§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to certain floods which have occurred recently in the Lea Valley District, in which the Government Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey is situate, resulting in great injury to the property of the neighbouring farmers; whether he is aware that those floods are alleged to have been caused through neglect in opening certain weirs, so as to allow the water to flow freely, or in clearing out the channel of the River Lea where it passes through the Powder Factory, so as to provide a channel for overflow water from the Lea navigation 841 in times of flood; whether he has received communications on behalf of the farmers in question, suggesting that the Government officers are really responsible for the neglect of the weirkeepers, and proposing that inquiries should be instituted by independent engineers, to be appointed with the approval of the sufferers by these floods; and whether such inquiries have been made, and with what result?
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
I cannot add much to the reply made yesterday to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Epping. Floods do occur from time to time in the low-lying districts around Waltham Abbey, and in May certain lands were flooded owing to a greater quantity of water coming through the Conservancy gates at King's Weir than could escape by the channel of the old River Lea. There does not appear to have been delay on the part of the weir keepers in opening the gates at the War Department mill. As mentioned yesterday, the Conservators appear to have insufficient powers to bring about a combination of the riparian owners with a view to taking steps to prevent flooding.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Has not the War Office disputed for years the right of the Lea Conservators to interfere with any of this water?