The Gas regulation Act, 1920, enables the Minister for Industry and Commerce to extend the powers of statutory gas undertakings by a Special Order, which, before it is made must be laid in draft before both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas may, by Resolution, approve the draft Order in the form submitted or may approve it with modifications or additions. Under the Gas Regulation (Special Orders) Rules, 1940, a gas undertaking desiring to obtain fresh powers is required to give public notice of its intention to apply for the making of the Order. If there are any objections to the making of the Order the Minister may direct the holding of an inquiry, in the light of which he may modify, or refuse to make, the draft Order.
The City of Waterford Gas Company have applied to the Minister for a Special Order altering certain provisions of the City of Waterford Gas Acts and Orders, 1858 to 1949.
The following are the principal objects of the proposed Special Order:—
(i) To increase the authorised capital of the company from £80,400 to £250,000. The additional capital of £169,600, which may be raised by way of Ordinary stock or Preference stock, is required for the renewal and extension of the company's plant, the extension of supply mains to new housing areas in Waterford and the repayment of a bank overdraft.
(ii) To increase the borrowing powers of the company to an amount not exceeding the aggregate amount of the paid-up capital of the company. The additional borrowing powers may be exercised by the issue of debentures or debenture stock. A development programme commensurate with such a considerable increase in its borrowing powers is not immediately contemplated by the company. They wish, however, to obviate the necessity for seeking increased borrowing powers from time to time and are bringing these powers into line with common commercial practice by relating the permitted borrowing to the amount of paid-up share capital of the concern.
(iii) To increase from £3,000 to £12,500 the maximum amount which can be set aside out of the net profits of the company in any year towards a redemption fund, to be applied in redeeming any loans, mortgages or debentures raised by the company.
(iv) To authorise the continuing directors to act notwithstanding any vacancy in their number, provided that, if the number of directors holding office is less than three, they shall not act except for the purpose of filling a vacancy. The City of Waterford Gas Act, 1858, fixes the number of directors of the company at not less than three and not more than five.
(v) To authorise the company to capitalise undistributed profits, by making an issue of ordinary stock to be distributed by way of bonus to the holders of the consolidated stock of the company.
In accordance with the statutory requirements, notice of their intention to apply for the Order was given by the City of Waterford Gas Company. Notice was given (a) by publication in Iris Oifigiúil and in a local paper and (b) by sending copies to Waterford Corporation, Waterford County Council, the E.S.B., and certain Government Departments. No objection to the making of the Order has been received.
The draft Order is in a form acceptable to the City of Waterford Gas Company, and I now move that the House formally gives its approval to it by passing the resolution.