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Electricity Bill

Volume 439: debated on Monday 23 June 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Order for consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee), read.

The following Motion stood upon the Order Paper in the name ofMr. SHINWELL:

"That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 14, page 19, line 47; Clause 14, page 20, line 2; Clause 14, page 20, line 8; Clause 14, page 20, line 13; Clause 14, page 20, line 37; Clause 14, page 20, line 38; Clause 14, page 21, line 8; Clause 14, page 2i, line n; Clause 14, page 21, line 15; Clause 14, page 21, line 20; Clause 14, page 21, line 26; Clause 19, page 28, line 32; Clause 20, page 30, line 9; Clause 20, page 30, line 16; Clause 26, page 39, line 40; Clause 30, page 44, line 34 Clause 34, page 47, line 33; Clause 35, page 48, line I9; Clause 37, page 49, line 21; and of the new Clause (Further compensation to local authorities in respect of severance), standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Shinwell."

3.45 P.m.

I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I made a short statement about the reason for not calling this Motion. Hon. Members will be aware that some new Clauses came on the Order Paper on Friday morning, and the Opposition complained that they had not time to put down Amendments before the discussion today. Therefore, there were some con- sultations, I understand, and it was suggested that we might have a recommittal of these Clauses at the end of the Report stage. Then, this morning, it was again put to me that it would probably be more convenient, instead of having two recommittal stages, to have one recommittal at the end of the Report stage. That is the course which I propose to adopt, and I hope it will be for the convenience of the House. I am informed that it will not necessarily hamper debate on the Amendments which are already down on the Order Paper and which will not be recommitted. I should like to add that this is rather a new procedure, and I hope we will not have to adopt it again, because I think it is more convenient to take the recommittal at the beginning of our consideration of the Bill as amended.

If I may say so, Mr. Speaker, we are very much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken to try to meet the convenience of the House. As far as one can see, although we cannot tell until we actually begin our discussions, the proposal which you make would seem to be the best in the circumstances, but I must say to the Leader of the House and to the Minister in charge of this Bill, that the House ought not to be placed in this position again. There is absolutely no precedent for the House being treated like this, and I must remind the Minister in charge of the Bill that upstairs, before the end of April, he appealed to the Committee—quite rightly, and I make no complaint about it—to finish the Committee stage before Whit-sun, so that he could get the Amendments down for the Report stage in good time for the convenience of the House. Yet, here we are, faced with these Amendments which the right hon. Gentleman put down only last Friday, and, what is even more extraordinary, an Amendment to the recommittal Motion, which only reached us at 2.30 this afternoon. That is not the way in which business should be done in this House, and I ask the Government to give us an assurance that we shall not have a repetition of this proceeding.

Naturally, we are anxious to suit the convenience of the House, and I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the suggestion which has been made. I must avail myself of the opportunity, in view of what was said by the acting Leader of the Opposition, to point out that every effort was made, in consultation with hon. Members of the Opposition, to place the new Clauses which are the subject of contention on the Order Paper as soon as possible. In fact, we have been in the closest touch with hon. Members of the Opposition about matters that arise on the Report stage, and I confess to being completely bewildered by the suggestion that our action in putting down the new Clauses was belated. Early last week, and during the previous week, I myself and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary were in consultation with the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), and I was given the impression that everything was proceeding harmoniously. Therefore, I was all the more surprised that reference was made to the matter last Thursday afternoon. It is perfectly true—and I am seeking no alibi in the matter—that, in reference to one of the two new Clauses, difficulty was experienced in arranging matters with representative bodies which were concerned with the provisions of this Bill before we were able to reach a conclusion, but I am not aware of any inhibitions on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary or myself in respect of the consultations with the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues about the Report stage. Indeed, on the Committee stage, we worked very harmoniously together, and I expressed myself to that effect at the end of the Committee stage. I can assure the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington that, if there has been any fault at all, it has not been with us.

Whatever the right hon. Gentleman says, the effect is the same—that we have been deprived of proper time in which to consider the new Clauses and to put down Amendments. As far as the two Clauses for recommittal are concerned, it is perfectly true that, seeing them for the first time on Friday, we did ask if it was possible to have them postponed until the end. I accept the responsibility for that. But, as regards the other Clauses, some of which only appeared on Tuesday, we did not ask for recommittal. I understand that, owing to their belated appearance on the Order Paper, it was only today that their examination by the officials of the House could be carried out, and that they decided that these Clauses should be, recommitted. I was informed of that only a few minutes ago, and, as far as I know, that is the position. Considering that it was as long ago as the end of April that the right hon. Gentleman knew all about these Clauses and what we were asking, it really seems intolerable that he should delay either their appearance on the Order Paper or that, after they had appeared, we should have such a short interval before the Report stage. It is not treating the Opposition with the fairness to which they are entitled. It is unprecedented in my memory of the House that an occurrence of this sort has had to be gone through. Individual cases of recommittal, yes, but to have to recommit the whole of the Government's new Clauses at this late stage is absolutely intolerable.

The right hon. Gentleman the Minister rather surprised me. As I understand it, his reason was that negotiations were going on between himself and the Opposition in Committee. But there were other Members of the Committee. Therefore, they were entitled to see these new Clauses and to put down Amendments if they wished. To exclude other hon. Members of the Committee is to exclude the rights of the House.

There was no intention on my part to exclude the rights of any hon. Member. But it is the common form of this House to seek consultation with the official Opposition in order to expedite the passage of a Bill, and I sought to do that. Having endeavoured to do that, I am now being criticised for seeking consultation. At any rate, it does not seem that there is any value in pursuing this matter further. All I can say is that certainly no disrespect was intended, either to the Opposition or to any other hon. Member.

I want to be clear abut this new procedure, Mr. Speaker. Will there be a second Report stage with regard to the recommitted Clauses? I take it that will be the case.

Three days are allotted. Of course, the new Clauses do not come up for discussion on the Report stage unless Amendments are put down. If Amendments are put down, then they have to be called. Therefore, there will be a Report stage again.

You said three allotted days, Mr. Speaker, but there has been no allotment. The Government have merely stated that that is all they propose to allow. It does not follow that, in the changed circumstances, we shall get through the Business in three days.

I must enter a caveat because the right hon. Gentleman explicitly agreed with me, when we suggested three days, that that would be acceptable.

I must point out that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor my right hon. Friend has any authority to allot the time of this House. That can only be done by Resolution of the House. No such Resolution has been carried, and, therefore, I would respectfully submit, the word allotment" is out of place.

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee) considered.

New Clause—(Central Authority To Inform The Royal Fine Art Commission Of Sites Of New Generating Stations)

It shall be the duty of the Central Authority to inform the Royal Fine Art Com-

mission at the earliest possible date of the site of any proposed new generating station— [Mr. Keeling.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.56 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

In Committee the Minister gave satisfactory assurances that the Fine Art Commission would be consulted on the elevations of any new power station, but he raised objections to their being consulted about the site. Under the Royal Warrant which set them up, the Royal Fine Art Commission are charged with the guardianship of public amenities, and the wrong siting of a power station is just as much an offence against amenities as is bad design, because it may do irreparable harm to the surroundings. Only recently, I understand, the Fine Art Commission, who happened to know about a proposal to use a particular site for a power station, withheld approval because it was part of the green belt. A site can be wrong either because it is in the wrong place in the country or because it is in the wrong part of a town. On this latter point, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter)—and I cannot better his words—said:
"There may be designed the most beautiful power station in the world, a gem among power stations, but if it happened to be wedged up against a totally different building of totally different function, the mixture might be disastrous to both."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee E.20th May 1947; c. 1101.]
I do not suggest that the Commission should have the last word on the subject, but they should have the right to put forward their views so that they will not be faced with a site already decided upon when they are asked to make their recommendations about the design.

The Minister pointed out in Committee that under their charter the Fine Art Commission have the right to take the initiative, and can even, if they think fit, send for the Minister or for one of his officials and question him about it. But, as was stressed on this side of the Committee, they cannot take the initiative unless they know what is brewing. My Amendment merely casts upon the central authority the duty to inform the Fine Art Commission, as soon as they can, of any proposal to use a particular site. In Com- mittee. the Minister said that it may be very desirable for an authority which may have to acquire land to exercise great caution in disclosing its intentions. That is perfectly true, but there is no reason why they should not consult the Fine Art Commission in confidence. After all, the Commission are just as capable of keeping a secret as a Government Department. I would point out also that not only will Government Departments know about the proposal to use a particular site, but the central authority is under a statutory obligation to inform the local authority in whose area the proposed power station is to be erected. Therefore, if the local authority can be consulted, and has to be c6nsulted, I cannot see any reason why the Fine Art Commission should not also be consulted.

This Amendment is not academic. In one of their reports, the Fine Art Commission stated that they were consulted too late about the erection of a power station near Lincoln Cathedral, and were, therefore, unable to give an opinion before the scheme went forward. Only recently a power station sprang up in Kingston before anybody knew about it, except the people of Kingston. Of course, this was not a question of putting up a power station near a cathedral, but merely a question of using a charming river front. I hope the reasonableness of this new Clause will commend itself to the House and the Minister

4.0 p.m.

I beg to second the Motion.

We discussed this question very fully in Committee. The Minister was quite forthcoming on the question of elevations and materials, but he jibbed about the introduction of the word "site" for the reason which my hon. Friend has given. This is a reasonable case. We do not ask that the Royal Fine Art Commission should be the final arbiter, but merely that they should be informed so that they could consider for themselves the question of public amenity and make what representations they think proper. The Minister of Town and Country Planning might be regarded as a proper person to be consulted in this matter, and it might be that the central authority should consult him and his Department, although I do not think that would be adequate. Those who have knowledge of these public amenity questions, of which I have a little, have gone into this matter with some thoroughness, and they feel that this long established public institution, the Royal Fine Art Commission, should have foreknowledge of what is intended. There is no suggestion, as the Minister well knows, that they should delay the matter, but they should be able to express their point of view.

I give unqualified support to the suggestion that in the provision of new electricity stations due regard shall be had to the matter of amenities. So far as is practicable, there shall be no disturbance of amenities, and that is the view which I expressed on the Committee stage. But nothing that hon. Members opposite have said has convinced me that we should accept a new Clause in this form. As the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) said, the Royal Fine Art Commission can take the initiative in a matter of this sort. They can approach the responsible authority, whether it be the Ministry or the contemplated British Electricity Authority, and express an opinion about the proposed siting of a station. Therefore, there appears to be no valid point in providing for information on this matter to be furnished to the Royal Fine Art Commission.

May I interrupt? I pointed out that at Kingston a power station was already half way up before the Royal Fine Art Commission or anybody else outside Kingston knew that it was proposed to put a power station there. The sole point of this new Clause is to enable the Royal Fine Art Commission to know what is proposed.

I do not know the circumstances of the case which the hon. Member has in mind but the power station may have been constructed before the Royal Fine Art Commission were vested with extended terms of reference.

I cannot see that happening. According to the terms of reference of the Royal Fine Art Commission, they have to be consulted in the matter of design, and clearly if they had to be consulted in the matter of design about a proposed electricity station they would be made aware of the fact that a station was about to be constructed, and then they could take the initiative in ascertaining where the site was to be. There is another reason why I think it undesirable that we should accept this new Clause. We have to be cautious in the acquisition of land for an electricity station site, because if there is much publicity it may have the effect—I do not say it will, but it may—of increasing the cost of the land to be acquired. While the hon. Member for Twickenham is of opinion that the Royal Fine Art Commission can maintain secrecy, we have to exercise the greatest caution in a matter of this sort.

Finally, we must pay due regard not only to the question of design or amenities but to the very important and vital question of strategy. It may be undesirable, for a strategical reason, to acquaint any outside body with the Government's intention with respect to a proposed site for an electricity station. It seems to me that we have gone as far as we can possibly go. I can give hon. Members this assurance that, having taken note of the proceedings on the Committee stage, and of what has been said by the two hon. Members opposite, the Ministry will take all reasonable measures to ensure that the Royal Fine Art Commission, wherever practicable—I must use those cautionary words—will be made aware of their intentions. Having given that assurance and indicated the reasons why I am unable to accept the new Clause, I hope the House will agree to allow the matter to pass.

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman's reasons were very compelling. He said, first of all, that the Royal Fine Art Commission would have the chance of taking the initiative when the design and elevation were submitted to them, but the point of the new Clause is to ensure that the Royal Fine Art Commission should be informed of the proposed site at the earliest possible date. They do not want to be told, "We have decided that an electricity station shall be sited at X; here is a suggested elevation." It might well happen that the Royal Fine Art Commission rightly hold the view that there ought not to be an electricity station at all in that particular spot whatever its elevation may be, whether good, bad or indifferent. They do not want to be put in the position of being told that the question of the site has already been decided and that all they have to do is to say what would be the least offensive elevation. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's answer does not cover the point made by my hon. Friend.

The second reason the right hon. Gentleman advanced was that if information got about that an electricity station was to be erected, there might be a substantial increase in the cost of land. As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, or should know, the Government have ample powers to prevent that happening. They will have still greater powers under the Town and Country Planning Act, and there is no shadow of substance in that argument. The right hon. Gentleman said that wherever practicable, the Royal Fine Art Commission would be acquainted with the Ministry's intention. There can be no reason why the Royal Fine Art Commission, a body of responsible persons, should not be told during the very early planning stages when it is proposed to settle the site. It may be that they would have objections, and they may be overruled, but at least they should have a chance of expressing an opinion whether this or that site is the more desirable. The right hon. Gentleman has not even attempted to meet the argument.

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has really faced the point. He told the House just now, as he told the Committee upstairs, that the Fine Art Commission had the right to take the initiative. That is perfectly true. But how can the Fine Art Commission take the initiative when the scheme is at the formative stage and entirely unknown to the Commission and to the public? The power to take the initiative is valueless unless one has the information upon which that initiative is based. Really, the right hon. Gentleman is, I think, being a little obstinate in denying to this responsible public body the information necessary to the performance of its functions. His argument as to strategy is one of the most extraordinary arguments heard in this House. After all, the strategic value of a power station before it is built is precisely nil. So soon as it has been started all the people concerned in building it and everybody in the neighbourhood know that the power station is being built. At the stage we are concerned with it has no strategic value. So soon as it has been started there is no possibility of keeping the information private. The right hon. Gentleman has not faced up to the question of site, which is every bit as important in the case of a power station as is the question of design; and the Royal Fine Art Commission is abso-

Division No. 268.]


[4.13 p.m

Amory, D. HeathcoatGeorge, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Nicholson, G.
Astor, Hon. M.Grant, LadyNoble, Comdr. A. H. P
Baldwin, A. E.Gridley, Sir A.Pickthorn, K.
Baxter, A. B.Grimston, R. V.Prescott, Stanley
Beechman, N. A.Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Birch, Nigel 'Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CRaikes, H. V.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Hinchingbrooke, ViscountRamsay, Maj. S.
Bower, N.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Rayner, Brig. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'h'rgh W.)Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Keeling, E. H.Ross Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WKerr, Sir J. GrahamSavory, Prof. D. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P G T.Lancaster, Col. C. G.Spearman, A. C. M
Bullock, Capt. MLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HStanley, Rt. Hon. O
Byers, FrankLindsay, M. (Solihull)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Channon, H.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Sutcliffe, H.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Taylor, Vice-Adm. 6. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. EMcKie, J. H. (Galloway)Thorp, Lt.-Col RAF
Darling, Sir W. Y.MacLeod, J.Touche, G. C.
Digby, S. W.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Wadsworth, G
Dodds-Parker, A. DMarsdan, Capt. A.Walker-Smith, D.
Duthie, W. S.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalteMellor, Sir J.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Galbraith, Cmdr T. DNeven-Spence, Sir BMr. Drewe and Major Conant.


Adams, Richard (Balham)Colman, Mist G. M.Guy, W. H.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Comyns, Dr. L.Haire, John E (Wycombe)
Alpass, J. H.Cove, W. G.Hall, W. G.
Attewell, H. C.Daggar, G.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Austin, H. LewisDavies, Ernest (Enfield)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Barstow, P. G.Davies, Harold (Leek)Hardy, E. A.
Barton, C.Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Harrison, J.
Battley, J. R.Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Bechervaise, A. Deer, G.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Benson, G.Diamond, J;Herbison, Miss M
Berry, H.Dodds, N. N.Hicks G
Beswick, F.Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Hobson, C R
Blyton, W. R.Dumpleton, C. WHolman, P
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Dye, S.House, G
Braddock, T (Mitcham)Edelman, M.Hoy, J.
Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Bramall, E. A.Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Brown, George (Belper)Farthing, W. J-Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Fernyhough, E.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C)
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Foot, M. M.Janner, B.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Caitskell, H T. NJay, D. P. T
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Ganley, Mrs. C. SJeger, G. (Winchester)
Chamberlain, R. AGibson, C. W.Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)
Champion, A JGilzean, A.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Chater, D.Glanville, J. E. (Contett)Keenan, W.
Chetwynd, G. RGooch, E. G.Kendall, W D
Cluse, W. S.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Kinley, J.
Cobb, F. A.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Layers, S.
Cocks, F. SGriffiths, JO. (Rother Valley)Lewis, A W. J. (Upton)
Collindridge, F.Gunter, R. J.Lipton, Lt.-Col M

lutely hamstrung on the question of site unless it is given the information which this new Clause would give it. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman sees fit to oppose this new Clause, does, I think, make it perfectly clear that the Royal Fine Art Commission will not get this information at the only stage when its initiative on the subject of site can be of the slightest value to anybody.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 78; Noes, 178.

Longden, F.Popplewell, E.Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
McAdam, W.Porter, G. (Leeds)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
McEntee, V. La T.Ranger, J.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
McGhee, H. G.Rees-Williams, D. RThomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Mack, J. D.Reeves, J.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Ridealgh, Mrs. MThorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
McLeavy, F.Robens, A.Thurtle, Ernest
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvenshire)Tolley, L.
Mainwaring, W. H.Rogers, G. H. R.Usborne, Henry
Mallalieu, J. P WRoyle, C.Vernon, Maj. W. F
Mathers, G.Sargood, R.Viant, S. P.
Mellish, R. J.Scott-Elliot, W.Walkden, E.
Middleton, Mrs. L.Sharp, GranvilleWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.Shinwell Rt. Hon. E.Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Moody, A. S.Silverman, J. (Erdington)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Simmons, C. J.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J
Moyle, A.Skeffington-Lodge, T. CWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Naylor, T. E.Skinnard, F. W.Wigg, Col. G. E.
Neal, H. (Claycross)Smith, C. (Colchester)Wilkes, L.
Nichol. Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)Wilkins, W. A.
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)Snow, Capt. J. WWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Noel-Buxton, LadySoskice, Maj. Sir F.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Oldfield, W. HSparks, J. AWills, Mrs. E. A.
Orbach, M.Stephen, C.Woods, G. S
Palmer, A. M. F.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Wyatt, W.
Parkin, B. TStrauss, G. R (Lambeth, N.)Yates, V. F.
Paton, J. (Norwich)Stross, Dr. B.Young, Sir R (Newton)
Peart, Thomas F.Swingler, S.
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Daines.

New Clause—(Alteration Of Pressure Or System)

(i) Before an Area Board gives a supply of electricity to any new consumer, the Board shall declare to that consumer—

  • (a)the type of current, whether direct or alternating, which they propose to supply;
  • (b)) in the case of alternating current, the number of phases and also the constant frequency at which they propose to deliver the electricity to the supply terminals; and
  • (c) the constant voltage at which they propose to deliver the electricity to the supply terminals.
  • (2) The type of current, the number of phases and the frequency in the case of alternating current and the voltage declared as aforesaid shall be constantly maintained subject as respects the frequency to a permissible variation not exceeding two-and-a-half per cent. above or below the declared frequency and as respects the voltage to a permissible variation not exceeding six per cent. above or below the declared voltage, and shall not be altered or departed from nor shall the aforesaid permissible variations be exceeded except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners and subject to such terms and conditions as they may impose.
  • (3) Public notice in such manner and for such period as the Electricity Commissioners may approve or require shall be given by the Area Board of any application made by them for the consent of the Electricity Commissioners to an alteration of the declared type of current, or the number of phases or the frequency in the case of alternating current, or the voltage, as the case may be, or of the aforesaid permissible limits of variation in respect of frequency or voltage.
  • (4) If any Area Board shall make any alteration of the declared type of current, or the number of phases or the frequency in the case of alternating current, or the voltage, as the case may be, all such modifications to, or replacements of, any electrical fittings of any consumer as shall be necessary to place such consumer in substantially the same position as before the making of such alteration shall be carried out by the Board, unless the Board shall pay to such consumer such sum as may be agreed or, in default of agreement, as may be determined by arbitration to be the reasonable cost to the consumer of and incidental to such alteration, and the Board shall, in any event, pay to the consumer compensation for any loss or damage suffered by him in consequence of the alteration.
  • Provided that unless otherwise agreed no liability shall attach to the Board in respect of any electrical fittings acquired or first connected by a consumer after notice has been served by the Board in pursuance of the next following Subsection hereof.
  • (5) A notice of their intention to carry out any such alteration as aforesaid, together with a copy of this Section, shall be served by the Board on every consumer who will be affected by such alteration; and the said notice shall be served on the consumer not less than one month and not more than six months before the Board carry out the alteration in relation to the supply to him.
  • (6) Any question that may arise between a consumer and any Area Board under Subsections (4) and (5) of this Section shall be determined by an Arbitrator appointed on the application of either party by the Minister.—[Sir A. Gridley.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    We have put down this new Clause because it is essential to provide these safeguards for consumers. The Clause is in line with the existing Regulation 34 of the Electricity Commissioners, who were empowered to make regulations from time to time. This new Clause provides for the area boards to declare to their consumers
    "the type of current, whether direct or alternating,…the number of phases and also the constant frequency"—
    of alternating current—
    "and the constant voltage at which they propose to deliver the electricity to the supply terminals."
    Subsection (2) merely provides for the usual variations in voltages, and so on. Subsection (3) deals with the manner in which public notices are to be given. Subsection (4) provides that where the consumers, as a result of changes in the system of supply, have to provide new apparatus to replace that which becomes unsuitable, the cost of so doing must be carried out by the board; or, alternatively, the reasonable cost to the consumer of changing his fittings and suchlike must be paid by the board. There is a safeguard so that the board cannot be caught if, after the notice has been served, the consumer foolishly spends money on fittings which become unsuitable.

    It is important that the Government should accept this new Clause, for the following reason among others. For the purpose of my argument I shall assume that, once these undertakings are taken over by the State and the area boards got to work, the amount of standardisation which has yet to be done will proceed more quickly perhaps than it has done in the past, although, as we know, that process has been very seriously retarded by the war years. It would have proceeded much further, and would, in fact, have been completed before now but for the intervention of the war. In the past the companies—and I assume the local authorities too—where there have been changes in the system of supply, have paid their consumers the cost of the necessary changes involved in the apparatus in the house, office, or wherever it may be. This is an essential safeguard for the consumers in the country. I would remind the House that when the Bill was originally drafted there was practically nothing in it, from beginning to end, to safeguard consumers. As a result of the work in Standing Committee certain safeguards for consumers now appear. This one does not appear.

    Although under Clause 52 the Minister may vary existing regulations, we do not want this regulation varied. It is already written into our Statutes, and we do not want the Minister to vary it. We think that this should be written into the Bill, and not be subject to any regulation which the Minister might make hereafter.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    My hon. Friend has framed the argument for this new Clause in the most moderate and, I think, persuasive language. I support it because, apart from anything else, I am anxious that the Minister should not be unduly tempted to lean towards the financial success of his boards rather than the protection of the consumers. Indeed, it seems that there is a danger, unless one has safeguards of this sort, that that might very well occur. I am sure the Minister would agree that, broadly speaking, the claim put forward by my hon. Friend, to ensure that where equipment is replaced or modified it should be done at the expense of the undertakers and not at the expense of the consumers, is a fair and reasonable one to put forward in the consumers' interests. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has certain powers under Clause 52 to vary the existing regulations. However, I think the House should realise clearly at this time that today we are not dealing with the Electricity Commissioners themselves, who, in the past, were the guardians of the public as against the undertakings. They have disappeared, and instead we are dealing with the Minister, and all the power of the courts which lies behind a Minister as against the consumer.

    There is already a good deal of evidence that the interests of the consumer are not always to be regarded as of paramount importance. For example, at an earlier stage, in dealing with the non-inclusion of non-statutory undertakings, the Parliamentary Secretary made it quite plain that they were not to be taken over mainly because taking them over would be of no value to the new Board, and would not be in their interest. It is true that in that particular case, so far as the non-statutory undertakings were concerned, probably their consumers were less well supplied. But that type of argument provides no answer. If the financial success of the Board is to be the main issue—and there is a temptation that it should be, as I well know myself—rather than the protection of the consumers, we are justified in putting forward a case on the lines contained in this new Clause. Its acceptance would be no derogation from the duty of the Minister, but would show quite plainly that he was desirous of working on the common basis of protection for the consumer in all fairness, and at all possible times.

    I can assure the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Raikes) that the primary object of the contemplated British Electricity Authority is not to conserve its financial position—although that cannot be ignored—but to protect the interests of consumers. That is my view, as it must be the view of every hon. Member. The words contained in the new Clause are quite suitable; I take no exception to them, nor to the substance of Clause. But that does not mean we could embody those words in the Bill. As the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) said, these words are copied from the Electricity Supply Regulations; indeed, they are taken almost verbatim from those regulations. I can give the hon. Member for Stockport and other hon. Members an assurance that they will be reproduced in the Regulations we are empowered to provide under Clause 52.

    4.30 p.m.

    May I direct the attention of hon. Members to what appears in that Clause? It states:
    "The Minister may make such regulations as he thinks fit for the purpose of securing that any supply of electricity furnished to any consumer by an Electricity Board is regular and efficient, and that the public is so far as practicable protected from any personal injury, fire or other dangers arising from the use of electricity so furnished."
    Within those powers—the powers vested in the Authority and the Ministry—I give the assurance that we will continue the substance of the wording contained in the existing regulations. That being so, it appears to me to be unnecessary to embody the words contained in the Clause. Obviously, it was always intended that provision of this kind was more appropriate to regulations than to the Bill. Having given the assurance that they will be continued—perhaps with some-slight modifications not affecting the substance—perhaps the hon. Member for Stockport will withdraw his Motion.

    This seems to me to be rather unusually bad taste in the technique of giving assurances. The Minister tells us that there may be no doubt whatever that every Member of the House agrees with the objects of the new Clause. He tells us that there is no objection to the wording or to the substance of the Clause, and, having said these three things, he then says that it is impossible to give them statutory effect. I should like to ask a question, and here I apologise for ignorance. I expect that the Minister is right, and that his point about Clause 52 is technically a fair one, but I do not think it is arguably decisive.

    On looking at the wording again, I feel some doubt about the legal position. I am sorry that we have no legal advice available at the moment, but perhaps the Minister would turn to page 64. line 27, which states that the supply to any consumer must be "regular and efficient." That is what the regulations must deal with—there is no question of safety concerned here. The question I should like answered is this: Is it legally asserted that what is being asked for in this new Clause—the assurance that the change of equipment made necessary by the action of the supplier shall not be at the cost of the consumer—comes under these words "regular and efficient"? Has there been specific consultations of the legal advisers upon that point? If there has, I do not think it necessarily makes the Minister right, but if there has not been legal consultations, it seems to me that it clearly makes the Minister wrong, and that the House ought to pass this Clause.

    The Minister has said that he accepts the general idea of this Clause, and that he wishes to see it embodied in the regulations which he undertakes to make under Clause 52. I do not know whether he has noticed—certainly my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) referred to it —that Subsection (3) makes specific reference to the Electricity Commissioners. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is going to abolish the Electricity Commissioners, but who is he going to put in their place? Does he intend putting himself in their place? What is to appear in the regulations to replace them? It will probably be the Minister himself. Is that the same safeguard to the consumer as would be pro- vided by an appointed body such as the Electricity Commissioners? The Minister may argue that he is a safeguard in the matter, but that is not the view we take. This Clause was put down to make certain that there should not be changes made at the arbitrary will of the Central Authority, backed up by the Minister. We put in these words because we wanted the consumer adequately safeguarded. If the Minister could tell us who is to succeed the Electricity Commissioners, it might help in the matter.

    The position is that it does not affect the Electricity Commissioners' status or continuance. What I have said is that the words contained in the Clause have been taken bodily from the existing regulations which were drafted by the Electricity Commissioners. The Electricity Commissioners, with the consent of the House, will pass away, and the British Electricity Authority will take their place. The Minister, under Clause 52, is empowered to make regulations, and I give the assurance that the substance of the Clause will be embodied in the regulations to be drafted by me.

    I hope that I shall be in Order in referring to Clause 52, in view of the fact that the Clause we are proposing is largely an alternative to it. I suggest that the first part of Clause 52 is a much weaker instrument than what we are suggesting. It begins by saying:

    "The Minister may make such Regulations as he thinks fit"
    And goes on to say:
    "…that the public is so far as practicable protected."
    It is hedged about with a number of inhibitions which are not found in the Clause we are suggesting. It gives the impression that the interests of the consumer are not as well protected as they should be, nor as well protected as they would be if this Clause were substituted.

    While I am a little disappointed that the Minister has not seen his way to agree to our proposal that this Clause should be written into the Bill, he has given what I call a most "definite assurance" that the substance of the new Clause will be embodied in the regulations. In these circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    New Clause—(Area Boards To Provide Constant Supply)

    From the time when any Area Board commence to supply electricity through any distributing main, they shall maintain a supply of electricity sufficient for the use of all consumers for the time being entitled to be supplied from that distributing main; and that supply shall be constantly maintained without change of polarity in the case of direct current and without change of the neutral conductor in the case of alternating current:

    Provided that for the purposes of testing or for any other purposes connected with the efficient working of their undertaking, the supply of energy may be discontinued by the Board for such period as may be necessary subject (except in cases of emergency) to not less than twenty-four hours' notice being given by the Board to all consumers likely to be affected by such discontinuance; and, in the event of any such consumer objecting, the supply of energy shall not be discontinued (other than in cases of emergency) except with the consent of the Electricity Commissioners and subject to such conditions as they may impose:

    Provided also that the polarity in the case of direct current and the neutral conductor in the case of alternating current may be changed with the like consent.—[ Sir A. Gridley.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This Clause has an important provision which we are anxious to see embodied in the Bill. This provision is contained in one of the Electricity Com missioners' regulations. The Clause pro: vides that supplies shall be constantly maintained, subject, of course, to the King's enemies, acts of God, and all the rest of it. It provides that supplies shall be constant and delivered at the right voltage, which is of vital importance to many of our industries. Continuity of supply is of first importance in the case of all electro-chemical processes. I would mention the industry which I mentioned in Committee; the electrolytic production of sodium. For this industry there must be a steady supply of electricity, because there must not be the most minute variation in the operation of the needle of the voltmeter. If there was, the whole process would be spoilt. Then there are electric furnaces, which require a constant supply of electricity, and it is almost unnecessary to mention foundries. If the electricity supply is cut off in a foundry it means that a good deal of metal is completely spoilt. It is also important to have a constant supply of electricity to pumps in pits and for winders. In the case of an accident in a pit it might be fatal if there were an interruption in the supply of power to the electric winder. Very important is the question of a constant supply of electricity to a hospital where operations are carried on.

    It has been my experience for many years in this industry that in all important power industrial agreements there has been an obligation to maintain a constant supply of electricity, subject to an act of God, or the King's enemies, and such like. There is a definite obligation in the agreement, and that obligation can only be terminated to enable repairs to be carried out. That is invariably done by arrangement between the supplier and consumer. If this provision is not included in the Bill there is the risk that supplies for a certain area might be thought to be sufficient if given by means of a spur line. Where important consumers are concerned they are usually fed by ring main. If the supply breaks down in one part it can be maintained by another route. Safeguards of that kind are absolutely essential. We do not want to see risks run as they were in the early days of the industry, when capital was difficult to raise, and there had to be economy in outlay.

    As a result of the technical knowledge I have managed to acquire from the proceedings in Standing Committee, I agree with all the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) has said, but I repeat the answer given on the previous Clause. This is a matter more appropriate to regulations, and I understand that the words contained in the new Clause are in the existing regulations. There may be some slight modifications here and there, but the substance of the words contained in the new Clause will be retained. I hope that with that assurance the hon. Member will not find it necessary to press his Motion.

    Once again, I thank the Minister for giving us a very definite assurance. I shall rely on that, and, in view of what he has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    New Clause—Service Lines Into Consumers' Premises

    Any service line of any Area Board which is taken into the premises of a consumer at a point below the level of the ground shall be taken into the premises in such manner as to prevent any influx of gas at the point of entry.— [Sir A. Gridley.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    4.45 P.m.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This new Clause seeks to give statutory effect to yet another regulation. I have told my friends in the gas industry that theirs is a much more dangerous industry than the electricity supply industry, because they are dealing with a poisonous substance which people frequently make use of to put an end to their troubles. We have to safeguard the consumers of electricity, and we have endeavoured to do so as a result of an inquiry made by a Parliamentary Committee into deaths caused by gas poisoning. It is, therefore, desirable that this provision should be retained in the Bill.

    For obvious reasons, the words of this new Clause must be retained in the regulations we shall provide under Clause 52. We must protect the consumer in a matter of this sort, and I can give the hon. Member the assurance he requires. He has referred to my "definite assurances," and I can say that we give such an assurance on this matter because the facts are inescapable.

    While we are grateful for the Minister's assurances, I hope the House and the public outside will not be deluded by them and by the fact that we are withdrawing these new Clauses in the belief that the Minister will provide the statutory protection which the consumer has hitherto enjoyed. The fact remains that the statutory protection of the consumer is being repealed by later Clauses, and all the consumer is left with now is the doubtful protection of the Minister. We cannot foresee today all the circumstances that will arise, and we have done our best by putting down new Clauses. We have extracted assur- ances from the Minister, but, thus far, they are only a poor alternative to the restoration of the consumers' statutory protection.

    I would like to know whether the draft regulations will be seen by Members or will be formally laid before Parliament before this Bill becomes law? The Minister mentioned that only slight modifications were involved, and if the regulations are in being now, it would not be difficult to get them out. Perhaps we could see the regulations in draft before we part with the Bill, so that we would know whether the Minister's words had been carried into effect.

    In reply to the noble Lord, it is not customary to present such regulations to the House, but regulations when they are laid before the House are subject to a negative Resolution by hon. Members if they so desire. There is an adequate safeguard here. First of all, the existing regulations continue after the vesting date until the new regulations are drafted, so that the consumer will be adequately safeguarded under them. Then we shall promote regulations along the lines of the existing regulations, and take into account the substance of the words contained in the new Clause. That appears to me to be a satisfactory safeguard.

    The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) doubted whether the assurances as given by me, would be an adequate substitute for words embodied in the Statute. He is quite right to doubt whether anything said by a Minister would be an adequate substitute for words embodied in a Statute, but it does not depend so much on what the Minister says as on the taking of a commonsense point of view in matters of this sort. As I have said previously, the facts are inescapable. The consumers must be protected and, inasmuch as the Electricity Commissioners thought fit to protect them under the existing regulations, it is extremely unlikely that the new dispensation would seek to escape from the provisions of those regulations. That is as far as I can go. No matter who succeeded me, he would be compelled by virtue of the need for such regulations to continue along the same lines. It seems to me that that should be an adequate safeguard to the consumer. I doubt whether there is any scepticism on the part of the electricity consumers in these matters. They are well protected now, and the protection will continue.

    Question put, and negatived.

    New Clause—(Particulars In Accounts As To Loans To Members Or Officers Of Boards, And Emoluments Of Members)

    (1) The accounts of every Electricity Board shall, subject to the provisions of this Section, contain particulars showing—

  • (a)the amount of any loans which, during the period to which the accounts relate, have been made either by the Board or by any other person under a guarantee from, or on a security provided by the Board to any member or officer of the Board, including any such loans which were repaid during the said period; and
  • (b) the amount of any loans made in manner aforesaid to any member or officer at any time before the period aforesaid and outstanding at the expiration thereof; and
  • (c) the total of the amount paid to each of the members as remuneration for his services, inclusive of all fees, percentages, or other emoluments, paid to or receivable by him by or from the Board.
  • (2) If, in the case of any such accounts as aforesaid, the requirements of this Section are not complied with, it shall be the duty of the auditors of the Board by whom the accounts are examined to include in their report, so far as they are reasonably able to do so, a statement giving the required particulars.

    (3) In this Section the expression "emoluments" includes fees, percentages and other payments made or consideration given, directly or indirectly, to a member as such, and the money value of any allowances or perquisites belonging to his office.—[ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    Clause 41 of the Bill lays down that these accounts shall be laid in conformity with the best commercial standards. We are fortunate in having had recently put through the House a Bill prescribing high commercial standards, but we do not wish to enjoin too strict regulations upon these new bodies and, therefore, we should be content with the provisions of Section 45 of the Companies Act, 1929, which is, in fact, the Section we have embodied in this new Clause. That Section was found necessary in order to ensure disclosure of borrowings by directors and officials from a company's funds, and it also required the disclosure in the accounts of all emoluments paid to directors. I think that the Minister will have no objection to accepting this Clause, which merely sets out in the Statute the more general phrases which he himself has laid down in Clause 41.

    It is obviously desirable, from every point of view, that these things should be explicitly set down in the Statute when we have Statutes to refer to, and not left to subsequent consolidating legislation in which they would, no doubt, be embodied. When we have an opportunity of doing that, it should be done here and now, and perhaps the Minister will not desire, on this occasion, to ask us to rely on his assurances from the view that common sense is bound to prescribe a course of procedure such as that which we now enjoin upon him. The many-sidedness of truth may be paralleled in the future with the many-sidedness of common sense; therefore, let us seize this opportunity when we have it and when we are all agreed, and let us have in the words of the Statute the provisions which I now beg to move.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    The first two Subsections deal with loans, new and outstanding. As my right hon. and gallant Friend has said, the Companies Bill now before the House goes very much further than this proposal. I would ask the Minister to look at the Cohen Report—page 49, paragraph 94, which states:
    "We consider it undesirable that directors should borrow from their companies. If the director can offer good security, it is no hardship to him to borrow from other sources. If he cannot offer good security, it is undesirable that he should obtain from the company credit which he would not be able to obtain elsewhere."
    As a result of that, Clause 33 of the Companies Bill makes it impossible for any director to borrow from his company except within very narrow limits. We have not gone as far as that, chiefly because, I think, the Companies Bill has not been through all its stages, and its final form is not known for certain. We have taken Sections 45 and 128 of the 1929 Act and slightly modified them to bring them, as nearly as possible, into conformity with the recommendations of the Cohen Committee. In launching a new venture of this sort, a practice should not be allowed to commence which is condemned by an impartial Committee— and a very good Committee—for the whole of private industry. It is obviously unsound for any member, particularly when dealing with public money, to be in a position to borrow it, except subject to complete control. We have tried in this new Clause to see that every protection is given and that any loan granted to a member of the board shall be safeguarded as much as possible.

    With regard to remuneration, we would ask the Minister to bring the proposed new boards into conformity with what is to be done in private industry. I admit that we have not here exactly the same words as are applied to private industry, but hon. Members on this side are not wedded to the actual phraseology, and any Amendment necessary to bring it strictly into line with the Cohen Report would be acceptable to us. The Cohen Committee have made it very clear in Sections 89 and 90 that in private industry it is essential that if the shareholders are to have a true representation of what is happening in their company, the amounts of emoluments paid to the directors should be disclosed. If the consumer is to be safeguarded, any remuneration paid to members of the boards should also be disclosed. Unless this is done, the people who will ultimately have to pay cannot get a proper understanding of the accounts. For those reasons, I hope the Minister will accept this Clause. It is designed to bring the accounts as near as we can to the best commercial standards which he himself lays down later in the Bill. By accepting the Clause he can do no harm to the Bill, but it will maintain the safeguards to the consumer by showing every one the true and fair value of what is happening.

    5.0 p.m.

    As hon. Members have just said, it is my intention to provide in the Bill, in Clause 41, that the accounts shall conform to the best commercial standards. Those words were framed after considerable discussion in the Standing Committee which dealt with the Coal Industry (Nationalisation) Act, and they were adopted for the purpose of enabling the National Coal Board to present its accounts in a prescribed and satisfactory form. It does not appear to me to be necessary that the additional requirement in respect of loans to mem- bers of the new boards should be included in this Bill, and I will tell hon. Members why. I am not fully acquainted with the practice of commercial concerns, but I gather from what the hon. and gallant Member has just said that it is, or was, customary for members of boards of directors or boards of management to receive pecuniary assistance on occasions, apart from their fees, in the form of loans, and the Companies Bill is designed to provide that that custom shall be abandoned.

    Surely, the right hon. Gentleman is not using the right word. He talks about this practice being customary; the fact is that it was not prohibited, but it does not follow that it was customary.

    The hon. Member is quite right; it was not habitual either with the directors or with the undertakings, but it occasionally happened.

    I think the right hon. Gentleman has got it wrong. The 1929 Act said that any such loan must be shown in the balance sheet; the present Bill prohibits it.

    I am not making any accusation against company directors; I acquitted myself at the beginning of any profound knowledge of this subject, but I listened to hon. Members opposite and, as they indicated that these things sometimes occurred, I accepted what they said, and there it is. Let us now consider the position in respect of anationalised undertaking. I say at once that if the intention of hon. Members in promoting this new Clause is to secure that surreptitious financial assistance should be provided on occasions to members of the electricity boards, whether national or regional, I would regard such a practice with the utmost distaste, and indeed I would expect that nothing of the sort would happen. There is provision in the Bill—or will be, with the consent of hon. Members—to safeguard the public against practices of that sort, and the position is that I as Minister—or whoever happens to be Minister—-can give directions to the boards. It would seem to me that a distasteful and wholly disagreeable practice of this kind would be inimical to the public wellbeing, and, therefore, the Minister could intervene. That being so, it is unnecessary to make provision in the Bill for this safeguard.

    The position will be this. The Minister appoints the members of the Central Authority. Under the provisions of the Bill he also appoints the members of the regional authorities, and because he has the power vested in him to make such appointments, he will fix their remuneration. That is distinct from the position which has developed in connection with the mining industry. There I appointed the members of the National Board, but I did not appoint the members of the divisional boards, and in appointing the members of the National Board, I fixed their salaries. I would remind hon. Members that their salaries were announced in the House, and, therefore, there was nothing surreptitious about it; nor was it necessary to provide safeguards about stating those matters in the annual accounts. The pronouncement was made in the House about the salaries of the members of the National Coal Board, but I did not make any announcement about the salaries of the divisional boards because I was not responsible for the appointments.

    Those are the facts; there can be no dispute about them. In the electricity industry under this Bill, I shall be empowered to appoint the members of the National Board, and I shall state their salaries, and I shall also state, if need be, the global amount, and, if necessary, in the accounts I can provide a statement in detail of their expenses. I shall also fix the salaries and any other emoluments of the members of the regional boards, and therefore I shall be called upon by the House, quite naturally and rightly, to make a statement of what has been done. If that is so, surely hon Members cannot expect any more Finally, the contemplated British Electricity Authority, gathering up the financial activities of the various regional boards with its own financial activities, will present accounts to the Minister, and the Minister must present those accounts to Parliament. Those accounts, as I have indicated, must be presented in such a way as to conform with the best commercial standards. They will be detailed accounts, and the House will expect nothing less than that. No self-respecting or responsible Minister, whoever he might be, would allow any nationalised undertaking to escape its obligations in that regard. The House and the public are entitled to full information about matters of that sort in the measure that the Minister is directly responsible. If the Minister is not directly responsible, clearly the House is not entitled to ask for details which are within the purview of the board itself. That being so, and having ascertained as far as I could the intentions of hon. Members opposite in promoting this Clause, it does not appear to me that it is necessary to include these words in the Bill.

    The right hon. Gentleman's arguments, of which he told us he had a number, really amount to saying that he believes that this Clause is unnecessary. I am bound to say that, with regard to the point he made about emoluments being published, as long as he carries out his promise it does gosome way to meet us. But he has not met the point about loans. He objects to the practice of granting loans to members or officers of the boards. Incidentally there are no regional boards, as far as I know, although the Minister referred to them. They are area boards. I think he objects to these loans; and so do we, and I cannot see why he objects to a specific provision being made in the Bill. It would be better to accept the first part of our new Clause regarding loans, even if he thinks he cannot accept the second part regarding emoluments. If the Minister persists in his refusal to accept the principle, he cannot complain if the public at large and we on this side of the House remain suspicious, not necessarily about what he will do, but what it thinks some of his successors may do. Either the thing is right or it is wrong; if it is wrong, let us specifically prohibit it in the Bill and then there can be no question that the public will be reassured.

    I do not quite understand the point made by the right hon. Gentleman in his brief remarks. He seemed to make a difference between what was his responsibility and what might not be his responsibility, and he said that the House would not be entitled to have details. If the House is not entitled to details, then presumably no one is entitled to them. That is rather an important point. Surely, the Minister must be responsible for the whole of this new machinery, and the House must be entitled, in the public interest, to ask him for information on any points on which they may have doubts. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will clear up the point I am putting to him, but I put it to him seriously and not merely to raise some side issue.

    I am not making any complaint, for this is quite a proper question to put to me, but I think I answered it on a previous occasion. I will endeavour to simplify the matter. When I appoint a number of persons to a nationalised board, I fix their salaries and their emoluments Inasmuch as that is my obligation, I must on the appropriate occasion inform Parliament of my activities. When appointments are made, not by the Minister, but by the board itself, it is asking too much to say that I should acquaint the House with the details of salaries and expenses of officers of the board and indeed with every minute detail of expense incurred. The House is entitled to information on the global figures, but just as on Supply Day the House is entitled to ask for details of Government expenditure, so it would be entitled to ask similar questions on the accounts of a nationalised undertaking when they were presented to the House. There is a distinction between information furnished to the House by the Minister in respect of appointments for which he is directly responsible, and information on matters for which he is not directly responsible.

    5.15 p.m.

    It appears to me that the point made by hon. Members opposite is really irrelevant to the substance of the new Clause, which, as I indicated, is a question of loans made to directors. There are no directors in a nationalised undertaking. They are members of the board, and they are paid salaries. They are not paid fees as in the case of a director of a commercial undertaking. They may be paid £100 a year. £500 a year or £1,000 a year, or fees for attendance at each meeting. Such a? person, finding himself in financial difficulty, might approach the secretary of the board and ask for a little financial assistance but one cannot conceive of the chairman of the Electricity Board or the chairman of the National Coal Board going to the Secretary and asking for a loan of £5, £500, or £1,000. If anything of the sort happened, I imagine the secretary would say, "It is time you were off the board."

    Surely, the sort of case we are considering is that in which some official of the board says, for instance, that his wife has had a serious operation and he would like a little advance of salary. Another case could be where an employee is moved from one town to another and is unable to get a house; and asks for a sum of money in order to put down the deposit on a house.

    Now we are getting down to brass tacks. If that is what hon. Members have in mind, it is quite unnecessary to have any provision of this sort in the Bill. If there is provision in the Bill for the welfare of officers in the undertakings, and if, unfortunately, the wife of an official of the board met with a mishap of some kind and he found himself financially embarrassed as a result, and wanted some assistance, one would expect that he would apply to the welfare and benevolent fund raised by the members of the staff in order to assist one another. That is all that is necessary, I would deprecate any kind of arrangement within a nationalised board whereby either a member of the board, or an officer or an employee of the board, apart from salaries and expenses to which he was justly entitled, would receive any temporary financial assistance. A nationalised undertaking is not a money-lending institution. [Interruption.]The right hon. Gentleman must not be so childish. The point at issue is not one of great substance; it is as unsubstantial as the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke) has now described. Surely, we do not require a provision in the Bill to meet contingencies of that kind. It is much better to leave it to the common sense and intelli-

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    Amory, D. HeathcoatBuchan-Hepburn, P. G.TEden, Rt. Hon. A
    Astor, Hon. M.Bullock, Capt. MElliot, Rt. Hon Walte
    Baldwin, A. EByers, FrankFraser, H. C. P. (Stone)
    Baxter, A. B.Challen, C.Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Channon, H.Galbraith, Cmdr T. D
    Beechman, N. A.Clarke, Col R. S.George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)
    Birch, NigelClifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GGrant, Lady
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O EGridley, Sir A
    Boothby, R.Darling, Sir W YGrimston, R. V
    Bower, N.Digby, S. W.Hare, Hon. J H. (Woodbridge)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Dodds-Parker, D DHeadlam, Lieut- Col Rt Hon Sir c
    Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanDrewe, CHinchingbrooke, Viscount
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J, GDuthie, W SHope, Lord J

    gence of the members responsible for the running of the undertaking.

    May I say that in all my experience as a director I have never known any board to be asked by a director for a loan or for any financial assistance, and I say that after many years' experience. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about loans to directors or members of the area boards being distasteful. Would it be equally distasteful to him if area boards decided they would buy a house for a member of the board? Assistance may be given in more ways than one. It may not be by loans or other financial help; it may be from some source which could be quite right in the circumstances.

    The answer to the hon. Gentleman is that if there is a contractual obligation which the board must accept, in the normal way they must provide a house if that is part of the obligation. On the other hand, if there is no contractual obligation when an employee is moved from one district to another and he has told the board that he must have accommodation and asked them to assist him to find that accommodation, I would not regard that so much as a loan as assistance which was essential for the proper conduct of the undertaking. In any event, those are matters which might be arranged as between the board and some building society. There was a slight irrelevance in the remarks of the hon. Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley). We are speaking here of financial assistance of a temporary kind. I beg hon. Members not to imagine that we shall countenance proceedings of that kind.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes 90; Noes, 198.

    Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Manningham-Buller, R. ESavory, Prof. D. L.
    Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Marshall, O. (Bodmin)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Jeffreys, General Sir GMarshall, S. H (Sutton)Spearman, A. C. M
    Keeling, E. HMellor, Sir JStanley Rt. Hon. O
    Kendall, W. D.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Strauss, H G. (English Universities)
    Kerr, Sir J. GrahamMorris-Jones, Sir H.Studholme, H G.
    Lambert, Hon. G.Morrison, Rt Hon W S (Cirencester)Sutcliffe, H.
    Lancaster, Col. C. G.Nicholson G.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd't'n, S.)
    Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HNoble, Comdr. A. H. PThorp, Lt.-Col R. A F
    Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Touche, G. C.
    Lipson, D LPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Wadsworth, G
    Lucas, Major Sir J.Pickthorn, KWalker-Smith, D
    Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Prescott, StanleyWard, Hon. G. R
    Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)Prior-Palmer, Brig O.Wheatley, Colonel M J
    Mackeson, Brig. H RRaikes, H. V.Willoughby de Eresby, Lore
    McKie, J H (Galloway)Rayner, Brig. R.
    MacLeod, J.Robinson, Wing-Comdr. RolandTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Ross Sir R D. (Londonderry)Major Conant and
    Major Ramsay.


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Parkin, B. T
    Alpass, J. H.Guest, Dr. L. HadenPaton, J. (Norwich)
    Attewell, H. C.Gunter, R. JPeart, Thomas F.
    Austin, H LewisGuy, W. H.Piratin, P
    Awbery, S. S.Hale, LesliePopplewell, E
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BHall, W G.Randall, H E
    Barstow, P. GHamilton, Lieut.-Col. RRanger, J.
    Barton, CHannan, W. (Marvhill).Rees-Williams, D. H
    Battley, J. RHardy, E A.Reeves, J.
    Bechervaise. A. EHarrison, J.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
    Berry, H.Hastings, Dr SomervilleRobens, A.
    Beswick, F.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Blackburn, A. RHerbison, Miss M.Rogers, G. H. R
    Blenkinsop, A.Hicks, G.Royle, C.
    Blyton, W. R.Hobson, C. R.Sargood. R
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.Holman, P.Scott-Elliot, W
    Bowles, F G (Nuneaton)Holmes, H. E. (HemsworthShackleton, E, A
    Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)House, GSharp, Granville
    Braddock, T (Mitcham)Hoy, J.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E
    Bramall, E. AHudson, J. H, (Ealing, W)Silverman, J (Erdington)
    Brooks, T. J (Rothwell)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Simmons, C J.
    Brown, T. J (Ince)Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Skeffington-Lodge, T C
    Bruce. Maj. D W THynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Skinnard, F W.
    Burden, T. W.Hynd, J. B. (Atterctiffe)Smith, H. N (Nottingham, S.)
    Butler, H W. (Hackney, S.)Janner, B.Smith. S H. (Hud S.W)
    Castle, Mrs. B. AJay, D. P. T.Snow, Capt. J. W
    Chamberlain, R. AJeger, G. (Winchester)Sorensen, R W.
    Champion, A J.Jones, D, T (Hartlepools)Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Chafer, D.Keenan, WSparks, J. A
    Chetwynd, G. RKinley, J.Stamford, W
    Cluse, W S.Lavers, SStephen, C.
    Cobb, F ALewis, A W J. (Upton)Stewart, Michael (Fulham E.)
    Cocks, F SLipton, Lt -Col. MStrauss, G R. (Lambeth N.)
    Collindridge, F.Longden, FStress, Dr B
    Colman, Miss G. MMcAdam, W.Stubbs, A. E
    Comyns, Dr. L.McEntee, V. La TSwingler, S.
    Cove, W. G.McGhee, H. GSylvester, G. G
    Daggar, GMack, J D.Symonds, A. L
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield)McKay, J (Wallsend)Taylor, H B (Mansfield
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Mackay, R W G. (Hull, N.W)Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)
    Taylor, Dr S. (Barnet)
    Davies, Hayden (St. Pancras, S.W.)McLeavy, FThomas, D E (Aberdare)
    Davies, R J (Westhoughton)Macpherson, T. (Romford)Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
    Deer, GMainwaring, W HThorneycroft Harry (Clayton)
    Diamond, JMallalieu J P WThurtle, Ernest
    Dodds, N NMartin,. HTitterington, M F
    Donovan, TMathers, GToliey, L.
    Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Medland, H. MTurner-Samuels, M
    Dumpleton, C WMellisn R. JVernon, Mai W F
    Dye, SMikardo. IanViant, S. P.
    Edelman, M.Moody, A. SWalkden, E.
    Edwards, John (Blackburn)Morley, RWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Evans E. (Lowestoft)Morris, P (Swansea, W)Wallace, H W. (Walthamstow. E.)
    Farthing, W. JMoyle, A.Warbey, W N.
    Fernyhough, ENaylor, T. EWells, P L. (Faversham)
    Follick, M.Neal, H. (Claycross)Wells, W T (Walsall)
    Foot, M MNichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford)West wood, Rt. Hon J
    Gaitskell, H. T. NNicholls, H R (Stratford)Whiteley, Rt Hon w
    Ganley, Mrs. C SNoel-Baker, Capt F E. (Brentford)Wigg, Col G E
    Gibson, C W.Noel-Buxton, LadyWilkes, L.
    Gilzean, A.Oldfield, W HWilkins, W A
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Orbach, M.Willey, O G. (Cleveland)
    Goodrich, H E.Palmer, A. M FWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Gordon-Walker, P CParker, J.Williams, W R. (Heston)

    Williamson, T.Wyatt, W.Zilliacus, K.
    Willis, EYates, V. F
    Wills, Mrs. E. A.Young, Sir Ft (Newton)TELLERS FOR THE NOES
    Woods, G SYounger, Hon. KennethMr. Pearson and Mr. Daines.

    New Clause—(Valuation Of Assets)

    (1) For the purpose of providing a proper and uniform basis of accounts, every Electricity Board shall, within twelve months after the vesting date, carry out a valuation of all the capital assets vested in the Board by or under this Act.

    (2) The Minister shall, by regulations made before the vesting date, prescribe the principles upon which the valuations required by the last foregoing subsection are to be carried out.

    (3) The regulations made in accordance with the last foregoing subsection shall prescribe rates of depreciation to be applied to the capital assets of every Electricity Board, and may prescribe different rates for assets of different classes.—[ Mr. R. S. Hudson.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    5.30 p.m.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    On various occasions in the Standing Committee, and upon a later occasion to which it would be out of Order now to refer in detail, the Minister has, in effect, accepted the principle that the accounts of the new Central Authority and of its area boards should be presented in accordance with the best industrial and commercial practice. This new Clause is an attempt to complete the picture. We believe that if the public and Members of this House—and of future Houses, for that matter—are to carry out their duties intelligently and are to be able to assess properly the results not only from year to year but over a period of years—which is perhaps equally important—of the working of the experiment embodied in this legislation, the first essential is that we should know the value of the assets which are taken over by the authority when it starts. We should also know that proper arrangements are made for annual depreciation. A great many undertakings, especially those of local authorities, proceed by means of a sinking fund to pay off their loan charges. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is about to agree that it would be much more satisfactory if proper scales of depreciation were laid down and prescribed by the Ministry. We believe it is a sound idea that the assets should be valued. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not say that this would be a very long and never-ending job.

    We have received the report of a committee which inquired into the gas industry, an analogous case. I have heard hon. Members opposite, when it has suited their purposes, quoting from this document. If the Parliamentary Secretary has read and digested it, he will remember that it made definite recommendations on the need for capital expenditure accounts being set out upon a uniform basis. It also went into the question whether or not valuations should be made at the commencement of the operation of a gas authority and the contributory area boards, and whether the valuation of those assets would be a very long job. The answer of that committee is:
    "Inventories will require to be in considerable detail, but this is not a difficulty, since the only method of making the valuations is to work from the detail upwards to the total figure. The completion of these records is not such a monumental task as is sometimes supposed, and an established technique is available."
    Fortified, therefore, with this definite opinion, we have put down the proposed new Clause. We earnestly hope that the Minister will see his way to accept it.

    I support my right hon. Friend in his plea to the Government. This is a very big question. It is of vital importance not only that the accounts of nationalised undertakings should tell the truth, but that they should be known to have told the truth, and that people should know exactly on what basis the accounts are compiled. Any one with experience of compiling company accounts will know that a perfectly honest accountant, conforming to the best commercial standards, can make the accounts of a company look very different if he makes different assumptions when he values the assets, or applies different rates of depreciation.

    All companies in this matter have different practices. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows, certain rates of depreciation are allowed for Income Tax purposes, but it is unusual for a company in its published accounts to depreciate exactly at that rate. Most companies hold that the allowances given by the Income Tax Acts are not sufficient. They depreciate at a rate more than the allowances given, under those Acts. Some companies obviously have depreciated more than others. Therefore, the Electricity Authority will be faced with the situation that they will take over assets of precisely equal intrinsic value which are valued in different balance sheets upon quite different bases. It is perfectly correct by the best commercial standards to depreciate at a greater rate than one is allowed under the Income Tax Acts. Many companies would have gone "bust" if they had not done so.

    As I understand it, in the case of municipal electricity undertakings, rates of depreciation are laid down by the Minister of Health, different rates being laid down according to the precise thing that is being depreciated. We are anxious that the assets taken over shall be valued upon a uniform basis and that that basis shall be generally known, that annual rates of depreciation shall be laid down at appropriate rates, and that those rates shall be known. Everyone in the country will then be able to find out how the accounts are drawn up and will know that the truth is being told—or at any rate they will know on what basis the accounts are drawn up. If that is not done, there will be great variation between the rates of earnings shown by some boards, as some of them will take over assets at a lower valuation than others. We shall have no true comparison between the boards.

    I do not believe that to secure this uniform basis will be an intolerable task. I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to the Heyworth Report, and particularly to paragraph 282, where stress is laid upon the necessity for capital expenditure accounts being set out on a uniform basis. That can be done only if there is a valuation of the capital assets. It is particularly important that earnings shall be given upon a uniform basis; that can be done only if depreciation is on a uniform basis.

    The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) rightly quoted my right hon. Friend as having declared himself strongly in favour of the clearest possible presentation of accounts. Indeed, full provision for that is made in the Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. We go rather further than the mere presentation of accounts, because there is laid down in Clause 40 in some detail—perhaps not as great detail as some hon. Members would like—the practice which is to be pursued in the matter of charges to revenue account. The proposed new Clause is not concerned simply with proper presentation. It proposes three things: that within 12 months of the vesting date every electricity board shall carry out a valuation of its capital assets; that the principles of such valuation are to be laid down by the Minister in regulations made before the vesting date; and that those regulations shall prescribe the rates of depreciation to be applied to the capital assets of the board, though not necessarily the same rates for all of them.

    The question we have to consider is whether this new Clause is necessary and practicable. The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) has a charming way of saying, when he knows one is going to argue something, that he hopes one will not do so. He is quite entitled to do that, but I am bound to say in all seriousness that the task of a complete physical valuation of all the assets in this industry is far more formidable than the right hon. Gentleman and his friends seem to appreciate. In my view it is quite out of the question that any valuation of this kind could possibly be done within a year. If one is to judge by our experience in the transfer of the coal industry assets, certainly it is a far longer job than that. I do not imagine that the Opposition would be satisfied—no one would be—with merely accepting the book value of the assets as they stand in the existing balance sheets. Obviously that would be very little guide in the matter. If one went further and called in outside experts to place precise values on everything in the industry or to adopt some standard rate of depreciation and apply it to the cost of the assets, it would mean a most formidable task. It would mean researches into the original cost of everything and into what was spent on it. That would happen in connection with every little item in every undertaking. There can be no doubt that this would involve a most tremendous use of manpower. At the end of it should we really have gained a great deal?

    I concede to the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) that it is desirable that the position of the different area boards in relation to one another should be made as clear as possible. I do not think there is any quarrel between us about the desirability of introducing in due course standard rates of depreciation to be applied by the area boards. That is probably a desirable thing, but I am bound to say that I do not see that it is necessary to have this tremendous elaboration of assets in order that we may have the proper comparison which has been mentioned. If the hon. Member was thinking in terms of comparison with the final financial position of the different area boards, one has obviously to take into account not only the extent to which they depreciate their assets but also, for instance, the amount which they are expected to pay to the Central Authority by way of a contribution to servicing of stock which will have been issued by way of compensation and by way of meeting the local authority loans.

    I do not feel that there is really any necessity for anything as elaborate as this. I am advised—we do not decide these matters without expert advice—that there is no need for this elaborate valuation at once of the capital assets in order that the accounts may be properly kept. In any case, I do not see how we can possibly decide precisely what policy to adopt in this matter, at least until after the vesting date. It would be extremely difficult for us to make regulations at this stage when we do not know precisely what all the practices are in this industry which would be satisfactory. This is essentially a matter—I put it in all seriousness to the Opposition—which must be left until after the vesting date and which should be left not to the Minister—this is a case where I feel my right hon. Friend had better be kept in the background—but to the Central Authority to decide when they know what the practices are—there are many different practices—and let them lay down, if they wish, the principles which the various area boards should follow.

    5.45 P.m.

    I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is like when he is being funny, but he has just told us that he is "in all seriousness." What does the hon. Gentleman mean by his last two or three sentences. He is assured by the experts. He says that there is no need for this. What are they experts in? Are they experts in law or in the production of electricity, or what is it that they are experts in?

    Experts in accountancy are not really relevant to the main point here. The main point here is that we are engaged in what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen continually tell us is a great social and Socialist experiment. That experiment is quite worthless unless one knows early before one begins the experiment what one has to pay for the crucible. Of course, it is going to be easy enough for anybody in two or three years' time to say, "Look, how well we are running this"—whatever "this" is. In the case of electricity it is easy to see that if one starts off with assets which are down on one's books at a price only half what they are really worth, the whole experiment will be quite worthless. One really must know what the values of the assets are on the vesting date. How he can tell us in all seriousness that though this ought to be done, it certainly ought not to be done before the vesting date, I really cannot understand. The whole experiment ceases to have any value unless it is before the vesting date that we find out what are the things and what are the money values of the things that have been taken over by the new concern.

    That is what the new Clause asks for. Nothing the hon. Gentleman said has any relevance to that request. It is all very well to say that the task of valuation is far more formidable than was suggested from this side of the House, but unless the task of valuation is possible, the experiment cannot have any meaning at all. No doubt the task is formidable—the hon. Gentleman said it would take a year—and perhaps the most formidable thing about it would be guessing the value of the Dalton £as the year went on. I did not understand at all—here I apologise; when I say that I did not understand, I do not mean anything ironic—what was meant by saying that this could not be done until we had been in the concern a long time and fully understood the practices. I think the hon. Gentleman meant the practices of various electricity producing and supplying companies about depreciation. I do not see how that is necessary preliminary knowledge to what we are asking here. One does not have to know at what rate things have been depreciated in the previous five years in order to value what things are worth now and to decide at what rate they shall be valued in the next five years. I agree that it would be a simple matter of arithmetic to value if depreciation had been uniform and if all the prices were known. One would only have to work out what it cost to buy things and it would be a simple arithmetical sum. But nobody from this side of the House has suggested that. Therefore the argument that it cannot be done until hon. Gentlemen opposite have been in the industry a long time and learnt the practices does not seem to have any relevance at all.

    The main point with which I began and with which I will now finish is this. Surely it has to be reasonable, and nobody would think it was reasonable for anybody else except the State to start on a great producing and trading venture without making them get quite clear to themselves and to those to whom they have to be responsible at the beginning what are the assets they start with and what is the value of those assets. Nobody would for a moment suggest that any other organisation should start off without that and, so far, we have really had no serious argument why the State should be given this privileged position.

    The Parliamentary Secretary made out that, this valuation would be a formidable affair and if it were to start a year after the vesting date, it might be, but what happens on the vesting date? The Authority takes over these statutory undertakings. They are listed in the new Schedule which the right hon. Gentleman introduced. They are all known companies, they have all operated electricity undertakings for a great number of years, and they have all kept books. Nobody has ever suggested that any of them are irresponsible and do not know the value of their assets. What is easier than to take over the books of those concerns, as they are taken over, and make a summation of the whole thing over the course of the succeeding year, writing down where necessary on a proper rate of depreciation, to achieve the result asked for in this new Clause, namely, the valuation of assets a year from the vesting date? There is no formidable task in that. The accounts are there, and valuations are all made, and every item of equipment, which the hon. Gentleman said will have to be looked up by the Electricity Authority to see where it came from, is already in the accounts. I should not think there was six weeks' work in it. Why not look at it from that point of view? It is a perfectly reasonable new Clause, and the Government ought to examine it afresh.

    Of the many speeches I have heard from the Parliamentary Secretary, I have never heard one which seemed to me to go so completely outside any reasonable argument. In the first instance, he more or less admitted to this House, in refusing to accept this Clause, that the Government have no idea of what assets they are taking over. They have no idea of the value or the extent of them, and all they could offer was that they would be able to tell us in two or three years' time what they had bought. If any arguments could be produced to show the folly of trying to take over an industry like this on Stock Exchange values, the argument advanced by the Parliamentary Secretary this afternoon demonstrates it beyond all possible cavil. Here he is telling this House that, just because of this method of breaking all traditional commercial practice, he has now to admit that some £700 million of our money is to be spent on acquiring assets of which the Government have no definite knowledge whatever. If that is a creditable statement to make to this House, I do not know what is a discreditable one.

    If the Minister is serious that accounts will be kept in the best commercial standards, how can he do that unless he knows what he owns? How is it possible for him to present any accounts to this House which will bear five minutes investigation if he says, "These are all based on the assumption that something I have is worth what I may be able to confirm to you in several years' time, but, for the moment, this is the best we can do." Is that the way in which to treat these millions of pounds of public capital to be invested in electricity?

    The Parliamentary Secretary went on to mention Clause 40 of the Bill and to say that at least, as far as the revenue account was concerned, a great many extra stipulations beyond what we demand, were made. Can he tell me one of those which is possible to undertake unless the capital value of the assets taken over is known? I would draw his attention to lines 31 and 32 of page 51 of the Bill which say:
    "for depreciation and obsolescence of assets or renewal of assets."
    How can any board make proper provision for obsolescence or depreciation unless it knows the value of the assets? On the face of it, it is a clear contradiction in terms. My hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) said that many companies adopted different practices. That is true, depending on their expansion programme and on many other things. It will be found, when the Government come to take over these companies, that there are many different standards. Assets in one company and another will bear no relation to each other simply because of the conditions of the particular company. How will any area board correlate those assets and get a standard rate of depreciation and obsolescence? Unless some such Clause as this is put in the Bill it makes an absolute mockery of what the Minister has said on Clause 41, that accounts will be laid in accordance with the best commercial standards, and above all, it makes an absolute mockery of the whole of this Bill, because the Government are simply saying, "We are spending several hundred millions. We do not know what we are buying but we will let you know in three years' time." If that is what is happening, the sooner we put in a Clause like this, the better.

    Perhaps i may intervene, having had some experience of electrical supply companies. I cannot help thinking that the Parliamentary Secretary on this occasion has not been well advised. After all, the accounts of most of the authorised undertakings of this country are subject to two audits—one by their own appointed chartered accountants, and the second by auditors appointed by the Minister. The Electricity Commissioners for years past have had a standard schedule of rates of depreciation with which the undertakings have been supposed to comply. If they have complied with those depreciation rates, then the book value of the assets in their accounts today is beyond reproach. On the other hand, if the sum set aside for depreciation is not equal to the Commissioners' schedule, then presumably that figure is down and the balance not provided for can be written off the assets. Those are the facts, and I should have thought that of all the undertakings in the country, electricity supply undertakings were about the easiest of all to take over for the reasons I have given.

    The difficulties that may arise appear to be these. Take the cost of Battersea and the Barking Power Station, and compare them with what Bankside will cost. There will be in three or four years' time perhaps 200,000 kilowatts in each of those two stations built at a most of £20 a kilowatt and, at Bankside, perhaps costing £50 a kilowatt. They will have very wide valuations for the same amount of current capacity, and if you were to replace today the generating set in any one of the existing power stations, say Manchester, with one of larger capacity, the new set might be installed at more than twice the capital cost of the old one. That is one difficulty about valuations: what is the replacement value of the existing stations today? There is a second difficulty, as I see it, which is this: under the terms of acquisition the State may be acquiring one undertaking for which it is going to pay in electricity stock, we will say, £4 million. Its written-down value in the books on the basis I have described may be £6 million.

    6.0 p.m.

    How are those assets to be valued? There might be another case in which electricity stock has amounted to £4 million, but the assets may have been written down to £3 million. How are they to be valued? Those are the difficulties, not the difficulty which the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out. It is "as easy as pie," if I may use a vulgar expression, to value the assets held by an electricity undertaking today. There is no difficulty whatever in doing so. I would undertake, if the books were presented to me, to present a valuation of all the electricity undertakings in the country in the next six weeks. If I were asked to say what is the true present day value of those undertakings, that is quite another story. We come back to this matter in the later Clauses of the Bill, but I say to the Parliamentary Secretary that we must have a better explanation of the difficulties in arriving at an earlier valuation than he has given us this afternoon. I say that to him, with great respect.

    I am in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley) on the question of the valuation of the assets. I do not think that there will be a great deal of trouble there, nor need it take a long time. So far as the power companies are concerned, it should be quite simple; the records are very full. I really cannot understand how we are to proceed with proper accounts unless we know the value of the assets we are taking over. What figure is to be taken? Is it to be the price that was paid to the particular undertaking, or is it to be the value appearing in the books at the time they were taken over? It is necessary to be able to calculate what depreciation is, and that cannot be done unless the starting point is known. The only way is to have a complete valuation, as suggested in the new Clause. Otherwise how is it to be ascertained whether the particular undertaking or area is being run profitably or not? It cannot be done unless the valuation of the assets at the start is known.

    Division No. 270.]


    [0.5 p.m.

    Amory, D HeathcoatGrimston, R. V.Nicholson, G
    Astor, Hon. MHannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Noble, Comdr A H. P.
    Baldwin, A EHare, Hon. J H (Woodbridge)Nutting, Anthony
    Baxter, A. B.Headlam, Lieut-Col Rt Hon Sir CPeake, Rt Hon O
    Beechman, N A.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPeto, Brig C H M
    Birch, Nigelhope, Lord JPickthorn, K
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Walls)Hudson, Rt Hon R S. (Southport)Prior-Palmer, Brig O.
    Boothby, RHutchison, Lt -Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W)Raikes. H V
    Bower, NJeffreys, General Sir GRamsay Maj S
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L WReed, Sir S (Aylesbury)
    Bracken, Rt Hon. BrendanKeeling, E. HRobinson Wing Comdr Roland
    Braithwaite Lt.-Comdr. J. GKerr, Sir J. GrahamRoss St. R D (Londonderry)
    Buchan-Hepburn P. G TLambert, Hon GSavory, Prof. D. L.
    Byers, FrankLancaster, Col C. GShepherd, W S. ()
    Challen, CLindsay, M (Solihull)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Channon, HLipson, D L.Smith E P (Ashferd)
    Clarke, Col. Lucas, Major SirSpearman, A. C M
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLucas-Tooth, Sir HStanley, Rt Hon O
    Conant, Maj. R J. E.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon OStoddart-Scott, Col M
    Corbett, Lieut -Col U (Ludlow)McCallum, Maj. DStrauss, H G. (English Universities)
    Crosthwaite.Eyre, Col O EMacdonald Sir P (I of Wight)Sutcliffe, H
    Crowder, Capt John EMackeson, Brig. H RTaylor. Vice Adm E A (P'dd'l'n. S.)
    Darling, Sir W YMcKie I H (Galloway)Thorp, LI -Col (A F
    Digby, S WMacLeod, JTouche, G ii
    Dodds-Parker, A DMacmillan, Rt Hon Harold (Bromley)Wadsworth, G
    Duthie. W SMacpherson, N (Dumfries)Walker-Smith, D
    Eiliot, Rt Hon WalterManningham-Buller, R EWard, Hon. G. R
    Fraser H C P (Stone)Marples, A. EWheatley Colonel M o
    Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)Marshall, D (Bodmin)Willoughby de Eresby Lore
    Galbraith, Cmdr T DMarshall, S. H (Sutton)
    George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)Mellor, Sir JTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Grant, LadyMorris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.
    Gridley, Sir ANeven-Spence. Sir B

    Again, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, there is the question of replacement. Unless the assets are valued at the vesting date, there will be a terrific jump in charges sometime later, and that will not be a very happy position for anyone to be in. I cannot imagine how any reasonable accounts are to be prepared unless there is this valuation. I would come back to the question I asked previously: What figure is to be taken? There has to be some figure. What figure have the Government in mind? I hope that the Government will not dodge this issue, because if they do, a very obvious conclusion will be drawn from that. The Government are taking over these undertakings at Stock Exchange prices. We know very well they are getting a very good bargain, and an even better bargain out of the municipalities. Unless the Government are prepared to face this issue, the country will know, without anything more having to be said, that not only have the shareholders and the stockholders of the power companies been swindled, but that so also have the municipalities.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes, 95; Noes. 215.


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Hardy, E. A.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Alpass, J. HHamson, JRegers, G H S
    Attewell, H. CHasting, Dr SomervilltRoyle, C.
    Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. RHerbison, Miss MSargood, R
    Austin, H. LewisHicks GScollan, T
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Hobson, C RScott-Elliot, W
    Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JHolman, PStackleton, E. A. A
    Barstow, P. G.Holmes, H E (Hemsworth)Sharp, Granville
    Barton, C.House, G.Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)
    Bcchervaise A. Hoy, JSkinwell Rt Hon E
    Berry, H.Hudson, J H. (Ealing W.)Shurmer P
    Beswick, FHughes, Hector (Aterdeen, N.)Silverman, J (Erdington)
    Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Hughes, H D (Wolverhampton, W)Simmons, C. J
    Blackburn, A. RHynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Skeffington-Lodge, T G
    Blenkinsop, A.Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)Skinnard, F W
    Blyton, W R.Janner, B.Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Bottomley, A. G.Jay, DPTSmith, S H. (Hall, SW.)
    Bowden, Flg.Offr. H. WJeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, SE)Snow, Capt. J. W
    Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)Jones, Rt. Hon. A C (Shipley)Sorensen, R. W
    Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Jones, D T (Hartlepools)Soskice Maj. Sir
    Braddock, T (Mitcham)Keenan, WSparks, J A
    Stamford, W
    Bramall, E. A.Kinley, J.Stephen, C.
    Brooks, T. J (Rothwell)Laver, S.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Brown, George (Belper)Leonard, WStross, Dr. B.
    Brown, T J (Ince)Leslie, J R.Stubbs, A E.
    Bruce, Maj. D. W. TLewis, A. W J (Upton)Summerskill, Dr Edith
    Burden, T WLindgren, G. SSwingler, S.
    Butler. H W. (Hackney, S)Lipton, Lt. Col MSylvester, G. O.
    Castle, Mrs. B. A.Longden, F.Symonds, A L.
    Chamberlain, R. AMcAdam, W.Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)
    Champion, A. J.McEntee, V. La T.Taylor, R J. (Morpath)
    Chater, D.McGhee, H GTaylor, Dr S. (Barnet)
    Chetwynd, G. RMack, J D.Thomas, D. E (Aberdare)
    Cobb, F. A.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Thomas, I O (Wrekin)
    Cocks, F SMackay, R W G (Hull, N W)Thorneycroft, Harrty (Clayton)
    Collindridge, F.McLeavy, FThurtle, Ernest
    Colman, Miss G MMacpherson, T. (Romford)Titterington M
    Comyns, Dr. L.Mainwaring, W HTolley, L
    Daggar, GMallalieu, J P. WTurner-Samuels, M
    Daines, PMartin, J H.Usborne, Henry
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield;Mathers, S.Vernon, Maj W. F
    Davies. Harold (Leek)Medland, H. MViant, S. P.
    Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W)Mellish, R. JWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Davies, R. J (Westhoughton)Messer, FWallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E)
    Deer, GMiddleton, Mrs. Warbey, W. N.
    Diamond, J.Mikardo, IanWeitzman, D
    Dodds, N. NMitchison, G. RWells P L. (Faversham)
    Donovan, TMoody, A SWells, W. T (Walsall)
    Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwieh')Morrison, Rt Hon H (Lewisham. E)Westwood, Rt. Hon J
    Dumpleton C WMoyle, AWhiteley, Rt. Hon W
    Dye S.Neal, H (Claycross)Wigg, Col G. E.
    Edelman, MNichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Wilcock, Group-Capt C A. B
    Edwards, A (Middlesbrough E)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wilkes, L.
    Edwards, John (Blackburn)Noel-Baker, Capt. E (Brentford)Wilkins, W A.
    Edwards, M (Caerphilly)Noel-Buxton, LadWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Evans, E (Lowestoft)Oldfield, W HWilley, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Ewart, R.Orbach, M.Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)
    Fanhing, W. JPalmer, A M fWilliams, W. R. (Heston)
    Follick, M.Parker, J.Williamson, T
    Fcot, M MParkin, B TWillis, E.
    Gaitskell, H T. NPaton, J. (Norwich)Wills, Mrs. E. A
    Ganley, Mrs. C. SPearson, A.Woodburn, A
    Gilzean, A.Peart, Thomas FWoods, G. S
    Glanville, J E. (Censett)Piralin, PWyatt, W
    Goodrich, H E.Popplewell, EYates, V. F
    Gordon-Walker, P. CPritt, D NYoung Sir R (Newton)
    Grierson, EPursey, Cmdr H.Younger, Hon Kennett
    Guest, Dr. L. HaderRandall. H EZilliacus, K
    Gunter, R. JRanger, J
    Guy W H.Rees-Williams, D. RTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Hale, LeslieReeves, JMr. Joseph Henderson and
    Hall, W G.Ridealgh, Mrs MMr. Hannan.
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R.Robens. A.

    New Clause—(Prohibition Of Tax-Free Payments To Members Of Boards)

    It shall not be lawful for an Electricity Board to pay to any member thereof remuneration free of income tax or of income tax other than surtax, or otherwise calcu-

    lated by reference to or varying with the amount of his income tax or his income tax other than surtax, or to or with the rate or standard rate of income tax.—[ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    We now return to the subject of emoluments after a short excursion, no doubt due to the hurry with which the Amendments had to be placed upon the Order Paper and the inefficiency of their marshalling. We come back to a subject upon which the Minister addressed us at some length at an earlier stage. This new Clause seeks to ensure the best commercial practice and is in conformity with Clause 32 of the Companies Bill. When we were arguing the previous new Clause, the Minister indicated that the provisions which we sought to insert were unnecessary. He said that no nationalised company would do anything of the kind which was being suggested; no director existed and even a member of the board could not be supposed to receive any loan or consideration from the board, as might have been done in the evil days of commercial companies. I do not suppose that he will claim that in this case. This is a practice which is not only well known in Government circles but which is growing in Government circles. We had for a moment or two the honour of the presence of the Prime Minister here. I am sorry that he is not present when we are discussing a practice under which, quite rightly, he has greatly benefited by the payment of a great proportion of his remuneration tax free.

    6.15 p.m.

    It is, of course, inevitable that such things must take place because nowadays, under the penal scale of taxation adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is impossible for a company or an enterprise to remunerate its high officers sufficiently. Therefore, by one means or another, attempts are made to get round the difficulty. In the case of Ministers, motor cars are provided, flats are given. The Minister of Fuel and Power looks a little annoyed because, of course, we know that he does not have a flat. But that does not apply to the Foreign Secretary or the holders of other tied houses of one kind or another under the Government. It is clear, therefore, that all should be on the same footing here. If it is prohibited in the case of companies, it must also be prohibited in the case of members of boards. I take it that the Minister will have no objection to accepting this proposal, nor will the learned Solicitor-General if he is going to reply, because it is one which, first, is in accordance with best commercial principles; second, the practice is a growing danger; and, third, it is being increasingly pressed upon the attention of commercial and Government circles owing to the trend of present taxation.

    It is a proposal which must be dealt with by statute and not by assurances such as the Minister was willing to give, I do not know whether he will try to give us assurances in this case but, if he does, clearly his assurances would carry less weight on this occasion because this is a practice with which he and his colleagues are familiar. Therefore, I hope very much that it will be possible for the Minister to shorten our discussion on this occasion by allowing that what is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander, and that such payments should be prohibited not merely in the case of companies but in the case of members of boards such as he is about to set up under this Bill.

    This new Clause simply seeks to prevent what is quite often sealed in various agreements for payment of remuneration, namely such agreements as provide for payment of such a sum as, after deduction of tax, shall represent a particular figure. That is not an uncommon form of agreement. One has seen it quite often. It has absolutely nothing to do with providing flats or motor cars. That is not paying remuneration. The new Clause is designed to exclude agreements with members of the boards in the form which I have indicated, and nothing else. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman sought to justify it by referring to the analogy of the Companies Bill. Really, that is no analogy at all. Here we are dealing with a limited number of persons, the members of the boards. When one is talking of the Companies Bill, one is talking of all directors, that is to say, the great number of directors who are appointed to the boards of companies. The object of the Clause in the Companies Bill is to protect shareholders who will not know what directors are being paid, because they will not know the gross sum of the directors' income and, therefore, will not be able to tell what is represented by a sum which is such and such a figure after payment of Income Tax.

    Those circumstances do not obtain in this case. We are talking about members of boards. They are a limited number appointed, subject to the exceptions laid down in the Clauses of the Bill, by the Minister himself. The Minister will state the salary that he proposes to pay them. He has no intention of paying them salaries in the form which I indicated a moment ago. He has no intention of paying them under the terms of an agreement whereby they are to receive so much as represents a particular sum after payment of tax. He has no intention of engaging them upon those terms. He will state the salaries which he proposes to offer. There is no general body of shareholders to protect; this is simply a case of a limited number of people. I am not talking about the directors of companies. I am talking about a limited number of persons appointed by the Minister, who is responsible for their salaries, and he will, as he said, declare what their salaries will be, and they will not be salaries free of payment of taxation. There is no need for the new Clause. One may have all sorts of provisions in a Bill which are not essential to it, even if they are germane indirectly to its general purpose, but it really is not necessary to have this provision, which would make it obligatory upon the Minister to do something which, in fact, he intended to do.

    The last three new Clauses have more or less tended, in various aspects, to raise doubt whether the Minister means anything at all by the words "the best commercial practice." It is now made quite apparent that that phrase as used by him is nonsense. The learned Solicitor-General drew a distinction between members of the boards and the directors of companies, saying that the members of the boards would be limited, whereas on the other hand, there are a great number of directors. Surely, that argument is completely fallacious? The argument should be whether these people are equivalent, in the sense that one is in private enterprise and one under public ownership, and both are doing the same thing. That this is true I do not think anybody in the House will deny, BO far as their efforts and status are concerned. The two cases are exactly analogous, and if a director is to be treated in one way, a member of a board should be treated in exactly the same way. Should there be any difference, the only effect would be that someone in a job under public ownership would be in a privileged position against those serving in private industry and, were that to be the case, I am sure that the colleagues of the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the Front Bench would be the first to disagree.

    The Minister said that there are no shareholders concerned, but surely if we are to produce a Bill for the public ownership of this industry, we are in duty bound to protect the whole of the public. It is true we have no limited responsibility regarding a number of shareholders who have taken some greater or lesser risk in putting their money into the venture concerned, but we have to take into account every single consumer of electricity in this country, and I submit, that, if we are responsible to them, we must have this necessary safeguard. The learned Solicitor-General did not refer to the Cohen Report but, if he looks at it, he will see how strongly the Cohen Committee deprecated this practice of paying salaries free of tax. I would call his attention to paragraph 88, which says:
    "The principal objection to this practice is that it creates a class of person who is immune from any increase in taxation."
    Is it the intention of this House to create such a class in industries under public ownership who are to be free from taxation as against the rest of the community? That is what rejection of the Clause will mean. Again
    "If the remuneration were free of Surtax…it would be difficult for the shareholder, even if he were able to obtain information as to the amount of the tax-free payment, to estimate the total amount of remuneration.…"
    In most cases, where this will arise, the recipient will be paying no taxation. How, therefore, is the consumer to know what the services of a member of the board are costing? Supposing the Minister says, "I will give So-and-so £5,000 a year free of tax"? How is the consumer to know what that really represents in actual earnings? If we agree to such a proposition, we should be betraying our trust. If this Clause is not accepted, it is a clear indication, first, that the Minister has no intention whatever of conforming to commercial practice when he puts this Bill into operation and, second, that it is his intention to create, within these publicly-owned corporations, groups of people who are immune from the incidence of taxation and who will benefit at the expense of the rest of the community. He is creating a new privileged class.

    It seemed to me that the learned Solicitor-General, in his reply, really did his case no service. I do not think members of the board should be paid on this tax-free basis, although I think that the Solicitor-General put the matter to the House in such a way that it might easily be adduced that that was so. Where the Solicitor-General was wrong, and where the Government are also wrong, is that they will create a condition in which the members of these boards will be different from the rest of the public. The mere fact that they are appointed by the Minister and are only a limited number, means that, in the eyes of the general public, they will be in a privileged position, because we shall be creating a situation where they will have the right to be treated differently from their opposite numbers who are serving on public companies. Surely that is the weakness of the case which the Solicitor-General put before us. I do not agree that they should be placed in a privileged position so far as remuneration is concerned. The doubt in my mind is lest they be given a number of benefits in regard to privileges by way of motor cars or residences, or whatever it may be. In dealing with that aspect of the matter, the Solicitor-General seemed to me to be wholly wrong in suggesting that members of the boards are in any way to be considered or treated differently from those who have been fully covered in the new Companies Bill and to whom the Cohen Report made special reference, or, indeed, in deprecating any suspicion in the minds of hon. Members that the general mass of the people would not be protected as much as shareholders of a company under the Companies Bill.

    The learned Solicitor-General let fall one remark which I think, perhaps, he ought to correct or clarify. He said that flats and motor cars are not remuneration. I am not an expert on Income Tax law, but, surely, that proposition, stated so generally, may mislead people? Is it not possible for employers to give motor cars and provide flats as part of remuneration? The main argument of the learned Solicitor-General was that this Clause was not necessary because he said that here there were no shareholders to protect. Surely, that is the reason why it ought to be done here more than in another case, because shareholders have some chance of protecting themselves, and can go to the general meetings and ask questions? They can even sell out. If the citizens of this country, however, wish to protect themselves against this, they cannot come here and ask questions—

    6.30 p.m.

    They are not even allowed to sell out, and they are not allowed to remove their capital, and, if the argument is that people should be protected against persons who are placed in the position of directors of electrical concerns in this country, that argument is surely very much stronger in the private consumer's interest. The two short points are surely these. First, everybody today employed directly or indirectly by the State, or under statutory powers from the State, ought to be paid an amount which shall be simply and easily comparable with other payments made outside that service. That is the first point which, surely, is clear. The second point is that this House should never give a Minister power to do something which the Minister says it would be undesirable to do, and which he has no intention of doing. Then why should he want the power. The hon. and learned Solicitor-General told us, and the Minister wagged his head and muttered in apparent agreement off and on, that there was no intention whatever to make any tax-free payment. All we are asking is that it should be made statutorily impossible to do so. What possible answer can there be to that?

    The hon. and learned Solicitor-General's argument against this new Clause, as I understand it, was that it would prohibit by law what the Minister, at any rate, never intends to do. That argument would be a valid and an impressive one if the present Minister of Fuel and Power were always going to be the Minister of Fuel and Power to the end of time. But the outlook is nothing like as black as that. Some day Mr. Horner will change his mind, and there will be another Minister of Fuel and Power. Therefore, I put this point to the Solicitor-General. As I understand it, we are all agreed, on both sides of the House, that it is a bad thing for this remuneration to be tax free. It is also agreed that the present Minister will not allow it. Why not put this provision into the Bill, and prevent future Ministers from doing what everybody agrees is a bad thing?

    I am a little disappointed with the Minister, who has so far shown a high degree of sweet reasonableness in these discussions. I should have thought that he would have embraced very readily the opportunity to show that, under the new Electricity Bill, there is not to be created any privileged classes such as existed in the bad old days, and that the practice of limited liability companies and other corporations, which gave unfair and unduly privileged positions to their directors, is one that is not to be continued. I should also have thought that, owing to the deliberate way in which these views have been put forward, the Minister would have welcomed the opportunity to say this, and to accept this new Clause and thereby create a greater measure of pub". confidence. If he were to do that, he would get that new psychological impression which he thinks is necessary in other quarters among the citizens, that this legislation is a better and fairer thing than the state of affairs that existed in days gone by. If he would do that—maybe he is one of the few Ministers who does not require to do it—he would add to that measure of public confidence.

    If we are to have a really self-confident administration of industry under nationalisation schemes, we must treat the public with as much confidence as limited liability companies in the past treated their shareholders. We must have willing co-operators as well as willing agents. The new Clause is not of major importance, but it would give what is considered so important in other spheres—psychological encouragement. It would make people feel that, in the arrangements that are being made for electricity, each and all are shareholders, and each and all have rights, as we had under the limited liability company, and that none will have, as they did in the bad old days, privileges such as this new Clause seeks to make impossible.

    The Solicitor-General said that the reason it is proposed in the Companies Bill specifically to debar this practice is to enable shareholders to learn what is the gross remuneration of the directors. I think that was the effect of what he said.

    It is precisely because the present administration are showing signs of wishing to prevent the public from realising what is the gross remuneration paid to various people that we think this new Clause is more than ever necessary. I do not want to go into personalities, but the attitude of the Solicitor-General and his words force me to do so. I shall quote only two recent instances of what we feel were attempts to conceal the gross remuneration being paid to individuals. Take, first, His Majesty's Ministers of Cabinet rank. When there was a discussion in the House on the proposal to increase the salaries of Members of Parliament, the Ministers said that they were not going to propose any increase in their own salaries, and they took a good deal of public credit for the fact. As a side issue, it was announced that they were to continue to have the benefit of public motor cars. No one on this side of the House questions the desirability of Ministers having that facility. What we criticise is the fact that they did not announce, as would have been necessary by analogy in the case of a member of a board, were this new Clause passed, that Ministers were proposing to put their salaries up to £8,000, instead of £5,000, in order to pay for such a motor car, because, as I understand it, the cost of running the motor car, taking Surtax and everything into account, is equivalent to something of the order of £3,000. That would have been the honest way of dealing with it. I doubt whether the ordinary man in the street realises that Ministers are being paid the equivalent of that extra salary.

    Let me quote next the case of the Prime Minister. Everyone readily realises that, as a result of the incidence of taxation and the general increase in the cost of living, the Prime Minister is subjected to an almost intolerable burden if he is to carry out his duties satisfactorily. Therefore, it has been announced recently that part of his salary is to be paid tax free. No one objects to the Prime Minister being paid enough money, one way or another, to fulfil his public duties, any more than one would object to members of the board being paid adequate sums in order to attract the people we want. All we say is that if we are to do that, the taxpayers—the equivalent to the shareholders—have a right to be told frankly and bluntly, without any camouflage, what it means. To the Prime Minister it means a salary of over £100,000 a year. Why not say frankly that we think the Prime Minister's salary ought to be raised to £100,000 a year, instead of saying that we are going to pay him the ordinary salary with £4,000 of it tax free? It is because we object to this system that we put forward this Clause.

    If the Government refuse to accept the Clause, what they will do is to establish a privileged class in the community. There is no question about the fact that the functions of a board of directors and the functions of the members of the new boards of the Central Authority are, broadly speaking, the same. In both cases, they are to be responsible for the successful, economic, efficient conduct of an enterprise, in the one case, a company, and, in the other, the whole of the electricity undertakings of the country. The director of a private company, when the Companies Bill becomes law, will be prohibited by Statute from getting tax free remuneration. If the Government refuse to accept this Clause, when this Bill becomes law members of the boards will be in a privileged position and will be able to accept it. It is useless for the Solicitor-General to shake his head or for the Minister to say, "We do not intend to pay men on that basis." The fact remains that they can so pay men. The effect of refusing this Clause is by comparison with the private director—after the Companies Bill becomes law—to set up a privileged body of men to whom the Minister if he so chooses—and that is the essence of privilege—can pay salaries in this form to which we take objection. I hope, therefore, that the Minister and the Government will think again, and will accept a statutory prohibition from doing something which they themselves say they do not want to do.

    I am bound to say that it is, to say the least, disgraceful that the right hon. Gentleman should make reference, obviously for the purpose of malicious propaganda, to a decision reached some time ago on the Prime Minister's salary. If hon. Members opposite are concerned about the position of Cabinet Ministers and the use of cars, they ought to have the courage to challenge the Government on that issue instead of bringing it in on a side issue, and if they do so, we on this side of the House will meet them. We are certainly not afraid of anything from hon. Members opposite. I am not in the least discouraged by some of the speeches to which we have listened. It is evidence of repentance that the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) and hon. Members opposite are seeking to protect the public from the predatory instincts of the privileged people of the country. That is something novel for them. The right hon. Gentleman said that we are seeking to create a privileged class. On the contrary, we are seeking to prevent privileged people from getting away with the swag, which is quite a different thing. I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman: what earthly reason would the Government or the British Electricity Authority or an area board have for paying substantial salaries—and substantial salaries must be paid to people with the right qualifications —without deduction of Income Tax? There is no reason.

    The right hon. Gentleman says, "Put it in the Bill. "On that assumption, we should put everything in the Bill, whether it is relevant or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that what hon. Members opposite are doing is to create a large number of bogys of which they pretend they are frightened. In fact, they are not frightened of them. They are anxious to inhibit the British Electricity Authority in every possible fashion now that the passing of this Bill appears to be inevitable. That is the situation. The right hon. Gentleman has suggested that if we fail to embody this provision in the Bill, the public will be sceptical of our good faith and intentions in respect of providing adequate safeguards for the Electricity Commission.

    6.45 p.m.

    That is what the right hon. Gentleman implied. His speech was full of implication and had very little substance. But the facts are simple. The Minister is responsible for the appointment of certain members of the boards, and when he makes those appointments he will announce the salaries to the House. When he does so, it will be open to hon. Members opposite to ask whether those salaries are free of Income Tax. Obviously, if the Minister said salaries are free of Income Tax, I imagine hon. Members opposite would have a great deal to say. But they will not require to have a great deal to say, because no responsible Minister will suggest that when salaries are fixed they should not be subject to Income Tax deductions. The hon. Member for King-ston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said that it was not possible to accept the assurances of the Minister of Fuel and Power, because there might be another Minister of Fuel and Power.

    Well, if he did not say it, he meant it. He has said it on many occasions in the past. No doubt, he believes it, but there are some hon. Members who believe anything. It may well be that another Member of the House will occupy the position which I fill at the present moment, but that has nothing to do with the principle. After all, the principle, and the application of the principle, rests with the House and with nobody else. Be it noted that when the annual accounts are presented there can be a detailed investigation by the House into those accounts, and if it should be discovered that the electricity board or the Minister, in respect of appointments, remuneration and emoluments, had "been guilty of acts which the House regarded as iniquitous, clearly a change would take place. Therefore, in the circumstances, there is no point in accepting this new Clause. Nor is there any reason to doubt the good intentions of the Government, although I am bound to confess that nothing that I or anybody else on this side of the House could say would prevent hon. Members opposite from being sceptical of the Government's intentions.

    I cannot see that the right hon. Gentleman has given an adequate answer to the argument that has been put forcibly from this side of the House. Why the Minister will not accept this new Clause is beyond my understanding. It would assist him in difficult days ahead if taxation were to go spiralling up again, and I can see no justification for his refusal to accept the Clause. I will not address the House on finance, because it is a subject of which I know very little. The fact is that the Minister is, like Brunhilde, protected by sacred fire at the moment. [Interruption.] It was not produced by the miners, but by the immortals. However, I warn the right hon. Gentleman that he should remember Brunhilde's ending. She ended in the flames of Valhalla, because Valhalla could handle the coal situation better than the present Government can. There is one point I would like to emphasise, namely, that the present occupants of the Front Bench are honest men. On the law of averages they must be honest men—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"]—because they have nothing else to commend them. At present there is developing in this country a rising degree of patronage which makes Irish politicians in New York and Tammany weep with envy. Here is a Clause which will enable the honest men, under pressure, to remain honest, and it may also be a curb against a growing corruption which has happened in every other country where patronage has reached the point that it has reached here. Therefore, I claim that if we on these benches prepare a book called "Your M.P." on the basis that the Socialists did, and if in it we state that the right hon. Gentleman refused to accept this Clause, which would have assisted him in every way, it will be a bad day for the Socialists.

    I rise only to put a point which I think the Solicitor-General would advise the Minister is a point of some substance, and is a point which has not been met. I wished to hear what was the answer of the Government to the proposal in the new Clause; and I took it, before the hon. and learned Solicitor-General spoke, that they would say, if they resisted the new Clause, that the practice we sought to make impossible was a practice which they considered might be necessary. When they said that it was a practice which they regarded as wholly undesirable, the question immediately arose, Why would they not put the new Clause in the Bill. To that we got no answer from the Solicitor-General. I think we did get an answer—but, I suggest, a mistaken answer—from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and. Power. The Minister of Fuel and Power said, "Why should we put into the Bill a prohibition of an undesirable practice, which, I assure the House, will not be indulged in?"

    I will tell the House a very good reason, and it is this: the implication of the statute, if the right hon. Gentleman does not put this new Clause in—and I suggest that he will get confirmation of this view from his legal advisers, if he asks them—will be, that there is nothing wrong about the practice; because lawyers will at once draw a contrast between this Measure and the Companies Bill, when it becomes an Act, which says that this practice is an undesirable and illegal practice for directors of ordinary companies. But if no such provision is inserted in this contemporary statute, the implication of the inclusion of such a Clause in one statute and its omission from another will be that a deliberate difference is intended, and that what is sought to be made illegal in the one case is deliberately left legal and,

    Division No. 271]


    [6.54 p.m.

    Amory, D. HeathcoatHannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Peake, Rt. Hon. O
    Astor, Hon. M,Hare, Hon J. H. (Woodbridge)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Baldwin, A. E.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPickthorn, K.
    Baxter, A. B.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPonsonby, Col. C. E
    Beechman, N AHolmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
    Birch, NigelHope, Lord JRaikes, H V.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (WellsHoward, Hon. ARayner, Brig. R.
    Bower, NHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hutchison, LI.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Robinson, Wing-Comdr Rolano
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WRopner, Col. L.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G TLambert, Hon. GRoss Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
    Byers, FrankLancaster, Cot. C. GSanderson, Sir F
    Challen, C.Lipson, D L.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
    Channon, HLow, Brig. A R. WSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
    Clarke, Col. R. SLucas, Major Sir JSmith, E P. (Ashford)
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLucas-Tooth, Sir HSpearman, A. C M.
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OStanley, Rt. Hon. O
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)McCallum, Maj. D.Stoddart-Scott, COL M
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O EMacdonald Sir P (I of Wight)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Crowder, Capt. John EMcKie, J H (Galloway)Studholme, H. G
    Darling, Sir W YMacLeod, J.Sutcliffe, H
    Digby, S. WMacmillan, Rt Hon. Harold (Bromley)Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
    Dodds-Parker, A. DMacpherson, N. (Dumfries)Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)
    Duthie, W SMaitland, Comdr. J. W.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. WaltManningham-Buller, R. ETouche, G. C.
    Fletcher, W (Bury)Marples, A EWadsworth, G
    Foster, J. G (Northwich)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Walker-Smith, D.
    Fraser, H C. P (Stone)Marshall, S. H (Sutton)Ward, Hon. G R.
    Galbraith, Cmdr T DMellor, Sir J.Wheatley, Colonel M J
    George, Lady M Lloy (Anglesey)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Willoughby de Eresby, Loro
    Grant, LadyMorris-Jones, Sir H.
    Gridley, Sir A.Neven-Spence, Sir BTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Grimston, R. VNicholson, GMr. Drewe and Major Ramsay.

    therefore, shown to be not undesirable in the other. I beg the right hon. Gentleman, before he rejects that argument, at least to take legal advice from the learned Solicitor-General, who is sitting next to him, and to ascertain whether he does not agree that the implication I have suggested will in fact result.

    I have only one other point to make, for I do not wish to repeat what other hon. Members have said. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power in his speech said that there would be some sort of remedy by Parliamentary inquiry after the mischief had been done —of course, he said it would not be done —and, therefore, why put the prohibition in the legislation? What, however, is the point of legislation? The object of efficient legislation is to prevent things from being done that would otherwise have to be remedied after they had been done. Really, in the interest of efficient legislation I suggest that the Government are bound to accept this new Clause on the argument that I have put before them, unless their own legal advisers say that my point is a bad one.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes, 99; Noes. 231


    Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)Hardy, E. A.Pursey, Cmdr H
    Allighan, GarryHarrison, JRandall, H E
    Alpass, J. H.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleRanger, J.
    Attewell, H. C.Hobson, C. RRees-Williams. D R
    Austin, H. LewisHolman, P.Reeves, J.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Holmes, H E (Hemsworth)Rhodes, H.
    Barnes, Rt. Hon A JHouse, GRidealgh, Mrs. M.
    Barstow, P G.Hoy, J.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Barton, C.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Rogers, G H. R.
    Bechervaise, A. EHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Benson, GHughes, H. D (Wolverhampton, W.)Royle, C
    Berry, H.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Sargood, R
    Beswick, F.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Scollan, T
    Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Irving, W J.Shackleton, E. A A
    Blackburn, A. RJanner, B.Sharp, Granville
    Blenkinsop, A.Jay, D. P TShinwell Rt Hon F.
    Blyton, W. R.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C (Shipley)Shurmer, P
    Bottomley, A. G.Jones, D T (Hartlepools)Silverman, J (Erdington)
    Bourdon, Flg.-Ofrr. H WJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Simmons, C J.
    Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Keenan, W.Skeffington, A. M.
    Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pt. Exch'ge)Kenyon, CSkeffington-Lodge, T C
    Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Kinley, J.Skinnard, F. W.
    Bramall, E. A.Lang, G.Smith, C. (Colchester)
    Brooks, T J (Rothwell)Lavers, S.Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Brown, George (Belper)Leonard, WSmith, S. H. (Hull S.W.)
    Brown, T J (Ince)Leslie, J. R.Snow, Capt J. W
    Bruce, Maj. D. W TLever, N. H.Sorensen, R. W
    Burden, T W.Lewis, A. W J. (Upton)Soskice. Maj Sir F
    Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Lindgren, G. S.Sparks, J A.
    Castle, Mrs B. A.Lipton, Lt.-Col. MStamford, W.
    Chamberlain, R. ALongden, FStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Champion, A. JMcAdam, W.Stress, Dr. B.
    Chater, D.McEntee, V. La T.Stubbs, A E.
    Chetwynd, G. RMcGhee, H G.,Summerskill, Dr Edith
    Cobb, F. A.Mack, J. D.Swingler, S.
    Cocks, F S.McKay, J (Wallsend)Sylvester, G O.
    Collindridge, F.McLeavy, FSymonds, A L.
    Colman, Miss G. MMacpherson, T. (Romford)Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
    Taylor R. J. (Morpeth)
    Comyns, Dr. LMainwaring, W HTaylor, Dr S. (Barnel)
    Daggar, GMallalieu, J P. WThomas, D. E (Aberdare)
    Daines, P.Marquand, H A.Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
    Davies, Edward (Barslem)Marshall, F. (Brightside)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Davies Ernest (Enfield)Martin, J. H.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Mathers, G.Thurtle, Ernest
    Davies, R. J (Westhoughton)Mayhew, C. P.Titterington M. F
    Deer, G.Medhand, H. MTolley, L.
    Diamond, JMellish, R. J.Turner-Samuels, M
    Dodds, N. NMesser, F.Vernon, Maj. W. F
    Donovan, TMiddleton, Mrs. LViant, S. P.
    Driberg T. E. NMikardo, IanWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)Millington, Wing-Comdr E. RWallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E.)
    Dumpleton C. WMitchison, G. RWarbey, W. N.
    Dye, SMoody. A SWatkins, T. E
    Edelman, M.Morgan, Dr H. B.Weitzman, D.
    Edwards, A (Middlesbrough, E.)Morris, P (Swansea, W.)Wells P L. (Faversham)
    Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Morrison, Rt. Hon H (Lewisham, E)Wells, W T (Walsall)
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Moyle, A.Westwood, Rt. Hon J
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Neal, H. (Claycross)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Ewart, R.Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)Wigg, Col. G E.
    Farthing, W Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wilkes, L.
    Follick, M.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brentford)Wilkins, W A.
    Foot, M MNoel-Baker, Rt. Hon P. J (Derby)Willey. F. T (Sunderland)
    Gaitskell, H. T. NNoel-Buxton, LadyWilley, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Ganley, Mrs. C. SOldfield, W HWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Gibson, C. WOliver, G. H.Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)
    Gilzean, A.Orbach, M.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Paget, R. TWillis, E.
    Goodrich, H. E.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Wills, Mrs. E. A
    Gordon-Walker, P. C.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wilmot, Rt. Hon.
    Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Palmer, A M F.Woodburn, A
    Grenfell, D R.Parker, JWoods, G S
    Grierson EParkin, B. T.Yates, V. F
    Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)Paton, J (Norwich)Young, Sir R (Newton)
    Guest, Dr L. HadenPearson, A.Younger, Hon Kennet
    Gunter, R. JPeart, Thomas F.Zilliacus. K
    Guy, W HPlatts-Mitls, J F. F
    Hall, W GPopplewell, ETELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Porter, G. (Leeds)Mr. Joseph Henderson and
    Mr. Hannan.

    New Clause (Prevention Of Victimisation)

    (1) There shall be no victimisation of any person who has before the passing of this Act assisted to oppose the passing thereof or expressed opposition thereto or criticism of the intention, provisions or effect thereof.

    (2) It shall not be lawful for the Minister or the Electricity Commissioners or any Electricity Board or any member or officer of any such Board or any other person, at any time or in any way to discriminate against, or to do anything to the prejudice of any person by reason of any such act as is mentioned in the preceding subsection.— [Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    7.0 p.m.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House will be aware that this Bill has been the subject of considerable discussion and controversy outside; and that in that controversy a number of people who have been, and will be after the passage of the Bill, connected with the industry, have taken part. I am perfectly certain that no hon. Member would dispute the right of any citizen of this country to express his opinion upon a matter of such public interest and public importance. Nor, I think, can it be disputed that the contributions to these discussions of those who have an intimate knowledge of this industry can be anything but helpful in clarifying the matters under discussion. The object of this new Clause is to provide protection for people who, in the course of that controversy, have expressed opinions sometimes adverse to particular parts or, indeed, to the whole of this Bill.

    I ask the House to note that the new Clause provides that protection only for persons expressing those opinions prior to the passing of this Bill. It is not intended to, and will not, in fact, provide protection for anybody who seeks to dispute this Measure once it has become an Act and this House and another place have expressed their will, however misguided, upon it. It merely provides protection for people who seek to express their opinions during the period before this House and another place make up their respective minds. It is the fact—and I do not think any hon. Member can dispute it—that among such people there is some apprehension about what their personal positions may be after this Bill be- comes an Act, if it ever does become an Act. This new Clause is designed to reassure them.

    I do not want to enter into any personal controversy with the Minister, but I am bound to say that certain of his speeches outside have not led—if I may put it this way—to any diminution of that apprehension. I am not certain whether this was the "two hoots" or the "tinker's cuss," but the right hon. Gentleman did signify a certain degree of dislike towards persons in the electricity industry who had opposed his proposals. If this Bill becomes an Act and the electricity industry becomes a great national monopoly, whose senior officials are appointed by the right hon. Gentleman, with all other officials appointed by the right hon. Gentleman's own appointees, it is quite obvious that the position of people who, for whatever reason, have incurred the right hon. Gentleman's disfavour will inevitably be precarious, and they will feel—it may be rightly or it may be wrongly—that they will be prejudiced by the action that they took in the controversy on this Bill.

    I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will give any indication of his attitude in the matter, but I would remind him that apprehensions of this sort have often been expressed—and have been met in precisely the same way in which this new Clause seeks to meet them—in other controversies in the past. Hon. Members opposite with trade union experience—and I see a number present-know that it is almost a commonplace in the agreement at the end of an industrial dispute to provide that there should be no victimisation of those who have taken part in it. By this new Clause it is sought to provide for people who have taken part in this dispute similar protection to that which those who have guided trade unions in recent years have thought it necessary to provide for their members when they have taken part in a dispute. I understand that the phraseology used in this new Clause is—allowing for the greater precision required in legislation—substantially that which is embodied in a number of industrial settlements. Therefore, I ask hon. Members opposite to concede that what is asked for in this Clause is nothing new and unprecedented. All that is asked for is for protection, which has often been asked for and often been granted m the past in the settlement of disputes.

    Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that this principle has ever been embodied in legislation? He says it has been embodied in agreements, but has it any precedent in legislation ?

    I had hoped that the hon. and learned Member had given to my arguments some closer attention than that intervention would appear to suggest. I thought I made it clear—and I believe I fell into the sin of repetition —that the provision contained in this new Clause had often been contained in agreements concluded at the end of industrial disputes; and I went on to say—the hon. and learned Member may have heard me —that the only difference, as I understood it, between the terms of those agreements and the terms of this new Clause was the variation required by the more specific requirements of legislative phraseology.

    Does the hon. Member not agree that this new Clause would be an entirely novel one in legislation?

    I fully appreciate, that to an hon. Member on the Socialist Benches, the fact that a Clause embodies an innovation is a conclusive argument against it. I hope that other hon. Members will not adopt the reactionery attitude that they are not prepared to do a thing because it has never been done before. It is certainly a novel attitude on the part of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes), who, I understand, was elected to produce the Socialist commonwealth of Great Britain. I hope that the Minister will not seek to evade the issue simply by saying, with his usual geniality, that he does not intend to indulge in victimisation. I hope that he does not wish to indulge in victimisation, but perhaps I may not be considered discourteous if I say that a provision of this sort in a Bill of this sort is worth twenty Ministerial assurances. If the right hon. Gentleman puts himself into the shoes of someone who has to get his living for the rest of his life in this industry, whose only asset is his technical skill and knowledge of the industry, he would surely prefer to be supported, in the protection of his livelihood, by a provision in an Act of Parliament than by the assurance of any Minister.

    There is one very valid distinction between the two safeguards. No one can go to a court of law and seek protection because a Ministerial assurance has been violated, but it is still possible for a citizen to go to a court of law and seek protection when the plain terms of an Act of Parliament have not been complied with. What is sought to be provided, for a considerable number of people involved, is that they should be given statutory protection to prevent them suffering from victimisation because of some action they have taken. If the right hon. Gentleman, in the face of this demand, is not prepared to accept this Clause, or is not prepared to agree to the insertion of some similar provision in the Bill, he will leave in the minds of people outside the suspicion that some degree of victimisation is intended. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Hon. Members opposite are good enough to say "rubbish." If they really believed in their own felicitous phrase that it is rubbish to suggest that there would be victimisation, then will they not show their sincerity in that belief by supporting a Clause which will make such victimisation legally impossible? That would be worth twenty interventions of "rubbish."

    I repeat, that unless the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept some statutory provision for protection, rightly or wrongly, he will leave, in the minds of those intimately concerned in this great industry, the feeling that the possibility of victimisation exists. If he wants this "great experiment," as he calls it, to succeed, he will require for its success the willing co-operation of everyone in the industry, and he will require it to be given without fear or favour, and without toadying or apprehension. He will have a much better chance of getting that, if he is prepared to provide that those who continue to serve him shall do so in the secure knowledge that they are not to be victimised because they have had the courage in the past to express their opinion.

    7.15 p.m.

    I beg to second the Motion. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has moved this new Clause with moderation and lucidity, and there is not much more for me to say because he has covered the ground so fully. This appears to me to be a Clause which ought to appeal to hon. Members opposite. I see many Members opposite who have played a full and vigorous part in the trade union movement, and I see many hon. Members who have protested against any form of victimisation over a considerable number of years.

    That shows a degree of inefficiency, particularly for these days, and I should be ashamed of it. Be that as it may, they have protested against any form of victimisation. They have demanded two things; first, that the man who has taken part in a strike should not be penalised for having done so, and, second, that no one ought to be victimised because he happened to express views repugnant to his employer We are endeavouring, by this Clause, to do exactly the same for certain elements of the population as has been demanded for the workers in the past. The case of these people is rather stronger, because if they were victimised by their new bosses, there would be no opportunity for them to find work of the same character elsewhere, as their boss is the only boss of their particular job.

    The right hon. Gentleman, in his various public utterances, always shows a healthy dislike for those whose views do-not entirely coincide with his. It may be that his bark is worse than his bite, but only the Parliamentary Secretary knows that. I confess that if I were in the unfortunate position of being a critic of a Minister, and if my future depended on the Minister, I should be a little nervous about my next job. It may be that the Minister will say, "He is an awfully nice fellow and is awfully efficient, therefore we must appoint him," but I would rather have something more than a Minister's assurance behind me. In these circumstances, could this Clause do the slightest harm? If there is no chance of victimisation, it will do no harm for hon. Members who have boasted of the action they have taken against victimisation in the past, to say that when they become the bosses, victimisation will not take place.

    I am not suggesting that it is the desire of the Minister to be unfair to those who are to be called on to work in this undertaking but I am convinced that if this Clause were put into the Bill it would give confidence to those honest men who have done what they have done, believing that there might be risks in daring to say what they believed even though it appeared to be at the risk of their own position and future.

    There is not the least evidence from any quarter in the electricity industry, municipal or private, or from any of the organisations associated with the industry whether on the manual or technical side, to indicate any apprehension whatever about victimisation. For some time we have been in the closest consultation with the organisation of employees in the industry, and the point raised by this Clause has never been mentioned on any occasion. Suppose we accepted this Clause, what would it mean? What is meant by victimisation? Is it that, irrespective of qualifications for a particular post, the person must be employed? Is that what it means?

    No I am putting the point to the House. I am trying to clarify what Members opposite mean when they speak of victimisation. Does it mean that the political opinions of a person in the industry will predominate over the qualifications possessed by that person, and that because of those opinions his services will not be required? If Members opposite have in mind the latter suggestion, that we should take account of political opinions, or the fact that the person concerned has opposed the provisions of this Bill, I can assure them that nothing of the sort could possibly occur. It could not occur because the employees in the industry would not allow it. But who have hon. Members in mind? Have they in mind the chairman of the board of an existing supply company who has attacked this Bill, who has declared that its provisions are dangerous and fatal to the future of electricity supply in the country? If they have in mind such a person, I say quite frankly that, whatever hon. Members may think about it, if I have to appoint electricity boards it would be quite improper to appoint to such boards a person who was definitely opposed to the nationalisation of the industry.

    We shall not inquire, nor shall we allow any boards to inquire, into the political opinions of any person employed in the industry. I want to make that perfectly clear. I can well understand hon. Members opposite being a little concerned about this question of victimisation if I interpret it as they do, because private ownership indulged in victimisation over the years. Hon. Members opposite rarely protested against it then. [HON MEMBERS: "Never."] I did not say, "Never," as I want to be generous to Members opposite, despite what they have said about me. I am not giving them an assurance at all. I leave the matter entirely in the hands of the respective organisations in the industry, and they will be foolish indeed if they allow an electricity board to victimise any of their members because they have opposed the nationalisation of electricity.

    On the other hand, it may well be that a person who has opposed the nationalisation of electricity has not the necessary qualifications for a particular post. If he is transferred to another post, if his position is worsened as a result of that transfer, he is protected by the provisions of the Bill. If the board cannot find room for his services at all, then his dismissal will be attributable, so I expect, not to the fact that he has opposed nationalisation, but to the fact he does not possess the necessary qualifications. I intend to work on this principle, as I did with the National Coal Board. I shall appoint the person with the highest qualifications, irrespective of his political views. I do not ask for political views. Sometimes I know the person's political views, and it may be that they are opposed to mine, but if he possesses the necessary technical and administrative qualifications, I am unconcerned about his political opinions. If Members opposite, when they were in power, had adopted the same principle there would have been more equity in the country.

    The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has indulged, in his usual courteous fashion, in a tirade about my public speeches. He seemed to detect from what I have said that I would victimise, maliciously and deliberately, certain persons in the electricity supply industry because they were opposed to nationalisation. A score of times in the past few weeks I have tried to make clear beyond doubt what was in my mind. I say this now because it has a reference to the matter under review.

    I respect everybody who performs a social service of any kind, whether it is in a manual, technical, administrative, domestic, or educational capacity. I have no regard for those persons who perform no social service at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] There are such people in this country, and we have no use for them because they have no services to offer. They have been described as parasites, drones, idlers and rentiers. I do not care very much about these people, and I do not intend to appoint them to any of the boards for which I am responsible. That is quite clear. That is all that I mean.

    7.30 p.m.

    I certainly will not insert these provisions in the Bill. Hon. Members opposite can divide the House if they care to do so. I am concerned about the attitude of the public to this Bill and its provisions, and I assure the public that we intend to provide electricity at the lowest cost, efficiently and effectively. We want to satisfy their needs; but I do not believe that the public are very much concerned about a provision of this kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not believe that hon. Members opposite are concerned about it. They may be concerned about a few company directors. I would say this about company directors: if there are company directors, that is to say, directors or chairmen of boards of existing private electricity supply companies, who possess the necessary technical and administrative qualifications, they will have an opportunity of serving in the industry under nationalisation irrespective of their political views, and irrespective of any opposition they have displayed towards nationalisation. That does not mean that I shall appoint them to boards of management. That is quite a different proposition. We must be certain, even if there is a difference of political opinion among the members of the electricity boards, that at any rate they are concerned about promoting nationalisation with due regard to the public interest. How is it possible to appoint a person, who has declared over and over again that he is against nationalisation and that it is going to prove a failure, to a board of management?

    A technician will be employed by the boards as a technician, but to allow a person who is against the proposition, to run the industry—well, we are heading for trouble if we do. I do not intend to head for trouble. I want to see the nationalisation of electricity a success. Therefore, I am not prepared to accept this new Clause, and I ask the House to reject it.

    I think it is perfectly clear from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that hon. Members must be convinced that this Clause is essential. The right hon. Gentleman, in effect, has announced his intention to practise victimisation. He called it by another name. He said quite clearly—it will be within the recollection of the House—that if he did not want to appoint a man to a particular job, the excuse for not appointing him would be on the grounds that he did not possess the necessary qualifications. That is merely victimisation under another name. When the right hon. Gentleman said, talking of the higher ranks of people in this industry, that, of course, he would be guided exclusively in his appointments by questions of efficiency, no one would gainsay that. We may have certain views and certain doubts as to whether some of his recent appointments, and some of the appointments foreshadowed when this Bill becomes an Act, really carry that out. We shall have a chance to see that.

    What has come to our notice, and one of the reasons why we put down this Clause, is that it has been intimated fairly clearly to a number of people that if they in future were to cooperate, instead of expressing opposition, their future under the boards would be more rosy than it is likely to be.

    It is quite clear that the intention of the people to whom this veiled threat—if you like to call it that—or perhaps deferred promise of employment, has been made may be regarded as people likely to be in the running for jobs. The fact that this attitude is current has proved in our view the need for a Clause of this nature. The right hon. Gentleman took exception to an hon Member behind me talking about his public speeches, and he went out of his way, in rebuttal, to say that he intended, so far as technicians were concerned, to have no regard whatsoever to their politics and not even to ask them what are their politics. We can only hope that he will carry that out. We were delighted to hear him say so, but he will agree that it hardly tallies with the speeches which he has made on public platforms, for example, at Durham, when he talked about the impertinence of a colliery official standing in the Tory interests. The general impression which he gave was that he regarded it as a piece of impertinence for anyone to hold views other than he expresses. If the right hon. Gentleman does not intend that there shall be any victimisation in the ordinary sense of the word, I cannot see why he cannot accept this Clause. There is nothing in his argument that the Clause would prevent anyone from being appointed to a job purely on his merits, or anyone failing to get a job on his demerits. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, even at this late stage, will think again and agree to accept the Clause, otherwise we shall be bound to press it to a Division.

    I do not wish to detain the House, but I would like to reply to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Raikes). When was it common not to have victimisation? Their memories must be very short, because there was colossal victimisation in the mining community after the 1926 strike.

    I am glad that, unlike the Minister, the hon. Gentleman has given way. The point I made was not that there was not victimisation, but it was the usual practice, particularly in the case of trade unions who knew their job, to insert a no victimisation Clause in the final settlement.

    Those who know anything about trade union life will know whether a victimisation Clause is put in. No employer would ever admit that there was victimisation in any way. I say quite frankly to the hon. Member that there were thousands of trade unionists and Socialists who were refused employment after the 1926 strike, and their only crime was that they had supported the strike, against the Tory party and the coal owners, to prevent a reduction in their standard of life. Therefore, when I saw this Amendment I thought that there had been a remarkable change of outlook on the Tory benches. Not only that, but when through the miners' Members of Parliament we raised protest after protest in the House against our men being pushed out of the collieries, and losing all their social life, no support was given to us by hon. Members opposite. The irony of it is that today we are pleading with these men to go back into the pits to help us to get coal in our present economic position.

    There is no evidence that there will any victimisation under the National Electricity Board. In fact, the only example we have is that of the National Coal Board, and I know of no victimisation there. Every Tory agent I ever met has got a first-class job; if I had been Minister some of them would never have got the jobs, because they were some of the most cruel and hard-faced men that I ever met across a table to deal with wages and conditions, and I say even now that their presence is not helpful to the maintenance of order in the industry. I rose only to challenge the Opposition on their newfound outlook on victimisation, because surely the only purpose of the Clause is to protect the interests of those Tory-minded people who are employed in the electrical undertakings. I see no reason why they should not have a job. I have met Tory technicians in municipal undertakings switchboard attendants, consumers' engineers and so on, but not one has expressed a fear of being victimised because they may have expressed the view that electricity would be better under private enterprise. If this new Clause were carried, the Minister would be placed in an impossible position, because every man who did not get the job he thought he ought to have would complain that he was being victimised under this Clause because he had expressed an opinion against the Bill at some given time. The Clause says that there shall be no discrimination. I have seen no evidence anywhere that there will be any. There has been none under the National Coal Board, and I see no reason why there should be any apprehension among those now employed in the industry that in the future, under nationalisation, they will be worse off than they have been in the past.

    The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House used much more restrained language than the right hon. Gentleman the Minister, but I cannot agree with him that to go back into past history and endeavour there to find reasons for resisting this Clause is a very satisfactory process. What, in effect, was the hon. Gentleman's argument? That the bosses—he did not use that word, but he obviously wanted to—in the past had resisted any effort to incorporate in industrial settlements what we are seeking to introduce into this Bill by this new Clause. Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that under this Bill, which he is so eagerly supporting, he and all those who sit on the Government Benches behind the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power are seeking for the first time to set up a great new boss, about whose qualities we do not know very much and about whose possible qualities we on this side of the House have, and I think rightly have, many, apprehensions?

    Now I come to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he did nothing whatever, so far as I am concerned, to dispel my apprehensions. What was the gist of the right hon. Gentleman's submission? He assured us, on the one hand, that there was to be no victimisation—I hope I am quoting the gist of his words, for I do not desire to do the right hon. Gentleman any injustice. He said that no apprehensions had been expressed up to the present by employees or any other people connected with electrical undertakings as to their future position. It is quite possible that they may not have thought of it. The right hon. Gentleman himself has sat long enough on the Opposition benches to agree that it is the duty of an Opposition to be vigilant in protecting people who may not, perhaps, up to the present have realised just what their future position and status may be if this new Clause is not accepted. I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman's arguments have left me, and I think everybody on this side of the House, completely in the dark, or at best guessing, as to where he stands. The right hon. Gentleman indeed spoke with two voices. On the one hand, he said nobody would be debarred simply because of his political opinion if his opinion as a technician was worth having, and, on the other hand, he said that he would not employ anybody, particularly a company director, who had expressed himself as being root and branch opposed to this Bill.

    7.45 p.m.

    I certainly did not say I would refuse to employ anybody because he had expressed himself in a hostile manner towards nationalisation. What I said was that I would not appoint somebody to a board, to one of the electricity boards in a representative capacity, if he had expressed himself as being against the provisions of the Bill and had declared that nationalisation was bound to prove a failure. That, I said, would lead me along the wrong road, and I was not going to take a chance.

    I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has elucidated the point; perhaps I was not expressing his opinion quite accurately. That is entirely an understandable point of view. I can quite understand the aversion of the right hon. Gentleman, and possibly of any successor of his, to having such persons on the boards, but I did not rise to express apprehensions just about that rather limited class of individuals. I am thinking of the humbler and much more numerous class of people, including the experts in the electrical engineering industry, who may, not perhaps quite so loudly, have expressed views hostile to this Bill, particularly to the inclusion of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there is a good deal of opposition to this Bill extending to the very large part of Scotland which Clause 1 envisages. I am not anticipating the next Amendment in saying that, if we are not successful in incorporating that Amendment in Clause 1 to delete a large part of Scotland from this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman will have in his clutches, if he so desires, quite a large number of people who may have expressed hostile views.

    The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; he is entitled to his view and I am entitled to mine. He will have in his clutches quite a large number of people who may have expressed themselves as hostile to the Bill. I think I am entitled to say this, because I have in my constituency a very large hydro-electrical undertaking which was one of the first to be set up in Scotland. It received legislative sanction in this House in the concluding stages of the 1924 Parliament, was finished in April or May, 1929, and has been productive of very great good ever since. Suppose I take as an illustration somebody connected with that undertaking whose advice as a technician was very well worth having but who had expressed himself as opposed to nationalisation as envisaged by this Bill and opposed to the inclusion of Scotland. I should imagine that he would at once fall a ready victim, if the right hon. Gentleman or his successor wished it, to the kind of thing we wish to safeguard against. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes) objected to this new Clause on the ground that it would be a novel departure in legislation.

    I did not object on the ground that it was a novelty. The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) was saying that a Clause such as this was in certain industrial settlements, and implied that it was therefore in various Statutes; I challenged him to cite any industrial settlement or Statute in which it had appeared, and he failed to do so.

    For the benefit of the hon. and learned Member let me come at once to the aid of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who said no such thing. When the hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that it would be a novelty, my hon. Friend at once agreed with him, but my hon. Friend cannot accept, as I cannot accept, the argument of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen that that is a valid reason for the Government now refusing to accept this Clause. We on this side are very apprehensive about this possible victimisation. I very much hope that we may have some further elucidation by the right hon. Gentleman, or perhaps by the Secretary of State for Scotland, since I have mentioned the possibilities in that country. On the other hand, if we do not have such further elucidation, I shall certainly have great pleasure in supporting my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) in the Lobby in an endeavour to have this Clause added to the Bill.

    I feel that I should make a few brief remarks before we dispose of this Clause because I have taken some part in these controversies on electricity nationalisation. I have been an advocate of nationalisation, and I should not like to think that anyone who held views opposed to mine in this matter would be made to suffer on that account. Nevertheless this proposed Clause is an extremely interesting one. I think that some people are probably becoming worried about the actions of certain directors of companies who not only turn their annual meetings into forums of the Tory Party, but have gone further and, in some cases, have exerted almost improper pressure upon the employees to get them to oppose nationalisation.

    Yes, the County of London Company, and if the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants another example, I believe it was the South Wales Power Company who tried to press their engineers and their outdoor canvassers and representatives to argue against nationalisation, irrespective of their own political opinions, when dealing with electricity consumers. I should like to say also that victimisation of another type has not been unknown in the past among professional and technical men in the electricity supply, and other industries for that matter. Some years ago it was extremely dangerous for men who held Socialist opinions, and who had responsible jobs in the electricity supply industry, to express those opinions, and I have known men who were members, for instance, of such a mild body as the Fabian Society to be anxious to conceal their membership of that society because of their fear of what might happen to them since they knew of the Conservative politics of their employers. That has been the case in the past and it is, therefore, most interesting to see this conversion of the Tory Party to the principles of liberty of opinion. I am glad to see it, and I hope we shall see more of it.

    Whilst I am in complete sympathy with the intentions of this Clause—and, taking the view that we should not do as the Tories have done in the past I am glad that we have had this discussion—I am nevertheless convinced that if an attempt were made to turn it into legislation an impossible situation would result. Mr. Smith, who is perhaps no good at his job, might be refused a certain post to which he thought he was entitled, and might then allege that it was because he had held Conservative opinions and had argued against nationalisation. As I say, that would be an impossible situation, and I hope that the House will reject the Clause.

    I am glad that the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) is glad that we have had this discussion. I am not so sure that the Minister will continue always to be glad that we have had it. His speech was internally inconsistent and, in considerable passages of it, very difficult to understand.

    I. challenge the hon. Gentleman behind him who rattles his head at me to—

    Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that for it to rattle it would need to have something inside it?

    I do not think even that is necessary. The thing I believe can be done aero-dynamically. I would challenge the hon. Gentleman to look at the speech tomorrow and then to construe some of the right hon. Gentleman's rhetorical questions and, assuming that HANSARD has them down verbatim and that there is no correction made, I would, if it were in order, make a considerable bet that he would find some quite impossible to construe. I do think, nevertheless, that the upshot of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was fairly clear; and I hope that it will be clear to the Lord President of the Council, because I think it might give him something to say to the right hon. Gentleman, and that would be agreeable for all parties. The upshot of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I think, very clearly was the same as of some of his earlier speeches, only in a language at once more chaste and appropriately more involved, more ambiguous —"All the people I need worry about can be protected by their trade unions, and for the rest, about them I need not worry."[Interruption.]That really was the upshot of the speech. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech consisting almost entirely of rhetorical questions and would not give way once. Now I think he had better keep quiet while the rest of us speak.

    Now for the hon. Member for Wimbledon: he claimed that he had always been in favour of socialisation. I congratulate him on the consistency of that, although we are told that consistency is the foible of little minds, but at the same time I must say that it is impossible to congratulate him on his clarity as a writer, and if he will look back at some of his earlier works he will not wonder that some of us have been in doubt on the point. And incidentally I would say this to him, with respect to his and his right hon. Friend's contention that the electricity trade unions can do enough in this matter of victimisation. I have seen letters from trade union branches expressing extreme disagreement with the hon. Member's commendation of this Bill, particularly from the point of the position of employees, and even—if I may say so without gross immodesty—expressing preference for my own remarks and even my own arguments on the same point. [Interruption.] I still cannot hear the right hon. Gentleman and I still do not want to.

    When it was suggested from this side of the House that people really cared about the question of justice involved here, there were confused shouts of "rubbish" and so on from the other side and the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) made a speech with which I have a good deal of sympathy. He spoke, as he always does, first of all as one who does know something about mines, and second, as he always does, as if he meant it; but I would ask him and other hon. Gentlemen opposite to begin—[Interruption.]You cannot put me off my speech by talking. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am extremely reluctant to hold up these proceedings, but if it is made difficult to put a fair and continuous argument shortly I shall do my best to put it at such length that there can be no doubt about it.

    8.0 p.m.

    I would ask the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring really to think it possible that it is not a party question whether people sincerely approve or disapprove fairness and justice, or victimisation. I am quite clear that he must feel—and in the main rightly feel—that he and his political friends have had more sympathy for the miners and sensitivity about their sufferings and injustices, than in the main I or my political friends have had. It may be that we had some want of imagination and some want of sympathy and that we have been guilty sometime of not being as conscious as we ought to have been of injustices inflicted upon the miners. But I would ask hon. Members opposite not to go on thinking that indifference to injustice is some peculiar weakness of the half, or nearly, of the population which even at the worst of times votes for this side of the House; and when we say we are trying to get fairness and remove victimisation let them try to think that we may be honestly meaning now what we are asking. It is not fair for hon. Members opposite merely to shout "rubbish" on this point.

    Let me put it another way. If there is a risk of victimisation in the matter I higher appointments there is also the risk that there may be excessive promotions; if persons are not to be promoted, as the Minister has informed us, because of the political opinions which they hold—

    Certainly. The right hon. Gentleman said that from boards of management people would be excluded who expressed the belief that Socialism would not succeed. He said it twice over.

    I appeal to HANSARD and the memory of the House. If that is so, and if some of the persons excluded are persons who would otherwise be competent for those jobs, that will ease the pressure for the jobs, and some other people, who have had the right prejudice, are more likely to get the jobs. I noticed a red flower come into the House during the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and as he continued to speak gradually it turned white in its wearer's button-hole. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is now prepared to assure us that there are going to be no appointments to the boards which in any way are due to a known favourable opinion about nationalisation. He ought to be able to give us that assurance. He ought to be able to make this quite plain. And hon. Gentlemen who are friends of his and who are themselves members of boards of directors, if they believe that individualism and capitalist arrangements are bound not to succeed, clearly ought to resign their directorships, and if they do not, I hope will be turned out by the shareholders. Would hon. Gentlemen opposite think it right that men should be dismissed from directorships or managerial positions because they had adopted the opinion that the capitalist system, or private enterprise, was not going to succeed? The Minister told us twice ?

    The right hon. Gentleman can get up in a minute or two at the end of my paragraph. Nobody is to be appointed to a board of management who in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman opposes Socialism and particularly so in the case of people whose opinion was that Socialism was not going to succeed. [Interruption.]I would not for the world appeal to the Chair for protection, but I should like to put on record in HANSARD the school boy trickery of the right hon. Gentleman, who refused to give way for anyone on this side of the House and now asks me whether I will give way for him, and then plays that kind of practical joke. Does he really think that this is consistent with his dignity or that it will really increase the admiration even of the sycophants behind him?

    Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought not to wonder at there being disquiet on this point. They have asked questions suggesting that nobody ought to be employed by a Socialist Government, for instance in the higher administrative service and in the foreign service, who does not hold Socialist opinions. Why then should we be regarded as talking wildly or creating unnecessary suspicion if we ask for some guarantee against victimisation in connec- tion with this industry? Nor should hon. Gentlemen opposite complain if directors or chairmen of companies have said things in public speeches, even at annual meetings, of which they politically disapprove. I myself am no very strong champion of avoidable politics on such an occasion. But it is not fair for them to complain. Trade unions were not always political institutions, but only gradually did they turn political. The Co-ops were not always politically intended. It is not for hon. Gentlemen opposite to complain excessively if people find it difficult to keep politics out of business nowadays, and it is not fair to reproach us on this side of the House with false suspicions or with having unnecessary fears if we ask for the guarantee suggested by this Clause.

    In view of the speech to which we have just listened and the difficulty which hon. Members opposite apparently have in understanding the speech of the Minister, I rise to make one point. The Minister made it perfectly clear in his speech that there was a distinction in the two types of people who would be engaged in the working of the electricity boards. On the one hand, there would be directors, and the Minister made it perfectly plain that if a person had expressed disagreement and disapproval of the Electricity Bill and the view that the procedure under it would be impossible and would result in failure, such a person would not be appointed a director. That seems to me a perfectly sound and sensible view. It would be ridiculous to appoint persons to manage a concern which they did not believe could possibly be a success.

    On the other hand, the Minister distinguished clearly between them and the technicians. He said that technicians would be judged on their merits as technicians, whatever view they might have expressed as to the merits or otherwise of this Bill and the procedure under it. That would have no weight with him in their appointment. They would be appointed purely as technicians and on no other basis. Those who have spoken in support of this new Clause have attempted to mix up and confuse those two things. They have attempted to argue that there would be victimisation of technicians, which is unwarranted, and, in my submission, is an improper anticipation of turpitude on the part of a public authority. It implies deliberate intention to victimise political opponents. This Clause is a confusing Clause. It does not define what is meant by victimisation. It is an unworkmanlike Clause, and on every ground I hope that it will be rejected.

    Anybody who listened to the arguments of the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) and the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) would have thought that they were speaking in favour of this Clause. The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring pointed out that there had been a lot of victimisation in the past, and he was using that apparently as an argument against the Clause.

    The hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) should understand I was answering the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) when I said that it was common ground that trade unions had suffered victimisation.

    Everything that the hon. Member said must obviously be an argument in favour of the Clause. He described the victimization which the miners may have suffered in certain cases in the past. I agree that it must have been very wrong, but that is the very reason it should be put a stop to now. Any impartial person listening to his argument and hearing that there had been that amount of victimisation would have said: "If that has been so in the past, we must of course, stop it in the future." Yet the result of his arguing is that he votes against the Clause. Then, the hon. Member for Wimbledon—I am sorry he has left the Chamber—said that certain members of the electrical industries were worried about the implications of their actions. Presumably that is because they are afraid of victimisation. There is the reason in favour of the Clause, as given from the mouth of the hon. Member for Wimbledon.

    There is evidence in the Bill of a vindictive attitude against directors. That was brought out in Committee. Where there is a vindictive attitude there is a danger of victimisation. The Clauses about the liabilities of directors shows there is a vindictive attitude. In his speech, the Minister said that if somebody had opposed nationalisation he would not be appointed to the board. I ask the Minister whether he has ever heard of the aftermath of the South African war. What would have happened to the birth and growth of that great Dominion if we, the winning side in the South African war had said that we would not appoint anybody to the new Government of South Africa who had been opposed to England or who had showed that they considered a victory for England would be the end of South Africa?

    I really must intervene at this stage. I really cannot allow it to pass that I said that if a company director of an existing privately-owned undertaking had opposed nationalisation he could not be appointed to a board. I went much further than that. I said, not that he had opposed nationalisation, but that he had declared that nationalisation would prove a disaster and was bound to fail. If a person believes that, obviously he is not fit to be entrusted with the task of administering nationalisation.

    I would like to point out to the Minister the wisdom of giving way. When he was making his speech he did not give way once to my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson). I gave way to the right hon. Gentleman.

    Surely the hon. Member was not here when his right hon. Friend the Member for South-port made a very serious allegation that there was evidence justifying a fair apprehension of victimisation? When he was challenged by the Minister, he refused to give way.

    That was after the Minister had refused to give way. It shows the danger of victimisation again. Let me take up the right hon. Gentleman on his own ground. I suggest that although a man suggested that he considered nationalisation to be a disaster, if he shows aptitude for running the business the Minister should take him in.

    I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way to me. If he were a director of a company which had in mind to appoint, or had already appointed another director, would the hon. Member agree to appoint a man who had told him beforehand that it was not possible to make such a business a success? I suggest that he certainly would not do so, but would appoint somebody whose activities would be in the interests of the concern.

    8.15 p.m.

    I do not think the situation is at all comparable. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] I dare say that the hon. Gentleman has a particular person in mind in referring to this hypothetical director, but I do not know. That person has expressed a political view and he has expressed a view that nationalisation is tending to disaster—[HON. MEMBERS: "Will lead to disaster."]—or will lead to disaster. If he is the best man, he is probably the best man to stop that disaster. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is absolutely logical because on his own showing nationalisation may have some difficulties and problems. If he is the best man, he is the man to deal with them. The hon. Gentleman ignores the whole trend of English history and the fact that give-and-take between persons of different political convictions does work for the best interests of the country. The assumption in the right hon. Gentleman's speech is that this hypothetical man would try to sabotage the electrical industry.

    One can take this give-and-take argument a shade too far. Surely, the hon. Gentleman would not appoint to the managing directorship of a whisky distillery a gentleman who was the most brilliant administrator in the world but who was also a passionate advocate of temperance?

    This giving way is also being taken too far.

    I must answer that last intervention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I would like to make an announcement that I am the director of a small whisky company and a teetotaler. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I did not appoint myself. Evidently my co-directors appointed me to the whisky company directorship when they knew that I was a teetotaler—

    I really cannot appreciate that what the hon. Gentleman is saying has anything to do with victimisation on the Electricity Bill.

    But, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the evidence in the Bill itself of the vindictiveness of which I spoke shows that there is a danger of victimisation, and surely it cannot be an argument for the right hon. Gentleman to say that all the trade organisations—the unions—protect these people ? Who is protecting the people who are not unionised and are not in trade organisations? The right hon. Gentleman did not meet the point that if there is any apprehension in any quarter of victimisation, there can be no harm in the Clause. Victimisation is a very evil thing. If a Clause is put in to stop an evil thing, what harm can there be? The fears that it cannot give people an opportunity of saying that they have been victimised because they have been sacked, or that it would mean that a man who was incompetent would have to be given a job, are quite illusory. Victimisation has a meaning which can be given to it in the courts and under the law.

    If a man is not given a job because he is incompetent, that is not victimisation. He is not touched by the Clause. It is quite feasible for an honest man to administer the Measure and to administer a Clause like this and not to victimise people, but, on the other hand, to reject those who are incompetent. I ask the House seriously to reconsider this Clause in the light of the principle, which I entirely accept from the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring, that victimisation should be stopped and that if it occurred in the past, it should have been prevented; but that cannot be an argument against a Clause which seeks to prevent it in the future.

    I do not want to delay the proceedings, but I have this small claim to take part in the Debate, that my views on it are founded entirely on what has passed in this Debate. I was not in the councils of my hon. and right hon. Friends who framed this Clause, I was not on the Standing Committee to which this Bill was committed, and I saw this Clause for the first time on the marshalled list of Amendments shortly before coming into the House. So my view on this matter is founded on what has taken place in the Debate, and I am free to confess that at first sight, seeing the title "Prevention of victimisation" I thought that my right hon. and hon. Friends would have some difficulty perhaps in making out their case. In so thinking, however, I reckoned with out their powerful auxiliary in the shape of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power. The right hon. Gentleman has an uncanny flair in his speeches—and I think he will agree with this now—for provoking the most lively apprehensions, most of which turn out to be fully justified before very long. I am bound to say that on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman has run entirely true to form. He has provoked in my neutral breast—[Laughter.]I was explaining to the House that I came here without any predetermined view, with the certain feeling that my hon. Friends would have a difficult case to make out.

    Therefore, I say that the right hon. Gentleman has provoked just those apprehensions in my neutral breast. He has founded his case on two main propositions: first, he says that so far as the manual element is concerned, no legislative restriction is necessary to prevent victimisation because it would be folly on the part of the organisations themselves to allow it. I hope that case is well founded and indeed it may be, but the only comment I would make on that part of his case is to say that it may be that these organisations might be a little less sensitive in respect of people who have opposed nationalisation in general and this Bill in particular than on some other scores. I think it may not be so, but it may be so, and as long as there is any possibility of that, then it might be better that we should have a statutory provision to prevent even the possibility of such victimisation.

    The second proposition was in regard to managerial boards, and here the right hon. Gentleman was perhaps a little ambiguous but he had the advantage, in the absence of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) of the interpretative skill of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes), and now we are reason ably certain that what the Minister said is that he will not put on to any board, irrespective of their qualifications, any body who has prophesied that nationalisation of the industry may lead to disaster. Is that a proper point of view or not?

    Until this Bill becomes law, there is an alternative—the alternative of a nationalised electricity industry and the alternative of a non-nationalised electricity industry. While those alternatives exist, surely it is not only the right but the duty of informed citizens to express a view as to which of those they think is the better alternative.

    I am glad I carry the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) thus far at any rate. We have an exact parallel in time of peace. In time of peace we have an alternative between peace and war. Because a man says, "I think it would be better to pursue a system of peace; I think that if we go to war it will be undeniably costly and detrimental, and very likely to lead to disaster"—because a man says that in time of peace, are we to prevent him, when we have actually got into a state of war, from doing his best for the community, merely because he has deprecated going to war at all?

    The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) does not like these rather abstract and general arguments. I accept his implied challenge I will make the comparison a little more personal. Supposing that one was an industrial consultant, and by a peculiar coincidence, when I look at "Dod," I find that the hon. Member for Reading. 'S an industrial consultant.

    The hon. Member says he is a good consultant. Surely, in his case we have the exact converse of this situation. The hon. Member for Reading is not exclusively a consultant to nationalised concerns, I imagine, perhaps not at all to nationalised concerns. Perhaps he practises a personal policy of the "closed shop," perhaps he restricts his advice to private enterprise concerns. What does he begin by telling them? He tells them that capitalism is doomed to failure and decay, that no good can come out of it, but still they are broadminded enough to seek his services as an industrial consultant. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is going to be more narrow and archaic in his approach than these private enterprise concerns, which are apparently generous and broadminded enough to seek the advice of the hon. Member for Reading as an industrial consultant. I believe that these people, if they have sufficient qualifications, are more likely, because they see the dangers of nationalisation, to be able to give advice that will avert the gravest of those dangers than, shall we say, second-rate "Yes men," who have applauded the principle of nationalisation, and whose advice is likely to make a certainty of that disaster which more prescient people have prophesied.

    I am extremely glad to have given the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) the occasion for making what was obviously a carefully and elaborately prepared gibe. I do not propose to deal with that, but to make two serious points as a contribution to this discussion, the first of which is, I think, if I may say so without being immodest, a complete answer to what was said by the hon. Member for Hertford. One must distinguish, in all occupations, whether in public or private enterprise, between the situation in which one has, as a part of one's responsibility, the duty of making and interpreting policy, and other occupations in which one simply has to carry out policy which is made and interpreted by other people. Those are the two main and quite distinct types of occupation in the structure of management. They are distinguished by whether one can or cannot do one's job irrespective of whether one agrees with the policy which has been laid down.

    8.30 p.m.

    If I may revert to the example of the distillery, it is quite as easy for a temperance advocate who is a cost accountant to be a good cost accountant in a distillery as to be a good cost accountant in any other enterprise, but it would be impossible for such a person to take a share in making a policy of increasing the distribution of whisky. It is exactly the same in the electricity industry. If a man's vocation is that of studying what is the best way to insulate electric wires, clearly his competence to do this is quite unaffected by whether he believes that the industry should be nationalised or not. But if his vocation is that of top management, of development, and of working out policy, then I say that an honest man will not want to work in a nationalised industry if he believes that nationalisation of the industry would break down.

    Has the hon. Gentleman never heard of a poacher turning gamekeeper?

    Certainly, but I thought that we were talking about honest men. I thought that the people in the industry for whom hon. Gentlemen opposite were pleading were honest men. The second point I wish to make is that hon. Gentlemen opposite have drawn a comparison between this proposed new Clause and the arrangement which is sometimes reached at the end of an industrial dispute to include a provision that there should be no victimisation of those who had taken part in the dispute. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman who made that point, I am sure in complete good faith, overlooked a very important fact. That provision was not included in the terms of settlement of the first industrial disputes. It was included only after the settlements which had not included such a provision had been followed by wicked victimisation.

    To introduce a personal note, I would say that perhaps this is one subject on which I can claim to speak with more authority than the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the hon. Member for Hertford. I spent part of today trying to prevent victimisation of trade unionists by employers. That is not ancient history. I am working in this field as a practical man. What happened was that the provision quoted by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames was put in after it was found to be necessary in practice and by bitter experience. It was not put in the first time because when the first settlement was made it was anticipated that honourable employers would not victimise. It was not considered to be necessary. Up to now we have nationalised three industries. We have had these settlements, if we may use that term, already in three cases—in the case of the Bank of England, civil aviation, and mining—and in not one of those has there been a suggestion that the Minister has exercised discrimination against persons who were politically opposed to nationalisation. The first time we have such discrimination and the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames moves the inclusion of a Clause such as this, I will be with him in the Lobby; but so long as there is no evidence that it is necessary, it seems to me he is casting a slur both upon the Minister and upon other people by moving such a Clause as this.

    Does the hon. Gentleman only advocate shutting the stable doors after the horses have been stolen?

    That is an over simplification. No doubt the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames is a hospitable gentleman who entertains a lot of friends at home, but he does not go around ostentatiously locking up the silver every time.

    Division No. 272.]


    [8.35 p.m.

    Amory, D. HeathcoatHogg, Hon QO'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H
    Baldwin, A. E.Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Hope, Lord J.Pickthorn, K
    Beechman, N AHoward, Hon. A.Ponsonby, Col. C E
    Birch, NigelHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (WellsHutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Raikes, H. V.
    Bower, N.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WRamsay, Maj. S
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamRayner, Brig. R.
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. GLambert, Hon GReed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G TLancaster, Col C. GReid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
    Challen, C.Lindsay, HI. (Solihull)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
    Clarke, Col. R. S.Linstead, H NRobinson, Wing-Comdr Roland
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GUpson, D. LRopner, Col. L.
    Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Lucas-Tooth. Sir HRoss Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
    Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)McCallum, Maj. D.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
    Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMacdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
    Cuthbert, W. N.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Spearman, A. C. M.
    Darling, Sir W. YMcKie, J H (Galloway)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
    Digby, S. WMacLeod, J.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Drewe, C.Macmillan, Rt Hon. Harold (Bromley)Sutcliffe, H.
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. WaiteMacpherson, N (Dumfries)Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)
    Foster, J. G (Northwich)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
    Gage, C.Manningham-Buller, R. ETouche, G. C.
    Galbraith, Cmdr. T. DMarples, A. EWadsworth, G
    Gammans, L. D.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Walker-Smith, D.
    George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Wheatley, Colonel M,J
    Grant, LadyMedlicott, F.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
    Gridley, Sir A.Mellor, Sir J.Willoughby de Eresby. Lord
    Grimston, R V.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)York, C
    Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)Morris-Jones, Sir HTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S (Cirencester)Mr. Studholme and
    Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CNeven-Spence, Sir BLieut.-Colonel Thorp,
    Hinchingbrooke, ViscountNicholson, G


    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton.)Corlett, Dr. J
    Alpass, J. H.Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Cove, W. G.
    Attewell, H. C.Braddock, T. (Mitcham)Crawley, A
    Austin, H. LewisBra mall, E. ADaggar, G.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BBrooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Daines, P.
    Bacon, Miss ABrown, George (Belper)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
    Baird, J.Brown, T. J (Ince)Davies, Edward (Burslem)
    Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Bruce, Maj. D. W T.Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
    Barstow, P. GBurden, T. W.Davies, Harold (Leek)
    Barton, C.Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S)Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)
    Batlley, J. RCastle, Mrs. B. A.Deer, G.
    Bechervaise, A. E.Chamberlain, R. Ade Freitas, Geoffrey
    Benson, GChampion, A. JDelargy, H J
    Berry, H.Chater, D.Diamond, J
    Beswick, F.Chetwynd, G. RDodds, N. N
    Blackburn, A. RCobb, F. A.Donovan, T.
    Blenkinsop, A.Cocks, F. SDriberg, T. E. N
    Blyton, W. R.Collindridge, F.Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
    Bottomley, A. G.Colman, Miss G. M.Dumpleton, C W
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. WCorbet, Mrs. F. K (Camb'well, N W)Dve S

    I fail to see what connection that has with the subject under discussion.

    I had come to an end when the hon. Gentleman intervened. If we ostentatiously put in safeguards against a thing, we put the idea into peoples' minds that that thing is likely to happen when there is no evidence that it would have done and when all history of nationalisation goes to show that it does not happen.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes, 95; Noes, 258.

    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Lewis, A. W. J (Upton)Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Edelman, M.Lewis, J. (Bolton)Simmons, C J.
    Edwards, A (Middlesbrough E.)Lindgren, G. SSkeffington, A. M.
    Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)McAdam, W.Skeffington-Lodge. T C
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)McEntee, V. La T.Skinnard, F. W
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)McGhee, H GSmith, C. (Colchester)
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Mack, J DSmith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
    Ewart, R,McKay, J (Wallsend)Smith, S. H. (Huli S.W.)
    Farthing, W. J.Maclean, N. (Govan)Sorenser., R. W
    Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E)McLeavy, FSoskice, Maj. Sir F.
    Follick, M.Macpherson, T. (Romford)Sparks, J. A
    Foot, M. M.Mainwaring, W. HStamford, W
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mallalieu. J P. W.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)
    Gaitskell, H. T. NMarshall, F. (Brightside)Strachey, J
    Ganley, Mrs. C. SMathers,Strauss, G R (Lambeth, N.)
    Gibson, C. W.Mayhrw, C. P.Stross, Dr B
    Gilzean, A.Medland, H. MStubbs, A. E
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Messer, F.Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Goodrich, H. E.Mikardo, IanSwingler, S.
    Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)Millington, Wing-Comdr E. RSylvester, G. O
    Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Mitchison, G. R.Symonds, A L
    Grenfell, D. R.Moody, A STaylor, H. B (Mansfield)
    Grey, C. F.Morgan, Dr. H. B.Taylor R. J. (Morpeth)
    Grierson, E.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
    Griffiths, D, (Rother Valley)Moyle, A.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
    Guest, Dr. L. HadenMurray, J. DThomas, Ivor (Keighley)
    Gunter, R. JNaylor, T. E.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Guy, W. HNeal, H. (Claycross)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Hall, W G.Nichol, Mrs M E. (Bradford, N.)Thorneycroft, Harry Clayton)
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col, R.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Tnurtle, Ernest
    Hannan, W (Maryhill)Noel-Buxton, LadyTitterington, M. r-
    Hardy, E. A.Oldfield, W H.Tolley, L.
    Harrison, JOliver, G H.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon G
    Hastings, Dr. SomervillePaget, R TTurner-Samuels, V
    Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Ungoed-Thomas, L
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Usborne, Henry
    Herbison, Miss M.Palmer, A M FVernon, Maj W- F
    Hewitson, Capt MParker, J.Viant, S. P.
    Hobson, C. RParkin, B TWallace, G. O. (Chislehurst)
    Holman, P.Paton, J (Norwich)Wallace, H W. (Walthamstow, E.)
    Holmes, H E (Hemsworth)Pearson, A.Warbey, W. N.
    House, GPeart, Thomas FWatkins, T. E.
    Hoy, JPlatts-Mills, J F. F.Weitzman, D
    Hudson, J. H. (Ealing W.)Poole, Major Cecil (Llehfield)Wells P. L (Faversham)
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Porter, G. (Leeds)Wells, W. T (Walsall)
    Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)Prill, D. N.Westwood, Rt. Hon J
    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Proctor, W. T.White, H. (Derbyshire N.E)
    Hynd, J. B. (Attereliffe)Pursey, Cmdr H.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Irving, W. J.Randall H EWigg, Col. G. E.
    Janner, B.Ranger, JWilkes. L
    Jay, D P. Rees-Williams, D RWilkins, W. A.
    Jeger, G. (Winchester)Reeves, J.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
    Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S.E.)Reid T (Swindon)Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
    Jones, D T (Hartlepools)Rhodes, H.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
    Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Reberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Williamson, T
    Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Willis, E.
    Keenan, W.Royle, CWills, Mrs. E. A
    Kendall, W. DSargood, R.Woodburn, A
    Kenyon, CScollan, T.Woods, G. S-
    Kinley, JScott-Elliot, W.Wyatt, W.
    Lang, G.Shackleton, E. A. Avates, V F.
    Lavers, S.Sharp, GranvilleYoung, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
    Lee, F. (Hulme)Shawcross C. N. (Widnes)Zilliacus, K.
    Leslie, J. R.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helen.)
    Lever, N HShinwell Rt. Hon. ETELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Levy, B WShurmer, P.Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.

    Clause 1—(Main Functions Of Electricity Boards)

    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.