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Clause 1—(Main Functions Of Electricity Boards)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 23 June 1947

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8.45 p.m.

I beg to move, in page I, line 13, to leave out "the North of Scotland District," and to insert "Scotland."

This is the first Amendment on the Bill proper, and, although the words are few, they raise an issue of great magnitude. The proposal in the Bill is to divide the historic unity of Scotland, and to have a frontier across that country in its midst, between Forth and Clyde. The onus is on those who desire this change to show the necessity for it. It has been discussed on more than one occasion, and the argument of hon. Members opposite, if I may summarise it as fairly as I can, is first, the particular argument that the North of Scotland Board has particular duties to perform in promoting in the Highlands social welfare which might be injured if it were brought into an all-Scotland Board; and secondly, that the development of electricity in the past has been on a United Kingdom basis. I think it is fair to hon. Members opposite to say that they attach a great deal more importance to the second of these arguments than to the first. It is clear that all of us desire to preserve the social functions of a North of Scotland Board, and whatever steps are taken, these functions should be preserved.

The other point is of greater importance. It is said that the Central Electricity authority has always been a United Kingdom body, and that the United Kingdom should be left in the position in which it is now. That seems to us to be unconvincing for two reasons. First of all, to pursue that argument to its logical conclusion, the North of Scotland Board should certainly be wiped out, but right hon. Gentlemen opposite have preserved that Board and, indeed, they have done more. They have extended it. They have amended the Act which is only newly on the Statute Book, whereby a particular area which was designated in order to be developed under the North of Scotland Board, was extended into highly developed regions in the south, to which the special arguments which led to the North of Scotland Board being set up no donger apply. Therefore, the original argument will no longer hold water. They have extended that area for the reason of good administration, and it is for that reason of good administration that we say that the frontier of that board should be extended to coincide with the normal, natural and ancient frontier between the two Kingdoms, and that this artificial and synthetic frontier between the two parts of Scotland should not be set up.

One has only to look at any industrial map to see that the proposed frontier is about to run through a most inconvenient part—through a highly developed industrial region. There is at present a perfectly good frontier in which the difficulties of cross-communication are reduced to a minimum, and where only at the two extreme ends—Carlisle and Newcastle—does any trouble arise. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland commended this Bill to the House on the ground that it preserved the North of Scotland Board. We agree with him on that, but why should he quarrel with us when we say that the sway of this beneficent organisation should not be curtailed? It should extend not merely down to the Forth as he suggested, but down to the Cheviots. I have not heard from the Secretary of State for Scotland any valid argument against that. Then it was defended by the Minister of Fuel and Power who claimed that there was no support in Scotland for this proposal. We referred to the ancient and historic capital of the country, but it was dismissed because it had a Conservative majority on the town council.

Having heard how he regards the opinions of those who do not agree with him, I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has dismissed the capital of Scotland But I still think that the views of Edinburgh should have weight. It is true that he said there is not sufficient technical opinion to support this. That was an argument brought against us on the other side by back bench Members as well. But that does not square with the Minister's own contention to the Committee upstairs. He said, when we asked if the North of Scotland Board had been consulted:
"The North of Scotland Board and myself met many months ago We took them into consultation, as we have taken so many other bodies into consultation, on this matter We have not proceeded without guidance We have collected the voices, even the voices with which the hon Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) is so directly associated."
Then comes a very characteristic comment of the Minister:
"Their voices were strident but unavailing"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Commit tee E,27th February, 1947, c. 73]
That is an old, familiar phrase of the right hon. Gentleman—the "tinker's cuss" translated into more Parliamentary language. But the fact is that the Minister as we know, is very apt to brush aside opinion which is not his opinion as opinion which should not be attended to. We cannot share with him those views. I speak as one who has had the responsible position of the Secretary of State for Scotland, a post now held by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Westwood). An administrative unit which does not take into account all the natural limits of the northern kingdom has artificial administrative limits which no good fortune attends. Even in the case of land legislation there was a certain division between the Northern and Southern parts of the country; but they are both under the Secretary of State for Scotland; they are administered in the normal way which the people of the country understand.

The suggestion that what are called the South-Eastern and South-Western provinces administered from Whitehall would be an advantage to Scotland is a contention we utterly reject, because in the successive Clauses of the Bill we find that representative institutions are swept away. The control that was previously exercised by the great corporations in Scotland is removed. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, historic cities that have great electrical undertakings, are being removed, and they are being substituted by consultative councils. So, too, the great industrial companies, the Clyde Valley and other large companies, which, whatever one may say, were Scottish bodies domiciled in Scotland, where it was possible to meet and discuss things with responsible people —not consultative councils. All these things under the Bill are being swept away. Therefore, we say that if there is to be nationalised electricity it should have an administrative and executive head for the whole country in the capital of the country.

This is an issue which will arise more and more as time goes on. He who says "nationalise" says "nation." The increasing emphasis now being laid upon nationalisation is inevitably producing, and is bound to increase the increasing emphasis on nationalism. Nor is there any escape from that. The difficulty here, that the increased centralisation which this Bill proposes is centralisation in London, is an urgent danger not merely to the industrial future of Scotland but to the very working of the scheme itself. This scheme must work, as far as possible, for decentralisation; and when a natural unit exists in which decentralisation has always been practised, when that unit exists, where the administrative machine already is in being, set up only within the last few years, and set up, certainly, by no Tory plot, presided over as it is by a distinguished Socialist ex-Secretary of State for Scotland, we say the case for decentralisation becomes overwhelming. There is no reason whatever for the proposal in the Bill that the two Lowland thirds could be best administered from Whitehall while the remaining third should be administered in some synthetic area, which is actually being enlarged by the Bill.

The dangers before us are pretty great. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) has given examples, and will give examples again, of the fact that Scotland is in a different position from England here, as being a country at present with a cheaper production of electricity, and probably in the position of being an exporting country for electricity. The advantages of Scotland in the way of its supply of electricity must be set against the disadvantages from which that supply of electricity arise. When Sir Walter Scott wrote of the
"Land of the mountain and the flood",
he was speaking of some very real facts. But it is very hard if the mountain and the flood are to be capitalised, and the whole of their advantage exported to sunnier and more clement climes. We are accustomed to the rough weather of Scotland. It fills the lakes; it causes the rivers to overflow; and from time to time it produces great disasters such as the disasters from which we have just suffered, which have led to the loss of many hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of our hill sheep. But these are the things that fill the hydro-electric reservoirs from which the supply of cheap electricity is derived, and we certainly say that these should be administered in Scotland, by a Scottish board, responsible to the Scottish people, supervised by the Secretary of State for Scotland, utilising those advantages to set against the other disadvantages for the benefit of the people of Scotland as a whole.

We have argued this case before and we are prepared to argue it again. There are many more hon. and right hon. Friends who wish to speak, so I will not detain the House longer. But I do not speak shortly because I do not feel strongly; I feel most strongly on this matter. I feel that disaster is impending for Scotland if this partition and this export of one of its main economic assets are written into the Bill tonight. For these reasons I move the Amendment so that we omit Scotland from this Bill, later Scotland can proceed to organise her own electrical resources as seems best for the good of the country.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated the case for the creation of an electricity entity for the whole of Scotland with his usual force and lucidity. Nevertheless, I am bound to say that I detected much fallacious reasoning in his argument. Let us, first of all, ascertain what it is that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and his hon. Friends are asking. Is it that they seek to provide for Scotland in the sphere of electricity supply a greater measure of decentralisation? That is to say, instead of creating, as we propose to do, three area boards in Scotland—the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board under the provisions of the 1943 Act, with an area board in the South-West and one in the South-East, two of which, and only two of which, are directed, let it be noted, only on matters of policy by the British Electricity Authority, and apart from that direction, which may or may not be used, depending upon the circumstances, completely autonomous in character, with the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board itself autonomous in character and fully integrated, operating in an integrated form, with the necessary and inevitable consultation—are we to have a Scottish Electricity Board, charged with the duty of generating and distributing electricity in Scotland, without regard to the conditions existing on the other side of the Border? That is the issue before the House 9.0 p.m.

I am wholly in accord with the right hon. Gentleman in seeking to promote sound economic development in Scotland. We are fully aware of the economic position across the Border, and at the same time we recognise the potentialities of Scotland in the sphere of electricity. We know what a valuable contribution electricity supply in Scotland can make to economic development. There is no dispute between us under that head. The question is what is best for Scotland in the long run—a Scottish Electricity Board, completely divorced from the English Electricity Board, and presumably a demand would be made for a Welsh Electricity Board, which we could not resist in the circumstances; or are we to have an integrated British Electricity Authority, basing its policy not on what is suitable to a particular area, but on what is essential to the interests of every part of the country? I have no hesitation in saying that the proposals we have made, which have been referred to over and over again in the course of the proceedings in Standing Committee, are far more valuable, from the standpoint of Scottish economic and industrial development, than the proposals of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman What the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is proposing is the thin edge of the wedge of nationalism, or perhaps I ought to say the thick edge of the wedge, because it is a very large chunk of nationalism. Whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman likes it or not, I distinguish between nationalism and nationalisation; I am not so sure that nationalisation is not superior to nationalism, because we can have pseudo-nationalism without regard to the basic elements, without which it is of no value at all.

Let me deal with some of the arguments adduced by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. First of all, he said that there was over-production in Scotland. It is perfectly true that some of the undertakings, in particular—and I ask the House to note it—the Dumfrieshire county council electricity undertaking which sell electricity at a much lower rate than many other parts of the country. All the more credit to a municipal undertaking. But there are parts of Scotland where electricity costs are very high. It is expected that, when the hydro-electric scheme is fully developed and makes its contribution to the grid system throughout the country, electricity generation in Scotland will be much cheaper than is to be found elsewhere. But that, again, depends on conditions. For instance, if we do not have a heavy rainfall in Scotland we may find that costs of electricity generation may rise. As I am not responsible for creating weather conditions, contrary to the general impression, I can give no assurance on that score.

We have heard a great deal about the cost of electricity generation in hydroelectric schemes in Italy and Switzerland. According to the information in my possession, hydro-electric costs in Switzerland are sometimes very high—higher than in countries where electricity is generated by steam. That is because there can be no guarantee about the water supply. We are not in a position to say whether hydro-electric scheme costs in Scotland will be on a lower scale than the costs of generating electricity in other parts of Britain, but we are hoping for the best. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite said that it was proposed to integrate with municipal undertakings in North Scotland—not hydro-electric. We contribute to the value of the hydroelectric scheme by bringing in municipal and private undertakings, and extending the range of activities of the North of Scotland hydro-electric scheme.

What was the purpose of that scheme? It was not so much to make a general overall contribution to electricity supply in Scotland as to promote the economic, social, and industrial development of the Highlands of Scotland. No one can say that by promoting a centralised scheme in Scotland, having one board instead of three area boards, it would make a contribution to the well-being of the Highlands of Scotland. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite omitted to outline some of the arguments against nationalisation, and I am not surprised. He spoke about the decision of the Edinburgh Town Council, and said that the Minister of Fuel and Power in characteristic fashion disregarded those who expressed opinions contrary to his own. What was the opinion expressed by that town council? It was not that they wanted a Scottish Board; they merely expressed hostility to nationalisation. Indeed, having expressed some opposition to it, they obviously could not ask for an integrated national scheme for the whole of Scotland. It was the only local authority, so far as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are aware, which expressed hostility to nationalisation.

It was not simply an objection to nationalisation. I would like to quote paragraph 4, which says:

"If the Government, however, determine to proceed with the Bill the provisions for the formation of area electricity boards for South-East Scotland and South-West Scotland, responsible to the Minister instead of the Secretary of State for Scotland, should be deleted, as they are not in the best interests of Scotland. There should be established one central authority for Scotland, responsible to the Secretary of State."

I accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said. But clearly the hostility was directed against nationalisa- tion. Obviously, if they had succeeded in their case against nationalisation, as the result of which the nationalisation scheme was abandoned, there would have been no occasion to create this Central Authority for Scotland. Another factor, which cannot be ignored, is that these boards in Scotland are to have full autonomy. The North of Scotland board, for example, is completely autonomous. There is no financial control by the Central Authority over the North of Scotland Board. Moreover, the chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electricity Board will have a permanent place on the Central Authority. That is of great value. It promotes an association between the North of Scotland Hydro-Electricity Board and the Central Authority that must, in the long run, prove of great value to both bodies.

As regards the other bodies which I have mentioned, they are to be fully autonomous. Will anyone in the South-West of Scotland say that that area is likely to lose either in the sphere of electricity supply or in economic development because the whole of Scotland is not integrated? It is a compact area, just as is the South-East of Scotland, and we shall appoint people in that area to run the industry of that area. There will be no question of bringing aliens in from across the Border to tell the Scottish technician how to run his industry. They will continue to run the industry in a more integrated form, and I am satisfied that that will be to the advantage of Scotland generally.

I would ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman a question. He is very interested in promoting the economic development of Scotland, and he is interested in certain aspects of Scottish nationalisation. He has mentioned this himself more than once. He is fully acquainted with the needs of Scotland, but, strange as it may seem, when the Central Electricity Board was created—and the Central Electricity Board operates in Scotland as in England—there was no suggestion by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman or by the Conservative Party, either in Scotland or elsewhere—and I say particularly in Scotland—that the Central Electricity Board should not operate in Scotland, but should confine itself to England and there should be set up a Central Electricity Board for across the Border. There was no suggestion of that kind. Indeed, in all the schemes which have been promoted that are in any way associated with nationalisation, there has been no suggestion that there should be a line of demarcation economically or industrially, at any rate, as between Scotland and the rest of the country.

My final point is this: We are hoping that, as a result of the integration of the whole country in the field of electricity supply and distribution, we can cheapen electricity, particularly in the rural areas. Frankly, if we were to accept a scheme of this kind, we might be compelled to abandon our conception of regional division South of the Border. What reason would there be for having several area boards in England if we had only one board in Scotland? If such a claim were met, I am satisfied that it would lead to greater centralisation than was ever intended. I am all in favour of decentralisation, and that is why I have suggested over and over again in the course of our proceedings in the Committee stage that these boards, so far as practicable, should be fully autonomous. I would make it quite clear to the House that this is not an attack on Scottish interests; on the contrary, in our judgment, it is all to the advantage of Scottish interests. I repeat, if there had been strong feeling in Scotland on this issue, we should have heard of it. The people of Scotland are not backward in voicing their opinion if they have an opinion to voice. Sometimes they are much more vocal, much more clamant, much more strident, if I may use the expression which the right hon. Gentleman credited me with, than people on this side of the Border. They are not at all backward in coming forward, and they would have been exceedingly vocal indeed. It is a very strange fact that only Edinburgh Town Council expressed any opinion on the subject at all. Glasgow was entirely in favour of nationalisation.

9.15 p.m.

Finally, it there had been any strong expression of opinion in Scotland about a Central Authority across the Border, we should have heard something from the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Thomas Johnston, an ex-Secretary of State who knows a great deal about these matters and who is chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. As I told hon. Members in Committee, I consulted the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and asked them to express opinions to guide me in these matters. They never expressed one single opinion about the integration of Scottish electricity, and they ought to know. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to summon Sir Walter Scott to his aid and speak of the mountain and the flood, but we have to be practical; we are not dealing with romance, we have passed through the romantic period to the days when we are dealing with practical issues, and I suggest that the scheme, which we have ventured to adumbrate at the Ministry of Fuel and Power, with the full consent of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, will redound much more to the advantage of Scotland than will indulging in pettifogging conceptions along the lines of nationalism.

The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Fuel and Power at one time in his history was the Member of Parliament for West Lothian. He would not have made the speech we have heard tonight when he was Member for West Lothian: he would not have dared to make it. He has offered us a speech which may convince the English and Welsh Members present, but I know that the five Labour Members opposite will not have been greatly impressed by his observations. To suggest that this Measure is acceptable to Scottish public opinion is to show how much out of touch the right hon. Gentleman, who is the Member for Seaham, is with Scottish public opinion. Scottish public opinion, whether it is the Corporation of Glasgow or the Corporation of Edinburgh, resents this interference with its liberty. The municipalisation of electricity supplies in Scotland has been one of the prides of the country, and to tell this House that Scotland wants her municipal enterprises torn from her and placed under the centralised authority of Whitehall is to tell what is obviously and demonstrably plain frank falsehood.

Scotland has not given up her liberty at any time recently, and she is not prepared to give up these rights as easily as the right hon. Gentleman, once the Member for West Lothian, professes.

This House should know something about Scotland, but too little is known by the House of Commons about that not unimportant part of Great Britain. There are in Scotland, and I frequently repeat it in this House, 165 persons to the square mile. There are in England 714 to the square mile, and there is a density of intelligence as well as a density of population. It is to that density of intelligence that I address myself in the observation I wish to make. I want to tell this House what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham Harbour, lately the Member for West Lothian, has not told them —that Scotland, in the matter of electricity and power, is an exporting country. England exports little enough; Wales used to export coal, she now exports none; but Scotland is an exporting country. We export 20 per cent. of our electric power for consumption in England. We export a considerable portion of our coal for use in England. In this matter, the Minister of that disintegrated body, Fuel and Power, has not told the House all the facts of the situation. This is not a suppliant Scotland asking for a favour from the House of Commons, but a sovereign country which asks it. We have a case—

I am glad you reminded me Sir that I am addressing myself to the Amendment in "Page 1, line 13, to leave out 'the North of Scotland District,' and to insert 'Scotland '." I think that it will be your view, as well as that of the most loyal servant of His Majesty's Government, that to refer to "the North of Scotland district" is an unintentional but nevertheless insulting phrase, and I submit that it should be "Scotland" and not "the North of Scotland District." In order to justify that view, I have modestly put forward the argument which I have adumbrated. This argument suggests that "the North of Scotland District" is not a petty appendage of this country, but a sovereign authority, and entitled to all the rights of such a sovereign authority. It is wrong for the Minister of Fuel and Power to suggest that Scotland is anything but a sovereign authority in relation to the larger part of this island.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I thought I was replying to you, Mr. Speaker.

It the Hon. Member thought I was going to reply to his point of Order, I can tell him that I am quite unconvinced.

Further to that point of Order. If I had the misfortune to fail to convince you on a point of Order, am I now debarred from continuing my observations?

I did not know that it was a point of Order. I thought it was an argument.

With very great respect, I should like to continue to develop further and specifically my case against the Clause before us. The House must be aware of the Act which sets up the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and that it was with Scottish finance that they set up this Board which, under the leadership of Thomas Johnston, has done so much.

I really think the hon. Member is going far beyond the Clause. We are really discussing whether the North of Scotland should be included or not; and whether it was set up by Scottish finance or not, has nothing to do with it.

If I may say so with great respect, we are not so much discussing whether the North of Scotland should be included or not, but whether all Scotland should be excluded from the operation of the Bill, because the substitution of the word "Scotland" means Scotland should be excluded from this Clause.

Might I point out that the reference to "the North of Scotland District" is no reference to Scotland as a whole, and the point of Order raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir. W. Darling) was entirely wrong?

My submission is that the North of Scotland district is one which is set up by an Act of Parliament which is entirely separate from the present Bill.

Under your direction and guidance, Sir, I wish to follow the argument of the Minister, which was that there is justification for the division of Scotland and the placing of the southern part of that country under a general central British electricity board rather than under an autonomous Scottish board. The view I submit is that both from a geographical and conveniently economic point of view there are considerable advantages in grouping the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Perth into one unit, and the proposal before the House is to dismember that natural corporate body into three separate parts. The Minister's case is that there is an advantage in having a centralised electricity authority for the whole of Great Britain except that part now covered by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. I submit for the consideration of the House and of the Minister that there has been for many centuries both an economic and an industrial organisation which is geographically and constitutionally described as Scotland, and nothing that the Minister has said and nothing that is in the Bill has convinced me that anything would be gained by dismembering that arrangement and detaching the southern part of Scotland and adding it to the North of England, for that to me seems to be illogical. The more natural way is to attach the southern part of Scotland to the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric district and thereby continue the association which is justified by centuries of custom.

There is something to be said for my suggestion from the organisational point of view. The natural centre for the Highlands is Inverness; the natural centre of the South-East of Scotland is Edinburgh, and the natural centre for the South-West of Scotland is Glasgow. The proposals of this Bill will dislocate and destroy that unity which might be justifiable if these were undeveloped areas or areas which had no experience in electricity production or distribution, but the most important electrical producing unit in Scotland is that of the Corporation of Glasgow. That unit is to go into, not an adjacent Scottish area, but it is to be dismembered and placed under a body of a homogeneous character rather than of a Scottish character. If that is true of Glasgow, it is more so of Edinburgh. Edinburgh has protested against nationalisation. It has protested against the major evil, but it also would protest, if allowed to do so, against the minor evil, which is to place it under an associate hydroelectric organisation situated in England, which has close affiliation with a place like Newcastle-on-Tyne to which Edinburgh today is selling electricity.

These are points which, I submit to the House, are worthy of consideration. I do not speak as a Scottish Nationalist, but because I believe there is a certain economic and practical unity in the longstanding arrangements which have been centralised under the leadership of successive Secretaries of State for Scotland. There is a long-standing unity recognised by the House of Commons. We admit that Scottish agriculture should be centralised under the Secretary of State for Scotland. We have admitted for a generation that Scottish education should not be under the Minister of Education in Whitehall but under the Secretary of State for Scotland in St. Andrew's House in Edinburgh.

We have submitted that health and housing should not be under the Minister of Health in Whitehall but under the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland at St. Andrew's House.

9.30 p.m.

Having been fortunate to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, I want to address one or two remarks to the questions arising out of the speech by the Minister of Fuel and Power. The Minister seemed to draw one or two red herrings across the trail. In the first place, he suggested that this Amendment is intended to set up a board for Scotland, and that by so doing we would necessarily destroy the advantages that are reserved for Highland development. That, of course, does not in any way follow. It is perfectly open to Scottish interests to make such reservations in the Highland interests as they think fit. Let me carry that further. Surely the Minister in this Bill has to a large extent broken down those very advantages by extending the Highland development area, and he is including areas which are totally different from those which originally the Act in the first place was intended to cover.

The Minister referred to the new area boards proposed to be set up in the South of Scotland as autonomous in character. Consultative councils, of which there are to be two in the South of Scotland, can make representations to the area boards, and, if dissatisfied, may then go to the Central Council. That appeal will be over the area board to the Central Council, which is in England. Thus the autonomy is shown to be entirely illusory. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that if a board were to be created in Scotland, there would be a danger of that board generating electricity without regard to conditions South of the Border. That contention cannot be maintained for an instant. When the Secretary of State for Scotland spoke on the Second Reading about the desirability of having a separate board for the North of Scotland he said:
"It is, of course, essential that there should be the closest co-operation between the North of Scotland Board and the Central Authority, and that the work and policy of the two Boards should be properly integrated."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 3rd February, 1947; Vol. 432, c. 1460.]
What would prevent a similar integration between a Scottish Board and the Central Authority? The argument goes completely by the board.

Several arguments have been adduced opposite to show that a board is not necessary for Scotland. The fact is that Scotland is, to a large extent at any rate, an economic entity and to that extent we are asking that it should be made into an entity for electricity. We are not demanding that it should be utterly separated but that there should be cooperation with interests within Scotland arising out of combination of electricity interests, so as to give the best results for Scotland. All minds in Scotland should be thinking along the lines of the best possible use of electricity for Scotland as a whole. In order to promote that, I commend the Amendment, but not simply on grounds of nationalist spirit. I commend it on grounds of expediency. In that way we shall get the very best results for the United Kingdom as a whole.

We are not suggesting that all electricity produced in Scotland should be used in Scotland and that we should interrupt all communication between the two countries. Whereas in Scotland the cost of production of electricity is lower than in the rest of the country, and many other commodities can only be produced there much more expensively, there should be some give and take. We should have the benefit of that cheap production, and be able to live on equal terms with the rest of the kingdom.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. We should like your guidance. My hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) was, as I understood, in possession of the House. Then I understood he made a reference to Scottish health and housing, at which point you rose. With great respect for the Chair, my hon. Friend resumed his seat. I understand that he had not concluded his remarks and that somewhat to his surprise he heard the name of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Macpherson) called. My hon. Friend had not concluded his remarks. I humbly submit, with every respect, that he has a right now to do so.

The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I had not risen. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh, seeing that I was watching him fairly closely, and obviously aware that I had con sidered him very irrelevant in his remarks, sat down. As he sat down, I called the next hon. Member. As the hon. Member for South Edinburgh had resumed his seat, he had no right to resume.

If I may say so, with the utmost respect, the hon. Member for South Edinburgh is a new Member of this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He is a new Member of this House. Desirous as he always is of behaving with the utmost deference in respect of the Chair, thinking you were rising, Mr. Speaker, he resumed his seat. If he erred from the utmost deference to you and had no intention whatever of concluding hi? remarks, and as that was a genuine misunderstanding, I suggest that it would be possible for my hon. Friend, who I am sure would naturally not desire to detain the House, to conclude his remarks Mr.

The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) has exhausted his right to speak. The hon. Member, I think, understands the Rules of the House quite well. He resumed his seat, and therefore I called another hon. Member. After all, he must obey the Rules of the House.

Further to that point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to amplify what my right hon. and gallant Friend has said. I saw that you were, as you indicated, displaying—if I may say so with great respect—great restiveness. I was over-apprehensive in interpreting that as the premonitory gesture to my being out of Order, and I was perhaps over-eager to follow your behest. I hope that in future that will not count against me. I shall endeavour to arm myself against mistaking mere restiveness for a final indication that I am out of Order I am grateful to the Chair.

The intention of this Amendment is obviously to get one central electricity board for the whole of Scotland. I do not know why, if that was considered advisable, steps were not taken by the Opposition when the North of Scotland Electricity Board was set up because it is perfectly obvious that if this Amendment is carried there will be no need at all for the North of Scotland Electricity Board any more than there would be for one in the South-west and the South-east. I am at a loss to know what line of reasoning has been taken that can define that even a central electricity board for Scotland would be of any advantage to the North of Scotland and the Highland districts where the North of Scotland Hydro-electric scheme was put into operation for the purpose of developing the Highlands.

Let me remind the Opposition that the North of Scotland was very largely neglected owing to the apathy of Central and Southern Scotland. Nothing was ever done to my knowledge by the big cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh—now opposed to the present scheme. They never lifted their voices against the depopulation of the Highlands and the development of the Highlands for industry.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker; if we are now going to discuss the depopulation of the Highlands, I would suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) was well within the bounds of Order in the remarks he addressed to the House.

My point—and I think the right hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) knows it perfectly well—is that the development of the Highlands industries was wrapped up in the hydro-electric scheme, and that was the reason for (he North of Scotland Electricity Board. Now hon. Members opposite want to put it into the hands of a Central Scottish Board. The whole history of the centre of Scotland has been one of neglect; consequently the whole object of the North of Scotland Hydro-electric scheme will be defeated. Therefore, under the circumstances I do not see how anyone who claims to speak on behalf of Scotland can undo the good work that was done when the North of Scotland Hydro-Electricity Board was set up.

Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that that is exactly what this Bill is doing? Is he not aware that under the new boundaries of the North of Scotland district, the proportion of the urban to the rural population is 6 to 4?

Yes, I am well aware of that, and it is not caused by this. Bill. It has been due to the fact that the development of that part of the country was neglected owing to the people being concentrated in the centre of Scotland, in the Lowlands and in the South of Scotland. As a matter of fact, Glasgow has one of the finest electricity Undertakings in Scotland and they are in favour of this. Why? Because they know that the object of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric scheme was to promote industry in the North and to keep the people in the North instead of driving them out of it.

Of course, we did. As a matter of fact England exported the hon. Gentleman to Scotland and he was no asset. However, I will leave that side of the argument and get on to the. administration of electricity. We find in the South-East and in the South-West that they will be able to do as well and very much better in decentralisation with three boards than with one central board for Scotland. Consequently, I sincerely hope that hon. Members opposite will consider withdrawing this Amendment.

The purpose of this Amendment, as the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) rightly said, is to set up a Central Electricity Board for Scotland, that board to have all the power and to be charged with all the duties which were granted to the North of Scotland Board in the year 1943. In other words, what really happens is that the North of Scotland Board becomes the electricity authority for Scotland. It means that the whole of Scotland will be treated as one unit, both as regards the generation and the distribution of electricity. It will not alter one little bit the arrangements that now exist by which the North of Scotland Board exports its surplus electricity; nor will it interfere in any way with the social and economic development of the Highlands and Islands, which were the particular responsibility of the North of Scotland Board. That has already been explained to the House by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot).

9.45 P.m.

The Minister has suggested that our purpose here is to do something in the way of Scottish nationalism. I want to make it clear that I do not believe in Scottish nationalism or in an independent legislature. I believe that the interests of Scotland and the United Kingdom are best served under the present set-up and that it should continue. However, I support this Amendment on quite different grounds altogether. I support it on three grounds. From the administrative and technical points of view, and also from the economic point of view, I submit this Amendment would bring about a proper solution of the electricity problem, not only for Scotland but also so far as England is concerned. When Parliament recognised that the North of Scotland Board should be set up, it recognised that the conditions in Scotland differed from those in other parts of the United Kingdom. I submit that those differences not only apply to that part of Scotland over which the North of Scotland Board has jurisdiction, and that had there been no other consideration to take into account, it would have been quite possible, when that Bill was going through Parliament, for a case to be made very much to extend the jurisdiction of the North of Scotland Board. The Government are here sweeping all these considerations away. They have decided, wrongly, in my opinion, to nationalise the electricity industry, and in those circumstances the whole position is completely altered. There are other areas in Scotland as sparsely populated as the North of Scotland—in Galloway, in Wigtownshire, in parts of the uplands of Lanarkshire and the uplands of Ayrshire.

Why we should divide the country into these three areas, I do not understand. We have never had any explanation as to why these particular areas have been chosen. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) has said, Scotland is an economic entity. It is separated from England by a practically uninhabitated belt of land. It has its own laws, customs and weather, and it has conditions that differ very much from those in the South. The Minister tried to say that the weather might fail us in Scotland. We wish it would. We would prefer less rain and more sun, but I have never yet known it depart from the usual rainy weather. I do not see that there is any ground for anxiety about hydro-electricity failing because of lack of rainfall. In the North of Scotland Board we have in being a body with its own staff and organisation, which has studied and understands the particular conditions of Scotland. In spite of that, we are to hand over control of the whole of southern Scotland to what is in fact a foreign body, with no knowledge of conditions whatever.

Those two southern areas of Scotland are to be administered from London. The Minister says that they are to have independent bodies. If he maintains that, he cannot have read his own Bill. At every point the Central Authority interferes with the various area boards. Not even the Central Electricity Board, which had very much smaller responsibilities than those of the Central Authority, understand Scottish conditions. In fact, it could not understand why we required heavier pylons in the Highlands of Scotland than were needed in the South of England If we take the example of the National Coal Board, they have already had difficulties in regard to Scottish legal terms. This Central Authority will fall into similar difficulties. The Central Authority has too great a responsibility, and the area it controls is too large for efficiency. When we have, in Scotland, an area which is self-contained, which is linked to England, so far as electricity is concerned, by only two lines, one on the east coast and one on the west, when there is an economic entity and an organisation in being, I suggest that to insert an outside body is unnecessary, undesirable, uneconomic, and, in fact, stupid.

My right hon. and gallant Friend pointed out that the argument used by the Lord Advocate and by the Secretary of State, and which was repeated by the Minister in resisting this Amendment, was that hitherto we had been content with one single authority, with a single Electricity Commissioner, and with a single Central Electricity Board. I believe that those considerations are quite irrelevant to these discussions at the present moment. There is no possible connection between the scope and responsibilities of those bodies and the responsibilities now being put upon the Central Authority. The Central Electricity Board was responsible only for seeing that sufficient generating plant was in being, and for the main distribution line. The Commissioners' main duty was to protect the public. This new body is to be responsible for the generation and distribution of electricity, and indeed for the whole supply of electricity to the whole country. So far as administration is concerned, I submit that there is a very strong case indeed for Scotland being controlled by an entirely separate body.

To deal as shortly as possible with the technical points, I would say that there is no logic in the present division of the country into these three areas. In the First Schedule to the Bill, hon. Gentlemen will find that there are different parts of Stirlingshire, Dunbartonshire and Roxburghshire, some of them in the southeast area and some of them in the southwest area. But wherever one may attempt to draw the dividing line it will be found that there will be people on one side who could be supplied more easily with electricity from the adjoining area. That is true of all these areas and particularly true of the line which divides the northern area from the other two. The whole division is quite unrealistic and unnatural. I would like the House to consider for a moment the traffic from east to west across Scotland. I have said that the natural dividing line is the Border. There is no east and west traffic there, but in the divisions which have been made there is constant east and west traffic with all the difficulties which that involves.

Then there is the question of the diversity of load. It is necessary that there should be a proper balance between industrial and domestic load. There is no such balance in the present division, certainly not in the northern area or the south-east areas. I submit that from the technical point of view Scotland again should be treated as a whole. The third point I wish to stress is in regard to the economic side of the matter and the desirability that Scotland should be left as a self-contained unit. I have said before, and I repeat, that the prosperity of Scotland hitherto has depended upon cheap coal. The industrial belt was built up on cheap and abundant coal from Lanarkshire. That is becoming exhausted. The effects of that were very easily seen in the interwar years. Unless we are to have similar distress in the future, some new source of cheap power must be forthcoming. My submission is that it is to be found in hydro-electricity. The House knows the very great difference in the cost of electricity in England and Scotland. We also know that we can supply half the maximum demand of Southern Scotland from present, or contemplated, hydro-electric installations. If that is made available to Southern Scotland, there can be a reduction in present charges of from 7 to 8 per cent.

It is recognised that there must be redistribution of industry. That cannot be obtained unless there is some inducement, and I submit that the inducement is to be found in cheap electricity. The Minister has said previously that there would be no uniformity of charge at the beginning. That being so, presumably Scotland will enjoy cheap electricity for some little time to come. But for how long can one authority have different charges in different parts of the country? The advantage of cheap electricity from the one authority cannot long continue. If that is the case, then the light industries will not move into Scotland, and again we shall become a depressed area and have to rely upon the rest of the country providing us with a subsidy. From every point of view, administratively, technically, and economically, I submit that

Division No. 273.]


9.55 p.m.

Adams, W. T (Hammersmith, South)Gaitskell, H. T. NMecland, H. M
Alpass, J. H.Ganley, Mrs C. SMellish, R. J
Anderson, F. (WhitehavenGibson, C. WMesser, F.
Attewell, H. C.Gilzean, AMiddleton, Mrs L
Austin, H. LewisGlanville, J. E. (Consett)Mikardo, Ian
Awbery, S. S.Goodrich, H. E.Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BGreenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Mitchison, G. R
Bacon, Miss AGreenwood, A. W J (Heywood)Moody, A S
Baird, J.Grenfell, D. RMorgan, Dr. H. B.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JGrey, C FMorley, R.
Barstow, P. GGrierson, EMorris, P. (Swansea, W)
Barton, C.Griffiths, D (Rothor Valley)Murray, J. D.
Battley, J. R.Grest, Dr. L Hade'Naylor, T. E.
Bechervaise, A. EGanter, R. JNeal, H. (Claycross)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F JGuy, W HNichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford. N)
Benson GHall, W C.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Berry, H.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Neel-Buxton, Lads
Beswick, FHannan, W (Maryhill)Oldfield, W. H
Blenkinsop, AHardy, E. AOliver, G. H.
Blyton, W R.Harrison, J.Paget, R. T.
Bottomley, A. G.Hastings, Dr. SomervillePaling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr H WHenderson, A. (Kingswinford)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Braddock, Mrs E M (L'pl. Exch'ge)Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Palmer, A. M. F.
Braddock T (Mitcham)Herbison, Miss M.Pargiter, G. A
Bramall, E. AHewitson, Capt. MParker, J.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hobson, C. RParkin, B. T.
Brown, George (Belper)Holman, P.Paton, J. (Norwich)
Brown, T J (Ince)Holmes, H E (Hemsworth)Pearson, A.
Bruce, Maj. D W THouse, GPeart, Thomas F.
Burden T WHoy, J.Platts-Mills, J, F, F.
Butler, H. W (Hackney, S)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Poole. Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Castle, Mrs B. A.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pritt, D. N.
Chamberlain, R. AHughes, H. D (Wolverhampton, W.)Proctor, W. T
Champion, A. IHynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Pursey, Cmdr. H
Chater, DHynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Randall, H F
Chetwynd, G Irving, W JRanger, J
Cobb, F. AJanner, BRankin, J.
Cccks, F. SJay, O P. IReeves, J.
Collindridge, F.Jeger, G (Winchester)Reid T (Swindon
Colman, Miss G. M.Jeger, Dr S W (St Pancras, S.E)Rhodes, H
Corbet, Mrs. F. K (Camb'well, N W)Jones Rt Hon. A. C. (Shipley)Ridealgh, Mrs. M
Corlett, Dr. JJones, D. 7 (Hartlepools)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Crawley, AJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Rogers, G. H. R.
Daggar GJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Ross, William (Kilvarnock)
Daines, PKeenan, WRoyle, C
Dalton, Rt. Hon. Kendall, W DSargood, R
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Kinley, JScollan, T.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield,Leng, GScott-Elliot, W
Davies, Harold (Leek)Lavers, S.Shackleton, E. A A
Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras, S W.)Lee, F. (Hulme)Sharp, Granville
Deer, GLeslie, J R.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Delargy, H JLevy, B WShawcross, Rt. Hn Sir H (Sr Helens)
Diamond, JLewis, A W J (Upton)Shinwell Rt. Hon E
Dodds, N NLewis. J (Bolton)Shurmer. P
Donovan, TLindgren, G. SSilverman, J. (Erdington)
Diberg, T. E. N.Lipson, D L.Simmons, C. J
Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Lipton, Lt.-Col MSkeffington, A. M
Dumpleton, C WLongden, FSkeffington-Lodge, T C
Dye, SMcAdam, WSkinnard, F W.
Ede, Rt. Hon J. OMcEntee, V, La TSmith, C. (Colchester)
Edalman, M.McGhee, H GSmith, H. N. (Nottingham, S)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft:Mack, J. DSmith, S. H. (Hull S.W.)
Evans, John (OgmoreMcKay, J (Wallsend)Sorensen, R. W
Ewart, R.Maclean, N (Govan)Soskice, Maj. Sir t
Farthing, W McLeavy, FSparks, J A.
Fernyhough, EMainwaring, W. HStamford, W.
Fletcher, E. G M (Islington, E)Mallalieu, J P. W.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Follick, M.Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)Strachey, J.
Foot, M. MMarshall, F (Brightside)Strauss. G R. (Lambeth, N.)
Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mathers, GStross, Dr. B.

Scotland should be separate, not only in its own interest, but in the interests of the United Kingdom.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 94.

Stubbs, A. ETomlinson, Rt. Hon GWilkes, L
Summerskill, Dr EditTurner-Samuels, MWilkins, W. A.
Swingler, S.Ungoed-Thomas, LWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
Sylvester, G. O.Usborne, HenryWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Symonds, A. L.Vernon, Maj W. FWilliams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)Viant, S P.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Taylor R. J. (Morpeth)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Williamson, T
Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Wallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E)Willis, E.
Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Watkins, T. EWills, Mrs E ?
Thomas, Ivor (Keignley)Weilzman, D.Woodburn, A
Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Wells P. L (Faversham)Woods, G. S
Thomas, George (Cardiff)Wells, W T (Walsall)Wyatt, W.
Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Westwood, Rt. Hon. JYates, V. F
Thurtle, ErnestWhite, H. (Derbyshire N.E)Young, Sir R (Newton)
Titterington M Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.
Mr. Snow and Mr Popplewell.


Amory, D. HeathcoatHeadlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir CJ'Neill, Rt Hon. Sir H
Baldwin, A. E.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPeto, Brig. C. H. M.
Beechman, N. A.Hogg, Hon. QPickthorn, K
Birch, NigelHolmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich)Ponsonby Col. C E
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. WellsHope, Lord JPrior-Palmer, Brig. O
Bower, N.Howard, Hon. ARaikes, H V.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hudson, Rt. Hon R S (Southport)Rayner, Brig. R
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Hurd, A.Reid, Rt. Hon. J, S C. (Hillhead)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col WHutchison, Lt -Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Buchan-Hepburn, P G TJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L WRobinson, Wing-Comdr Roland
Challen, CKerr, Sir J. GrahamRopner, Col. L,
Clarke, Col. R SLambert, Hon. GRoss Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col GLancaster, Col C. GSanderson, Sir F.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Low, Brig A. R. WShepherd, W S (Backlow)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lucas, Major Sir JSpearman, A. C. M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O ELucas-Tooth, Sir HStanley, Rt. Hon O
Crowder, Capt. John EMcCallum, Maj. DStoddart-Scott, Col V.
Cuthbert, W. N.Macdonald. Sir P. (I. oft Wight)Studholme, H G
Darling, Sir W YMackeson, Brig. H RSutcliffe, H
Digby, S. W.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Taylor, Vice-Adm. E, A, (P'dd't'n, S.)
Dower, Lt-Col A. G (Penrith)Macpherson, N (Dumfries)Thorneycroft, G, E P (Monmouth)
Drewe, CMaitland, Comdr. J. W.Thornton-Kemsley, C N
Elliot, Rt Hon. WalteManningham-Buller, R EWadsworth, G
Gage, C.Marples, A. E.Walker-Smith, D.
Galbraith, Cmdr T DMarshall, D. (Bodmin)Wheatley, Colonel M J
Gammans, L. D.Marshall, S. H (Sutton)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)Medlicott, F.Willoughby de Eresby Lord
Grant, LadyMellor, Sir J.York, C.
Gridley, Sir A.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Grimston, R. V.Morris-Jones, Sir HTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S (Cirencester)Major Ramsay and
Hare, Hon J H. (Woodbridge)Neven-Spence. Sir BLieut-Colonel Thorp.
Harvey, Air-Cmdre A. VNicholson, G

It being after Ten o'Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.

Bill as amended (in the Standing Committee) to be further considered Tomorrow.