is handicapped or precluded, from operating a wind power arrangement or thermal station arrangement in some area where hydro-electricity would not be practicable. The answer is "Certainly not," but a constructional scheme would be necessary before those powers could be granted. That is the sole aim and purpose of these words. It is to relieve the apprehensions of the local authorities. We will deal with the point about wind power and thermal station power, I hope, in further Amendments.

If this Amendment is carried, it will mean that anybody, either the Board or some existing authority, can carry out or extend a scheme for the provision of electricity by any means other than by water power but that only the Board can carry out a scheme for provision of electricity by water power?

Subject to later provisions in the Bill. There are exceptions to that, under which private individuals who want to operate very small water power experiments or who get the consent of the Electricity Commission, may continue so to do. I want simply to meet the absolute statement of the right hon. Gentleman by saying that there are certain exceptions, but, speaking, by and large, it is the case that all future large-scale hydro-electric developments in the Highlands will be undertaken by this Board.

I appreciate the answer that has been given by the right hon. Gentleman, but looking at these words from the point of view of what the courts might afterwards decide, I am not at all convinced, and I would ask the Lord Advocate to go into this matter again. One does not want, when this scheme is brought into operation, a lot of appeals to the courts by various interests. The statement of the Secretary of State for Scotland on what le means, would satisfy me all right, but, as a lawyer, I am not convinced that these words will not be read by the courts as putting such a restrictive power upon the Board that they will not be able to have anything other than water schemes.

I accept the explanation of my right hon. Friend as regards the local authorities; I am satisfied with his argument, but I confess that I am not satisfied with his argument regarding the Board itself. If the Amend- ment were carried, the Clause would read as follows:

"Subject to the provisions of this Act the Board shall be responsible for —
(a)initiating and undertaking the development of all further means of generation of electricity by water power within the area defined in the Second Schedule …"
I confess I can see no interpretation of that Clause how other than this—that the Board may undertake all further means of generation of electricity by water power, but not by any other power. I would press the Lord Advocate to consider that. The more I think of it, the more uneasy I become.

Might I call the hon. Member's attention to Subsection (2, d) of Clause 2, which puts upon the Board the duty of providing "supplies of electricity in isolated areas in the said district"? It might be quite impracticable to supply such areas from a hydro electric station but it might quite well be feasible and right to put down, say, a small Diesel generating plant.

I think we must leave out that subject at the present time or we may cut out other Amendments. We really should try and keep within the very narrow point of the Amendment.

I was included in the number of those who were doubtful about the effect of this Amendment, and I am very glad indeed to have heard the assurance from the Secretary of State, which will no doubt be cofirmed by the Lord Advocate. The only point I rise to put is that I take it there cannot be any restriction here of the use of tidal waters, that this does not necessarily limit the Board to the use of fresh water power, which is the power we have mainly in view in dealing with this Bill.

I had no doubt in my own mind, and I have no doubt now, that the form of words which the Committee is asked to adopt will leave it open to the new Board to produce electricity from steam power in circumstances where that is desirable. But it is very desirable that there should be no misunderstanding or misapprehension. Therefore, we will certainly look at the wording to see whether it can be made clearer, but I have no doubt that the words proposed do meet the object we have in mind. I think with regard to tidal power that that is a matter that the Board could certainly look into.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, to leave out from the beginning to "it," in page 2, line 1, and to insert "and."

The effect will be to make no alteration in the meaning or effect of the Clause as a whole, but the present form of drafting has caused a certain amount of misapprehension owing to certain topics being mentioned twice. It is therefore thought better to amalgamate the first and second Sub-sections in the interests of clarity, and for that purpose I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, to leave out "so far as practicable."

We consider that the supplies referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) should be obligatory and not left to the Board to decide as to whether or not they are practicable. For instance, if the Post Office was left to deliver letters where it considered it to be practicable, a considerable proportion of the people of this country would have to find some other method of collecting their mails, but the Post Office has to deliver letters wherever they are addressed. One of the chief difficulties in which this Board will find themselves is the demand for supplies of electricity immediately the Board begins to function. I have always been of the opinion that where a monopoly is granted the people who secure the monopoly should have no choice whatever in the matter. I have always argued on my own electricity board that, having a monopoly for a certain area for the distribution of electricity, we really ought to have no choice whatever in the matter; and it is the duty of the Board to supply at the earliest possible moment the electricity where it is required and demanded. It is because of that that we ask that these words should be eliminated.

I want to support this Amendment, because the whole of this scheme, one has to remember, from its very inception, was always supposed to be impracticable. All my lifetime we have been told that it was not possible to develop the Highlands of Scotland, that it was impracticable, that nothing could be done, that the Highlands of Scotland just had to be a playground for the rich. Now here is a scheme, this hydro-electric scheme, with a view to opening up the Highlands, developing the Highlands, and it is because of that that we moved the Amendment which has been rejected, that is, we wanted this Board to be under the direct control of and responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland, and, of course, the Secretary of State for Scotland is then responsible to us. We do not want to lose control. Here we are concerned with the position when this Board comes into operation unless, it is animated with the high ideals of opening up the Highlands of Scotland, not with a view to making a profit first. Unless that is the case—and up to date there has never been any Board appointed by any Government in this country yet that was animated with that high ideal of looking after the common people—

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but the point is quite a narrow one. I also understand that the question which is now being raised by the hon. Member has already been argued. If so, those arguments ought not to be repeated. We are discussing quite a narrow point, as to whether the words "so far as practicable" shall be kept in the Clause or not.

The argument is that the Board should have the responsibility for supplying electricity, and that the function should not be permissive. Is it not in Order to show that in other cases where such powers have been of a permissive nature they have not been used in the way we desire?

Perhaps the hon. Member will continue, and keep to the narrow point as far as possible.

We are worried about, this matter, because we know the Highlands of Scotland, and we know that, unless the Board is looking after the interests of the folk there, in numerous cases electricity schemes will not be practicable. This is a "get-out" The Government have instituted a procedure for giving the Minister of Labour a "getout," where formerly he would have been pestered by deputations. Scientific "get- outs" are the latest development. The Government have provided an alibi for the Minister of Labour, and now they are going to give this Board an alibi for not supplying electricity, which means light and heat, to "the lone shieling," to the cotter and the shepherd, "mid nature's wildest grandeur." This is the opposite of the Amendment to which you, Major Milner, referred when you said that the ground was not to be covered again. In that case we wanted to put in something for the benefit of the Secretary of State. Now we want to put in something for the benefit of the ordinary people. If I am in Order, I would like to point out that in the other case we wanted to insert the words:

"The Board shall be responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of the general control and through him to Parliament."
The Secretary of State turned down that Amendment, because, he said, he already had those powers. He explained that in his own lucid and courteous fashion, and the Amendment was turned down. That Amendment was intended to strengthen the right hon. Gentleman's hands, but the Board have got away with it. Now we say that it is not necessary to put in the words:
"so far as practicable."
It will be a tragedy in many cases if these words remain in the Bill. Man's ingenuity having tapped the sources of nature, and made nature do man's work, we can transport light and heat to the lone Highland houses. It will cost money, but it will make places habitable which now, without those modern conveniences, are not habitable. They were habitable before we had electricity, before we had gas, before we had buses, before we had tramcars and railways; but to-day they are not habitable, because they lack all the wonderful things to which we in this day are heirs. Here is a means of enabling this race in the Highlands, for the first time in our history, to enjoy the amenities of everyday life. But if it is left to a Board that has not definite instructions, the Board will not supply the people in those lonely parts with these necessaries. That is why we want these words deleted.

I find myself, rather surprisingly, on the side of my hon. Friends opposite in regard to this Amendment. We did not conspire together, but we put down the same Amendment.

In any case the fact is that I find myself inclined to support the point of view of my hon. Friends. I can appreciate that the Board, facing its tasks, will find it impossible to supply all the far-away corners of Scotland at once. Therefore, they must say, "We can do at once only what is practicable." So far as these isolated places are concerned, I appreciate the justification for the words—

"so far as practicable."
But to apply them, as they are here applied, to the various Sub-sections of this Clause is quite wrong. Under this Clause it is the duty of the Board to provide supplies of electricity, first, to consumers, secondly, to authorised undertakers, and, thirdly, to large power users. Who are the authorised undertakers? They are the people who are now supplying many thousands of consumers throughout the Highlands. They are now committed to supplying these people with electric light and power. When the Bill becomes law and the new Board takes over, these undertakers will be unable to look any longer to the Central Electricity Board, as they now do, for supplies, and they will be unable themselves to supply generating stations. It will be an impossible position for these undertakers if the Board is bound to supply them only "so far as practicable." The Central Electricity Board, which is now responsible for supplying electricity in the Highlands, has very clear duties laid down. Under Section 10 of the 1926 Act, this is the duty imposed upon the Board.
"As soon as the Board, as respects any area or part of an area, notify that they are in a position to supply electricity the Board shall subject to the provisions of this Act, be under an obligation to supply either directly of indirectly to any authorised undertakers in that area or part thereof demanding such a supply such an amount of electricity as they require for their undertaking."
It is mandatory upon that Board.

Let me read it again.

"As soon as the Board, as respects any area or part of an area, notify that they are in a position to supply electricity.…"
The Board announce that they are in a position to supply. Having made the announcement, the Board are
"under an obligation to supply either directly or indirectly to any authorised undertakers in that area or part thereof demanding such a supply such an amount of electricity as they require."
That is mandatory. Here it is not mandatory. Here you have this new condition:
"so far as practicable."
The Lord Advocate will remember that under Section 28 of the Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act, 1899,
"The maximum power with which any consumer shall be entitled to be supplied shall be of such amount as he may require to be supplied with, not exceeding what may be reasonably anticipated as the maximum consumption of his premises."
Remember that Section 28 of the Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act, 1899, is operative under this Bill. It is the law. Under that law the Board will be bound to take into consideration the potential, as well as the present, demands of authorised undertakers. It would create an impossible position to say to those undertakers, "We can supply you with the stuff, but we give no guarantee for the future. Next year it may not be practical to give you as much, or to meet your anticipated additional demands." You cannot do business on those lines. You do not do business on those lines now. The Central Electricity Board is under complete compulsion to supply. I do not see why this Board should be given these wider and slacker powers.

In regard to the Central Electricity Board, the words are practically the same in a different form. The Act says that they must apply when they are in a position to do so. Here we simply have the words:

"so far as practicable"
That could apply to the Central Electricity Board as well.

Because this new Board, as my hon. Friend will know, is taking the place, and performing the functions, of the Central Electricity Board. Take the practical situation. This Board gets ready and announces that it has so much electricity available and is ready to supply it. Along come the demands. It has to meet these demands, but under these words it meets them, not only now but in the future, "so far as practicable." That is a reasonable condition to impose with regard to the outlying areas, but it is an impossible condition as regards undertakers. It is one which ought not to be applied and ought not to be in the Bill.

May I ask the Committee not to press the Amendment? Really it would be a wrecking Amendment.

Nothing is more calculated to prevent the scheme from working than to put on the person responsible for working it the duty of doing something which is impracticable. That is what the Amendment seeks to do. It seeks to say that the new Board must do certain things, whether they are practicable or not, and surely that is the one way to ensure that the Board will get into inextricable difficulties. As to the point made by the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment, that outlying areas should receive electricity, the desire of everyone is that the widest possible distribution should be made, but one has to keep in mind that this Bill could not have been produced except on the footing that the new Board must pay its way. If that is accepted, as it was in the Second Reading Debate, then it necessarily implies that for a considerable time at least there cannot be absolutely universal distribution of electricity, because the Board will not have the money with which to pay for it. Therefore, I meet the proposer's point by saying that, unless we upset the whole foundation of the Bill, namely, that the Board pays its way, we cannot impose this duty on the Board. My hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) appears to want to require the Board to supply electricity to authorised undertakers and others even if they have not got it. I do not understand what he means. I do not think that the point he raises will ever arise. There are priority classes under the next Sub-section, which includes ordinary consumers and undertakers. They get the priority, and any shortage does not fall upon them. Further than that—though it is hardly relevant to go into it now—the adaptations of the 1926 Act in the Schedule ensure that the new Board cannot play fast and loose in the way he seems to anticipate. If he is in difficulty about it, one can go into the matter, but we do not want to have a long citation of Sections of Acts of Parliament at the moment, though I can assure him the Board cannot play fast and loose in this way. I ask the Committee not to seek to put upon the Government the duty of putting in an Amendment which, on the face of it, is taking the power to do something which cannot be done.

It is obvious that the Lord Advocate does not propose to accept the Amendment which has been put down. I would like to go even further. There is a further Amendment put down by the Secretary of State, in page 2, line 5, to insert(including isolated areas)."It seems to me that that weakens the case, and I think that it should be "as far as reasonably practicable." A thing may be practicable, but at a price. You could give a supply of electricity all over the country, but the whole essence of the Bill, I understood, was to produce electricity at such a price that it would be possible for people in the outlying districts to be able to afford it and also be an inducement to industry to go to the Highlands and therefore bring about an improvement of conditions there. Unless you include "reasonably practicable" and make it conditional, merely to put it as practicable will mean that the Board will be bound to take the wider view and regard it as an instruction to put electricity into isolated areas. You will be in a difficulty. You will not be able to produce electricity cheaply if you have to go into all isolated areas. I am glad that the Government are not accepting the Amendment, and that the words, "so far as practicable" are to be left in the Bill.

I wish to draw the attention of the Lord Advocate to the ambiguity of the words "so far as practicable." Who is to judge whether it is practicable or not? As the Clause stands, it does not say whether it is the Board who is going to decide or whether it is the proposed customer. In the case of dispute between the Board and the undertaking or other person, it will be for the courts to decide. A person would take action against the Board because it had failed in its responsibility "so far as practicable" to supply him with electricity. The Board would enter the defence in court that it was not practicable, and the judge would decide that question. I assure the Lord Advocate that I am not trying to hinder the progress of the Bill, but it is just as well that the Bill should not become a fine ground afterwards for increasing the incomes of members of my own profession. I am simply giving the Lord Advocate the benefit of my advice, and I think the wording should be made clear. I believe that what the drafters of the Bill had in mind was that the Board should decide what was practicable.

So far as there is ambiguity, it will be a matter possibly for future litigation. The main question, and what is in the mind of the Mover of the Amendment and of those who agree with him, is the seeking to put a duty upon the Board to supply electricity to every person in any district who asks for a supply. As my hon. Friend said in moving the Amendment, if it is a case of the delivery of letters a person may live on an island where there are very great practical difficulties in the way of delivery. But the duty is put upon the authority to carry the letters to the person concerned, and all talk of difficulties in getting over the stormy waters is disregarded. The person in the small far-away district is just as entitled to the supply of electricity as any other person, and the cost of it should be spread over the different areas. If the Mover of the Amendment decides to go to a Division, I propose to join him in the Division Lobby in order to get a better deal for the people in the Highlands.

Can the hon. Member say whether every island on the West coast of Scotland has a postal delivery?

I have a great deal of sympathy with the Amendment. In the Glen Affric scheme we were told that it was a question of profit, but under the present scheme it is to be a public utility company and profit does not come in at all. The distribution of electricity "so far as practicable" in almost every case can only be considered from the profit point of view. I have a great deal of sympathy with those who say that everyone who wants electricity should be able to get it, and I am inclined to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment. The Board, I suppose, will say whether the thing is practicable or not.

The Board will look upon it, not from a profit point of view, but from the point of view of whether it will cover expenses in providing electricity. We want some body outside the Board to consider this matter. I would like to see a tribunal set up to say what the different charges should be to the different people. Then a person could say whether or not he wanted electricity. He would know what it would cost. I receive letters from people in my constituency saying that the Grampian scheme charges too much. The Grampian scheme is under an Act of Parliament, and the maximum prices which they can charge are fixed. A tribunal should be set up to say what each individual should pay for the electricity. The individual should be able to apply to an impartial tribunal which could say what was a reasonable price to charge for the supply of electricity.

But, as I have said, I have a great deal of sympathy with the Amendment. I want to see as many people brought back to the Highlands as possible. I was interested in what the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) said about the shortage of supply. There cannot be a shortage of supply in the Highlands, because, as I understand it, the Highlands are to have first charge on all electricity that is developed. I do not want to see the electricity taken to Dumbarton, Clydebank, and West Fife and such like places, but I want to see it used in the Highlands. If there is to be any shortage of supply, the Highlands must have first call upon it. Therefore, there will be no likelihood of a shortage of supply as long as the public money that is to be raised is forthcoming.

Like the Lord Advocate, I do not want to propose or to do anything that is impracticable. I want to deal with practicalities. I am satisfied that from the point of view of supply there is no limit to the amount of electricity that can be produced in the Highlands. But when we put forward a proposition for ensuring the widest extension of electricity the case-hardened business man always poses the question, "Will it pay?" When he talks about paying he is talking from the point of view of profit and loss. It never enters his mind to think of the human values and how it will pay from the point of view of the advantages that will come to many people in the more remote parts of the Highlands. Who are the people to decide whether it is practicable or not? Five business men. What are we to get? Electricity for business people, and in order to make it cheaper for them we are to supply electricity to the ordinary inhabitants of the areas concerned [An HON. MEMBER: "They will get the usual scraps"]. We would not be supplying electricity to the ordinary inhabitants at all if by so doing it was not making it cheaper for business people. These business men will be left with the power to decide what is practicable, not what is most advantageous from the point of view of attracting the population back to the remote areas. The Lord Advocate says that he does not want to impose on them a responsibility which they cannot carry out. If only our previous Amendment had been accepted, these people would not have had any responsibility which they could not carry out. The Secretary of State for Scotland and this House would have had the responsibility.

I wish you, Major Milner, could go with my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and myself to see some of these beautiful stretches of country and valleys in the Highlands of Scotland. You would say that you had never seen country so beautiful, but suddenly there would come to your mind the fact that something was lacking—people. Those who have been driven from their homes can be attracted back if amenities are provided, and of these amenities a supply of electricity is one of the most important. I ask hon. Members not to regard this matter as a profit and loss question but as a question concerned with the human element and human values. We wish to see the question of what is practical not left to this Board of business men. Theirs must not be the responsibility. Spread the light. Do not ask whether it will pay. Do not discuss it from the profit and loss point of view but from the point of view of the inestimable value to the people of the Highlands and Islands. Give the people light, and they will come back. Make it compulsory for the Board to spread the light in as wide an area as possible. If there is any difficulty, we will be the final arbiters.

As a Highlander and representing a large number of Western Highlanders, I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) to the fact that the question concerning this Amendment was one which I raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, when I showed the anxiety that existed among Highlanders about putting into the Bill this form of words. The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Advocate stated that they realised what we were looking for—the fullest possible extension of this scheme to every remote area. But we realise that it is not practicable to cover every area. Even the Post Office cannot do that. For instance, Loch Shiel crofters come out in their boats to collect their letters from a steamer.

Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that the service pays at that point? The Post Office does it, but everybody knows that it does not pay.

I agree that it probably does not pay, but the service is carried out because the whole scheme carries the expense of the smaller areas. We have been assured that as development goes ahead the remote areas will be carried by this scheme. I have spoken about this to many of my own constituents since I. raised the point, and they fully agree with me that there must be, lot a time at any rate, places to which it will not be practicable for several years to carry poles and wires. I know that we must be reasonable in looking forward to the time when all will have electricity.

I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to consider this view. When I was on a committee discussing this Measure in Edinburgh one of the constant criticisms was that there was no provision for making electricity available to the humbler members of the community and those separated by a long distance from the source of the power. I must say that the original Bill which the House did not pass carried better guarantees than this Bill for the supply of electricity to those whom it would be difficult to supply. I ask the Committee to look at this Amendment as a practical business proposition. What will happen here? The Board will not do anything but run electricity to pay. It is the natural thing to want to show the best possible balance-sheet, and we should try to keep them from doing it. Glasgow and other local authorities have to serve areas which do not pay. They are compelled to do so by Statute, and the other contributors have to pay for the loss, but that does not mean that the loss will go on for ever. This Board, if it is to be a success, must take risks in the hope that industries will start later as a result. I hope the Board will undertake that kind of thing, otherwise it will fail.

As the Bill stands, large numbers of people will want electricity, and the Board will not supply it, and we shall have no redress. The Board is all-powerful. There ought to be a remedy other than the law courts for the citizen who feels aggrieved, and his only remedy is some form of public representation. The aggrieved citizen's only remedy now is to approach his Member and have the matter raised, but we only debate Scottish affairs for two days, and in that time there are three or four issues which must always be discussed, such as housing, health and education. We shall hardly ever have this matter discussed, and even if it is, it will be impossible to deal with individual cases. The Secretary of State must find some kind of bridge to give the aggrieved citizen the right of appeal against the conduct of the Board. The Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate may be right in saying that our method is not the best, but they must give the aggrieved person some right of appeal.

I think the hon. Member has rather forgotten two points. The first is that the Board is not allowed to make a profit, and therefore has no inducement whatever to hang back from useful schemes in order to show a good balance-sheet.

It would be just as well if we did not reach the stage of being clever with one another. They cannot make a profit, but they can set aside large sums for depreciation.

My recollection is that there is a very strict limitation on the amount of money that the Board is entitled to set aside for depreciation and reserve funds. They will soon be filled up, and there is no way of throwing the money away there. The other point, which has more substance, is that the Board must come to the House with schemes within a comparatively short time, and it is then for the House to say whether the terms of those schemes are suitable and whether the bit of country covered is a proper bit to include in it, and any question must then be dealt with. You cannot have the Board being asked at short notice to put up a new line in some quite new area without a great deal of preliminary work in the way of tenders, specifications, plans and goodness knows what. The scheme is the right opportunity to deal with most of the points the hon. Member has raised. There is nothing we can do in this Clause which will make it any easier or more difficult for the House to deal with that when it comes up in due course.

After having heard the Debate and the explanation of the Lord Advocate, in which he says that this Amendment would wreck the Bill, we will not press it to a Division.

Yes. The Chairman Only the hon. Member who moved the Amendment can ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, after "District," to insert "(including isolated areas)."

The functions of the Board are divided into five categories — (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). The first of these categories is
"to provide supplies of electricity required to meet the demands of ordinary consumers in such parts of the North of Scotland District as are outside the limits of supply of other authorised undertakers."
The Amendment will introduce into that category the words "including isolated areas. Paragraph (d) refers specifically to isolated areas, and the effect of the Amendment will be to bring the isolated areas up into category (a) where they will have greater priority than they would if they were left in category (d). Under Clause 2, Sub-Section (3), (a) and (b) are given priority over other duties of the Board, and I move the Amendment so that isolated areas will have the same priority as other consumers in category (a).

This Amendment will cause tremendous satisfaction in the Highland areas. In the Debate on the Second Reading hon. Members had considerable anxiety lest the isolated areas were shut out. In the Bill they were relegated to fourth priority and Highlanders in general will welcome the fact that the Government have now put the ordinary consumer, including the isolated area, into first priority.

May I ask whether "isolated areas" is a term of art, a technical term, whose meaning is established? If not, what is the connotation it is designed to have?

I do not think that it has any technical meaning. It, means areas which are remote and difficult of access. It is true that "isolated" is not strictly accurate because there is no area in the whole of Scotland that is completely isolated and separated from other areas if you take the trouble to go there. The term is intended to include areas which are difficult of access and have to be treated as independent units and are not made part of the general system.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 5, to leave out "limits ", and to insert "areas".

This is a drafting Amendment in order to make the phraseology conform to the customary phraseology of the general Statutes.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move; in page 2, line 10, to leave out:

"except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners."
This and three other similar Amendments which follow might, I suggest, be dealt with together. Under the Bill the new Board is prohibited from supplying to the authorised undertakers in the area of a power company and is prohibited from supplying to large power users in the area of an authorised undertaker unless it gets the consent of the Electricity Commissioners. I need not deal further with the case of the power company, because I believe that there is no case in this area to which paragraph (b) will apply. It is only put in in case such a case should arise. I therefore limit my remarks to (c), to large power users. It can justly be objected to the present drafting of the Bill that the Electricity Commissioners are not given any guidance as to how they should consider a case when they are asked to give their consent. It is proper in the interests of those who have to look ahead that they should be able to see in the Bill the principles on which they will have to present their case. Accordingly, we propose to define in these Amendments the principles on which the Electricity Commissioners could give their consent. The consent is only to be given if the Commissioners are satisfied that the Board can give the supply appreciably more economically than the possible competitor, the authorised undertaker.

The way it will work out in practice is this—and we shall make sure that it does so work by putting the proper regulations in when we come to that point. The large power user who seeks a supply will, no doubt, ask the Board for a quotation. The authorised undertaker in whose area the large power-user seeks to establish his business will be entitled to go to the Board and say How much are you quoting for the generation side of the price? Will you give it me at the same price, so that I may transmit it in due course to the large power-user? "The Board will be bound to offer the current at the same price, at that point, to the authorised undertaker for transmission to the large power-user, and then the question will be, Which can do the transmission cheapest? If the authorised undertaker wishes to undertake the transmission of this large load to the premises of the large power-user he will be entitled to put forward his quotation and he will get that bit of business, if he wants it, unless his quotation is so large that the Board come in and quote appreciably cheaper. That seems to be a full protection to the authorised undertakers, who were rather apprehensive as to their position in view of the original draft of the Bill, and it meets also the public interest, because it ensures that potential customers in the shape of large power-users will get their supply and get it at the lowest practicable cost. Therefore it appears to us that the words proposed meet any apprehensions which have been expressed and also fully meet the public interest.

The suggestion was made by the Lord Advocate that we might usefully, with your assent, Major Milner, consider together various Amendments. One of them is that which has just been moved. Another is the Amendment to insert at the end of line 13, page 2:

"unless the power company consent or the Electricity Commissioners are satisfied that the Board can give a supply suitable to the needs of the authorised undertakers appreciably more economically than the power company."
This, I understand, also deals with an Amendment in the name of the Secretary of State and other Members, including myself, to line 16, to leave out
"except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners."
and also the Amendment in the name of the Secretary of State to insert at the end of line 19:
"unless those authorised undertakers consent or the Electricity Commissioners are satisfied that Board can give supply suitable to the needs of the large power user appreciably more economically than the authorised undertakers "
It would also cover the Amendment in the name of myself and other hon. Members to insert, at the end of line 19:
"without the consent of such undertakers which shall not be unreasonably withheld."
It might also usefully be extended, I suggest, if you agree, Major Milner, to cover the Amendment to line 40 of Clause 10, which deals with the regulations, to which brief reference was made by the Lord Advocate, which are to apply in the case of large power users. I think it would shorten these proceedings if we debated all these Amendments together.

If the Committee agree, it will be possible for us to debate the Amendments to Clause 2 together, but I do not think the Amendment to Clause 10 is necessarily within the same category. I think we had better wait until we come to that Amendment before discussing it.

Perhaps you will pull me up if I get out of Order, but I did propose to try to cover both the question of large power-users and the supply to authorised undertakers in the same argument.

I think it will be better if we leave the Amendment to Clause 10 to be discussed by itself. Subject to that I take it the Committee agree to discuss the other Amendments which have been mentioned.

I accept your ruling, Major Milner, and will endeavour to keep within it. The Amendment which has been moved by the Government is unsatisfactory from my point of view, because it still leaves the Electricity Commissioners, who are removed by one Amendment and restored in a later one, to decide whether the Board can supply a large power-user more economically than an authorised undertaker. In the first place I would point out that this is a new piece of legislation. Parliament has always decided hitherto that, having granted an area of supply to an authorised undertaker, there should be no competition in the same territory by a second authorised undertaker. Here we have an innovation. This Board is to have the right to come into the area of another undertaker possessing statutory powers granted by Parliament and endeavour to get for themselves the right to supply large power-users, those taking 5,000 kilowatts or upwards. I think the Committee ought to reflect before it decides upon such a major departure from the previous policy of Parliament. It does not seem to be necessary, because the Cooper Report itself lays down as one of its recommendations that the general principle should be that supplies to the authorised undertaker should be given by the Board at cost. If the supply is to be given by the new Board at cost how can the Board be in a more favourable position to supply a 5,000 kilowatt consumer on more favourable terms than would be the statutory undertaker to whom it has to provide the supply at cost? For example, a large consumer might be much nearer the generating station, when it is erected, of the Board, or to a transmission line which it may erect some three or four years hence, and a long distance away from any existing station or transmission line of the Grampian Power Co., the statutory undertaker. I seek to provide for that position by an Amendment which I have put down to say that the Grampian Co., or any other authorised undertaker in the same position, shall not have the power unreasonably to refuse consent to this Board being able to supply a large power-user, and that if their consent is unreasonably withheld they can be taken to court. That is a common provision which this House has agreed to in previous Acts of Parliament and I think it is one which the Committee could safely and justifiably accept.

There is another difficulty which might well arise. Arguments in support of the point which I am making were put over and over again on the Second Reading. The point is that this scheme will largely depend for its success upon—indeed, that is its main object—the attraction of new industries to this territory. Assume that it succeeds in this, and that a large industrial undertaking is attracted to this territory by the cheap power available. The industrial undertaking may buy some hundreds, or even thousands, of acres of land and put up a factory that would require, say, 4,800 kilowatts, and on the land which they have bought they might also erect houses for all their employees and their staff and provide them with a hospital, cinema, churches, chapels, in short, all the facilities for a well-looked-after community of workpeople, and take the electricity for the whole of that enclosed, self-contained centre from this Board at one point. The result might be that they would only require 4,800 kilowatts for industrial purposes. The ancillary demand from houses, chapels, hospitals and cinemas will probably bring the figure up to 5,500. The authorised undertakers, whose normal business is to supply electricity for domestic purposes, will be seriously interfered with if new enterprise is attracted to the territory in the way I have described. We all know there have been cases in which large industrial groups have been anxious to provide decent housing accommodation for their people. That kind development may be attracted especially to those parts of Scotland where the scenery is so delightful. The limit of 5,00o kilowatts is, for the reasons I have given, no safeguard whatever.

My principal objection to the Clause, as it is proposed to amend it, is that the Committee will be asked to depart, for no reasons which appear to me to be good, from the Parliamentary powers granted to authorised undertakers in the past. I have tried to make the point that if large power-users are near the station or transmission lines of the Board the existing authorised undertakers should not be allowed to stand in the way of the Board being able to supply. Similarly I do not think the Board should be allowed to contest whether they had the right to supply at some considerable distance away from their own station and transmission lines where the new business is going down near the station and transmission lines of an authorised undertaking. I would ask the Secretary of State to see whether it is possible to drop the Amendments and to adopt the Amendments which I have put on the Paper and for which there are established precedents.

I realise that these proposals require justification because they are novel, but the justification is that the situation is also novel and requires special treatment. It is novel for two reasons—at least unusual. In the first place, it is unusual because of the importance of taking every step open to us to attract large power-users to this area. Normally there is no particular public interest for the country as a whole whether the large power-user goes to one district or another. In the case particularly of metallurgical undertakings it has been found by the Cooper Committee, and I think accepted by many other people as a fact, that these undertakings must have hydro-electricity or they will go outside this country altogether. Therefore, we must attract them to this area unless we are to lose them for Britain. Furthermore, very narrow margins in price are very important to large power-users of this kind. Quite a small difference in price may turn the scale whether this potential customer comes to the Highlands of Scotland or goes to some foreign country.

Therefore it is essential to make provision against the possibility that the authorised undertaking may be unwilling or unable to transmit the electricity at a low price from the place where it is generated to the places where it is wanted. If the Board can do it at a low price but the authorised undertaker cannot or will not, then it seems to be in the public interest, in order to get these customers, that the Board should step in and do it. The authorised undertaker is fully protected; if he can and will do it at a low price, he is to get the priority. The Board comes in only if the Board can do it appreciably cheaper. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) will accept that statement as an adequate guarantee for those who are in possession, and who ought, in the interests of the proper distribution of electricity, not to be interfered with without very good cause.

On the other point, as to the amount of demand necessary to make a person a large power-user, I do not find my hon. Friend's picture one which would be very likely to occur. I am doubtful, although I have not had time to look the matter up, whether the large power-user who is not an authorised undertaker is entitled to take electricity direct from the Board and resell it to his employees or shops or cinemas which are supplying the new village. I think that would be outside his powers. Therefore, I do not think that the picture is in the least likely to occur.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 2, line 12, leave out "limits," and insert "areas."

In line 13, at the end, insert:

"unless the power company consent or the Electricity Commissioners are satisfied that the Board can give a supply suitable to the needs of the authorised undertakers appreciably more economically than the power company."

In line 16, leave out:

"except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners."

In line 18, leave out "limits,"and insert" areas."

In line 29, at the end, insert:

"unless those authorised undertakers consent or the Electricity Commissioners are satisfied that the Board can give a supply suitable to the needs of the large power user appreciably snore economically than the authorised undertakers."—[Mr. T. Johnston.]

I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, to leave out from the beginning to "and," in line 21.

This is consequential on the transfer of the isolated areas into category (a).

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 30, to leave out "measures," and to insert

"schemes undertaken with the approval of the Secretary of State."
In moving the omission of the word "measures" and substituting the words on the Order Paper, I would ask the Committee to observe that this Sub-section would empower the Board to collaborate in the carrying out—and these are the important words:
"…of any measures for the economic development and social improvement of the North of Scotland District or any part thereof."
The first point I want to make is that such powers appear to me to be at complete variance with the recommendations of the Cooper Report, upon which this Bill which we are now considering is supposed to be founded. That Report, if I may remind the Committee, defined three primary objectives, and these primary objectives deal with electricity supply only and nothing more. Sub-section (4) of Clause 2 of the Bill, as it stands, clearly goes very much further than this, and it would allow the Board to collaborate in carrying out any measures—I emphasise "any measures "—without limit, without definition, for economic development. The great risk here as I see it is triat such wide powers, if they were granted and exercised, might well land this hydroelectric Board in costs or losses which might inflate the price or prices which would have to be charged to its consumers. Therefore my object is that the Sub-section should be limited to matters concerning only the supply of electricity.

I rise to support the Amendment. I think we have already seen from the claims which have been made that there is a considerable danger that the Board might well be pressed, for political reasons, to undertake under this Clause work which it was not really intended it should undertake, and to go into schemes which it would be unwise for it to enter into. It seems to me that in this Bill, as in so much other legislation which comes before us nowadays, it is really important to define clearly the intentions of the House when we are giving these very considerable powers. The Sub-section, as my hon. Friend has explained, really does allow the Board to indulge in any adventure it might be pressed into for political reasons. It might be that with still greater progress of Scottish nationalism they might wish to do all sorts of things, and this Board might prove a very convenient instrument. I think we should be very careful to define its powers, and the words proposed by my hon. Friend are quite unexceptionable. I hope the Secretary of State will be able to assure us that he can accept them.

I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to press this Amendment. If the hon. Gentleman who moved it will read the words in Sub-section (4) again, he will find that the Board is limited to collaboration

"in the carrying out of any measures for the economic development and social improvement of the North of Scotland District or any part thereof "
by the limiting words: "…so far as their powers and duties per- mit…" It is obvious that these words define and confine the limits under which they collaborate. There are any number of hypothetical circumstances in which the Board might very usefully collaborate. The Forestry Commission, for example, might initiate some kind of scheme for, say, their own national parks. They might want a hostel for tourists, and it would be highly desirable that the Board should have the power in such circumstances to collaborate with the Forestry Commission in the provision of the necessary electric light. There are any number of other organisations, the National Trust for Scotland and others, which might very usefully and in fact do intend to promote measures for the social amelioration of conditions in the North of Scotland. All that this Clause does is, so far as their powers and duties permit, to authorise the Board to collaborate, not themselves to initiate.

Might I interrupt to get this point clear? I do not quite see how the Board can collaborate in the provision, say, of a hostel by giving electric light. That is its statutory duty under the Bill. I am very much afraid my fears are aroused by what the Secretary of State now says. Does it mean that they are going to pay some of the costs of the hostel?

No, but this provision here enables the Board to collaborate, not to initiate anything about hostels, I am sorry if I gave that impression. I do not want to mislead, either intentionally or otherwise. I merely want to say that half the purpose of this Bill to is restore the population to the Highlands, to provide social amenities for the area; and we desire to have some Clause in the Bill providing that this Board shall be something more than merely, as someone said to-day, a cold-hearted hydro-electric organisation. It is a development Board as well. It is the beginning, we hope, of a new era in the Highlands of Scotland, and, as I have already said, so long as the powers of collaboration are strictly limited—as they are, I submit, by the terms of the Bill—to "so far as their powers and duties permit," I do hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow us to have this Clause. I can assure him that it is whole-heartedly welcomed by every local authority and, as far as I know, by every organisation with which I have been in touch which has the amelioration of conditions in the Highlands as one of its objectives.

I would like to support the Secretary of State for Scotland on this question. All of us who are interested in Scotland, and particularly in the Highlands, want to see a Board such as this taking the greatest possible interest in all possible developments that may be going on in other directions and assisting those activities, as far as it can within the range of its powers. The opportunity that is given to it by this Clause of collaborating with all kinds of other organisations will, I am certain, be of the greatest advantage. I am only sorry that a previous Amendment of mine was not called, because I would like to see all the work of collaboration being done in association with and under the direction of the Secretary of State for Scotland. So many of our activities grow up in a haphazard way without any effective central direction. That was demonstrated by a document that has gained world-wide fame, the Beveridge Report. There have been so many haphazard developments in insurance, and the suggestion was made that there should be one Minister to direct them all. Here we have an opportunity that should be taken. I want, in view of the fact that my Amendment was not called, to oppose this Amendment, and to draw attention to the fact that one of the difficulties from which Scotland suffers is that reactionary Englishmen are always trying to put a spanner in the wheels. I advise them to mend their conduct, and if they cannot help in improving the Bill, to keep out.

I have never heard more contradictory arguments than those of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). Earlier to-day he argued very strongly in favour of putting the whole of this business under the control of the Secretary of State for Scotland, so that he should be responsible to this House. Now, when I propose to insert words which provide that schemes shall be undertaken with the approval of the Secretary of State, he opposes that. If he will only decide on which side he will come down, we shall know where he is. There is no difference between the Secretary of State and the Movers of this Amendment so far as the laudable objectives which the right hon. Gentleman explained are concerned. But we are advised by very competent legal advisers that this Clause does not confine the activities of the Board to electricity matters only. If words can be found to make that point clear, all the collaboration that the Board could give would be welcomed. Will the Secretary of State undertake between now and the next stage to reconsider the matter? There is very little difference between us, and I think the matter is one on which he could find accommodation.

I am advised, on the best legal advice we can get, that these words do confine the activities of the Board. I will look into the matter, and if I find that legally the hon. Member's view is correct, I will put it right on the Report stage; but, as I have said, that is not our advice.

I am quite ready to accept that half-promise of the Secretary of State, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I rise to ask the Committee to reconsider this Clause, because most of what seems to me and to other Members to be undesirable in this Bill is contained in Clause 2. This Clause, among other things, lays down the general powers of the Hydro-Electric Board in relation to the sale of electricity, and must, of course, be read in conjunction with Clause 16, which deals with the relation of the Board to the Central Electricity Board, or the Grid. The full implication of Clause 2 may escape notice; and has, in my opinion, escaped the notice of many of those who, like this House, give a general welcome to the Bill. That implication can be grasped only if you read the Clause in the light of the very lucid explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State and in the after-light of the Cooper Report, on which this Bill is admittedly based. To clear the ground, and to put the matter in untechnical language, under Clause 2 there are four classes of contemplated customers for whom electricity is to be generated: firstly, authorised undertakers; secondly, the Central Electricity Board, the Grid, which is compelled to take the final residue of the power at a stated cost; thirdly, houses, farms, crofts and so on—what I might call the home consumption; and, lastly—this is the crux of the Bill: it is upon this particular nail that I want to hang the hat of all the observations I am going to make—new industrial concerns, which will certainly be supplied at rates much lower than those of the Grid. These will be the heavy industries, the metallurgical and chemical concerns.

What is the reason for the discrimination in cost between the four classes of consumers? Why has not this Clause been put in the form of an omnibus provision for supplying electricity to all consumers at a remunerative rate? The answer is to be found in the Cooper Report, in the speech of the Secretary of State and the remarks of many Members of this House on Second Reading, and, lastly, may I venture to suggest, in the schemes of certain commercial gentlemen in the metallurgical and chemical concerns, which have for many years planned, in and out of season—unsuccessfully up to now—to exploit our natural anxiety, not only in Scotland but in the whole of Britain, about the state of the Scottish Highlands, for purely commercial ends. All these responses and reactions have this idea in common: that the scheme will bring prosperity to Scotland, and that such a prosperity must be an industrial prosperity.

Before I pass on to discuss the implications of this industrial prosperity which is assured under this Clause, let me make one reference to an important general principle which, in my opinion, is vitally relevant to the present issue and to issues of a similar kind in the future. The claim I am going to make has doubtless been made on many occasions in this House, and not least emphatically by those hon. Gentlemen who have blindly, to my mind, given an unqualified welcome to this Bill.

This is not the time to give an unqualified welcome to the Bill but the time to deal with the position in Clause 2. The hon. Member's speech is rather more a Second or Third Reading speech than one dealing with Clause 2.

With great respect, may I explain that I am trying to voice the very great concern as to the result and reaction of this Bill on the general life of the Highlands of Scotland and to show that this depends entirely on one part of Clause 2?

I do not think that under Clause 2 the hon. Member can deal with the general position of life in Scotland; he can only deal with the actual point of Clause 2. I was merely asking the hon. Member to limit his remarks to Clause 2 rather than make a speech on the meaning of the whole Bill.

I will endeavour to keep to your Ruling. Clause 2, as I have said, makes provision for the Central Electricity Board to buy electricity at a very enhanced rate as compared with the price that local consumers will have to pay. In this case this vast undertaking is to be backed by the nation to the extent of £3,000,000 of its finances and has to provide cheap national electricity. Clause 2, which is only going to give the homesteads and farmsteads of Scotland a grudging and very reluctant provision of electricity, is not going to help the very object which the Cooper Report had in view, namely, the regeneration of the Highlands. May I quote one phrase from the Cooper Report which is very relevant to that part of Clause 2 which deals with the provision of electricity:

"It has become apparent to us that in certain quarters expectations are entertained as to the possibilities of electrical development in the remoter areas of Scotland, which under no conceivable circumstances can be realised."
We have heard to-day assurances that the small consumers, the crofters and farmers and so on, are to benefit by the provisions of the Bill and especially of this Clause. I suggest that what the Cooper Report says still stands, and that the idea that you can serve the Highlands of Scotland except by putting there large industrial concerns is mere fantasy. The framers of this Bill are perpetuating a vicious condition of the modern form of monopoly and capitalism. By apposing which, in this House and in the country, some of those who welcome the Bill have won deservedly high reputations as "bonnie fechters" for their principles. I have no doubt of their ability and honesty to square this lyrical acceptance of the Bill and the conditions in this Clause with their consciences. May I quote what the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) said on the Second Reading of the Bill? He said:
"We must accept the industrial development of the Highlands of Scotland in order to preserve the Highlands."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1943; col. 196, Vol. 387.]
That is a sentence which hardly does justice to the right hon. Gentleman's usual lucidity. What does he mean? Does he mean the scenery, the physical features of the country, or does he mean the community of Highlanders who have always lived there, the people who ought to benefit by the provisions of this Clause?

The hon. Member is now dealing with a Second Reading speech. This is the Committee stage, and the Question is "That Clause 2 stand part" There are hon. Members who have speeches to make on other parts of the Bill, and we ought to keep away from Second Reading speeches.

I will not pursue that line any further. I only wish, before. sitting down, to explain that I meant to say, that the great objection to what may come from the operation of this Bill is involved in the provisions of this Clause, and since the whole Bill depends on the provision that this Clause makes, any speech such as I have made would be bound to have the appearance of a speech on the Bill in general.

I am not rising in order to follow the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) but to ask the Secretary of State two questions. I have received, in the course of the last few days, communications from the Highland Development League pointing out that they desire to have the Bill in accordance with certain views of their own, and, in particular, mentioning two proposals they have to make with regard to Clause 2, and these seem to be appropriate to be raised on the question of the Clause standing part. The first one was designed to enable persons who wished to create a small supply of electricity for local needs to be allowed to do so and not to be precluded by the terms of the Bill. The Secretary of State has not seen fit to include that Amendment in Clause 2, but, as I understand it, he is meeting that demand at a later stage in the Bill. Perhaps he will be kind enough, while keeping within the terms of your Ruling, Mr. Williams, to specify precisely how he proposes to meet that demand. In the second place, the Highland Development League have suggested that as the Grampian Company do not successfully meet the demands of a certain area in their constituency to any appreciable extent, the Secretary of State might be willing to include in the Bill provision to enable him to take over part of their area. Perhaps before we part with this Clause my right hon. Friend will reply to the two points I have raised.

I met the Highland Development League, and I drew the attention of their delegation to Clause 22 of the Bill, which I cannot refer to in any detail here but which entirely meets the first point made by my right hon. Friend.

Clause 22 provides that a private generating station with a rating of 5o kilowatt or under may be established. I cannot meet my right hon. Friend's second point, which I take it was that inside the Grampian Company's chartered area there may be places where people are dissatisfied because they have not yet had supplies of electricity. The Highland Development League wished to know whether it was possible to take over part of the Grampian Company's territory and incorporate it in the provisions of this Bill. I assured them that that was not possible without completely recasting the whole Bill and without adding greatly to our present difficulties. One of the things we have been anxious to do is to avoid giving offence to existing undertakings. There are local authority undertakings as well as the Grampian undertaking, and we have had to assure them that their charter rights, passed by this House, would not be interfered with in the way proposed by the Highland Development League. I think I satisfied the League that our attitude on this matter was wise.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 3—(Powers Of Board For Disharge Of Their Functions)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 38, after "may," to insert:

"after giving not less than seven days' notice and,"
The purpose of this Amendment is to require the Board to give due notice before exercising their power under paragraph (a) of Clause 3 to enter upon land for the purpose of making surveys and collecting information about water power resources in the North of Scotland District. Such surveys are necessary to enable the Board to work out a programme of development and to prepare a detailed constructional scheme, and the Amendment is to ensure that before entering upon land for such purposes seven days' notice must be given.

Amendment agreed to.

I wish to move, in page 2, line 42, to insert, after "collect":

"for the purposes of their powers and duties.

The hon. and gallant Member's Amendment is not being called, but he can speak on the Motion "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," if he so desires.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

:Having been a resident in the Highlands, I am slightly interested in this matter, and apologise if the points I wish to make have already been discussed. Could we be given any estimate of the potential resources of electrical development in the area envisaged by the Bill? Is the potential kilowatt output which could be developed known under the plans to be put forward by the Board? Further, can we be told how much of the output will be harnessed for use?

May I ask the Minister to consider the possibilities of limiting the powers of collecting information, as the wording is rather wide?

As regards the question about potential resources, the Cooper Report states that they are estimated at a 450,000 kilowatt continuous load. It is too early to say yet, without a detailed survey, how much of that load may ultimately be harnessed. As regards the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), we will certainly look at the possibility of improving the wording of paragraph (b) and if possible find some form of words more acceptable to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 4—(Development Scheme)

The first Amendment on this Clause, in the name of the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), is one of a series, and I think we can have the one discussion on them all.

I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, to leave out from "Board," to the end of line to, and to insert:

"to prepare in consultation with the Electricity Commissioners from time to time schemes (hereinafter referred to as 'development schemes') containing the information hereinafter mentioned. The first of such development schemes shall be prepared by the Board as soon as practicable after their appointment, and shall contain as full information as may be reasonably practicable relating to the works to be constructed, and the operations to be performed by the Board during the first seven years after their appointment. Every development scheme shall so far as practicable state."
I am glad that you have suggested the course you have, Mr. Williams, because I had intended to do that, with your permission. These Amendments are an attempt to express in legislative form the proposals I made in the Second Reading Debate. I do not claim that they are perfectly drawn, but I have consulted leading experts in the industry and have had the assistance of a very skilled draftsman, so that they do at any rate represent an honest endeavour and will, I hope, be looked upon by the Committee as such. As this Amendment deals with a wide and highly technical matter, vitally affecting the success of the Board and the future.of the Highlands, I will ask the Committee to show me their indulgence if I occupy a few minutes longer than is customary. Why do I seek to amend these two Clauses? The best way of answering that question is to examine what is wrong with the Clauses as they now stand. Take Clause 4. It deals with so-called development schemes, and under that Clause the duty is put upon the Board to prepare general schemes for the exercise of their duties. What are these general schemes meant to show? According to the Bill, only two things: First of all, the water resources proposed to be utilised and, secondly, the situation of the works to be constructed. That is all this development scheme intends to show.

There is to he no mention whatever in the scheme of the amount of electricity to be generated, the areas and the populations to be served, or whether any schemes included in the general plan are likely to be economic propositions. More strangely still, none of these three last matters is allowed to be referred to in the constructional schemes which are dealt with in Clause 5. Surely these are very important matters even for a general scheme—the amount of electricity to be produced, the areas to be covered, the populations to be served and the general economic structure of the plan.

The development scheme, too, must first go to the Electricity Commissioners for their approval before the Secretary of State can even see it. The right hon. Gentleman has often told us that the Commissioners perform a technical function and only look at it from a technical point of view, and I am sure that is what he intends; but we must consider how the courts will interpret it, and the words of the Bill are that the development scheme must first go to the Commissioners and be approved by them before the Secretary of State sees it, much less confirms it. Is not that going to be very awkward sometimes? Suppose a scheme is put up and the Commissioners refuse to approve it. The Scottish Office will never see it, and the right hon. Gentleman will be in the invidious position of waiting upon the Commissioners before he can proceed, or in the equally invidious position of having to adjudicate between the Electricity Commissioners' experts and the Board's experts, and he is not competent to adjudicate upon a matter of that kind. I think that is not a proper position for the Secretary of State to be put in, and I have made a suggestion in the Amendment to cover that point.

Surely it is our experience in administrative work, on town councils and elsewhere, that in decisions we have to make we can call in experts, and the Secretary of State can call in experts to advise him. We know that experts do not agree, and it then depends on the administrator, who is able to balance up the points of view put to him.

That may be, but I did not gather that it was the right hon Gentleman's intention to put himself in the position of an arbitrator. I do not want him to have to arbitrate between the views of the Electricity Commissioners and the Board, and I suggest that we insert the words,

"The Board shall prepare their scheme in consultation with the Electricity Commissioners,"
which would make an entirely different situation, for then, the scheme having been drawn up jointly, you would escape the awkward situation of waiting for the approval of the Commissioners before the Secretary of State can see it. I am advised by the very highest authorities, and I think this is a most practical and sensible way of doing it.

I note next that the development scheme is never going to be made public. It gets no further than the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, it has to be the basis of all subsequent constructional schemes which Parliament has ultimately to see and approve. Parliament is never going to know even of the existence of the development scheme, much less its contents, yet every constructional scheme that we shall be invited to consider will be based upon this original development scheme, and, if we do not know the broad picture, how can we tell whether any particular scheme is a sound one or not? It seems to me a very serious defect. Though it may not be so in strict law, approval and confirmation of a development scheme framed as proposed in Clause 4 are bound in practice to prejudice subsequently any opposition or criticism of constructional schemes. Parliament will not have an opportunity of seeing the broad picture, and that is precisely the function that we should perform. We are not experts, but we can see a picture broadly and form a broad judgment. That is precisely what I ask for and what we are debarred from doing. I think that, too, is a defect. So much for Clause 4. What about Clause 5?

No. I am not going on to Clause 5 now. I should like to make it clear that the Amendments I have suggested the Committee might discuss are in page 3, line 7, to leave out from "Board," to the end of line 1o, and to insert:

"to prepare in consultation with the Electricity Commissioners from time to time schemes (hereinafter referred to as development schemes ') containing the information hereinafter mentioned. The first of such development schemes shall be prepared by the Board as soon as practicable after their appointment, and shall contain as full information as may be reasonably practicable relating to the works to be constructed, and the operations to be performed by the Board during the first seven years after their appointment. Every development scheme shall so far as practicable state,";

In page 3, line 14, at the end to insert:

(c) the other works to be executed for the purpose of giving proper effect to the scheme;
(d) the areas to be served by the scheme;
(e) the main transmission lines to be constructed for the supply of electricity to the Central Electricity Board from the generating stations to be authorised by the scheme;
(f) the provision for the officers and servants of the Board and for persons engaged in or in connection with the construction, maintenance or management of any works authorised by the scheme of housing accommodation and any other buildings serving a beneficial purpose in relation to the requirements of such officers and servants or per sons;
(g) the anticipated quantities of electricity which will be available under the scheme for enabling the Board to execute their functions under section two of this Act;
(h) the estimated capital cost of executing all works necessary for the proper carrying out of the scheme;
(i) the estimated annual receipts and expenditure on revenue account of the Board after the coming into force of the scheme showing in so far as practicable the estimated revenue and expenditure in respect of supplies of electricity to be provided to—
  • (i) the Central Electricity Board,
  • (ii) other authorised undertakers, and
  • (iii) other consumers
  • including in such estimated expenditure all interest sinking fund and other charges of a revenue nature in respect of generation of electricity and main transmission lines; and
    (j) the charges which the Board anticipate will have to be made by them in respect of the several supplies of electricity to be provided by them during the said seven years.
    ( )A development scheme shall be accompanied by such maps, drawings, plans and particulars as the Secretary of State may require.
    ( ) The Board shall, so often as they consider it necessary so to do, prepare additional development schemes in accordance with the provisions of this section but shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, prepare any additional development scheme before the expiry of a period of five years from the date on which the last previous development scheme shall come into operation";

    In page 3, line 15, to leave out from the first "The," to "to," in line 17, and insert:

    "Board shall submit every development scheme";
    And in page 3, line 18, at the end, to insert:
    "and shall publish, in such form and in such newspapers as the Secretary of State may require, a notice stating that the scheme has been prepared and submitted for confirmation, and specifying the situation of any works proposed to be undertaken and of any land proposed to be acquired under the scheme. The Board shall also deposit a copy of the scheme, and keep copies available for inspection and sale at the offices of the Board, and at one or more convenient places, and the notice published as aforesaid shall state where copies of the scheme are so deposited for inspection, and shall also specify the time (not being less than twenty-eight days) within which, and the manner in which objection thereto may be made to the Secretary of State.
    ( ) If on the expiry of the time within which objections may be made to the scheme the Secretary of State on considering the scheme together with any objections made thereto, and in any case in which objections which are not frivolous are made and not withdrawn after holding a public enquiry into the scheme, is of the opinion that it is in the public interest that the Board should be authorised to carry out the scheme he may make an Order confirming the scheme with or without amendments.
    ( ) Every Order confirming a development scheme shall be laid before each House of Parliament and the scheme shall not come into force unless and until approved, either with or without modification, by a resolution passed by each such House.
    ( ) As soon as practicable after a development scheme has come into force the Board shall deposit copies of the Order confirming the scheme, as approved by each House of Parliament, at their offices, and the foregoing provisions of this section with respect to the giving of notices of a scheme submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation, and the deposit of copies of such scheme for inspection and sale shall, so far as applicable, apply mutatis mutandis to an Order confirming a development scheme, as so approved by both Houses of Parliament."

    I do not think we ought to discuss Clause 5 until we come to Clause 5. If the Amendments are accepted now, the hon. Member would not move them in Clause 5.

    The purpose of the Amendments is deliberately to telescope Clauses 4 and 5.

    That may be all right for the hon. Member, but I do not think it would be just to the Committee if I accepted them as ruling out other Members who might wish to discuss the Question, "That Clause 3 stand part of the Bill." If the hon. Member likes to hang his Amendments on to the two Clauses, I have no objection.

    I have, in order to justify my Amendments, to suggest in what respects Clause 5 is defective, and I hope I may be allowed to do that. Under Clause 5 the Board is required from time to time to prepare individual constructional schemes for any or all of a number of purposes. When I first looked at the Bill I thought the purpose would be to develop one scheme. For example, it seemed to me that if the purpose was to develop Glen Affric, there would be one constructional scheme covering the enterprise. When I examined it further, however, I found that a constructional scheme must be presented to the Secretary of State, and ultimately to the House, for a whole lot of different purposes. What are these purposes? First, the execution of works necessary for giving effect td the development scheme; second, the execution of other works in any part of the district for the generation or transmission of electricity, which has apparently nothing to do with the development scheme; third, the construction of main transmission lines outside the district, which may or may not be connected with the development, scheme; and fourth, the provision of houses for the workers. There is a wide variety of projects and there must be individual schemes for each of them. Many of these projects may be important and many may be unimportant. If it were left to the Board to prepare and put into operation schemes affecting these smaller matters I should be happy and should feel that we would get electricity in the Highlands much sooner.

    A different procedure, however, is proposed, and I notice that the Scottish Office has already described it as complicated. It is that each scheme, however small or unimportant, has first to go to the Electricity Commissioners for approval. I would invite the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) to the fact that one of the matters for which a scheme has to be prepared is the housing of the workers. An hon. Member who spoke from these Benches instanced the building of a beautiful village for the workers. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs realise that under Clause 5 a scheme for houses has first to go to the Electricity Commissioners in London and be approved by them before it is even seen by the Secretary of State? That is the ridiculous situation with which we are faced. In my Second Reading speech I begged the House to realise what a cumbersome, bureaucratic, red tape business all this was, and I asked for the matter to be simplified. It is only if the Electricity Commissioners approve any of these schemes that they come to the Secretary of State, who is put in the invidious position to which I have referred.

    He has then to have the schemes made public, hold inquiries, hear objections and eventually confirm them. Then each scheme comes to this House, no matter how unimportant it is. It may be a scheme merely for running a small transmission line, but it has to come here, and we have to examine it. In the Cooper Report it is stated that there are 70 possible projects that can be developed, and this House is faced with the prospect of 300 or 400 different constructional schemes coming before it. That is a terrifying prospect, and when a scheme is submitted to the House we cannot alter a single comma. Our only duty is to look at it and say "Yes" or "No." I cannot believe that that is democracy working as it ought to do or doing rightly by this House or by the Highlands.

    When this scheme was first mooted it was said by those responsible for it that this method of sending each constructional scheme to the House was introduced because the Highland authorities wanted it. It was suggested that they liked and insisted on this method. I was surprised to hear that, and since that time I have found that my surprise was justified. I have now discovered that at least one great Highland authority, the County Council of Sutherland, took the view that this is a bureaucracy ridden Measure which will not be of service to the Highlands. I have here a report of the Sutherland County Council from the "Northern Times" of 12th February. The matter was raised by Provost Murray, who has written much to me about this matter. Dealing with Clause 5, he said that if this Clause of the Bill were to become law it was clear that they would be faced again with the same disastrous results which destroyed the process of cheaper electrical development in the Highlands during the past 20 years. He went on to submit that the fact that the powers of the new Board were severely restricted in comparison with the recommendations of the Cooper Committee was highly significant and disturbing. The Convener of the County said in his speech:
    "My idea is that this Board should have over-riding powers to direct and co-ordinate activities."
    It is a comfort to me to know that at least one Highland authority takes my view, and I have no doubt that if I were able to approach others, I should find wider support for the criticism I am making.

    I want to put another consideration which must be taken seriously. In all the provisions of the Bill nowhere is this Board required to present its financial estimates to the House. We have to accept constructional schemes, but at no time do we get an opportunity of seeing whether the Board is running on sound lines. When the Central Electricity Board was being formed, the Weir Committee formed an estimate, having heard evidence, of the economic position of the Board as it was going to be operated. Figures were prepared by the Chairman of the then Electricity Commission, Sir John Snell, which tended to show that the Board would be economically sound. The Cooper Committee did not do this in connection with the Board proposed under this Bill. It left us in Parliament to form a view whether it would be sound.

    If this Bill passes in its present form, Parliament will side-track this issue entirely. The Grampian Company, when they presented their case to this House and to a Select Committee, produced all their estimates; of their costs, and I do not see why this new Board should not do likewise. This Board is in a very much more difficult situation than was the Grampian Company, on account of its financial structure, to which I referred at the beginning of this Debate. It must meet the interest on its stock; it must meet certain other charges. It is in a very difficult, a very doubtful, financial position; doubtful and difficult for three reasons. First, it cannot increase its revenue from the Central Electricity Board; it cannot increase its revenue from authorised undertakers, because that is laid down under Section 13 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1926; and it presumably cannot alter the charges it makes to big companies or consumers, because large companies will only come to Scotland if they get a cheap tariff and are given a long undertaking regarding that tariff. It cannot get more money in, because it cannot conceivably raise prices to consumers.

    Therefore, it may well happen that in times of stress—and they are bound to come—the Board will get into some financial embarrassment. What then? I have said the Board cannot raise its charges. There is only one thing left for it to do, and that is to cut some of its costs. What costs? The only costs which it can cut are its capital costs, its interest costs. If it does cut its interest charges, who stands the racket? The Treasury stands the racket, the taxpayer stands the racket. It is they who will have to bear this great new burden, and, that being so, surely this House, which represents the taxpayers, ought to be convinced before it sets this Board going that the financial structure is sound, or, alternatively, that the plans it has envisaged, the whole plans, for the development of the Highlands are worthy of this, in fact, subsidy which the House is offering. Nowhere in the. Bill are these financial facts.produced.

    The Amendments endeavour, first of all, to provide that the Electricity Commissioners should co-operate with the Board in drawing up its schemes. I am satisfied that that would be helpful. Further, the Amendments provide that the Board should work on a seven-year programme. In my Second Reading speech I suggested a five-year programme, but I have been advised by those who know that that is too short a time and that it should be a seven-year programme, given to the House with all the facts, and that when that programme has been passed the Board should then get on with its work. I have suggested that the scheme, when presented to us, should show, among other things, the areas to be served—surely very important; the transmission lines to be run; that provision should be made for the officers and servants of the Board; that the anticipated quantities of electricity should be indicated—surely we should know how much is going to be produced by this great scheme; show also the estimated annual receipts and expenditure—we ought to know that; and, above all, we should know the charges the Board is going to make. What good will this Bill be to the North of Scotland if the charges are exorbitant? It is vital that we should know, and nowhere are we told. I have suggested, further, that the Board, having got its seven-year plan, should work upon the principle of five-year plans—that is the meaning of the Sub-section towards the end of one of the Amendments. The Amendments also go on to suggest that when schemes come before the House we should be given the opportunity to pass an affirmative resolution, so that we may amend the scheme if we feel so disposed.

    I apologise sincerely to the Committee for having taken some time over explaining these Amendments, but it is a matter of very great importance, to which I have devoted a great deal of care. I beg the Committee seriously to consider these proposals. I want the Board to be given the greatest possible freedom. It should be a public Board, acting for the public as a whole. I agree that a private company could not, and in the circumstances should not, exploit this great monopoly. But as the Home Secretary has so often said, a public board can only be successful if you give: it its head, give it freedom. I want this Board to be given all the advantage of private enterprise, the enterprise of individuals. I want it to be free. I want a seven-year programme, with subsequent five-year plans, giving the House a full picture of the Board's scheme, and I think the House should properly address itself to that scheme.

    I think it may be helpful if at this stage I try to contrast the picture which has been painted in somewhat vivid colours by my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) with the proposals in the Bill. The first and main objection which I have to the Amendment is that it will cause wholly unnecessary delay. As explained by my right hon. Friend on Second Reading, one of the main purposes of the Bill is that the great amount of work which this Bill will produce shall be ready and available as soon as may be after the end of the war. That is one of the reasons why the development scheme has to be of a somewhat sketchy character. The alternative scheme which my hon. Friend suggests would, I am advised, take about a couple of years to prepare. It goes into enormous detail with regard to all the work to be done over a period of seven years. One knows the difficulty of preparing any detailed scheme during the war, and there would not be the slightest chance of the new scheme suggested by my hon. Friend being ready in time. Moreover, the data which my hon. Friend wants to put into the scheme entail foresight on the part of the Board with regard post-war conditions which is quite impracticable. How is anybody going to estimate what the receipts will be in what may be quite different conditions seven years after the end of the war? It almost appears as if my right hon. Friend thought we were going back to 1939 conditions without any difficulty, going to carry on in conditions of complete stability in which everybody could quite easily see seven years ahead.

    I must ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman not to get hon. Members to go back to conditions in 1939 and matters of that sort.

    I do not want to do any more than say that in my view, at least, to estimate, with the detail which my hon. Friend wants, what is to happen throughout a period of seven years after the termination of the war is impracticable. I turn, therefore, to the six main points made by my hon. Friend in criticism of the Bill's provisions. The first was that it was awkward that they had to go to the Electricity Commissioners before a scheme was submitted to the Secretary of State. I think he forgets that the Electricity Commissioners are subject to the general supervision of the Minister of Fuel and Power, and that if they are so dilatory as he thinks they may be, means can easily be found to see that they carry out their proper responsibilities.

    If there is a difference of judgment and my hon. Friend wants consultation, it seems to me that consultation between two people who cannot see eye to eye is likely to be even more dilatory than the procedure to which he objects. Secondly, he takes the objection that the development scheme is not to be made public. Well, it is to be made public. It is true that that is not in the Bill, but it has been the intention that it should be made public. There is an Amendment on the Paper raising that point.

    It is the intention. Thirdly, I understood the hon. Member to say that approval of the development scheme in some way hampered proper and impartial consideration of constructional schemes. I am able to find no substance for that objection in the Bill. The constructional scheme need not necessarily cover exactly the same ground as' any part of the development scheme. It is perfectly open to anyone to take any objection to the constructional scheme without reference to the development scheme at all. The next point which I understood the hon. Member to take up was that it was necessary to have several constructional schemes for one development. That is not so. The constructional scheme is—if he will look at line 38, in page 3—to cover any or all of a number of purposes. Of course, any far-seeing Board, when bringing forward a constructional scheme for civil engineering works for new electricity, will also put in the power stations, the houses, the transmission lines and all the other ancillary parts that are necessary to make a completed whole. It would be grave lack of foresight on the part of the Board if they required more than one constructional scheme for the same undertaking.

    What then is the meaning of the words in line

    "or of other works in any part of the North of Scotland "?

    The words "or of other works" are to ensure that the Board in preparing the constructional scheme is not tied to those works which are mentioned in the development scheme. Clause 5 reads:

    "With a view to the execution of works necessary for giving effect to the development scheme or of other works"—
    that is to say, works different from those required by the development scheme.

    The next point of the hon. Member's was that certain local authorities do not approve of the present form of the Bill. All I can say with regard to that is that the County Councils Association unanimously approved. Whether some of the authorities changed their minds or were not present at the Association meeting, I do not know. Further, it is suggested that there is no proper provision for the Board disclosing its financial affairs. If my hon. Friend will look at Clauses 15 and 23, I think he will find very full provision is made there. No doubt if he thinks this should be fuller, he will tell us when we come to those Clauses in what respect he thinks that should be done. Finally, I think my hon. Friend raised the point of what will happen if the Board, for some reason, do not get in such revenue as they require. With proper foresight that should not happen, but if it did happen, I cannot see how the adop- ton of this Amendment would produce money which will not be produced under the Bill as it stands. This Amendment has nothing to do with charges, and I cannot see how it will produce more money. Therefore I cannot see that the argument bears upon the present question. I do not want to take up more time, and I submit that the Amendment has not been justified.

    I quite appreciate many of the answers given by the Lord Advocate to the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), but I still feel that the conditions laid down in Clause 5 are terribly vague. Very little has to be stated with regard to any particular development scheme. In view of the enormous potential that can be developed under the hydro-electric scheme, it should be made obligatory that more information should be given as to any proposed development. I was reminded by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the possibilities in Scotland for electricity are of the order of 450,000 kilowatts, which is a very large figure indeed, but after all, if I may be allowed to compare it with Switzerland, which I think most people would consider—

    I wanted only to say that the figure of 450,000 kilowatts, which to some people might not mean a great deal, is only one-tenth of the whole of that required for Switzerland, which is highly developed and where everything, including railways, is operated by electricity. I do not think that the Electricity Commissioners are so ignorant of their business that they are likely to put forward any proposals either for excess development or under-development at any given time. There is such a possibility of vast development schemes being put forward which might be far more than the Highlands would require for many years to come. There is a good deal to be said for my hon. Friend's point of view that the Board should definitely take a view over a set period of years and that we should know what electrical development would be available in Scotland over a given period. That would be of the greatest advantage to any industry which proposed to establish itself there. As it is, a development scheme has to state what water powers are proposed to be utilised—not to what extent they are proposed to be utilised—and where they are to be. I quite appreciate, as I have had an opportunity of reading the Amendment, that there may be a good many objections to some of the points, but I think that the Lord Advocate dismissed rather too lightly the argument which asked that a development scheme should be more clearly specified.

    We are in the dilemma that if we are to have a really full development scheme, it will take a long time to prepare under war circumstances, and that we want to have the first constructional scheme ready at an early date. We are very much afraid that if we make the development scheme more elaborate than it is at present, we shall hang up the progress of producing electricity.

    What is the good of the development scheme at all? Is it of any value to the Government?

    It is worth two things. I do not put great stress upon the development scheme. Quite frankly, it is not at all an essential feature of the Bill, but it has some advantages. It makes clear that the Board has exercised a preliminary survey of the whole territory before settling which bit of the territory is first to be developed by a constructional scheme. The Board would no doubt do that without anything in the Bill to direct them to do it, but it is as well to have it here, and if we publish a development scheme, it does give an authoritative picture—though I agree only a picture in broad outline, but nevertheless an authoritative picture—of the possibilities of future developments, and I think that might be useful. But I do not put it so high as to say that the development scheme is going to contribute very much to the success of this project.

    Amendment negatived.

    The next Amendment I propose to call is that standing in the name of Mr. Erskine-Hill.

    May I, with your permission, Mr. Williams, before formally moving the Amendment that stands in my name and in the names of my hon. Friends, explain to the Committee that I am a director of the Scottish Power Company, which owns the Grampian Electricity Co. referred to in the Bill, and that that company has a direct interest in the Bill? This does not refer to my Amendment at all, which is in the interests, I think, of everybody with an interest in this question.

    Might I ask the hon. and learned Member whether the interest his company has is in favour of the Bill or against it?

    I do not think there is any need for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that his interest is either for or against the Bill. I think that what it is right that an hon. Member who has an interest in the Bill should do is, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has done, to say whether he has an interest, and then we assume that in the House he will act as ordinary Members of Parliament will, and do his best in the interests of the Bill.

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 21, at the end, to add:

    "(4) As soon as may be after the confirmation of the development scheme, the Board shall deposit a copy of the scheme, and keep it available for inspection, at the offices of the Board and at one or more convenient places within the locality to which the scheme relates, and shall publish in such form, and in such newspapers as the Secretary of State may require, a notice stating that the scheme has been so confirmed, and the offices and places at which copies of the scheme are so deposited for inspection."
    As the Committee will see, this Amendment relates to the development scheme, that is, the strategy, the plan, for the development of hydro-electric power in the North of Scotland. It seems to me that the Committee will agree that in a matter of that importance there ought to be the utmost publication, so that anyone who is interested in it may learn of the scheme and learn as many details as they can about this scheme as quickly as possible. That applies to any kind of interest, whether that of a potential consumer, whether that of a local inhabitant or whether that of an authorised undertaking. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had it in mind to see that there was some form of publication, but my one point, and I think it is an important one, is that within the Bill itself it should be laid down that there should. be adequate publication. That is the object of my Amendment.

    We propose to accept this Amendment. This is the Amendment which my right hon. and learned Friend referred to in the discussion on the previous Amendment. We do not put it too highly that there will be very much detailed information in this development scheme, but we appreciate the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill) that there is a very general public purpose to be secured in having the fact made public and published and available, that the development scheme has been approved of and where it can be seen.

    Will the Secretary of State consider between now and the next stage of the Bill adding words to indicate that Parliament also will have a copy of this presented to it? We would see it by reading our papers, but we ought to have it officially.

    Perhaps the hon. Member will not expect a pledge of that kind from me at the moment. We are very anxious not to overload this Bill with red tape. I do not say that his proposal means that, but we are exceedingly anxious to get certain construction schemes ready for the conclusion of the war, and we therefore want to do nothing which will unnecessarily clog or delay the machinery of this Bill. I will gladly look at the point he has raised.

    Before the Secretary of State accepts this Amendment, I would ask him whether there is not some danger here that when this Board advertises, as is suggested in this Amendment, that it wants to acquire some land, that because this Board wishes to acquire it the landlord quite naturally, as they will always do, will put a fancy price on this land. It has always been our experience on the Glasgow Corporation that when we are going to acquire land, even for housing our own native folk, it has to be done on the quiet, because the necessity of the people is exploited. Is there riot just the same danger here? If you accept this Amendment, as I read it, you are only advertising to the boys who are in control in the Highlands, the landowners, and they can put on a fancy price because the land is absolutely necessary for the completion of the scheme.

    The fears and apprehensions which the hon. Member has expressed may or may not be justified. Possibly they are in some instances. But may I put this to him, that the same rise in land values or prices might take place even if there was no development scheme at all? If a constructional scheme came to this House, it would be known to all and sundry, far and wide, and sortie rise in land values might possibly take place. We shall have to take other steps to stop any exploitation in that regard.

    Might I ask whether, in view of the fact that when the development scheme is completed it is to be published and deposited for inspection in certain places, we in the House could be equally privileged and have a copy laid in the Library?

    I have already promised the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) to look into the precise form in which this might be done, but publicity certainly ought to be secured.

    This is a serious Amendment. If they get away with this, you will have to get words to safeguard the interests of the common folk, because the landlords in the Highlands will have no scruple in exploiting every scheme if they get to know beforehand who is going to purchase this land. It might, be only a few acres that are specially required, and they would put on a special price.

    As I have said, we quite appreciate that point, but it cannot be met by stopping publication of the development scheme. So long as there was a construction scheme, so long as any Measure came before Parliament at all at a later stage, the same fears and apprehensions might be justified. As I have assured the hon. Member, we shall require to take other steps to stop exploitation of that kind.

    The hon. Iviember for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) is raising the question of price at which compulsory acquisition might take place.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause. as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    In Sub-section (I, a) there is a reference to "the water-power resources proposed to be utilised." We understand, therefore, that there are certain water-power resources which are not to be used. That, in any case, is the assumption which one would make. Suppose there are water-power resources which the Board are not going to use under their scheme. Are those resources to be wasted? There may be a paper mill or some other small works in the vicinity which would be prepared to put up a water-power generating station, and if the power is not to be used under the Board's scheme, is there any reason why it should not be used by private individuals?

    I cannot think that the Board would leave out of their development schemes any water-power resources that could be utilised at reasonable construction costs unless for special reasons, but if they do leave out any such water-power resources, then it is certainly open to any private person who wishes to use those resources for a private generating station, to go to the Electricity Commissioners and ask for permission to do so, and I cannot imagine the Commissioners refusing, except on the ground that the Board's scheme would be prejudiced.

    I should like to ask for an assurance. The Lord Advocate rejected the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), and the appeal which I made for greater detail in connection with the development scheme, on the ground that it was essential to produce the development scheme at the earliest possible date, in order that the work should be started after the war. I understand the power of that argument, but I wonder whether it would not be possible to suggest to the Board that at least as far as future schemes are concerned more detail might be given.

    The idea in the Bill is that there shall be one development scheme once and for all, but there is power in Clause 7 to amend the scheme if that proves to be desirable. Certainly my hon. Friend's suggestion will be conveyed to the Board that in due course it might be desirable to amend by amplification the initial scheme, but I do not think we can say, at this stage, whether or not that will prove to be desirable.

    There is an Amendment on the Paper dealing with water power in connection with local authorities, and I should like some information on that point. In my constituency there is considerable interest among local authorities about what use is to be made of water in their districts, and I should like an assurance that great care will be taken to see that water for domestic and public purposes will be safeguarded for the use of local authorities.

    My hon. and gallant Friend will remember that the Secretary of State is the Minister of Health in Scotland and must bear in his mind his responsibility with regard to water for public health purposes when he is confirming or rejecting a scheme. I think we may take it that no Secretary of State would confirm any scheme which took essential water away from a local authority.

    Naturally, water for essential health purposes is more essential than water for electricity. I think everyone would realise that.

    Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed.

    Clause 5—(Constructional Schemes)

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, after "Board," to insert:

    "shall send copies of the said notice to the persons appearing from the valuation roll to be the owners and the occupiers of any land proposed to be acquired and."
    The purpose of the Amendment is that when notice of a scheme has been published it shall also be served upon the owners and occupiers of any land affected by the scheme.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, to leave out "it available for inspection," and to insert "copies available for inspection and sale."

    This Amendment deals with a constructional scheme instead of a development scheme and to that extent is different from the Amendment which I moved earlier. It also requires not only that there should be inspection but also that copies should be available for sale. The general object of the Amendment is along the same lines as that of the previous Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 12, to leave out "twenty-one", and to insert "forty". This is a small alteration which will give a little longer time to interested parties to lodge objections against any constructional scheme.

    Is there any good and sufficient reason why this period should be extended to 40 days, and is there any precedent for such a length of time in connection with a matter of this kind? Surely 21 days is sufficient in which to lodge an objection. Let us aim at getting on with these schemes instead of holding them up.

    The hon. Member will realise that in the North of Scotland there are many outlying places where it might be difficult for people to give notice of objection within 21 days.

    May I point out that the ordinary means of communication exist in the North of Scotland? The telegraph and telephone services are in operation there, and this could easily be done in 21 days.

    The hon. Member will probably realise that there is the necessity in some cases of consulting a soliitor.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 23, at the end, to insert:

    "Provided that where any person who has lodged objection to the scheme requests that an inquiry shall be held, the Secretary of State shall, unless he is of opinion that the objection is frivolous, cause an inquiry to be held before confirming the scheme."
    It has been thought that persons who have any objection to a scheme should have the right to have an inquiry, unless the Secretary of State considers the objection a frivolous one.

    The form of the inquiry will come later. It is set out in detail in the proposed Sixth Schedule on the Amendment Paper (Provisions for Inquiries)

    Will the Solicitor-General for Scotland explain whether he is satisfied that this could not be used as a method of obstruction? Can he give the Committee an assurance that this could not be used as an instrument for holding up schemes indefinitely?

    That would come under the word "frivolous." The Secretary of State has control of the question whether he will allow inquiry or not. If there was any serious objection, he would agree that there should be an inquiry. An inquiry might go on as fast as possible, but during the inquiry there might be a slight hold-up. The hon. Member can be assured that the Secretary of State would not allow any undue delay.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 39, leave out "may be inspected," and insert "are available for inspection and sale."— [Mr. Erskine-Hill.]

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 46, at the end, to add:

    "Provided that the Board shall not proceed to carry the scheme into effect unless and until a scheme shall have been made and adopted under Section four of the Electricity (Supply) Act, i926, as adapted and modified by this Act in respect of the area to which the constructional scheme relates."
    The need for this Amendment is caused by the fact that under the original Electricity Supply Acts which have been incorporated in this Measure, with certain modifications and exceptions, a certain procedure was adopted relating to schemes. Under the present Act there is a different one, and the new Board who have taken upon themselves also the powers of the Central Electricity Board for the purposes of the old Act might proceed in one of two different ways. Section 4 of the Act of 1926 gives certain advantages. There is protection afforded in that Act on certain matters to authorised undertakers, such as the availability and the cost of supply. The benefit of availability and cost of supply goes to the consumer eventually. Therefore it is very advantageous to make clear that you are proceeding by the method previously adopted in the earlier Acts. I understand that the matter has received the favourable consideration of my right hon. Friend, and I would ask him to accept the Amendment.

    The Government are prepared to accept the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend.

    The Committee ought to be instructed a little on what exactly the Government are accepting here. As the hon. and learned Member has just said, the Act of 1926 laid down a method of procedure for the framing of schemes which is the reverse of the method adopted in the new Bill. Under the new Bill the Board are required to frame the scheme and submit it to the Electricity Commissioners, but under the 1926 Act the Electricity Commissioners framed the scheme and submitted it to the Board, and it was for the Board to say whether they wanted it or not or whether it should be amended. Does it mean now that either or both these methods could be employed, and, if so, which method are the Government likely to prefer? In accepting the Amendment, the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to tell us exactly what he intends to do.

    I agree that the matter is rather complicated. I think that my hon. Friend—and I am not in the least surprised—has different schemes in mind. The scheme under the 1926 Act is not alternative to any of the schemes under this Bill. It is quite a different thing. A scheme under the 1926 Act is one for determining what generating stations are to be selected stations and how they are to be coupled up. It is agreed on all hands that a scheme of that character which is not otherwise referred to in this Bill will be necessary before the new Board sell electricity, and if it is necessary to have such a scheme, there is no reason why there should not be inserted in the Pill a provision to the effect that there should be such a scheme.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    There are one or two matters in this Clause which are causing us considerable doubt. The first is the ex- tension of time from 21 to 40 days. We consider that for many parts of North Scotland it should be possible to lodge an objection or an appeal within 21 days. We cannot see any reason for extending the period to 40 days. The Solicitor-General for Scotland gets up here and presents the obstacle of solicitors. Then let us abolish solicitors. [An HON. MEMBER: "'Liquidate' them is the word."] I am prepared to accept the word "liquidate," or, in view of the fact that we are discussing this particular Bill, "electrocute" them. We would certainly find it impossible, as far as most of them are concerned, to electrify them. They consult and reconsult, and consider and reconsider, and create wherever they can the utmost complications. In order to prove it, let me take this last Amendment. Let any Member of the Committee get up and say he is able to understand or explain it. It is moved by a solicitor in order to create the greatest possible amount of confusion and difficulty. It says:

    "Provided that the Board shall not proceed to carry the scheme into effect unless and until a scheme shall have been made and adopted under section four of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1926."
    As soon as this Board operates it will be possible for it to get ahead with schemes, even though the linking has taken place. The character of the Amendment which has been accepted by the legal men in the Government—I am certain that the Secretary of State for Scotland was not responsible for accepting the Amendment.

    The hon. Member keeps referring to the Amendment, but we are discussing the Motion "That the Clause stand part."

    I am certain that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not responsible for accepting this new part of the Clause, and that it is as anathema to him as it is to hon. Members on this side of the Committee. So I would ask the Secretary of State to reconsider this Clause and stick to the original time limit of 21 days in order to ensure the greatest possible speed in getting schemes going. I ask him to reject this new part proposed by the legal fraternity for, I am sure, very sinister purposes.

    There is a certain feeling in some parts of Scotland that one of the faults of this Bill is that local authorities are rather eliminated. From what I can read into Clause 5, even in an area where constructional schemes are being considered there is nothing to show that the local authorities will be consulted. They are not even mentioned. To say that an advertisement will appear in the Press is inadequate, and I ask for an assurance that local authorities will have deposited with them copies of any constructional schemes taking place in their area. I think it is only right that responsible bodies should be taken into account.

    I would like to associate myself with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). The Secretary of State has accepted three Amendments to this Clause and has now given us quite a different kind of Clause. Each of the Amendments to this Clause could be quite easily used for obstruction purposes. The Amendment from my hon. and learned Friend opposite I do not pretend to understand in detail, even after the explanation by the Lord Advocate. The other, to which the hon. Member for West Fife has already addressed himself, assumes a new significance. It is not only a question of whether the time for lodging an objection is extended from 21 to 40 days. The Clause now states "not less than 4o days." We on this side of the Committee have the utmost confidence in the present Secretary of State for Scotland but "not less than 40 days" means nothing in a House which showed an unfriendly spirit towards another Scottish Secretary. Again, despite the assistance offered by the Solicitor-General, I still cannot see that the other Amendment the Government have accepted does not leave open the door for obstruction. Interpretation of the word "frivolous" is very difficult. I am quite certain that neither of the hon_ Members opposite can tell us what is meant by "frivolous." A mass of technical objections could be lodged by people who wanted to create difficulties or even by people who could claim an interest in any proposed development. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend to give us a slightly different picture when we come to the Report stage. I do not want to read motives into any changes which have been made; I will content myself by saying that while these may be excellent safeguards so long as the House is situated as it is now and so long as we have a Scottish Secretary of the same temper as my right hon. Friend, they could be properly used, but otherwise they might be most improperly used, to the dismay of, and loss to, that part of the country to which this Bill is directed.

    Before we part with this Clause may I refer to a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden), namely, local authorities? Not only do local authorities in the Highlands feel that they ought to be informed of any constructional scheme in their area, but they also feel that they ought to be consulted before any scheme is passed on to the Secretary of State for his confirmation.

    I do not know whether the length of the Sitting is exhausting the Members on the Treasury Bench, but they seem to be more pliable as time goes on with regard to the acceptance of Amendments. They were prepared to fight much more strenuously earlier in the day, when better Amendments were proposed.

    That may be, but at any rate the Amendments from the other side of the Committee are being received very much more kindly than the Amendments from this side. The question of time is the weakest argument I have heard for a long time. One thinks back to the days when Macdonald had such difficulty in getting to Inverary. He had only 30 days and had to do it on foot, and there were no telephones or such like means of communication at that time. The acceptance of the last Amendment amazes me. What does the Clause say? It says, in Sub-section (7):

    "As soon as may be after notice has been given in accordance with the provisions of the last foregoing subsection, the Board shall proceed with the construction of the works specified in the scheme and may do all things necessary for the due carrying into effect of the scheme."
    What is wrong with that? There is no doubt that the only reason for putting the Amendment down was for the purpose of delay. They will be able to delay any constructional scheme that is put into operation. I cannot understand why the Government should allow these loop- holes for the purpose of delaying the Act coming into operation. They can buy the support of the people behind them too dearly. It is not worth the price they are paying.

    I should like to appeal to the Secretary of State to take back the Clause. There is a good deal of feeling on this side about the concessions that have been made. There never was a day practically since the war started when the line of cleavage was so distinct as now. It is clear as noonday that it is a case of vested interests. That is why we are viewing with great anxiety the concessions that are being made. There are none to us, who are well disposed towards the Bill, but they are being made to those who have been against it from the beginning and are against all development unless they are going to get control. All they are interested in is rent, profit, and interest.

    The Second Reading was passed unanimously. When the hon. Member says that certain people are against the Bill, I should like to know the names of anyone he has in view.

    That would be going beyond the Clause. The hon. Member is quite out of Order. We are discussing whether the Clause shall stand part, and he is digressing from the question. I hope he will confine himself to it.