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Wireless Telegraphy Bill

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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

Lords Amendments considered.

Clause 2—(Fees And Charges For Wireless Telegraphy Licences)

Lords Amendment: In page 3, leave out lines 21 and 22.

8.22 p.m.

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

As the Bill left the Commons for the other place the position was that the authority responsible for the issuing of licences for the blind was the Common Council for the City of London. The position now is that the National Assistance Board is responsible and they have instructed the London County Council for the issuing of the licences. This Amendment is to alter the Bill to cover that point.

I take it that the Common Council for the City of London have agreed?

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 9—(Advisory Committee And Appeal Tribunal)

Lords Amendment: In page 8, line 28, at end, insert:

"and the Postmaster-General and the President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers shall each exercise his powers under this subsection in such manner as to secure that the committee or the panel, as the case may be, is in his opinion sufficiently representative of persons whose interests are likely to be affected as aforesaid."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The wording of the Bill as passed by this House was such as to leave it possible for the advisory committee and, indeed, the panel from which the committee should be drawn, to be composed entirely of persons who possessed expert knowledge. The question was raised at the time by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, who suggested that the committee ought to include persons whose interests were affected. This Amendment is designed to give expression to that.

Question put; and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 9, line 18, leave out "Provided that if the parties to any particular case" and insert:

"(4) If, within such time, if any, as may be limited in that behalf by the rules regulating the procedure of the appeal tribunal, the parties to any particular case before the tribunal."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment concerns procedure. The rules which this Amendment will allow to be made will obviate the expense which might arise if, in the absence of such rules, one of the parties were unduly late in requesting the appointment of specially qualified assessors. This rule gives a time limit in which these parties can make the appeal.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In line 32, at end insert:

"(5) If, in the case of any reference or application to the appeal tribunal under section eleven of this Act, any of the parties or the president of the tribunal, within such time, if any, as may be limited in that behalf by the rules regulating the procedure of the tribunal, request the Lord Chancellor, if the proceedings are in England and Wales, or the Secretary of State, if the proceedings are in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to appoint two additional members of the tribunal to act for that case, the Lord Chancellor or Secretary of State, as the case may be, shall select and appoint two persons, who need not possess any legal qualifications or expert knowledge, to act as additional members of the tribunal for that case, and the additional members so appointed shall act therefor accordingly in addition to the president and the assessors or assessor."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

In regard to the tribunal, the position in the first instance was that it comprised one legal man and two assessors, and the decision was left solely to the person who was appointed by the Lord Chancellor, namely, the legal person. Criticism was levelled on the grounds that this was open to the charge of being a one-man show and, therefore, in order to obviate that, it is proposed now that these tribunals should consist of one legal person and four members, two of the members to act as jury.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 10, line 32, at end insert—

"Provided that nothing in this section shall render a person liable to incur any expenditure for the purpose of complying with any requirement in excess of one florin in respect of each one apparatus in his possession which is made or adapted for use for ordinary domestic purposes and is used by him for those purposes in his household and is in reasonable repair and running order."

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The Clause of the Bill into which the Amendment was imported by the House of Lords is the Clause which empowers the Postmaster-General, after consultation with the advisory committee, to make regulations prescribing the requirements to be complied with for the purpose of avoiding undue interference. It is manifestly impossible that regulations of a highly technical character, laying down requirements with the object of avoiding undue interference, could be framed on the footing that they will secure that certain people using certain apparatus for household purposes only should not have to meet the cost of complying with the requirements if the cost exceeded one florin. This Clause deals with the making of regulations. It would be quite anomalous for the framers of the regulations, in addition to making regulations for the purpose of dealing with undue interference, to have to introduce a provision restricting the possible payment to one florin in certain cases. It is clearly absurd in this particular instance, and for that reason the Amendment is absolutely unworkable.

8.30 p.m.

If the Amendment had been framed in a better understanding of the Bill it would, no doubt, have figured in Clause 11. That is the enforcement Clause. Then the objective would have appeared to have been, to prevent the Postmaster-General from serving an effective enforcement notice even when interference of a really serious character was taking place, if the cost of removing interference would exceed one florin in respect of a piece of domestic apparatus. That would take outside the Bill the bulk of domestic apparatus in reasonable working order. It may be described as coming very close to a wrecking Amendment. This is based on no principle, but on an arbitrary cost figure. The Amendment seems to pay no attention whatever to the hardships of the listener subjected to constant interference, nor does it even concede the possibility—though in this case it is rather remote—that interference with the safety of life may be involved.

As hon. Members opposite know, the basis of all this business is voluntary co-operation. If an Amendment like this were to succeed it would take outside the Bill the bulk of domestic apparatus that might be causing interference, and would be likely to break the amount of co-operation which has been a rather good factor in the situation up to the present time, and it would help, if anybody, the people who were most difficult. There is a Lords Amendment we shall consider later which gives another safeguard to people, that if they go to the tribunal to appeal, and if the cost to them of removing interference would create hardship, the tribunal can take that into consideration at the same time as it is discussing the undue interference.

The Postmaster-General does not seem to like this Amendment, but, if I may disagree with him, a matter of some principle is involved here. The whole House showed some concern upon the point that underlies this Amendment when the Bill was going through this House originally. The position then was, and is now, with some modification, that anybody may purchase a piece of apparatus quite legally and properly and then find that, because it is causing interference, he may have to spend money upon it if he is to be allowed to continue to use it. I think the whole House was somewhat concerned about that, and during the discussions on the Bill the point was made—and accepted by the Postmaster-General—that something should be done at the manufacturing end. Moreover, Amendments were introduced.

The purpose of this Lords Amendment—I am not talking about the actual 2s.—is to put some ceiling upon what an ordinary housewife, for instance, using domestic apparatus may be called upon to pay to make her instrument free of interference. I think that, in principle, it is right that there should be some limit of that sort. Whether 2s. is the right limit is another matter, but without this Amendment there is no limit. There is some safeguard, as the Postmaster-General has said, on the hardship question. Nevertheless, here is an attempt to put a ceiling upon what an ordinary domestic user may be called upon to pay extra on an apparatus which he or she has already legally purchased before he or she can continue to us it. I also think that if this provision were in the Bill there would be more of an urge on the Postmaster-General to get the manufactures to do something to attack the problem at their end, which is what the House was anxious that he should do. Difficult as the matter was, the House insisted upon its being approached from that angle.

Altogether, I do not think that the Postmaster-General has come down very heavily against this Amendment. I do not know how far I am allowed to refer to what happened in another place, but an offer was there made that a limit of some such amount might be accepted if this particular amount was unreasonable. However, if the Postmaster-General does what the House wants, and attacks the problem from the manufacturing end, the thing will solve itself in the process of time. It is only a transitory provision, and one hopes that much of it will not have to be used. The problem, if tackled properly with the powers the right hon. Gentleman now has, will solve itself. For those reasons my hon. Friends and I feel very much inclined to press for the insertion of this provision, in order to give the housewife protection against any disproportionate charge consequent upon using a domestic utensil which she has bought legally, and which she is entitled to use.

The Postmaster-General says that 2s. is an arbitrary figure. No doubt it is; it may well be that the figure should be 3s. or 5s. to cover the majority of cases. But if my memory serves me aright, he himself, when questioned about this on Second Reading, told the House that it could be done for 1s. 6d. or 2s.; he said that a very modest charge would be imposed upon the ordinary user of domestic electrical apparatus. I do not think people appreciate fully what will be the result of this Measure. This Bill will threaten every domestic user with an extra charge of a few shillings on ordinary household electrical apparatus; it will impose an extra charge upon many thousands of housewives who have bought electrical apparatus for ironing, for heating water, or for drying clothes. A housewife will not know whether the apparatus interferes with her neighbour. At any time, subject to these regulations, investigation may be made, and she may be compelled, under pain of penalties, to buy an additional piece of apparatus and have it fitted to the instrument she uses in her home.

This is a serious interference with people's liberty. In addition, it imposes an extra charge on many people. A florin, although a small amount, may be as much as 10 per cent. of the value of the apparatus to which the appliance it buys has to be fitted. A threat to add 10 per cent., or even only 5 per cent., to the cost of a piece of ordinary household electrical apparatus is not lightly to be thought of. It seems to me that since the purpose of getting rid of the interference is to enable television viewers to see the picture more clearly, and since they are, therefore, those who will enjoy any benefit of this, it should be they who pay for this. They ought to pay an extra shilling or half-a-crown on their licences to provide a fund out of which to compensate the housewife for the extra charge that is being put upon her.

This Lords Amendment applies solely to domestic apparatus, so I presume that apparatus used by, for example, physiotherapists will be covered at a later stage, and I shall not now address myself to that question. I do think that, on its merits, some limitation of this kind ought to be in the Bill. I discerned in the Minister's objection a hint that if this Amendment had been proposed to a later Clause he might have accepted it.

I thought the right hon. Gentleman said that it would have been better if it had been included in a later Clause. If he would indicate what he has in mind it might affect our attitude to this Amendment. So far as this particular matter is concerned, we ought to protest strongly against the Postmaster-General's proposal to reject the Lords Amendment.

The Postmaster-General, in opposing the Lord Amendment, said that if it were carried it would, in effect, wreck the Bill, and that is undoubtedly the case, as anyone knows who understands this kind of problem from the practical point of view. In listening to the previous Debates, it seemed to me that the House generally was agreed that we could not allow domestic apparatus, which interfered severely with radio navigation, whether for ships or aircraft, to interfere with safety of life. If this Amendment were carried, it would interfere with the Postmaster-General's efforts to see that this interference did not occur. No limitation in money can be put on it, because no one can say what the cost of eliminating the interference in any given case would be. Therefore, I say that my right hon. Friend could not permit any financial limitation.

I should like to deal briefly with the point made by the Opposition, that manufacturers ought to bear the cost of making alterations of this description. It will be remembered that on the Second Reading of the Bill I went into this from the point of view of the manufacturers, and I should like to put it to the House again. The difference, as a rule, in the case of electrical apparatus, between manufacturing cost and the price paid by the public is somewhere in the region of three to one. Therefore, if it costs 2s. at the manufacturing stage to make this alteration, it would be somewhere in the region of 6s. extra to the public. A million irons might be made, but only 1 per cent. of them would cause any interference. Surely it is far better for the 1 per cent. to be ordered to meet this extra cost, even though it may be 7s., than to have an alteration made in every piece of apparatus sold to the public. This seems to be ordinary common sense from the manufacturers' and users' point of view. I would oppose the proposition that the manufacturers should pay.

In any case, it is not a logical suggestion, because, if the apparatus which creates interference is sold by the manufacturer, then the laws of private enterprise start to operate, and the public stop buying the apparatus which causes the interference. They would buy a competing apparatus, which has some kind of an eliminator fixed to it. This is one occasion on which the laws of private enterprise should operate; hon. Members opposite must be impressed by such an appeal as that.

It is very interesting to listen to the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Cobb) asking for the free play of private enterprise in the sphere of industrial activity, with which he himself is connected. I have no doubt that the steel industry would be accorded entirely different treatment, but here the hon. Gentleman wants to see the full play of private enterprise. He says that if people buy instruments which cause interference they will have to pay a substantial sum to have it corrected and will cease to buy that piece of apparatus. That does not stop a person from buying the thing in the first place. It does not deal with the issue of millions of people who have purchased electrical appliances of various kinds, who have used them legally for many years and who are entitled to some consideration. At the time they purchased that apparatus it was quite legal for them to use it in the manner in which they were employing it. We are in a very strong position to resist what the Postmaster-General said this afternoon.

The hon. Member knows there are methods of dealing with it, and that it does not mean that we have to inflict this burden upon housewives. The hon. Gentleman very kindly cut all the ground away from under the Postmaster-General's feet when he said that no one could say what the cost would be. The Postmaster-General refused to put any ceiling on this cost, but now the hon. Gentleman has said that it might amount to anything. We are, therefore, asking housewives to bear a charge which cannot yet be determined, and which may be considerably beyond their means.

Can the hon. Gentleman say what other means are available to prevent domestic apparatus from interfering with radio safety aids?

It does not necessarily mean that because it is the desire of the House to see that safety appliances are not interfered with we should place an indefinite burden upon housewives. There are other means by which the object can be achieved. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] I would ask hon. Gentlemen not to be so impetuous; I will come to that point in good time. Let me remind the House that we have taken the Postmaster-General a long way on this Bill. When he first brought it in, he had a very big stick with which to beat housewives. We have made this stick smaller and smaller. We have forced manufacturers to do something; we have limited the severity of the penalties which can be inflicted on those who will not obey; we have made the position of the housewife much more tolerable. Tonight, we want to make it more tolerable still, and there is a way by which it can be done.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir Ian Fraser) very properly said that a considerable amount of money might be involved in the correcting of apparatus. As he said, that is being asked for to provide safety for navigational aids and, secondly, to prevent undue interference with television. People have bought apparatus when they were perfectly entitled to buy it and to use it. If something else has since come along to upset that position, it should be the duty of the State to pay any charge above a certain maximum of cost necessary for the correction of the apparatus. The Post Office ought to bear that charge, or it could charge a bit more to television users. At any rate, let us not inflict upon the housewives a burden which they are not capable of bearing and ought not to bear. I hope that we shall have no hesitation in deciding against the view expressed by the Postmaster-General. It is essential to get justice for housewives, even from a Socialist Government.

8.45 p.m.

It seems to be the general impression that interference from domestic apparatus affects only television sets. That is far from being the case. Where there is an escape of electro-magnetic energy there can be interference with wireless sets, which is the most common form of interference. I recollect that during the earlier stages of the Bill the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) said categorically, and without any equivocation whatsoever, that if safety of life at sea was concerned, he would agree to anything. The position is that if we agree to this Lords Amendment it means that interference from domestic apparatus can jeopardise safety equipment for the landing of aircraft or in connection with navigation.

Can the hon. Gentleman put his hand on his heart and affirm that the emission of electro-magnetic energy from an apparatus such as the thermostat in a domestic iron could interfere with powerful navigational aids? Even the Postmaster-General did not go so far, and he half swallowed the words when he said that it might do so a little.

If there was a lot of domestic apparatus in the region of a dock or harbour—Merseyside is a good example to take—and there was an emission of electro-magnetic energy from that apparatus, it might be at the same frequency at which the safety devices were working.

That may be the opinion of the hon. Member, but, with all due respect to him, I would prefer the advice of the experts on this matter.

If the hon. Gentleman will read his brief, he will see that that is so.

This is not in the nature of a tax. The Opposition have forgotten that in most cases the housewife herself is a listener. They have failed to realise that the majority of people—when it is brought to their notice that their apparatus is causing interference—do everything they can to eliminate the interference. Why, then, should we agree with this Amendment, which would penalise the good citizen?

That is as I see it. There is a further point, and I will give a specific case with regard to the amount of a florin. It is quite common to find faulty wiring in a house. Interference may be caused to someone's wireless set, and the Post Office engineers may find that it is due to faulty wiring. Do the Opposition say that the Post Office should pay the whole cost of rewiring that house in order to satisfy the housewife? Regulations are made with regard to interference, and they are laid before the House and may be prayed against. They are not brought forward unless they have been approved by a panel of eminent engineers. I do not see why we should be saddled with an Amendment whereby the cost of removing interference should be limited to the sum of 2s.

There is nothing in the Amendment to prevent the Postmaster-General acting in the case of safety. All that would be necessary would be that any cost above 2s. would have to be met by him.

In order to substantiate his argument, will the hon. Gentleman say what interference with navigational aids has been experienced at London Airport or even Northolt?

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) give the answer to that question?

Are we to wait until an accident occurs and it is found that the cause was domestic apparatus emitting electro-magnetic energy? Is that what the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants?

I think the reply of the Assistant Postmaster-General has been most unsatisfactory. He used the emotional argument of danger to aircraft and to navigation in confined waters as an excuse for introducing a wide measure of control and supervision over the householder. It is obvious that if there is any question of safety to aircraft or ships such powers would be granted to him willingly, but he is not asking for those powers for these specific cases, but to apply his restrictive activities generally.

I ask him if his engineering experts, whom he has been frequently calling in aid of his argument, have been able to quote him any example where interfer- ence from domestic apparatus could interfere with port radar of the type he has in mind at Liverpool? Would he, in that case, indicate the frequency of electromagnetic radiation which would cause such interference? If he knows, perhaps he will tell us? I suggest that he does not know. He has been glad to accept this advice from the people he is pleased to call his experts or, perhaps he is pleased to misread it whenever it suits his purpose.

I assure the hon. Member that if he would go to Dollis Hill he would find it amply demonstrated that if radiation occurs on the same wave length as that used by the radar installation at Liverpool, interference with life-saving apparatus must take place.

I would be quite prepared to go to Dollis Hill at any time, but at the moment it is the duty of the Minister to come to this House and to explain to us what we might otherwise see at Dollis Hill. It is no answer to say that if we want to see it we can go to Dollis Hill; it is the task of the Minister to bring the arguments about Dollis Hill to the Despatch Box, and he has so far failed to do so.

Now perhaps I may be allowed to continue with my next point. The Minister suggested that if Post Office engineers found radiation was caused by faulty wiring in a house we should not expect the

Division No. 208.]


[9.0 p.m.

Acland, Sir RichardBrown, T. J. (Ince)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Albu, A. H.Burke, W. A.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Carmichael, JamesEwart, R.
Alpass, J. H.Champion, A. J.Fairhurst, F.
Austin, H. LewisChetwynd, G. R.Farthing, W. J.
Awbery, S. S.Cobb, F. A.Field, Capt. W. J.
Ayles, W. H.Cocks, F. S.Follick, M.
Bacon, Miss A.Coldrick, W.Foot, M. M.
Balfour, A.Collick, P.Forman, J. C.
Barstow, P. G.Collindridge, F.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Barton, C.Collins, V. J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon H. T. N.
Battley, J. R.Colman, Miss G. M.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Bechervaise, A. E.Cook, T. F.Gibson, C. W.
Benson, G.Cooper, G.Gilzean, A.
Berry, H.Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Bing, G. H. C.Crossman, R. H. S.Gooch, E. G.
Binns, J.Cullen, Mrs.Goodrich, H. E.
Blenkinsop, A.Daggar, G.Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Blyton, W. R.Davies, Edward (Burslem)Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Boardman, H.Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)Grenfell, D. R.
Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Grey, C. F.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Deer, G.Grierson, E.
Bramall, E. A.Delargy, H. J.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Diamond, J.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Debbie, W.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Donovan, T.Guy, W. H.
Brown, George (Belper)Dumpleton, C. W.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)

Post Office to pay for the cost of rewiring. Of course we should not, but that is in quite a different category. If the wiring is faulty there is an obligation on the householder to put it right, and it is the duty of the supply authority to see that he does. There is no question at all of the Post Office or of anyone but the householder having to put that right. In the same way, if the police find a motor car in a faulty mechanical condition on the road, the onus is quite clearly on the owner of the motor car to make good the faults in it.

We are concerned with the householder who has a properly functioning piece of domestic apparatus and who may find that as a result of the Bill being passed without this Amendment he is called upon to go to considerable expense at the instigation of an inspecting engineer. We object very much to this being imposed upon the householder, particularly in view of the flimsy supporting evidence so far brought for the examination of this House.

is the hon. Member in favour of any house, holder with electrical domestic apparatus being allowed to be a nuisance to the radio sets of all his neighbours?

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 78.

Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Messer, F.Shurmer, P.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Middleton, Mrs. L.Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Hardy, E. A.Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.Simmons, C. J.
Harrison, J.Mitchison, G. R.Skeffington, A. M.
Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMoody, A. S.Skinnard, F. W.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Morley, R.Smith, C. (Colchester)
Herbison, Miss M.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
Hewitson, Capt. M.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)
Hobson, C. R.Mort, D. L.Sorensen, R. W.
Holman, P.Moyle, A.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Nally, W.Sparks, J. A.
Horabin, T. L.Naylor, T. E.Steele, T.
Houghton, A. L. N. D.Neal, H. (Claycross)Stross, Dr. B.
Hoy, J.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)Stubbs, A. E.
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Sylvester, G. O.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Noel-Buxton, LadySymonds, A. L.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Oldfield, W. H.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paget, R. T.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Janner, B.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Jeger, G. (Winchester)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Jenkins, R. H.Palmer, A. M. F.Thurtle, Ernest
John, W.Pargiter, G. A.Titterington, M. F.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)Parkin, B. T.Tolley, L.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Paton, J. (Norwich)Viant, S. P.
Keenan, W.Pearson, A.Walkden, E.
Kenyon, C.Peart, T. F.Warbey, W. N.
Kinley, J.Platts-Mills, J. F. F.Watson, W. M.
Lang, G.Porter, E. (Warrington)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Lavers, S.Porter, G. (Leeds)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Lewis, T. (Southampton)Price, M. PhilipsWest, D. G.
Lindgren, G. S.Proctor, W. T.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Logan, D. G.Pryde, D. J.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Longden, F.Pursey, Comdr. H.Wigg, George
Lyne, A. W.Randall, H. E.Wilkins, W. A.
McAdam, W.Rankin, J.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
McEntee,, V. La T.Reeves, J.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
McGhee, H. G.Reid, T. (Swindon)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Rhodes, H.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
McKinlay, A. S.Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
McLeavy, F.Robens, A.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Willis, E.
Mainwaring, W. H.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Wise, Major F. J.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)Royle, C.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mann, Mrs. J.Sargood, R.Woods, G. S.
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Scollan, T.Yates, V. F.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)Sharp, GranvilleZilliacus, K.
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Mathers, Rt. Hon. GeorgeShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)


Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace.


Amory, D. HeathcoatGrimston, R. V.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Baldwin, A. E.Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Barlow, Sir J.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Nicholson, G.
Bennett, Sir P.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Nield, B. (Chester)
Birch, NigelHogg, Hon. Q.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Hope, Lord J.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Bower, N.Howard, Hon. A.Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanHurd, A.Sanderson, Sir F.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Scott, Lord W.
Carson, E.Jeffreys, General Sir G.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Challen, C.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Snadden, W. M.
Channon, H.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamStewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lancaster, Col. C. G.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Studholme, H. G.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Turton, R. H.
Cuthbert, W. N.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Vane, W. M. F.
Darling, Sir W. Y.McCallum, Maj. D.Walker-Smith, D.
Digby, Simon WingfieldMcCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.McFarlane, C. S.White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Drewe, C.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Erroll, F. J.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)York, C.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)Marples, A. E.
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)


Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Mellor, Sir J.Commander Agnew and
Major Conant.

Clause 11—(Enforcement Of Regula- Tions As To Use Of Apparatus)

Lords Amendment: In page 11, line 18, at end insert:

"in a case where he considers that all reasonable steps to minimise interference have been taken in relation to the station or apparatus receiving the telegraphy."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment makes statutory provision for what has always been my right hon. Friend's intention, namely that an enforcement notice making the use of electrical apparatus contrary to the regulations an offence should not be served on the user of the electrical apparatus where the interference can reasonably be eliminated at the receiving end. That is the case where there may be a defective wireless set, or where the alteration of an aerial can make the set not cause interference.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 17, at end, insert:

"This subsection applies in relation to a notice under subsection (1) of this section which has been varied by a subsequent notice as it applies in relation to a notice which has not been so varied."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Where under Clause 11 (1) the Postmaster-General serves an enforcement notice, subsection (3) gives a right of appeal to the tribunal. By subsection (2) the Postmaster-General has power to vary the notice by serving another notice. We are anxious to assure, by putting these words in the Bill, that where the Postmaster-General varies a notice, and there is a second notice, the right of appeal shall also apply to the second notice. When the Bill was before the House it was stated that there was some doubt whether a right of appeal would apply in such circumstances. This Amendment makes it certain.

I am not quite happy about this Amendment because the words are rather confusing. May we have a fuller explanation, as I am sure it would be welcome. The Amendment contains considerable amount of reference. I want to know how far these variations would go and why this Amendment could not have been made on the Committee stage of the Bill? On the whole, the other place has been wise in putting forward this Amendment, as they almost always are, but I wish that the Postmaster-General would give a rather wider explanation. This does not seem to be an Amendment which is without substance I see that the Assistant Post-master-General agrees. Therefore, we should have a little more explanation.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 21, after "heard," insert:

"and has, in accordance with the rules regulating the procedure of the tribunal, procured himself to be made a party to the reference."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Where a case goes before a tribunal there may be a desire to be represented and intervene and it is only right that there should be power for such persons to be paid their costs or to pay the costs awarded against them. It is to the end that we propose to agree with the Lords Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 30, at end, insert:

"(c) if they are satisfied that compliance with the said requirements or those requirements as directed to be varied, would impose unreasonable cost (not being less than one hundred pounds) upon the person having possession of or any interest in the apparatus they may if they think fit direct the Postmaster-General to allocate the cost in such proportion among such persons or class of persons and in such manner as may be specified in the direction."

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment gives power to the appeal tribunal to be set up under the Bill, if they are satisfied that compliance with the requirements of the regulations would impose unreasonable cost on the person possessing or having an interest in apparatus, to direct the Postmaster-General
"to allocate the cost in such proportion among such persons or class of persons and in such manner as may be specified in the direction,"
if the cost would amount to more than £100.

The Amendment is singularly vague both as to its practical application and the machinery for its enforcement. If the tribunal should direct the Postmaster-General to allocate the cost, no indication is given of the action which would fall to be taken by the Postmaster-General. It would be the function of the Tribunal itself to specify in what proportion among all the persons and in what manner the allocation should be made. If the intention is that the Postmaster-General should notify tine persons concerned of the sums allocated to them and should recover those sums from them, there are three comments to be made. The first is that the Amendment does not say this. The second is that the Amendment does not provide the Postmaster-General with power to recover the sums allocated or say when those sums should be payable or how the Postmaster-General shall deal with the sums when recovered. The third is that functions such as these would be strangely inappropriate to the Postmaster-General, who will be concerned not as a functionary of the tribunal but as a party to the proceedings in his capacity as guardian of the ether.

9.15 p.m.

Again, the Amendment does not give to the persons among whom the cost is allocated the elementary right to be heard by the Tribunal on the justice of the allocation, and if there is one thing which hon. Members have insisted upon it is the right of appeal in all these disputed matters—but this would not be the case in this particular instance. In theory and in equity, the allocation should be made between all the persons who would benefit from the suppression of the interference in proportion to the degrees of benefit. How these persons would be identified I do not know, and I do not think anybody else could know. It may be that it can be done with classes of persons. It may be that the interference would affect a class of person, say, six, 10, 20, 50 or perhaps 100, and the Postmaster-General or somebody else has to find out the individual, and, when he finds him out, he has no power to do anything about it. Presumably, it would still go on as usual.

I have some sympathy with the outlook of those who proposed the Amendment, but I think we have gone a long way to meet their point of view in providing protection against undue burdens being unreasonably imposed. First of all, there are the regulations prescribing the requirements to be complied with in respect of the apparatus to be used. Hon. Members know that the people who will make the regulations are to be very carefully selected, firstly, from among people whose technical knowledge of the industry is of the greatest, and also from people, especially on the Advisory Committee, whose interests are also affected, and the Postmaster-General is compelled to select the Committee from persons of that kind. That in itself is a reasonable safeguard.

Then there is the Amendment to be moved later, to which I have referred, providing that, at the tribunal itself, the question of undue interference will not be merely a matter of how much interference is caused by the emission of the interfering frequencies, but also that the tribunal must take into account the question of how much hardship would be caused if the person responsible had to pay what appeared to be rather a large sum. That is a second protection.

The next step is that nothing can happen to anyone until the Postmaster-General has served an enforcement notice under the Act. Regulations will be recommended by the Committee and will be made, but, although it may be that perhaps next year thousands of pieces of apparatus will not be in accordance with the regulations, that fact does not mean anything to these people. Nothing can be done until these pieces of apparatus cause undue interference, and when, because of that, and when all these things have been gone through, the Postmaster-General serves a notice. I hope that no hon. Member feels that either myself as Postmaster-General or any other Postmaster-General will go in for serving an orgy of these notices. That is about the most unlikely thing that can possibly happen.

Then there is the question, which is also important, and even with this Bill it will still remain important, of voluntary co-operation, and, in any of these bigger cases, where a considerable sum was likely to be concerned, it would be a matter of talking it over and considering it point by point in every particular be- tween our people and the people concerned, and trying to arrive at a decision. As a matter of fact, that is what is happening now, and is likely to happen in the future. It would not be until everything else had failed that this other procedure would take place.

Last but not least, there is the question of the Appeal Tribunal. If all these things fail, then the person or persons concerned will go to the Appeal Tribunal and the decision will be made there, together will the fact that under the Amendment which has just been added the question of hardship would be brought to bear in any decision which the Appeal Tribunal came to. I say, therefore, that the Measure is needed, but it could be reviewed if time and experience showed a real need for that. When regard is had to the safeguards incorporated in the Measure, I think it will be found to give adequate safeguards. As a matter of fact, it was said that we were overloading the Bill with safeguards.

I am not prepared to write into the Bill financial provisions on the lines of the Amendment, but if in practice difficulties of a financial character should arise which cannot be surmounted in the ordinary course of negotiations conducted in a reasonable spirit of give and take, the Government would be prepared to give their sympathetic consideration to the position, and if convinced that something, should be done, would do their best to meet the situation, and, if necessary make proposals to Parliament.

The Postmaster-General has entirely missed the point at which this Amendment is directed. I do not want to be long at this late hour, but I really must put the point before the House because it is one of some substance. I think I can do it best by illustration. We will presume, for the sake of this illustration, that the Admiralty wishes to put up a wireless station somewhere, or it may be the Postmaster-General, and it is found that one of the grid systems, either the Electricity Board or the Hydro-Electric Board, with which my hon. Friend will deal later, has a series of overhead lines which emit interference, and perhaps prejudice the operation of the station. What happens is that the Admiralty and the Electricity Board or the Hydro-Electric Board can get together and come to some arrangement, because it may well be that in order to stop this interference the Electricity Board may have to incur very high costs in laying, perhaps, a great deal of underground cable, which, in turn, will impinge on the cost of electricity to industry at a time when the Chancellor and everybody is saying that we must keep costs down.

It may be that the Admiralty, or whatever Department it is, and the Board will come to some arrangement to share the cost, but I think that anybody who has had experience of Government Departments will know that very often they need having their heads knocked together, and I suppose there are no worse instances of "passing the buck" than those which exist in Government Departments. Suppose the Admiralty refuse to pay anything, the Postmaster-General may come along, and, under order, compel the Electricity Board to install this apparatus at great loss in order to prevent interference. The next thing that happens is that the Electricity Board can go to the tribunal which can either uphold the Postmaster-General or can give the case against him. What it cannot do is to allocate costs.

The Tribunal may very well say that there is undue hardship to the person—in this case the Electricity Board—and that they will not uphold the Postmaster-General. In that case, the Admiralty station will not work. Surely, this provision which will give an independent tribunal power to allocate costs and to compromise in a dispute between Government Departments in a case of that sort ought to be put into the Bill. I can see no earthly reason why it should not. There is nothing to stop the two Departments from coming to an agreement if they wish. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Postmaster-General refuses to put this very reasonable provision into the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) has dealt with the general principles underlying this excellent and, we think, most necessary Amendment. I entirely agree with him that the Postmaster-General, albeit with great charm, as usual, has missed the point and has not given us any satisfaction whatsoever. I think it is perfectly clear what this Amendment asks for, although he says it is not clear. We have to remember that the Postmaster-General himself, when he is brought into this matter, is very much—or will be very much—a prejudiced party in any dispute there may be. He asks, "How am I to dispose of the money which is to be collected from these different people if the cost is allocated as between the electricity apparatus user and the wireless user?" He can dispose of that money just as well as he can dispose of the money from the people from whom he will get it anyway—the users of the apparatus. There is no difficulty whatsoever about how to dispose of money, as the head of any Government Department ought to know by now.

We were very hopeful at one time that the Government would see reason in another place about this Amendment. There, the Government said that they would consider the matter urgently with a view to doing what they could to ease the burden of any large public authority concerned with the supply of electricity. I propose to confine my remarks to a large supplier of electricity—the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. It is of the greatest importance that as much electricity as possible at the cheapest possible rate should be supplied to the people of the scattered, sparsely populated districts of Scotland. That is, we consider, a fundamental necessity.

If this Amendment is not accepted there will be grave risk that the cost of electricity to those very people will be very substantially raised. My hon. Friend has pointed out that it may be necessary for a supplying authority such as this to put cables underground instead of overhead. It may be of interest to hon. Members to know, if, perhaps, they do not know already, that to do that in the Highlands of Scotland might cost a minimum of £22,000 per mile, which is a very considerable sum to add to the cost of electricity to the people for whom we are hoping to provide it cheaply. That is one of the illustrations which, I think, show very clearly what a serious effect it will have on this electricity authority if this Amendment is not accepted.

We must be perfectly clear on one or two points. The first is that what the Lord Privy Seal, in another place, described as safeguards are not safeguards at all in this particular respect, although the Postmaster-General has repeated that he thinks there is every possible safeguard. The Lord Privy Seal said that the first thing it was necessary to secure as a safeguard for this particular purpose was that any difference between Government Departments should be settled by sensible discussion and compromise. My hon. Friend has pointed out that of all bodies in this world Government Departments seem to be, in fact and in practice, the least suitable for coming to a friendly compromise on matters on which they disagree. We have all had experience of that.

It is important for the Postmaster-General to realise that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board is not a Government Department, and that it is subject to all the penalities imposed by the Bill, whereas the opposing authority, which is a Department of State, is not subject to anything of the kind. The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board will come into the argument with its hands tied, to all intents and purposes, and I cannot see that what the Minister suggests—the sweet reasonableness always found between two Government Departments—will be discovered when one Government Department is dealing with an authority which is not a Government Department. I hope we shall hear something from the Minister on this subject because it is a fact, whatever he said, that it is not just a matter of sweet reasonableness between two Government Departments.

9.30 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal added that there were three safeguards which were adequate. The first of these was the advisory committee. Those of us who have had experience of advisory committees have a very poor idea of their value in safeguarding the consumer. In any case, this advisory committee cannot save the authority the expense which will be laid upon it if it is found that there is interference as a result of their working. He then said that the use of the apparatus must be likely to cause undue interference. Of course, that is no safeguard as far as cost is concerned; it merely prevents unnecessary cost being thrown on the Hydro-Electric Board, as is desirable, but the necessary cost which is not covered may be very substantial indeed, as I have endeavoured to point out, for instance, in putting cables underground.

He then spoke of the third safeguard, which is that of the tribunal. Again, tribunals have their use, as we know, but, personally, I do not think the Hydro-Electric Board will be in any way safeguarded by the Tribunal in the matter of the payment of charges. It may be possible, under the Tribunal's ruling, to get away without paying anything at all, but in that case it is perfectly clear that the reason for putting that charge on the Hydro-Electric Board will be done away with or, rather, the reason will remain and the faults and the dangers will still be apparent to the user. Nothing will be done at all, although the original charge was due to the fact that the Minister thought something should be done. It merely washes out the charge to be made, and has no effect upon what is to be done in the way of paying and allocating payment as between the different parties concerned.

I could go on with a great deal of detail, but I shall not do so because the hour is late and there is much more Business to come before the House. What I want the House, and particularly the Postmaster-General, to realise is that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board have a very difficult and highly responsible job to do; and that, as experts in their particular line of business, they are very disturbed at the fact that if this Amendment is not retained in the Bill they will have to pay very large costs which, frankly, they do not feel their financial position enables them to pay except by means which are most distasteful and are against the wishes of this House—raising the cost to the consumer in the Highlands of Scotland.

This authority is not a Government Department; it is not like the British Electricity Authority in England in that respect, but is an independent body. Raising the cost is the only possible way in which they can carry out the orders of the Minister, if he says that they are to pay the costs of interference, which in this case might be on a colossal scale; they must be. The Hydro-Electric Board in the North of Scotland carry a grid over what is perhaps some of the most difficult country in the world and they are doing it very well in circumstances of the greatest difficulty. One thing the Board must do is to keep expenses down as low as possible.

It is impossible for this authority to carry out its pledge and indeed to carry out the instructions which this House of Commons has given to it if the Minister does not accept the Amendment inserted in the Bill in the other place. In conclusion, I would say that the British Electricity Authority in England heartily supports this plea by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, as does the similar authority in Northern Ireland. I cannot believe that this House will go against such experts as that and I feel certain that we shall have a reasonable answer so that, even if the Minister cannot accept the detailed wording of this Amendment, he will accept the great principle of it and retain it in the Bill.

I thought the Postmaster-General was singularly unconvincing when he invited the House to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment, because it is quite plain that, whereas in the discussion of an earlier Amendment he invoked the aid of experts, on this occasion he has not sought the advice of the experts so admirably outlined by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). It is obvious that as soon as the Postmaster-General saw his own name in the Amendment he said "I must avoid this job of work at all costs." He crouched low over the Despatch Box in case the job of work landed there and then on his shoulders, without even pausing to consider whether the tasks this Amendment would impose upon him were serious or onerous.

The Postmaster-General suggested that if this Amendment were accepted it would place him in an impossible position; that he would have to decide how the costs were to be allocated; and that he would have the impossible task of collecting the moneys, without perhaps knowing to whom they should be paid. If he looks at the Amendment again he will find that all these matters are very clearly dealt with. In the first place, it is obvious that the bills for carrying out the work of suppression will be sent to the owner of the apparatus, who will have to pay them. All that happens is that the person who has to pay the bills will be able to recover contributions from the various persons nominated by the Postmaster-General.

Now the Postmaster-General does not have a free hand; he is not placed in the quandary of having to decide to whom he should allocate the various proportions of the cost, because that is all decided for him by the Tribunal. The Tribunal, if they think fit, may
"direct the Postmaster-General to allocate the cost in such proportion…and in such manner as may be specified in the direction."
The Postmaster-General is merely the agent of the Tribunal. The Tribunal decides the proportions of the cost and the individuals from whom various proportions should be collected. It is merely for the Postmaster-General to allocate the actual figure in pounds, shillings and pence to each participant. Surely that is a task which is not beyond the wit of the Postmaster-General. If those were his only grounds for disagreeing with this Amendment, then in face of the impressive evidence marshalled by my hon. and gallant Friend I hope that the House will see its way to agreeing with this Amendment and writing it into the Bill.

I very much hope that the Assistant Postmaster-General will be able to say something in reply to the very cogent arguments advanced in favour of this House agreeing with the Lords in this Amendment. I agree with every word said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) about the inadequate manner in which the Postmaster-General attempted to deal with this matter. I represent a constituency in the Lowlands of Scotland where the first Hydro-Electric Board came into being, and I have every sympathy with what my hon. and gallant Friend said about the possible danger to the consuming public of increased costs if this Amendment is not accepted.

It is quite true that in one of the counties I have had the honour to represent in this House costs to the consumer have not been raised. But in the other, which did not have the advantage of the supply of electricity from the first Hydro-Electric Board in Scotland, there have been, over a long period of years, many complaints about the cost of supplying electricity to the ordinary consumer. Since electrical undertakings in general were nationalised there has been nothing to allay those fears, and I am of opinion that if this Amendment is not accepted, not merely will their fears go unallayed but the costs to the consumer will be very materially increased. I should have thought that a Socialist Government in all events would have been at great pains to ensure that the consuming public, particularly the small consumers, were not penalised in such a way as this.

It is not for me to proffer advice to the Government with an election in the offing, but I should have thought that if they did not agree to this Amendment they would agree to something which would be in their own interests in view of the impending election. [Laughter.] The hilarious way my remarks have been received by hon. Members opposite leads me to believe that my chances of reelection are much greater than those of some Scottish hon. Members opposite. It is not for me to proffer any advice on that score, because I hope to benefit from all the mistakes that the Government make. But this is not a question of party. It is a question of doing our best to protect the interests of the small consumer. I cannot understand why the Postmaster-General should have turned a deaf ear to this proposal, and I hope the Assistant Postmaster-General will be in a position to agree to this Amendment, having regard to the small people who will benefit from it.

The Postmaster-General told us that if anything went wrong we could rely on the Government to look on it as a matter of sympathy. I know he would like to do that, but I have completely and utterly failed to understand how it can be done. I have searched through a long list of cases in which really good people wanted sympathy, and a long Parliamentary experience has taught me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] I agree, very much too long for the Socialists, but not long enough for sensible people, as my constituents have found out. I must not go into that matter, but I would say that wherever a promise of this sort is made we should not allow the Government to escape from that promise when a real crisis arises.

I listened to the Postmaster-General with very great care as I always do, and I appreciate that he had a brief. At first I could not make out what had happened. What he said did not appear to bear any relationship to the Amendment we were discussing, until my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston) and my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll), explained the position. Then I became aware of what had happened. The Postmaster-General, by some curious twist, read the wrong brief. There is no other explanation of what he said, and if he reads it tomorrow in HANSARD he will see that what I say is right, that it bears no relation whatever to this Amendment. His statement was completely irrelevant.

9.45 p.m.

Under this Amendment it is quite clear what will happen. Certain duties are laid on the body proposed by the Amendment and the Postmaster-General will be able to avoid what I want to see avoided, namely hardship to the individual. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) put the case for the Highlands. I represent a part of the South country, and I feel that I could put a similar case in regard to innumerable instances in rural districts in the South, in Wales, in the Midlands and elsewhere. It is our duty as a House of Commons not to look after the interests of the Government in placing burdens upon individuals, but to look after the individuals and to save them from the unnecessary and often wicked burdens which are put on them by the Government of the day. I hope that hon. Members will vote in favour of this sensible Amendment, because it is obviously in the interests of the ordinary persons of this country.

On a point of Order. Are we not entitled to some reply from the Assistant Postmaster-General?

I was just going to get up. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Perhaps I might briefly reply to the points that have been raised. I shall not attempt to follow the arguments of the hon. Mem- ber for Galloway (Mr. McKie) with regard to what should be the correct tariff for the Scottish Hydro-Electric Board to charge for their electrical energy. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) seemed to be under the impression that the regulations will be entirely arbitrary. In point of fact, the tribunal will have the power to relax the regulations in favour of appellants. I fail to see how it can be said that my right hon. Friend is acting in an arbitrary manner.

The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) appeared to be special pleading for the Scottish Hydro-Electric authority. There is no intention, by regulation or by order of my right hon. Friend to compel the Scottish Hydro-Electric authority or the British Electrical authority to lay all their cables underground because they might cause interference. If there were any question about the siting of pylons, there would be complete consultation among all the departments concerned. Suppose, as a result of a leaky insulator on a high tension pylon, there were interference; does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that the Post Office should pay for the costs of keeping in full and proper maintenance the whole of the network, simply because of that neglect of maintenance?

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that there might well be interference from other causes than faulty maintenance?

I agree, but I am dealing with the Amendment as it left the other place, and with the reasons why my right hon. Friend cannot agree with the Amendment. There is the other point that this suggestion does not deal only with electrical authorities, who are not the only people or the only commercial concerns likely to cause interference. Electrical apparatus in industrial establishments can cause considerable interference. Do the Opposition suggest that we should pay for the whole cost of protecting that apparatus and preventing it from causing interference? That would be something entirely new. Nobody suggests that because the Ministry of Labour says that under the Factory Acts machinery should be protected that the whole of the cost should fall upon the Ministry of Labour. That seems a fair analogy.

Where interference is being caused, it is entirely wrong that the Post Office should have to meet the cost, if it needed more than the sum of £100 to remove the interference. The later Amendment mentioned by my right hon. Friend gives the ordinary individual a chance, and it prevents an arbitrary Government official placing a burden on his shoulders.

Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, in view of the really astonishing misrepresentation of what I have said—I am sure it is quite unintentional but it is misrepresentation

Division No. 209.]


[9.53 p.m.

Acland, Sir RichardEvans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Lavers, S.
Adams, Richard (Balham)Ewart, R.Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Albu, A. H.Fairhurst, F.Lindgren, G. S.
Allen, A C. (Bosworth)Farthing, W. J.Lipson, D. L.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Field, Capt. W. J.Logan, D. G.
Alpass, J. H.Foot, M. M.Longden, F.
Austin, H. LewisForman, J. C.Lyne, A. W.
Awbery, S. S.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)McAdam, W.
Ayles, W. H.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.McEntee, V. La T.
Bacon, Miss A.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.McGhee, H. G.
Balfour, A.Gibbins, J.McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Barstow, P. G.Gibson, C. W.McKinlay, A. S.
Barton, C.Gilzean, A.Maclean, N. (Govan)
Battley, J. R.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)McLeavy, F.
Bechervaise, A. E.Gooch, E. G.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Benson, G.Goodrich, H. E.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Berry, H.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Mainwaring, W. H.
Bing, G. H. C.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)
Binns, J.Grenfell, D. R.Mann, Mrs. J.
Blenkinsop, A.Grey, C. F.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Blyton, W. R.Grierson, E.Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)
Boardman, H.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Messer, F.
Bramall, E. A.Guy, W. H.Middleton, Mrs. L.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Haire, John E. (Wycombe)Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Mitchison, G. R.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Moody, A. S.
Brown, George (Belper)Hardy, E. A.Morley, R.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Harrison, J.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Burke, W. A.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMort, D. L.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Moyle, A.
Carmichael, JamesHerbison, Miss M.Nally, W.
Champion, A. J.Hewitson, Capt. M.Naylor, T. E.
Chetwynd, G. R.Hobson, C. R.Neal, H. (Claycross)
Cobb, F. A.Holman, P.Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)
Cocks, F. S.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Coldrick, W.Horabin, T. L.Noel-Buxton, Lady
Collick, P.Houghton, A. L. N. D.Oldfield, W. H.
Collindridge, F.Hoy, J.Paget, R. T.
Collins, V. J.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
Colman, Miss G. M.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Cooper, G.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Palmer, A. M. F.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Pargiter, G. A.
Crossman, R. H. S.Janner, B.Parkin, B. T.
Cullen, Mrs.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)
Daggar, G.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)Paton, J. (Norwich)
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Jenkins, R. H.Pearson, A.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)John, W.Peart, T. F.
Deer, G.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepaol)Popplewell, E.
Delargy, H. J.Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Porter, F. (Warrington)
Diamond, J.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Porter, G. (Leeds)
Dobbie, W.Keenan, W.Price, M. Philips
Donovan, T.Kenyon, C.Proctor, W. T.
Dumpleton, C. W.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Pryde, D. J.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Kinley, J.Pursey, Comdr. H.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Lang, G.Randall, H. E.

as clear as daylight—may I say that I never suggested that we were only dealing with an electrical authority—

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I have been grossly misrepresented, and I was trying to put it right.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 97.

Rankin, J.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Reeves, J.Sorensen, R. W.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Reid, T. (Swindon)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWigg, George
Rhodes, H.Sparks, J. A.Wilkins, W. A.
Ridealgh, Mrs. M.Steele, T.Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Robens, A.Stross, Dr. B.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Stubbs, A. E.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Sylvester, G. O.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Royle, C.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Sargood, R.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Scollan, T.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Willis, E.
Sharp, GranvilleThurtle, ErnestWise, Major F. J.
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Titterington, M. F.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)Tolley, L.Woods, G. S.
Shurmer, P.Viant, S. P.Yates, V. F.
Silverman, J. (Erdington)Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)Zilliacus, K.
Simmons, C. J.Warbey, W. N.
Skeffington, A. M.Watson, W. M.


Skinnard, F. W.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)Mr. Snow and
Smith, C. (Colchester)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)Mr. George Wallace.
Smith, Ellis (Stoke)West, D. G.


Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Amory, D. HeathcoatGrimston, R. V.Pickthorn, K.
Astor, Hon. M.Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.
Baldwin, A. E.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.
Barlow, Sir J.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Ramsay, Maj. S.
Bennett, Sir P.Hogg, Hon. Q.Rayner, Brig. R.
Birch, NigelHope, Lord J.Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Howard, Hon. A.Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)
Bowen, R.Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bower, N.Hurd, A.Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Sanderson, Sir F.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanJeffreys, General Sir G.Scott, Lord W.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Carson, E.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamSnadden, W. M.
Challen, C.Lancaster, Col. C. G.Spearman, A. C. M.
Channon, H.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Strauss, Henry (English Universities)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Low, A. R. W.Studholme, H. G.
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Teeling, William
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.Turton, R. H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.McCallum, Maj. D.Vane, W. M. F.
Crowder, Capt. John E.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Walker-Smith, D.
Cuthbert, W. N.McFarlane, C. S.Ward, Hon. G. R.
Digby, Simon WingfieldMcKie, J. H. (Galloway)White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Drewe, C.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Erroll, F. J.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)York, C.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Mellor, Sir J.Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)


Galbraith, Cmdr T. D. (Pollok)Nicholson, G.Brigadier Mackeson and
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Nield, B. (Chester)Colonel Wheatley.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.

Lords Amendment: In page 12, line 31, after "notice" insert "or allocate the cost," disagreed to.

Clause 12—(Enforcement Of Regula- Tions As To Sales, Etc, By Manu- Facturers And Others)

Lords Amendment: In page 13, line 36, after "heard," insert:

"and has, in accordance with the rules regulating the procedure of the tribunal, procured himself to be made a party to the reference."

10.0 p.m.

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment corresponds to the similar Amendment in Clause 11, page 12, line 21. The same conditions of costs are applicable to intervenors under the present Clause as in Clause 11.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 16—(Regulations And Orders)

Lords Amendment: In page 18, line 30, leave out from beginning to "shall," in line 33 and insert:

"(2) The power to make orders conferred on the Postmaster-General by section eight of this Act and any power conferred on him by any of the provisions of this Act to make regulations shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, and any statutory instrument made in the exercise of any of the said powers."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

It is not in accordance with Parliamentary practice to require Orders in Council extending the provisions of Acts of Parliament to the Isle of Man or to the Channel Islands to be laid before Parliament. The Amendment modifies the Bill accordingly.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 19—(Interpretation)

Lords Amendment: In page 20, line 12, after "means" insert "the prejudicing by."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a rather technical matter. The definition of "interference" in Clause 19 (4) of the Bill as it left this House was considered on reflection to be unsatisfactory. The definition treated the emission or reflection of electro-magnetic energy as the "interference," if the energy prejudiced the wireless telegraphy. But the "interference" consists not in the emitting or reflecting of the energy, but in the prejudicial effect of the energy on the telegraphy if the energy should get into the wireless receiver. The Amendment corrects the definition by giving it this sense.

Lords Amendment: In page 20, line 19, at end insert:
"(5) In considering for any of the purposes of this Act, whether, in any particular case, any interference with any wireless telegraphy caused or likely to be caused by the use of any apparatus, is or is not undue interference, regard shall be had to all the known circumstances of the case and the interference shall not be regarded as undue interference if so to regard it would unreasonably cause hardship to the person using or desiring to use the apparatus."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is similar to the previous Amendment.

We are now on the Amendment to insert the new subsection at the end of line 19. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not the same as the previous Amendment.

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. My remark really applied to the previous Amendment.

The last statement of the Postmaster-General rather bears out what I thought earlier, that he has become thoroughly mixed and is not quite certain to which Amendment he is speaking. This is a most unsatisfactory procedure but it cannot be helped, I suppose, under this Government.

The Question is, "That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The Amendment attempts to define "undue interference." It is not only a technical definition of undue interference but it is framed in such a way as to take into consideration certain human circumstances which may arise with regard to cost or to the number of people who may be affected by the apparatus which is causing interference. It is in order to be less arbitrary that in another place the Amendment was inserted in order to prevent undue hardship.

Question put, and agreed to.

First Schedule—(Procedure In Relation To Suspension And Revocation Of Authorities To Wireless Personnel)

Lords Amendment: In page 21, line 46, at end, to insert:

"(5) Where the Postmaster-General revokes the authority or continues the suspension thereof, he shall, if requested so to do by the person to whom the authority was issued, inform him of the opinion which the advisory committee expressed as to the action which ought to be taken as respects the revocation of the authority or the continuation or termination of the suspension thereof."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Hon. Members opposite will remember that on the Committee stage they brought up the question of the revocation of authority, and asked that when such a decision was made the person concerned should be told some of the reasons for it. This gives power to give some of the reasons.

Question put, and agreed to.

Second Schedule—(Provisions As To The Appeal Tribunal)

Lords Amendment: In page 22, leave out lines 3 to 20, and insert:

"1.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, the members of the appeal tribunal, other than any members appointed to act for a particular case, shall hold office for such period as may be determined at the time of their respective appointments.
(2) Any member of the tribunal may at any time by notice in writing to the Lord Chancellor resign his appointment.
(3) If a member of the tribunal becomes a member of the advisory committee, his office shall thereupon become vacant.
(4) The Lord Chancellor may declare the office of any member of the tribunal vacant on the ground of incapacity to perform the duties thereof, or on the ground of misconduct.
(5) If any member of the tribunal becomes bankrupt or makes an arrangement with his creditors, his office shall thereupon become vacant
(6) In the application of the preceding provisions of this paragraph to members appointed by the Lord President of the Court of Session, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland or the Secretary of State, references to the Lord President, Lord Chief Justice or Secretary of State, as the case may be, shall be substituted for the references to the Lord Chancellor."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a matter which relates to an Amendment to which we have agreed on a previous Clause, which refers to the inclusion on the Tribunal, where the chairman of the Tribunal or parties to the dispute require it, of two jurymen in addition to the chairman. The ordinary Tribunal consists of a chairman plus two assessors, and in cases where either the chairman or the two parties to the dispute require it it is proposed to add two jurymen in addition to the chairman.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by a juryman in this matter? Can a juryman return a verdict against the president's nominees.

There is a later Amendment as to whether it should be a majority decision, or not.

I believe I tried to explain that the ordinary Tribunal is composed of a chairman, a legal man, and two assessors and that the decision is in the hands of the chairman. It may be that in rather important cases it would be more desirable to have more than one person making the decision; therefore, two other persons should be included who may also have a say in the decision.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 23, line 17, after "president" insert:

"or, in a case where additional members have been appointed, the decision of all, or, in the event of a difference of opinion, of the majority of, the members of the tribunal other than the assessors."

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This makes a majority decision necessary.

I think it is a good thing that we have this Amendment. I cannot understand why the Government, at an earlier stage, wanted to give the president the final power. It is quite natural that we should go to another place to remove the arbitrary powers put on the president, and now we lay it down quite clearly that in cases where additional persons are appointed the decision shall be the opinion of all, or in the case of a difference of opinion, it shall be the decision of the majority. That is good, sound, policy with which we all agree. But it is really shocking that we should always have to be having amending Bills which include appallingly arbitrary offices which the Government set up.

The Postmaster-General said that this dealt with two extra jurymen. I cannot see that the word "jurymen" comes into it at all. Could he explain how that is effected by this Amendment?

I hope I shall not be accused of "undue interference" with this problem, but the Postmaster-General kept on using the word "juryman." He seems to be unacquainted with the fact that the word "juryman" is a perfectly well-known technical term. Certain persons in the community have to serve on juries. So far as I can make out this has nothing to do with that sort of juryman. I imagine that there are to be special ad hoc appointed members of the Tribunal. If that is so it is a pity that the Postmaster-General did not make it clear. My hon. Friend is obviously completely confused in the matter and it is not his fault. It is due to the Postmaster-General using a technical term in a matter which is not technical. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that could be made clear.

I was indicating assent. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman prefers it, I will say "yes."

Question put, and agreed to.

Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to ( Several with Special Entries).

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their Amendments to the Bill: Colonel Gomme-Duncan, Mr. Grimston, Mr. Douglas Houghton, Mr. W. R. Williams and Mr. Wilfred Paling; Three to be the quorum.—[ Mr. Wilfred Paling.]

Committee to withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.