Nothing in this Act or any scheme made thereunder shall prejudice the application by any body, company or other person for a Special Order made under the Electricity (Supply) Acts, 1882 to 1936, for power to supply electricity in any part of the North of Scotland District which at the date of the application does not form part of the area of a distribution scheme made under this Act or the area of supply of an authorised undertaker.—[ Mr. Henderson Stewart.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."Under the Bill as it stands the Board will indicate generally what areas are to be exploited, and that will show what areas are not going to be exploited within a measurable term of years. This Clause is to deal with the position of areas which are not likely to be exploited. Take Stromness as an example. I suggest that when such an area as that knows that it is not going to be included in the area supplied by the new Board it should have the right to apply for a Special Order empowering it to generate its own electricity. If you like, that Order might be made for a limited period of time. It will be extremely unfortunate for certain parts of the Highlands, and particularly the Islands, if they may not apply for an Order to supply electricity. I want them to continue in possession of the full rights which they now enjoy in that respect until the Board is ready to supply them.
I do not think that there is likely to be any demand by any local authority to set up some new organisation of its own. My hon. Friend will remember that it is hoped that the new Board will have considerable revenues as well as a large organisation which will enable it to start distribution in new areas on easier terms than a new organisation with a small capital could hope to achieve. If the new Board does its duty and has anything like the success which is anticipated, that new Board ought to undertake these distribution schemes if localities apply for them and if conditions are reasonably favourable. If conditions are not reasonably favourable, then it is unlikely that the locality would itself want to distribute. Therefore, I think the Clause is really unnecessary. May I add that while the Bill in its present form prevents anyone else than the Board generating electricity, it does not prevent other people from distributing electricity supplied by the Board. As I understand it, the present position is this: Supposing the Board have electricity available for distribution in a certain area which has not yet been tapped, and supposing the inhabitants say they would rather have a small local authority scheme instead of the Board as distributors, there is nothing to prevent the local inhabitants from doing it in that way. I thing it is very unlikely that they would want to do that. It is more likely that the Board would do the whole business from generation through transmission right down to local distributio. Therefore, I suggest that the Clause which the hon. Member has moved is at least unnecessary, and I will go further and say that it is rather undesirable.
May I give a direct case? The Town Council of Stromness before the war contemplated applying for a Special Order. It is most unlikely, I should say, that Stromness will be covered by the scheme of the Board for some years ahead. If that turns out to be the case, and the scheme put forward by the Board shows that Stromness is to be excluded, is it really to be said that Stromness, which had that intention before the war, is to be no longer able to carry it out?
My hon. Friend, I think, has forgotten the position in reference to isolated areas. If Stromness is away from any network of electricity, it is certainly an isolated area and is entitled to treatment among the high priority customers. I think it much more likely that if Stromness wants a supply and is ripe for development, the Board would do the job as an isolated scheme rather than leave it to Stromness to do it itself.Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.