§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ Clause 9 [Advisory committee and appeal tribunal]:
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON moved at the beginning of subsection (3) to insert "Subject to the provisions of this section". The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving this Amendment may I say that I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Listowel to read a statement in reply to a point which was raised earlier by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon? I will read this statement and then proceed to deal with the Amendment. My noble friend 786 promised Lord Simon to say something on the procedure which is proposed for the tribunal set up by this Bill. Here is the statement:
§ The Lord Chancellor will make rules for the conduct of its proceedings in England and Wales; the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland; and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in that part of the United Kingdom. We contemplate that the tribunal will sit to hear evidence and argument, in the course of which documents will be put in in the usual way, and the parties will be free to appear in person, or by solicitor or counsel, or to call expert witnesses.
§ My noble friend also undertook to see whether the reference to members of the appeal tribunal in the first article of the Second Schedule, in the plural, is correct, seeing that the decision of the President was to be the decision of the tribunal. We have examined this point and we find that there is nothing incorrect in the expression which appears also in Clause 9, subsections (4) and (5). The reference is to the President and the two assessors, and it is not incorrect to do so, since the right of decision specifically given to the President and the duty of advising given to the assessors, could not be affected.
§ With the proposed Amendments to Clause 9, which I am now moving, the tribunal will become a "three-man show" for discharging its function of decision in certain cases. It will be enlarged by the addition of the two extra members. All these Amendments to Clause 9 relate to the same subject. The matter is dealt with at length in the Amendment standing in my name at page 9, line 32. That is the long Amendment at the end of the list. If it meets with your Lordships' convenience, I propose that we discuss all these Amendments to this clause together. The early Amendments merely pave the way to the long one at the end.
§ When we were discussing the Bill on a former occasion it was pointed out that there might be objections to what was described as a "one-man tribunal" in certain cases, although there are two assessors. My right honourable friend the Postmaster-General has considered very carefully the contentions which were put forward and the long Amendment at line 32 is designed to meet criticisms 787 which were raised. Your Lordships will see from that Amendment that where it is appropriate, or even on the application of the chairman of the tribunal, two other persons may be added. There may well be a large number of small cases—that is, cases of minor importance—in respect of which it would not be common sense to have an extra large tribunal, but in other cases where the parties think it right, or, alternatively, if the chairman thinks it right, then two other persons can be added. We have incorporated words designed to meet criticisms which were raised by some noble Lords who said, in effect, that they did not want the tribunal to be composed solely of experts. The suggestion was that it should have on it ordinary, sensible, experienced people. The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, stressed that point, and we have tried to meet it by stipulating that these two extra persons who may be appointed need not necessarily possess legal qualifications or expert knowledge. They must, of course, be suitable persons. I hope that the Amendment fully meets the criticisms which were raised with regard to the tribunal. I formally move the first Amendment which relates to it.
Page 8, line 34, at the beginning insert ("Subject to the provisions of this section").—(Viscount Addison.)
§ LORD CHERWELL
My Lords, I think we are all obliged to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House for moving this Amendment. It is extremely difficult to get a really suitable tribunal for all cases, but I think we can trust the Lord Chancellor of the day to appoint appropriate persons. If, for instance, there was a case of interest to housewives, he could easily put a woman on the tribunal. If not, he would undoubtedly put on someone else who was suitable. I think this Amendment goes a long way to meet the difficulties which we envisaged. I welcome the Amendment and I thank the noble Viscount for putting it down.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, as I have explained all these Amendments relate to the same subject. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 9, line 18, leave out ("Provided if the parties to any particular case") 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").—(Viscount Addison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 9, line 21, leave out ("proviso") and insert ("subsection").—(Viscount Addison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 9, line 26, leave out ("this subsection") and insert ("subsection (3) of this section").—(Viscount Addison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 9, 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.")—(Viscount Addison.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 10:
§ Regulations as to radiation of electro-magnetic energy, etc.
§ (2) The said requirements shall be such requirements as the Postmaster-General thinks fit for the purpose of ensuring that the use of the apparatus does not cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy, and may in particular include—
- (a) requirements as to the maximum intensity of electro-magnetic energy of any specified frequencies which may be radiated in any direction from the apparatus while it is being used; and
- (b) in the case of an apparatus the power for which is supplied from electric lines, requirements as to the maximum electromagnetic energy of any specified frequencies which may be injected into those lines by the apparatus,
§ 4.37 p.m.
LORD CHERWELL moved to add to subsection (2):
("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.")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment is virtually the same as one which I put down on the Committee stage, but I have been advised that it should be inserted at a somewhat different place.
§ Its intention, as I made plain previously, is to protect the ordinary domestic user, and more especially the housewife, against being forced at possibly considerable expense to make an alteration in her domestic appliances—an electric iron, an electric bedwarmer, an electric stove or any other item in the variety of electric appliances which are used nowadays in the home. The proposal is that she should find the money if it is a very small sum, but that if it is a considerable sum she should not be put to any expense over and above one florin in putting the apparatus right. At the time, the objection was raised that the interference might be due to the apparatus being out of order. I hope that this point has been met by the words at the end of the Amendment, which insist that the apparatus shall be "in reasonable repair and running order." Without some such words, anyone could have apparatus repaired at the expense of the B.B.C., or whomsoever it might be.
§ When this matter was discussed in Committee, the noble Viscount the Leader of the House showed great sympathy with our point of view, and said that he would try to frame some 790 form of words which would avoid placing on householders or housewives hardship which ought not to be placed on them. He gave the Committee that assurance, and we were content to leave the Amendment for the time being. I hope that the House and the Government will agree that this revised Amendment now meets the case, and will assent to its insertion in the Bill. The House will remember that in Committee we discussed the somewhat vague expression "undue interference." To meet this, the Government have agreed—admittedly only in an interpretation clause, but I am sure we can trust those concerned to live up to the intention of it—that interference will not be held to be undue if to install a suppressor would cause unreasonable hardship to the user of the apparatus.
§ If the Government accept the Amendment that I have put down to the Amendment later on in Clause 19, it will meet the difficulty with which I have tried to deal in Clause 19. But it will not meet the difficulty of the housewife. It would be quite impossible in every individual case to consider whether one shilling, two shillings or five shillings would cause unreasonable hardship. And even if it were possible, it would lead to endless complaints and recriminations—perhaps even to questions in Parliament! After all, the B.B.C. pay something like £3 to the Post Office to trace every individual source of interference; if to suppress the interference costs only a few shillings, surely they can take it in their stride. But if it costs more than a few shillings, surely it is an unreasonable hardship on the housewife to ask her to pay for it. The whole problem, of course, is only transitional, because manufacturers will soon cease selling apparatus which interferes with neighbours' wireless sets. I hope the House will agree to make a definite limit to the cost which domestic users can be compelled to bear and make a clean job of the matter.
Page 10, line 32, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Cherwell.)
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I can say sincerely that I have ventured to live up to the promise that I made at an earlier stage. I have come to the conclusion, however, with sincere regret, that my method is better than that recommended by the noble Lord who has just spoken. The point is that if we take 791 the noble Lord's Amendment, which relates to what has gone before, his argument hinges on the words "undue interference." A suggestion was made that we might overcome the difficulty by defining "undue interference." I am afraid that I must ask your Lordships, as the noble Lord has referred to it, to consider also the Amendment in my name to Clause 19, in which we endeavour to define "undue interference." My Amendment says: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"—for instance, if a housewife has a carpet sweeper in good order or if it be neglected—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 think that is a very wide and exceedingly charitable interpretation of the words "undue interference." It means that no housewife, in the circumstances which the noble Lord contemplates, and about which we all talked with sympathy, would have hardship imposed upon her.
About the other question, I confess that I was completely convinced in the discussions which have taken place, though I know the noble Lord was not. Where there is a person with an apparatus—say, a carpet-sweeper—which is causing interference with someone else's apparatus, the carpet-sweeper may be interfering with half-a-dozen receiving sets. Thus it would be very difficult to ascertain precisely who was being interfered with and who was not. It is a new principle that we must ask the State to step in and pay the cost of adjustment if "A" has something which interferes with something belonging to "B." I think that would be opening a door which might prove to be a very wide one. If that principle is accepted, there is no inducement to anybody to attach the Gadget which I understand can be attached to an apparatus to prevent it causing undue interference because, sooner or later, the Post Office will come along and pay the piper. That might have a very widespread effect.
792 It is true that the housewife might be involved in a cost of four or five shillings—I am trying not to discuss the £100, that comes later on—but it is fair to say that this wide interpretation of "undue interference," is the right and fair way of meeting the difficulty. We must remember that until the interference goes beyond that interpretation, it is not interference which the housewife can be called upon to put right. It is difficult to imagine how, in the great variety of cases that might conceivably arise if there were no such check as this interpretation, we could saddle the Post Office or any State Department with the cost of adjustment. I think this is a fair way of dealing with the matter. Therefore, in view of the difficulties which would certainly be created by the noble Lord's Amendment, I hope he will not press it, and will accept my alternative in all good will.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will be greatly disappointed with the response which the Leader of the House has given, particularly after the hopes he raised last time. I think he has presented the case in an entirely wrong perspective. He has spoken as though the person who is using a perfectly legitimate household article, and keeping it in good repair, is committing a nuisance. A person who commits a nuisance is liable, and nobody suggests that the State should be liable for a nuisance created by private persons. In this case, nobody is committing a nuisance. All that has happened is that, after she has bought a cleaner or an iron of a kind entirely approved and sold in every shop, which she is encouraged to buy and which she keeps in perfect repair, the housewife finds that this perfectly legitimate article interferes with a television set or, a particular kind of radio so that the owners do not see or hear so well as they would if a suppressor were installed. That is no question of a person committing a nuisance. Therefore, to my mind, the case of the State being asked to create a precedent does not arise.
In the second place, the State already pay a good deal of money in this business. When this "heresy hunt" goes on, and the Post Office or the B.B.C. (which- 793 ever does it) go out with their antennæ to find out whose flat iron is interfering with the noble Lord's television set, it costs, I understand, £3 or £4 a time. Therefore, already the Post Office are paying £3 or £4 per hunt. It is not extending that precedent very far to say that they should pay the little extra for putting the apparatus into repair.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Not into repair. I am obliged to the noble Viscount. I mean the cost for putting on an extra gadget in order to suppress interference. The Amendment about "undue interference," which the noble Viscount is proposing later, does not meet this case at all, unless he is prepared to say here and now that if it costs more than 2s. to fit a suppressor, the Postmaster-General will hold that it is not undue interference. If he means that, then we ought to amend the Bill by saving: "Any interference caused by an ordinary domestic article shall be considered for the purposes of this Act to be undue interference if to fit a suppressor would cost more than 2s." The noble Viscount does not mean that. If he does not mean that, then his Amendment about undue hardship because of cost is quite irrelevant to this point because it is inserted for a different purpose. That is put in to meet the case where the cost of doing it is on a very large scale. I must say that I think, as between two sets of people, it would be wholly unreasonable to put in an unknown charge. The noble Viscount said 4s. or 5s. I am told that to fit some of these suppressors may cost 11s., 12s. or 15s., and the article to which they would be fitted would probably cost only 30s. in the first instance. I will make the noble Viscount a sporting offer—I hope I carry your Lordships with me so soon after certain sporting events. He said it would not be more than 4s. That is 2s. snore than my noble and scientific friend has proposed. I do not want to light over 2s. If the noble Viscount will here and now say that no housewife shall be called upon to pay more than 4s.—which we can put in perfectly clear terms in the Bill, instead of the 2s. of my noble friend—for my part, I will close with that offer. Is that a firm offer?
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
No. I am not even sure that the noble Viscount is entitled to speak again. But if he will answer me now on that point, I will continue my speech.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I think, by leave of the House, I am entitled to reply when the noble Lord has finished.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Then, if I may respectfully venture to tender my advice to the House—because I am not in the position of being able to speak again—I would strongly advise the House that, unless the noble Viscount gives an absolute firm and unequivocal undertaking that 4s. is the limit, then the House should divide on this Amendment. I would remind the House of what the noble Viscount said the last time. We did carry a great deal of conviction to him then. After some agreeable compliments which he paid to our respective dialetical capacities and domestic felicities, he went on to say:On this matter, there is really nothing between us. Being, as the noble Viscount properly said, a homely person, I entirely agree with the point of view which he has presented, and so does my noble friend Lord Listowel. I agree with the noble Viscount's suggestion that a householder who does not keep his apparatus in order may fairly be called upon to do so. That is quite reasonable—we accept that. It would be a hardship on a person who had bought a flat iron, or whatever it may he, and is using it bona fide, in a proper manner, if someone should go to him and say: 'This is interfering with someone else's gadget and you will have to pay us so much.'That really was leading us forward, and, I thought, forward not up the garden path, but in a much happier direction. The noble Viscount went on:We should want to look very carefully into the matter before we made it possible for anything of that sort to happen … we will endeavour to frame some form of words which will avoid placing any hardship upon any householder or housewife which should not be placed upon them.In the light of that argument, which the noble Lord gave then as his sincere opinion, having heard our observations, 795 I thought we were all agreed. To say now that it may be 10s. or 15s. and there shall be no limit upon the cost, is, to my mind, wholly unreasonable. There is no precedent in this, which I hope is a unique measure. It will be a diminishing measure, too, because as the new apparatus comes on the market the provision is put into the Bill that in future these articles have to be equipped with suppressors, and anyone buying a new article will buy one which meets the case. So far as putting the charge on the State goes, as I say, they already pay £3 or £4 per hunt. We pay £1 for a licence, and there are 11,000,000 licences. If we cannot agree to underwrite the wretched housewife to the extent of 4s. or 5s. in these few cases out of that £11,000,000 then I think the House should divide.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I am sure we have all enjoyed listening to the noble Viscount. His account of the Post Office spreading about these antennæ and catching people was most delightful. At the same time, I would invite the attention of the House to what I am suggesting in order to meet him. The words in my Amendment are:… undue interference if so to regard it would unreasonably cause hardship to the person using or desiring to use the apparatus.I think those words, "unreasonably cause hardship," are a fair Parliamentary interpretation of the undertaking that I gave. We have spent a long time searching for those words, and I think they meet the point. The noble Viscount, with his customary Parliamentary skill, naturally left out the main difficult point which we have had to consider in deciding on this form of words. If we are to accept that A has something which is a nuisance to B, C, D, E, and F, and the
§ Post Office or the State have to come in and pay the cost, there ceases to be any inducement on housewives themselves, the manufacturers or anybody else. I do not think that is a fair thing to ask. I think the fair way of dealing with it is to see that the Postmaster-General does not find that anybody is causing undue interference if that finding inflicts hardship on the person concerned. I am sorry the noble Viscount is insistent upon this point, and I am afraid that I cannot give him the firm offer for which he asks. In the circumstances, I am afraid I must take the consequences.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, may I be allowed to add one word without joining the controversy? The noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, is mistaken if he thinks that the proposal to introduce some definition of what would be "undue interference" had any connection with this controversy at all.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I made the proposal because it seemed to me—and I think to others—that it was just as well to explain what was meant, but it was not with reference to the housewife at all. It was merely for the purpose of showing that there might be cases where, although the interference was considerable, none the less it would not be "undue interference."
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
The noble and learned Viscount must see that the Amendment which we are discussing refers to that specific matter.
§ On Question, Whether the said proviso shall be there inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 42; Not-Contents, 23.797
|Cholmondeley, M.||Long, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Townshend, M.||Margesson, V.||Gifford, L.|
|Simon, V.||Hatherton, L. [Teller.]|
|Beauchamp, E.||Swinton, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.||Trenchard, V.||Llewellin, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Lloyd, L.|
|Howe, E.||Ailwyn, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Lindsay, E.||Belstead, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Blackford, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Munster, E.||Borwick, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Broughshane, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Charnwood, L.||Schuster, L.|
|Allenby, V.||Cherwell, L.||Soulbury, L.|
|Arbuthnott, V.||Clydesmuir, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Hailsham, V.||Digby, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Jowitt, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Amwell, L.||Marley, L.|
|Boyd-Orr, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|Addison, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Chorley, L.||Morrison L. [Teller.]|
|Crook, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|St. Davids, V.||Darwen, L.||Quibell, L.|
|Samuel, V.||Henderson, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Holden, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Ammon, L.||Kershaw, L.||Shepherd, L. [Teller.]|
|Amulree, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, before the next Amendment is moved, might I ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, and the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, how it would be convenient to take these Amendments? As I see it, the next Amendments in the name of my two noble friends, and the Amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Cherwell to the Government Amendment on Clause 19, all really raise the same points. There is the question of whether there should be a power, either of the Postmaster-General or of the tribunal, to allocate expenditure in the cases where the cost is above £100, and then of how it should be done. It would appear to me that it would raise the question whether we have to make a provision in the regulations, whether this first Amendment is unnecessary and whether it would be sufficient to have an Amendment to Clause II or Clause 19, whichever is the better place. In any case, if we could debate the whole question on the Amendment which is now being called it would be simple, if the House desires to divide, to divide on whatever issues are most appropriate to a Division.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I think that that would be a very convenient way. These Amendments relate to the same subject. The method which the noble Viscount suggests would, I think, be a very sensible one. If the House is agreeable, we could have a discussion on the group of Amendments and noble Lords could then divide on either the Amendment to Clause 11 or on the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, to Clause 19, and deal with them altogether.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I do not think we should unduly 798 strain our Rules. It would be better to select a particular Amendment, and I suggest that we take the one to Clause 10 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, and the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth.
LORD POLWARTH moved, after subsection (2) to insert:
( ) The regulations made under this section shall where appropriate make provision—
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to move This Amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Airlie, I must express regret that he is unable to be present, but owing to another important engagement it was impossible for him to be here. I will try not to go over the whole of the background to this Amendment, since it was fairly fully discussed on the last stage. The position, under the Bill, as I see it, is this. If a person, from an individual with an electric iron to the British Electricity Authority with high tension mains, is causing interference with wireless telegraphy in any form, he may have a notice served on him by the Postmaster-General ordering him to suppress or stop that interference. If he feels aggrieved or thinks it is unreasonable, he may go to the tribunal, and the tribunal have only two alternatives at the present time. One is to say to the person causing the interference that it is undue interference and that he must suppress it; the other is to say that it is not undue interference and that he need not suppress it.
§ There is no provision in the Bill for the cost of suppressing the interference to be divided between more than one of the parties; it seems that either the interference has to be suppressed or that it 799 need not be suppressed. The object of this Amendment is to establish the principle of the allocation of the cost in certain circumstances. There is an Amendment down in my noble friend's name and also one in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, which will further develop this principle. This Amendment is intended to establish the principle for a start. On the Committee stage, Amendments were moved with this object, but were withdrawn following certain assurances by the Postmaster-General that the matter would be looked into further to see whether some solution could be reached. If I may say so without disrespect in his absence, I know that I myself and other noble Lords on this side of the House were very far from convinced by the reply which he gave.
§ My principal concern in moving this Amendment is with major bodies such as the electricity undertakings, because they have these high tension lines and transmitter stations and generators which are capable of causing very considerable interference. The case I have particularly in mind is this. There might be a high tension line running across country over high ground, and the Admiralty might decide that it would be desirable to set up radar on one of the hills in close proximity; or the Post Office might decide to establish a radio station near the lines. It might be absolutely essential that this station should be established there; there might be no other available point where it could be established with the same efficiency. So far as I can see, as the Bill stands at present, if it were decided by the tribunal that it was in the general interest that the station should be in that position, there is no provision for anyone to bear any of the cost of diverting the electricity line other than the electricity authority themselves. That cost may be extremely heavy.
§ I have here some figures which have been supplied to me. I understand that the cost of moving one of the high tension lines of 132,000 voltage would amount to as much as £5,000 a mile in the case of diversion, or, in the case of putting it underground, to as much as £22,000 a mile. There may be other developments in the future. I understand that railways are experimenting with the 800 use of wireless for control, and it may well be that before long they may make extensive use of it; and it is a well known fact that, particularly in heavy country, railways and electric lines are forced to run along the bottom of valleys in close proximity. I remember some Army exercises in Scotland during the war when the plan was that Corps headquarters should move along a road through the mountains for thirty or forty miles. What had been forgotten was that there was also a high tension line which ran along the bottom of the valley for the whole distance. The result was that throughout the exercise it was completely impossible to establish any wireless contact between Corps headquarters and any of the other formations.
§ I feel that it is not in every instance fair that as a result of interference the electricity authority should have to bear the cost of a diversion. I know that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board are seriously concerned about the effect this Bill will have. My noble friend explained that position fully on the Committee stage. These authorities have to supply electricity in sparsely-populated areas, and they must take lines over great distances and through many areas where it may be very necessary, particularly in the interests of defence, to establish radar and wireless stations. They have a statutory duty under the Act by which they were set up to supply electricity in their area at as cheap a rate as possible. Thus, if the British Electricity Authority find that it is necessary that a line should be diverted or put underground in the interests of a wireless station, the cost will inevitably be borne by the consumer of electricity. I daresay that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack may say that such matters can be settled between the parties. Well, my Lords, this might be a family quarrel, but family quarrels are often more difficult to settle than other kinds. That has been the experience in Scotland. Schemes they have put forward have been opposed by the Post Office, and then follow many long conferences and discussions, as a result of which much time and public money is wasted.
§ It is well known that it is no good expecting these things to be solved by a few friendly discussions; there must be 801 some power behind them to compel a settlement. I think the power to allocate the expense as between the different parties concerned would be a useful one. In many cases, it might induce the promoter of a wireless station or radar station, whether a private individual, a department or a corporation, to think again and see whether it could not be placed somewhere else, even at slightly greater expense, and thus avoid heavy expenditure on all sides. I realise that there is some doubt as to whether this first Amendment is the correct way to achieve this end. I am happy to leave that to your Lordships' decision. But what I think is absolutely essential—and I hope that other noble Lords on this side of the House will agree—is that there should be some provision in the Bill by which the cost can be borne by the different parties. I beg to move.
Page 10, line 32, at the end insert said new subsection.—(Lord Polwarth.)
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I will follow the example of the noble Lord and discuss the general issue. I will try to do so as briefly as possible, as we have a Royal Commission at half past five. The noble Lord has left out of account a considerable number of important considerations. In the first place, he dealt lightly with the possibility that, in the case of this vast hydro-electric scheme, if some other Government Department (say, the Admiralty) should wish to put up a station somewhere, that would interfere with the service, and that therefore the company might have to put their lines underground, which would cause extra expense. If I may say so, that is not dealing with the realities which I imagine would occur. When the proposal was put up, of course, the Admiralty would very soon receive representations from the great company in Scotland; no doubt Post Office engineers would immediately be brought in and the differences would be settled as between the various Government Departments—as things are settled. As a result of much experience, I have found that, where there are difficulties between Departments—as will always be the case, because one does not find everybody of the same view all the time—they are settled by sensible discussion and compromise. Sometimes the 802 Departments have to put their differences to the Cabinet, to be settled by them.
But in this case this great concern will not be let in for this immense cost. Look at what has to precede it. In the first place, the regulations which will determine these issues are made by the Postmaster-General after consultation with the advisory committee. If your Lordships will look at the top of page 10, you will see that:The Postmaster-General may, after consultation with the advisory committee, make regulations. …Who are the advisory committee? Upon the advisory committee are a number of experts, as provided for in Clause 9. They are to be nominated by the President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and other expert bodies. And I may say here, in passing, that the Post Office have been in close consultation with the big business interests concerned; and they are satisfied with the provisions of the Bill as it is, and that their interests will be fully safeguarded.
The advisory committee are to be called in to advise the Postmaster-General. The discussions will be highly technical, and will contain a number of technical words which will be understood only by those conversant with the subject. After that, there has to be something which causes "undue interference," and the Postmaster-General has to be satisfied about that. This is where my new proposal will come in. But, in addition to that point, on which the noble Lord is completely misled, if he will look at Clause 11 he will see that if any of the parties are not satisfied they can appeal to the tribunal. Before the Postmaster-General makes an enforcement order at all, he has to be satisfied that the conditions under Clause 11 have all been complied with, thatthe use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with any wireless telegraphy,and that all the necessary steps have been taken. Before he can make any enforcement order, he must be satisfied that that has been done. Then he makes his order, and one of the two aggrieved parties, if they are aggrieved and cannot settle their differences between them, can then take the case to the tribunal.
If your Lordships will look at page 12, your Lordships will see what the tribunal can then do. In this case, this tribunal would be composed of three persons. 803 Looking at page 12, subsection (4), paragraphs (a) and (b), the tribunalif they are satisfied that the apparatus in question complies with requirements applicable to it under the regulations, shall direct the Postmaster-General to revoke the notice. …Or they can go still further:If they are satisfied that the said requirements ought properly to be relaxed. …or that the interference would not be unreasonable or undue, they may direct the Postmaster-General to revoke or vary the notice. Therefore, every possible provision is made to meet these disputed cases, first by the character of the advisory committee, and second by the objections that have to be met before the Postmaster-General can make an enforcement order, which even then can be revoked or varied by the tribunal.
I am asked this question. Will the cost of carrying out the order be a matter of which the tribunal can take account? I am advised that it would be. As the words that I have down here say, if it would be inflicting unreasonable hardship, the cost involved would be a matter that would have to be taken into consideration. I suggest to your Lordships that instead of putting in an arbitrary provision of the kind now proposed, the provisions of the Bill—including the three clear safeguards that I have mentioned already—are adequate. As between Government Departments I say, quite frankly, that there is nothing in it. They would enter into this scheme in the ordinary way. So far as important industrial bodies are concerned, they will be brought into consultation at the very beginning. There is ample provision for their being brought into consultation. I suggest to your Lordships that this Amendment, or the series of Amendments of which this Amendment is a part, are entirely unnecessary. I hope that your Lordships will not adopt them.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.