§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ The Minister of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The Bill carries its very exceptional nature in the wording of its Title. The circumstances under which it is proposed are, of course, of the most exceptional nature. We are all acquainted with the fact that we have been passing for the last year through a strange phase in the ever changing history of our national weather. The drought which began now more than 12 months ago has continued, not unvaried, but with a steadiness almost unexampled, at any rate in the recent history of our weather conditions. In order to find any comparable period of drought one has to go back as far as the year 1887 or 1888. In the course of the 12 months up to the end of March our shortage of rainfall was no less than 27 per cent. of the normal average. Even in the year 1887–8, a comparable year, the shortage was only 23 per cent., and I should not know how far to go back in order to find an equal shortage.
It is not only in the absolute shortage of rainfall that the period has been so exceptional and so unfortunate, but also in the seasonal distribution of the rainfall. There was a good fall in the late winter and the spring of a year ago, and but for that rather exceptionally good fall, now more than 12 months ago, we should have been in much greater difficulties much sooner than we have, but since then such rainfall as there has been has been badly distributed from the point of view of the conservation of our national water supplies, the most adverse circumstance being the exceptionally poor fall in the middle and later months of winter. During the winter months we have been no less than nearly six inches short of rain, and as the House apprehends that is, as I say, more unfortunate than a deficiency at another time of year, because rainfall, in winter is of more value in the replenishing of our reservoirs than rainfall in summer, as more of it goes into the reservoirs in winter.
500 We have observed, of course, a break in the drought at the beginning of March, when there were respectable rains, unfortunately not maintained since then, but those March rains were certainly not more than the average; indeed, they were rather below the average in their continuity. They had, I was given to understand, a good effect as far as the agricultural position was concerned. They had a good effect as far as the position of rural areas, dependent on surface supplies, was concerned, but unfortunately they were not sufficient and not sufficiently maintained in time to have any decisive effect as regards the replenishing of reserves in the great towns. The measure of the seriousness of the water situation is to be found in the state of the reserves of the great towns, and owing to this prolonged drought, we are confronted with the fact that they are at the present time so much lower than the essential minimum of such reserves for the time of year that it is absolutely essential that we should confront the situation and take such measures as may be taken in order to conserve our supplies.
I am not going to give figures for particular towns and particular areas, because I think that that would only tend to produce perhaps unnecessary alarm and anxiety, but it is not unusual at the present time to find great urban areas with their reserves less than half of what they ought to be at this time of year, and that is a writing on the wall so clear that, as I say, it requires the emergency action which to-day I am asking the House to take. One more fact in order to persuade the House of the essential nature of taking such action as can be taken, and that is that at the present time the reserves in the reservoirs, which ought to be rising all over the country in order to put us in a position to go through the drier months of the summer, are not rising, but, in spite of the March rains, they are actually falling.
As to the causes of this situation, there is, of course, in the first place, the deficiency of rainfall, but the House may be disposed to ask why, in the course of previous great droughts of 1887, 1921, and so on, it has never been necessary to take such drastic measures as those which I am proposing to take. I can only make suggestions as to the various causes which tend to accentuate the effects of the drought under modern conditions. I be- 501 lieve it is true to say that improvements in drainage, resulting in a more thorough draining off in certain quarters tend to make the results of droughtsmore serious. In the second place, undoubtedly, with advancing standards of life and possibilities of civilisation, including the bath, the domestic use of water is very much greater. We see enormous blocks of buildings being built with bathroom accommodation, far greater than ever before, and we recognise that this casts a very new and heavy burden on the water undertakers; and undoubtedly also the heavy expansion of industrial requirements leads to an increase in the use of water.
That brings me to an important aspect of this matter. In our calmer moments we all join in recognising that we are in the process of what we hope is the beginning of an industrial revival. It is essential that that revival should not be checked by any lack of an essential raw material in industry, namely, water: and in view of the increased demand on the water supply which the revival is likely to bring about, we are prepared to take any measure we can for its conservation. Those measures are contained in the present Bill. In the past and up to the present time, in the programme of action against the drought which the Government have been pursuing, we have circularised the water undertakers and those who are responsible for providing water urging economy and conservation, and in consequence of that circular much useful work has been done by the water undertakers in producing economy in the use of water and the increase of its supply. Many voluntary arrangements have been made for the better use of water. Much voluntary self-denial has been undertaken by communities where water was shortest in order to increase their supplies, but the House will readily apprehend that the situation grows more serious and it is not possible any longer to depend upon those voluntary arrangements only. They have done what can be done up to the present time, but from the present time forward we must arm ourselves with further powers.
Let me pause for a moment to explain the relation between the present Bill and the Water Bill which the House passed in the course of the last few months. That Measure dealt with a specific pur- 502 pose, which was the assistance of rural areas which were short of water, and for which help was useful and could be given in order to increase their supplies as a permanent measure. It was a Measure for bringing such aid to the assistance of the work of permanently improving; the water supplies of rural areas. It has a totally different purpose and nature from the present legislation. The legislation which we now propose is, in the first place, concerned wholly in the present emergency with doing what can be done to mitigate the effects of the drought. The first Bill was permanent, the present Bill is temporary. This Bill is concerned principally with the needs of the great urban areas. I do not mean to say that many of its provisions may not usefully be applied to assist the rural areas, too, but its central purpose and the chief need for it comes from the situation in the urban areas. The first Bill dealt with rural areas and this Bill deals with urban areas in particular. It would not have been possible under the forms of the House to include the two Measures under one Bill, and in any case, it was not possible to do so because the necessity for this second Bill had not yet become definite at the time the first Bill was passed.
That brings me to a word of explanation as to the time of introduction of this Bill. When I come to deal with the provisions of the Bill, I think the House will agree with me that they are of a drastic nature, as they must be if we are to do what has to be done in time and promptly enough to deal with the emergency of the drought. Being of that drastic nature, the provisions will undoubtedly cause inconvenience and expense in certain directions. You cannot interfere in the exceptional circumstances of the drought with the available water sources without causing a lot of trouble and a certain amount of inconvenience and expense in certain directions. I call the attention of the House to that in relation to this Bill because it would have been wrong to introduce it before it was absolutely necessary. I could not recommend so drastic a Measure before I was in a position to say that it was absolutely essential in view of the situation of the country in this period of the drought. So much as regards the reasons why the Bill was not introduced before.
503 I will turn to the reasons why it was not introduced later. Why is it introduced at this particular point of time? I think I can best explain the situation to the House, as it is conveyed to me in the advice of which I have had the advantage, in the following way. During a drought of the nature through which we have been passing of late you can, for a certain time during its duration, still say to yourself, "A normal rainfall will set matters right if it begins now; it will not, of course, avoid a certain amount of hardship and loss, but if a normal rainfall were now to begin it would set matters so far right as not to necessitate such drastic measures as are contained in this Bill." But after the lapse of a certain time, if the drought goes on for a certain time, you come to the point when you have to say to yourself, "Even if a normal rainfall begins now and continues steadily for the next 12 months, it will not save us from the necessity of special measures in order to conserve and distribute our supplies." At that point, what you are saying to yourself is this, "The amount of normal rainfall which it is reasonable to expect will not set matters right; nothing but an abnormal, torrential rainfall will set matters right."
That is the moment at which you have to take measures of the sort that are contained in this Bill, and that is why this is the moment of time when the Bill is introduced. We have reached a critical point at which even if normal rainfall is resumed and goes on steadily in the immediate future, it will not set matters so far right as to obviate the need for the Bill. Nothing but an abnormal rainfall will do so. It is not wise to expect-that, so that the only wisdom and prudence now is to ask the House to take exceptional measures. The House will remember that when I was introducing the Rural Water Bill on the 22nd February, I said:We have the programme of measures ready, and we shall steadily and progressively put them into force, in order to mitigate the evils of the drought, if the continuance of the drought makes it necessary."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1934; col. 524, Vol. 286.]In this Bill we find the next step in the order of development and the measures for dealing with the drought to which I referred on that occasion. I observe that 504 a Motion has been put down by the Opposition in respect to this Bill. I understand that it must be looked upon as a censure on the Government for leaving undone the things they ought according to the Motion to have done, and for doing the things which according to the Motion they ought not to have done. As is a common form with Motions of the Opposition, it is divided into three parts. The first part says:This House is of opinion that the increasing gravity of the situation with respect to water supplies is due to the lack of timely and effective action on the part of His Majesty's Government.Of course, I understand that His Majesty's Government must always accept responsibility for all the evils of humanity. The only complaint I feel justified in making against the wording of this part of the Motion is that there is no reference at all to the forces of nature. If I may say so, I think it would be more kindly and more just if some partnership in the national misfortune in respect of the drought had been shared between the Government and the forces of nature. However, I am not going to complain, because I recall a circumstance very vividly in my memory. It was once my interesting experience to be allowed to accompany a police officer in Central Africa in order to rescue a tribal medicine man who was being beaten by the savage tribe, of which he was a member, for failing to make rain. We discovered him bound to a tree, and delivered him from his persecutors. I remember the admirable patience with which he had borne his beating. Finding myself, surprisingly, somewhat in the same position to-day, I will try to emulate him, but I confess that I thought these ideas about rain-making were confined to the Dark Continent, and it is with some surprise that I find it affecting the enlightened minds of hon. Members opposite. But perhaps I should not be so surprised, as it is not the only respect in which their political ideas are somewhat in advance of our civilisation.
As to the second part of the Motion, that our present policy is wholly inadequate—well, those are hard words. Having given much thought to the measures which it is possible to propose to mitigate the effects of the drought, and having gathered them together in this Bill, it is with great interest that I 505 shall hear the suggestions which will be made from the Opposition Benches as to what further measures we can take to mitigate the evils of the drought. But I hope that they will be concrete and practical. I hope that they will not consist merely in destructive criticism, and I hope, above all things, that they will be measures which will actually help in the present drought, because it is with that that this Bill is concerned. I am concerned in this Bill simply to propose to the House measures to assist in the drought.
The third part of the Amendment says:and regrets their failure to recognise the urgent necessity for State aid in the promotion of a complete scheme of regional planning in the utilisation of the national resources.With this part of the Motion I have very little quarrel, because I think it is an admirable justification of the Bill passed the other day in which we devoted £1,000,000, with the hearty assent of the House, to help in the improvement of rural water supplies. Shall I be unduly harsh towards the efforts of the Opposition in their difficulty in finding some method of dissent if I say that in their Amendment they have not succeeded in doing what should have been their first purpose, and that is concealing a too obvious desire to take advantage of the national difficulties?
Let me pass to an explanation, in very few words, of the actual provisions of the Bill. I will not unduly explain them in detail. I have already expressed to the House that Promptitude, Promptitude, Promptitude is the first necessity, and for that purpose it is proposed that the procedure shall be by Orders to last for six months, and renewable, if there is any need, after six months, during, of course, the life of the Bill. The Orders will not, of course, be made without due advertisement to parties interested as to what Orders are to be made and public inquiry as to any interests which are concerned. That is the procedure. Now as to the actual measures which can be taken. The House will appreciate that it would be humbug to say that you can prevent all the evil effects of drought. What you can do is to take exceptional measures to make the best of the water that can be had, and that is what we propose, in the first place by increasing supply. We take exceptional measures to increase supply, first of all, by powers 506 to tap new sources or by sinking new wells, or by impounding water from some stream which at present there is no power to impound; in the second place, to increase supplies by abolishing all legal restrictions upon the amount of water which can be taken from various sources, which is a further exceptional measure for the conservation of our supplies in an emergency.
The next step, and perhaps the most important as a practical measure, is to take powers to reduce the amount of compensation water. At the present time water undertakers are compelled by their Acts to allow a large amount of the water available to escape by way of compensation to other interests by running over the weirs, down rivers and so on. We propose in view of the national emergency to take power to impound their compensation water within reasonable limits. Supplementary to this, of course, there must be measures for restricting the use of water. The measures will be of two sorts—first of all power to water undertakers to restrict user by particular customers. The House will be familiar with the kind of case in point. Some large user has statutory or other powers to obtain a supply of a particular amount of water. It is not fair that he should get everything while others are going without, and so power is taken to reduce the amount. Secondly, of course what we need is further powers to enable water suppliers to restrict the general user of water. Let me pay my tribute to the great success which has already been achieved, in view of the drought, by water undertakers in effecting voluntary economy and in inducing consumers to promote that economy. But under the conditions to which we may have to look forward in the coming summer, we must be prepared not to rely entirely on voluntary effort, but to confirm by statutory powers those efforts in order that the interests of all may be treated in a similar manner.
Lastly, there are the general powers which we are seeking under this Bill for the better distribution of the available water supply. The case in point is where one water authority may have more water than it wants, whereas some neighbour has less. Here, again, let me hasten to say that in 99 cases out of 100 voluntary agreement would put matters right, but when we are faced with a real emergency 507 we must be prepared with the possibility of having to back up voluntary agreement with the power to make these arrangements. It is necessary to do so in the interests of fair play, and for the best possible use of the water we have available.
An interesting point, which the House will notice requires some special consideration, is that of compensation. We are dealing here, of course, with a series of private rights, and we are imposing temporarily upon them an overriding provision in the public interest. We must not do so without due compensation for those private interests when they are called upon to make some contribution. I am only putting it very generally to the House as it may be a matter for rather closer attention in Committee, but the principle which has been followed with regard to the basis of compensation is that there must be compensation for private enterprise, but that you must also consider the state of general national emergency, and you must recognise that the private interest concerned should not be the only one to suffer no loss at all in the general emergency. Therefore, the basis of compensation must be such as fairly to distribute the unfortunate effects, losses and inconveniences of the general state of the national emergency between all interests concerned—private interests as well as consumers. Compensation will be decided by arbitration, and the amount when decided will be paid by the water undertaker. Water is a commodity which is taken and sold by the undertakers, and the party which sells it is the party which ought to pay for it.
I said that there are many points in the Bill which will require more detailed information as we go on. I have contented myself to-day with dealing with general principles and with the classes of remedies which can be appropriately undertaken. But there is one point of sufficient importance even on Second Reading that I ought to mention. It is that when we are going to increase the supplies of water in an emergency by tapping new sources, it may be that it can be done most economically by works of a permanent nature. If the works are of a permanent nature, obviously it would be a gross waste that they should lapse when the emergency is over, and so when works 508 of a permanent nature are undertaken to increase supplies, they will remain permanent even when the Bill comes to an end. But as regards those works, all the provisions of the ordinary law with regard to compensation, and so on, will be applied.
Such is the Measure which I propose to the House to-day for dealing with the emergency. There is one word I would say in the hope that it may be heard outside these walls, and in the hope, also, that hon. Members will assist in bringing this point of view to the attention of the public as a whole. This Bill gives legal powers for doing many things which can very well be done, and will be done, by voluntary action on the part of the water undertakers, and I hope and believe also by voluntary action on the part of the public. It will be very much better in the interests of the domestic consumer if we can reduce the ambit within which it will be necessary to use these powers, and that can best be done by all of us being good citizens together and economising water in the difficult months to come. I am quite confident that the appeal which the Government make to the nation to exercise the qualities of good citizenship by economising in the use of water will be listened to and answered with that public spirit which is always shown by the vast majority of the nation. This can be done by the prevention of leakage and reasonable economy in the domestic use of water. It is impossible to exaggerate how much can be done in that way. I have known cases in the course of the past month where, working upon this basis, by the mere voluntary prevention of wastage and the economical use of water, undertakers have succeeded in cutting down the use of water by 20 or 30 per cent. without any hardship to anybody. If that be done all over the country, we shall be able to reduce to a minimum the legal and more cumbrous, more expensive, more unpleasant procedure under this Bill.
Finally, let me emphasise that this is a purely temporary Measure. It comes to an end on 31st December, 1935. The House may ask, "Why so long a run?" I will give the answer, which is a technical one. What we are most concerned with is the shrinkage of the sources of water available at deep levels underground, and technical experience teaches 509 us that the restoration of those sources may require a period as long as that for which the Bill will last. When things have become so fundamentally affected as they have by the recent drought, it is thought by my technical advisers that the period of the Bill is not more than enough to provide for working off the bad effects of the drought.
This Bill will be applicable to Scotland in the same way as to England. I should specify one other matter as an illustration of the working of the Bill. Where Orders have to be made they may very closely and intimately concern the interests of drainage control boards, river commissioners and such bodies, because the waters with which they are concerned may be taken for the use of water undertakers. That is recognised, and in order to provide every opportunity for safeguarding those interests no Order will be made by the Ministry of Health without close and full consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, who will put forward the interests of the river and drainage authorities. Lastly, I would make an appeal to the House regarding the time to be occupied on this Measure. It is not proposed to abbreviate in any way the ordinary stages of procedure in the House and full opportunities will be given for discussion, but I hope the House will have recognised from what I have said that this is, in its nature, an emergency Measure, that it was right not to introduce it before it was necessary, and therefore it follows that when it is introduced, it is a matter of public interest that it should be passed with as little delay as possible. Critics of our great Assembly are in the habit of saying that its machinery is not capable of dealing with all urgencies of modern business. On this occasion we have an opportunity of showing that the procedure of our legislature is more than capable of dealing even with so grave an emergency as that of the great drought.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House is of opinion that the increasing gravity of the situation with respect to water supplies is due to the lack of timely and effective action on the part of His Majesty's Government, regards their present policy as wholly inadequate, and regrets their failure to recognise the urgent neces- 510 sity for State aid in the promotion of a complete scheme of regional planning in the utilisation of the national resources.We have become accustomed to the Government picturing themselves as a body of strong men grappling with adversity, a body of men trying to deal with the ills created by other men and other nations. Now, for the first time, we have the Government blaming their difficulties on to Providence. The case of the right hon. Gentleman to-day is that God has not been kind, and that in order to remedy the deficiencies of Providence he has to act with great promptitude. We need only look at the history of this question. When the late Labour Government left office, towards the end of August, 1931, there were substantial grants available to local authorities in aid of the provision of water—50 per cent. of the interest on a loan for 15 years or the whole period of the loan, whichever was the shorter period, and an additional grant in respect of rural water schemes providing 50 per cent. of the interest for the first seven years of the loan period. As I showed when the earlier Bill was before the House, the effect of that had been to stimulate the development of new schemes for the provision of water in various areas. After the end of August, 1931, that generous grant was very substantially reduced by the National Government, on the ground of financial stringency. They reduced the grant to 25 per cent. of the interest for the period of the loan, not exceeding 15 years, with an additional grant for rural water supplies of only 25 per cent. for the first five years, and even that grant was limited to schemes which could be actively begun before the end of January, 1932. In other words, as an act of deliberate policy this Government, in those early days, took the line of discouraging local authorities from making further provision to deal with the water situation.
In the first year of the Labour Government the loans sanctioned for water supplies—quite apart from the loans sanctioned by Parliament under local Acts, which amount each year to a substantial sum—amounted to £2,318,000. In 1930–31, because of the grant which was made available, the loans to local authorities amounted to well over £3,000,000. In the year 1931–32, when the administration had changed, the 511 tempo had changed and policy had changed, the sum fell to practically the amount which was sanctioned in the first year when the late Labour Government took office. The last available figures, those for the year 1932–3, show that the loans sanctioned amounted only to £1,375,000, which I think I am right in saying, offhand, is the smallest sum ever sanctioned in any year since the end of the Great War. In the report of the Ministry of Health for that year, for which the Minister was responsible, attention is drawn to the falling off in the amount of loans sanctioned as compared with the previous year. I will read the quotation, because if the right hon. Gentleman did not write it he took personal responsibility for it:The falling off in the amount of loans sanctioned as compared with last year, which has been most marked in rural areas, was to be expected"—Nothing about Providence there!—in view of the general financial position, the withdrawal of the grants, and the large amount of work undertaking in previous years, much of it in advance of requirements, with the aid of grants.The right hon. Gentleman cut off the possibility of local authorities continuing to make provision to meet their needs in the matter of water supplies. He told us in his speech that last winter the gods were good. The gods wept, no doubt, because of the National Government, and they gave us a wet winter, and the right hon. Gentleman said to himself, "Well, that is all right, the gods have been kind, we have had a wet winter, everything is all right." And yet in May of last year he issued the first of his circulars to local authorities dealing with the problem of water supplies—in spite of the temporary goodness of Providence. In that circular he said, or Dr. Gibbon said on his behalf:I am directed by the Minister of Health to say that he is anxious"—in spite of a wet winter—that every effort should be made towards the improvement of rural water supplies.I am not sure that the local authorities received that circular with enthusiasm after he had deprived them of financial assistance to carry out what he wanted done. He went on in that hortatory manner of which he is a master to say:Timely measures of prevention may be carried out at small cost.512 Timely measures of prevention. I will come to that point again later. Notwithstanding the wet winter, notwithstanding his circular of May last year, which apparently had been issued to no effect, something new had to be done, and to the astonishment of the House of Commons, during the Debate on the King's Speech, the Minister of Health appeared in the House of Commons—that was not astonishing—on the 27th November to deal not only with housing but to inform the House that the water situation was serious; and then he made that classic statement, "I shall shortly introduce a Bill to deal with this problem." That was on the 27th November, after six months of drought, which became graver week by week and day by day. A wet winter? No good gambling on wet winters. This Government have been gambling on a wet March. After 10 weeks' delay, during which time the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten that there was a water problem, we were presented with a Money Resolution early in February, and were told that it was a matter that brooked no delay. It took another fortnight before we got a Second Reading of that Bill. Over a month ago, towards the end of March, the Bill received the Royal Assent. As a Government of inaction I think this Government is unparalleled.
Hardly had the ink become dry on the Statute Book before the Minister comes to this House and declares, like a bolt from the blue, that there is to be another Bill, which he now hopes will be put on the Statute Book with the greatest possible speed. It may possibly reach the Statute Book and begin to operate, though not effectively, about a year from the time when he issued his first Circular in May of last year. In February the most that the Government could do was to pray for rain, to hope for rain in March. Everybody knew that the situation was growing more serious month by month. The right hon. Gentleman knew that during practically nine months of last year and every month of this year the rainfall was only about two-thirds of the average fall. He knew perfectly well, though he did not admit it when we debated the earlier Bill, that the rainfall in March would not appease the situation. I said on the Second Reading that if rain fell in March it would be months before the consumers derived any advan- 513 tage from it. People are using water to-day which fell as rain years ago, not weeks ago. The Government gambled on rain in March. There had been reports in the newspapers, when the Debate took place in February upon the Second Reading of the other Bill, and the Parliamentary Secretary, who looked out on the world with the gay irresponsibility which we always associate with him, stigmatised those newspaper reports as "rubbish." We were told that the situation was not really so serious as the newspapers made out; yet, in a few weeks, what was not serious has become a grave emergency. Even if we had had that torrential rain for 40 days and 40 nights, like the old deluge, there would still have been a water emergency this summer.
It was astonishing to learn on Monday, in the words of the Prime Minister, thatin view of the seriousness of the position, the Government propose to bring legislation before the House immediately.When he was asked whether the last Act was not sufficient to deal with the situation, the Prime Minister said:It was quite sufficient for its purpose, but the situation has worsened."—[OFFIOIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1934; col. 16, Vol. 288.]He was studiously vague about the purpose of the previous Act. His right hon. Friend has been trying this afternoon to explain the difference between the two by saying that one was a permanent Measure to provide £1,000,000 in three years, and that the other is a temporary Measure. One dealt with the rural situation and the other with the urban situation. I pointed out on the Second Reading of the previous Bill that the problem was not a rural one. At that time, the great City of Liverpool had had to beg water from the City of Manchester. This drought is neither an urban nor a rural drought; it is a national drought, and the Government ought to have known it when they introduced their original Bill. It is clear from the records of rainfall that the right hon. Gentleman should have taken action last summer, or at the very latest he should have taken action instead of coming down to speak in a King's Speech Debate in November of last year. Six months of abnormally low rainfall, following upon a dry summer, will have elapsed before the right hon. Gentleman gets to work to deal with this matter. Yet he has sound views. When 514 he sent his circular to the local authorities in February of this year, he said:New supplies cannot usually be improvised at short notice. Any adequate supplementary supply can generally be secured only by timely foresight and initiative before needs become acute.Those are words of wisdom. It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman did not apply them. He said in his last annual report that in matters of water supply "it is imperative to look well ahead." When he brought his Bill into the House in February, after it had been developing in his mind for 10 weeks, he tried to get away with it as something to deal with a situation which was not really serious. He did not exercise timely foresight and initiative. He has come in a scurry and in a fit of panic to the House now, to do a thing that he ought to have done in the summer of last year. By their delay, and by shilly-shallying which would not have been accepted for one moment by hon. Gentlemen when I stood there and they were over here, the Government have betrayed the truest national interests. They care no more about the masses of the people who are going short of water than they have cared about any other problem that they have professed to tackle. The Government have taken two bites at the cherry and have not even yet eaten the whole cherry as I will show in a moment. They came forward with one Bill to provide a small sum of £1,000,000 to fill a gap created by their own deliberate suspension of Government grants. They now take a second bite at the cherry to provide new and wider powers to deal with the water situation, but this Bill will not complete the job which confronts the Minister and the water undertakings of this country.
I am not going to argue against the details of the Bill. There is no Clause in the Bill of which I do not; approve.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I make a present of that to the hon. Gentleman. So far as it goes, the Bill is all right. I do not mind the Minister and the local authorities being armed with greater powers than they already possess. I do not mind the right hon. Gentleman short-circuiting the lengthy, cumbrous procedure which has hampered local authorities and his Department in the past. My criticism of 515 the Bill is twofold. I do not see why the Minister should apologise and say that the Bill is temporary. I would not mind if he and the water undertakings were armed with these powers permanently. It is a mistake to apologise, now that he is in a crisis and has brought legislation to the point when new and stronger powers can be exercised. It is a pity that this is not a permanent Measure. My criticism is not that its specific proposals are bad in themselves; they are good so far as they go, but they are not adequate to deal with the situation. If we are to deal effectively with the problem of urban and rural water supply, we shall have to reorganise our machinery of water collection and water distribution.
On the Second Reading of the previous Bill I said that I have no special love for ad hoc authorities, but in this particular case the difficulties arise very largely because large numbers of local authorities have such restricted resources, or are so unprogressive in their outlook, that they are unable, or unwilling, to provide the water supply which the inhabitants need. The right hon. Gentleman admits that the Bill is primarily for urban authorities and not for rural authorities, and he appears to think that he has got rid of the rural authorities' problem by throwing £1,000,000 to them. That will not affect the root problem. A good deal of nonsense is talked about a national water grid. I have never believed in it, because I think that the idea is fantastic. Yet it is perfectly clear that water supply is one of those services which demand an authority over a wider area than any existing local authority.
Water is not a manufactured article. Water is where it is because of the forces of Nature on the one hand and geographical configuration and the kind of rocks under the soil, on the other. One must have regard to where the water collects as a result of natural forces. It may collect underground. This week, I understand, while the great soul of the Minister of Health has been battling with drought, the Minister of Mines has been battling with flooding in pits. The question is one of the organisation of resources over an area large enough to give the water that is necessary for the region and large enough to enable the water supply to be administered to all the people who live in the area. I am satis- 516 fied and all experience shows what all the big water administrators of this country know—there is not a water engineer who would deny what I say—that there is not one water authority which covers a large enough area, not even the Metropolitan Water Board.
I would be glad to see the frontiers of the Metropolitan Water Board extended in the interests of the people of London. I have tried getting regional advisory committees, but that is not any good. Individual local authorities will never give up any of their powers if they can help it. We have arrived at a stage where we must have a pooling of water resources over a larger area for the people of that area. I put that case before the House on the Second Reading of the earlier Bill, but no reply was made to it by anybody opposite, and it still remains as the one way in which to deal with this problem. If we are to conserve our resources and become more or less independent, as we can be, of fluctuations in annual rainfall, we can do it only on a basis of executive regional water authorities, suitably assisted for the development of their proposals out of public funds. The right hon. Gentleman has made an attempt to criticise the Amendment which I have risen to move. He knows as well as I do that the present size of the vast majority of water authorities in this country is much too small. He knows, or he would not have provided £1,000,000 a month ago, that a large number of these authorities have not the financial resources to enable them to deal with that problem alone, and, therefore, if one of the primary necessities of life is to be made available for the people, we are driven to a larger authority, and an authority which is obtaining some assistance from the State.
The right hon. Gentleman has really given us our case. He has produced his £1,000,000, which shows that the water supply will not be provided unless the State comes to the assistance of local authorities. By giving new powers over wider areas to existing authorities, he proves my case for a larger authority. Whatever hon. Members may do as regards our Amendment, there is no Member in this House who does not know that that is the solution. It is no use dealing with this problem as though it were an emergency. An emergency that 517 has lasted nine months ceases to be an emergency. It will still be the same kind of emergency—and I hope hon. Members will mark my words—six months from now, whatever happens to the rainfall during the coming summer. This is a problem with which we have to deal on big, broad lines, and it ought to be a matter for regret to hon. Members that the right hon. Gentleman has twice had to take up the time of the House when he might at one blow have introduced a large and comprehensive Measure which would have put the provision of water supplies on a broad, general and workable foundation.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. EVANS
Listening to the denunciations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), and agreeing with all that he said about the need for a national water plan, I was not altogether convinced that his remarks had much relevance to the problem that we are discussing to-day—how to combat the drought emergency. I feel, with the right hon. Gentleman, that it is a great pity that this Measure is introduced so belatedly. Some seven weeks ago, when the Rural Water Supplies Bill was before the House for Second Reading, the Ministry was warned from these benches of the seriousness of the situation. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland), who knows a good deal about this problem in a practical way, declared that, whatever the rainfall might be during March, April and May, a drought emergency would exist. I make no apology for reading to the House some of his words, because they have a strict relevance. There is no doubt that there is a rising tide of feeling in the country, and the Government, to my knowledge, have lost a tremendous amount of popularity in rural areas because of the feeling that they are not grappling with the problem with the necessary sense of reality. My right hon. Friend said on that occasion:There is bound to be a very great water emergency this summer in many parts of the country, quite independent of what amount of rain may fall between now and then, simply because the main water supply comes from deep springs, and whatever falls on the surface does not get through to the depths of the springs for months after it falls on the surface. The authorities ought to be now definitely restricting the use of water. If they do not do that, they will 518 be in a worse emergency in the summer."—[OFFIOIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1934; col. 642, Vol. 286.]I do not wish this afternoon to be censorious, but without a shadow of doubt the Government have received warnings during the last few months about the immediacy of the crisis, and I would warn them, too, that whatever they now do can hardly touch the problem. I am somewhat alarmed at the situation in many industrial areas. Take an area like Swansea, which has clustered around it a very large number of diversified metallurgical undertakings. Unless copious rain falls, it is more than likely that the whole of that district will become completely paralysed during the summer months. Already there is difficulty. Last summer they secured as much water as they could from a neighbouring undertaker and again there is considerable alarm; what will happen unless some miraculous fall of rain takes place I do not know. I seriously warn the Government that the vials of the wrath of these people will be poured on their heads because of the belatedness of the introduction of this Measure.
I would urge that the Ministry should now immediately take up the task of formulating of a national water plan. For a long time, forward-looking people have been advocating that this is not a problem for impecunious local authorities. The geological, climatic and administrative aspects of the problem make attempts to deal with it by a local authority utterly inadequate. As the Parliamentary Secretary knows very well, local authorities time and again have prepared schemes. Time and again they have taken those schemes to the Ministry, and time and again they have been turned down because of the very heavy burden of expenditure they would place upon the rates. It is obvious that this is a national matter. You have a situation like this—and it is relevant to the present Bill. Take the situation in Wales. Liverpool draws its water supplies from North Wales, and Birmingham from Mid-Wales. You have pipe-lines running through the territory, and many of the villages have a statutory right to tap those lines. They bring their schemes to the Ministry. It all involves expenditure. There is the making of the reservoir, the laying of pipes, and so forth. Not once or twice have these authorities—small rural authorities, many 519 of them—brought their schemes to the Ministry; but, although they have a statutory right, yet almost without exception they have been turned down, because of the onerous burden to the rates that would be involved.
There is another aspect which is relevant. The Minister suggested that he was out to safeguard the water supply of Liverpool, but may I ask what is to happen to those authorities which are situated along the pipe-line? Suppose that the wells which now supply them with water run dry, and suppose that there is no other source available, and it becomes imperative that those authorities should tap these lines, is the Ministry prepared to assist them? At the moment they have not embarked upon this enterprise, merely because they Cannot afford it, and the Ministry has placed deterrents upon them. Are they now to be given financial assistance, or is the Ministry only going to think of Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and other great authorities which have had the foresight to build up waterworks in distant regions? Is it simply their interests that are going to be looked after, or are those authorites between the reservoirs and Liverpool, Birmingham and other great cities going to be assisted and given a square deal in this matter? There is another point. I agree that the powers which this Bill confers upon local authorities are necessary, but I also agree with the former Minister of Health that many of those powers might with great advantage be made permanent. But is the maximum of help being given here merely by endowing those authorities with these powers?
Some time ago I made an interesting discovery. In 1924, a letter was sent by the then Minister of Health to the Welsh Housing and Town Planning Association declaring that an advisory committee had been set up and a survey had been completed which was in the possession of the Ministry, and that a national water plan was being evolved. I would like to know to what extent that survey is now available. I presume that expert opinion was taken; I imagine that maps of some sort were drawn. Is that survey available to assist local authorities now in their quest for new water? I imagine that the survey consisted not merely of descriptive accounts of known water supplies, but that some sort of investigation 520 of a scientific character was undertaken. Is that information now available? It might be a matter of extraordinary importance, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, when he comes to reply, to let me know, and to let the local authorities know, to what extent they can have the technical assistance which that survey would afford.
There is no reference in the Bill to people who have established industries in rural areas and have certain rights to water. In my constituency, and, I imagine, in a large number of rural areas, there are mills of various kinds—little factories dependent upon a supply of water. I find that they are restricted to some extent by the insistence of the fishery board. In my constituency we have a rather tyrannous fishery board, which is constantly harassing people. The great obsession is the protection of the rights of those who have the financial interest in fishing. Not once or twice have I had to bring to the notice of the Minister of Agriculture cases of what I regard as gross tyranny. To mention one that I have in mind—I do not want to particularise overmuch; I imagine that it could be duplicated and triplicated—I know that last summer a certain important industrial area with a large number of diversified industries found its water supply in great jeopardy, and under the terms of the agreement, unless it allowed a certain volume of compensation water to flow into the Towey, the authority would be fined a large figure; and the chairman of the fishery board not unnaturally perhaps looked forward to a new source of income for his funds. It is more than likely, it is certain, that that local authority will require easement this summer and I am very glad that under the provisions of this Measure it will secure it.
What is to be the position of these small producers—millers, weavers, and people of that character—who are dependent upon water power for the carrying on of their productive processes? As far as I can see, there is nothing in the Bill to give them any measure of protection. A large urban authority—yes; water undertakers of various categories—yes; but what of the many—hundreds, I imagine, in the rural areas—who are dependent upon a supply of water? Are they to have easement, in respect of the opening of sluices, in the matter of com- 521 pensation water, and so forth, when there is an insistent fishery board such as there is in my constituency?
Then there is, of course, the other problem of costs. You are not going to discover new water supplies, you are not going to husband what you have this summer, without imposing upon local authorities a certain amount of cost. As the Minister indicated, in some cases works of a semi-permanent character will have to be embarked upon. To what extent are they to have assistance for this purpose? A local authority may perhaps bore, perhaps have an electrical pump other mechanical agency to tap unused water supplies. But it is going to cost money, and at the end of the six months the drought may have ended. What is to happen to the capital expenditure? Is the value to go only to the landowner, or are local authorities to have some sort of right to this capital investment? I imagine that there will be a very large proportion of operations of that character, involving considerable expenditure and inevitably of value for the future. To what extent are the interests of those who embark on these schemes safeguarded? An Order lapses at the end of six months. What rights have the local authorities at the end of the six months?
There is much I would like to say about the need for national planning, but to-day is hardly the time. We have a drought emergency, and these measures, I think, are necessary. I repeat that I would like parts of this Bill to be made permanent. The Minister of Agriculture has assured us that we are to be led out of this wilderness into a Canaan. If that Canaan is not going to be allowed to overflow with milk, at least let us be assured of an adequate supply of water.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. J. W. JOHNSTON
I do not think the hon. Member who has just spoken can have read Clause 3 of the Bill, which provides that where an Order relates to work of a permanent nature that has to be undertaken, it shall not expire at the expiration of the Act. It must be gratifying to the Government to find that, as so often happens, hon. Members opposite can find so little wrong with their Measures that the only ground on which 522 they can oppose them is either that they do not go far enough or that they were not undertaken soon enough. It may not be unwelcome to the Government to find someone who, on the contrary, is apprehensive of the extent of the powers which the Minister of Health is asking the House to confer upon him. I do not dispute that a situation of such seriousness exists as calls for some action on these lines, but I do feel considerable misgiving at the extent of the powers which the Minister wishes to have. The ways of nature are mysterious and sometimes perverse. Already the introduction of this Measure seems to have had the effect of bringing rain to some parts of the country. I am not sure whether a simple way of doing everything necessary would not have been a short Bill forbidding the use of umbrellas and mackintoshes. The heavens could hardly witness that and remain unmoved. Perhaps very soon the Minister of Health may find himself in the position of the Scots minister of religion, who, when his earnest prayer for rain was answered by a terrific blatter on the windows, hastened to qualify his address to the Almighty by adding "In moderation, Lord, in moderation." It is certain at all events that the weather will not be able to please everyone in the coming summer. If Lord Desborough's wishes are fulfilled Larwood will be stultified and perhaps the Test Matches will be ruined.
The reason why I have some apprehensions about the Bill is that it is going to make it too easy for water undertakings, perhaps as a result of their own improvidence and lack of foresight, to rob what I may describe as river interests, of their flow of water, without the safeguards, by way of inquiry and so on, which at present exist. A river is a valuable gift of nature to the land through which it flows and to the people who dwell within its valley. It is a thing that is of value to many people and to many human interests in countless ways, some great, some small, some obvious, some remote. It may be of value in connection with fishing interests, commercial or otherwise. It may be of value to industries that are carried on on its banks and which use its water in their processes or obtain their power by means of the water. It may be of value in connection with sewerage and drainage. It maybe of value for irrigation pur- 523 poses. It has a certain value sometimes merely as an object of natural beauty.
These examples of its value to the people who live upon a river's banks are not exhaustive. Moreover, a river has a future and potential value which no man can estimate, as well as a present value. No one can tell how important in future the flow of water down a river may be to the people who live in that district. Thirty years ago no one imagined how valuable water power might become in connection with hydro-electric machinery. One can imagine the case of a growing town upon a river, which in course of time may wish to get a water supply from the head waters of the river and may find that some dirty city far away has come with an Order obtained under Clause 3 of this Bill, and has appropriated that source, which is the natural right, if it is anyone's, of the town which is situated upon that river. Moreover, if the present natural shortage of water is a serious thing for consumers who are customers of water undertakings, as it is, it is also a serious thing to the various kinds of river interests, some of which I have mentioned.
As a result of the powers that may be conferred by this Bill on water undertakings to the natural damage which these river interests are now suffering from water shortage will be added further artificial damage from the increased depredations of local authorities and water undertakings. I feel, therefore, that this Bill rather allows the interests of consumers who are customers of water undertakings to override, without sufficient safeguard, the interests of other people to whom the flow of water is a source of value. In that connection I rather distrust the Ministry of Health. I am thankful to say that the powers in Scotland will be exercised by the Secretary of State. But the Ministry of Health, from the very nature of its functions, will, I fear, be inclined to have more consideration for the wafer undertaking than for the other kind of interests to which I have referred. At all events I hope that the Minister of Health, before authorising any water undertaking to do something under his Order which it might not otherwise have obtained power to do, will insist and will make sure that it is exercising every reasonable economy in the use of its 524 water and taking every possible precaution to prevent waste. I hope, too, that he will make sure that advantage is not taken of Clause 3, which authorises permanent operations under an Order, to do things under the pretext that they are necessitated by the present emergency—things which really would have had to be done anyhow in a very short time by a water undertaking under powers obtained in the ordinary way.
Let me say a few words about compensation water. It is important to realise what compensation water is. As the Minister told us, he will have power under this Bill to authorise an undertaking which is under an obligation to discharge compensation water, to suspend the discharge of that water, or at all events to modify and reduce it. When one speaks of compensation water one does not merely mean that an undertaking coming along and impounding the water of a certain area must leave some. There is far more in it than that. The water that any area produces is, a great deal of it, flood water and surplus water, sometimes abundant, which runs away and is of no value. When the water undertaking comes along and impounds the water of an area, what it does is this: It builds a reservoir, which to some extent enables it to catch and save up the water when it is plentiful to meet the other time when water is short.
What it undertakes to do to what I will call the river, in return for this theft of so much of its water, is to discharge to the river every day, summer and winter, in wet weather and dry, a fixed quantity of water, which may indeed be only one-third or one-quarter of the whole productivity of the area impounded, but which at the very driest season when water is most valuable is actually more than the river would have got from the whole area if the undertaking had never come along. To that extent, therefore, there is a real bargain and a real positive advantage to the river, in that while it is being robbed of two-thirds or some proportion of its total water from that area it is actually going to be rather a bigger river at the very time when water is most valuable, at the driest season of the year. There is real significance in the word "compensation." When I say "the river" I am using it as a brief expression to describe all human in- 525 terests, present and future, to whom a flow of water is something valuable.
It is a well-known Parliamentary precedent in private legislation that a water undertaking must give water compensation and cannot escape that obligation by any amount of money payment. That precedent is founded upon a very sound principle. The principle is that water compensation is the only possible kind of compensation that is enduring and permanent, and that will compensate every possible interest precisely in proportion to its extent. You can only give money compensation for taking away water from its natural course to the big interests and you can only give it to the interests present at the moment. On the other hand, when you give water compensation, which is insisted upon, it lasts for ever and it percolates to everyone. I do not like to see that principle infringed even temporarily in the Bill, and I hope that what is described as a purely temporary expedient will not endanger a principle so sound and valuable.
Let me turn to two points of detail. First, I do not see any provision for notice being given to persons who may be injured by the suspension of the obligation to give compensation water. I see a provision for notice to owners of lands, etc., that may be entered upon, and provision for notice to people who are parties to a contract where the water undertaking seeks to obtain an order that may modify a, contractual obligation. But in the case of interests down the river which may be damaged there is no contract. If there is a contract at all it is a contract between the undertaking on the one hand and the river on the other I agree that newspaper advertisement is probably the only way of giving notice to such people, but the newspaper advertisement which is provided for in the Bill is an advertisement in a newspaper circulating within the limits of supply of the undertaking. That does nothing to meet the case of the big undertaking or a big city which is drawing its water from many miles away, and probably from the head waters of a river which flows in quite a different direction. I think there should be proper provision for giving notice of applications under the Bill to every interest that may be damaged if the applications are successful.
526 Clause 6 provides that, in assessing compensation to be paid to people in respect of injury to them from the suspension of water compensation, regard may be had to what their position would have been if there had never been any water undertaking. I do not see why one should have regard to that. It is not a case of assessing compensation for the initial abstraction of water. It is a case of fixing some compensation for the breaking of a bargain by the other side. If you are going to give compensation to people who may be injured by the destruction of what, from their point of view, is the credit side of the bargain, it is unreasonable that the debit side of the bargain, from their point of view, should be left untouched. If they happen to have made a bargain which, owing to the increased shortage of water, has become more valuable than it seemed it would be originally, surely they are entitled to the benefit and, if you ignore the existence of the bargain which entitles them to water compensation and are going to consider the matter as if there had never been any bargain, by having regard to what their predicament might have been, you must ignore the bargain altogether and also have regard to the question whether the water undertaking should ever have been allowed to go to that area.
The Bill is to expire in December, 1935, and one has to look back to Clause 3 to find that an Order made under that Clause shall not expire together with the Bill. As a matter of draftsmanship, it would have been better specifically to except Clause 3 from the provision in regard to the expiration of the Act in Clause 11, or, if necessary, make Clause 3 a separate part of the Act which should not expire at the same time as the rest. I have tried to state something of the case for the river—the House will remember what I said I meant when I spoke of the river—in order to place its interests on record when we are being asked to give the Minister and local authorities such wide powers of injury to the river. I have done so in the hope that river interests will not suffer any permanent prejudice from this avowedly temporary expedient.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Mr. LECKIE
I listened with considerable regret to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wake- 527 field (Mr. Greenwood). I hoped that the official Opposition would take a wider view than they usually do. Here we have a subject which has nothing whatever to do with party politics, and on which every part of the House ought to unite in backing up the Government in what they are proposing to do. Although the right hon. Gentleman criticised the Government a great deal for their lapses in the past, he had nothing to say, as far as I understood it, against the Bill. The Amendment itself is an extraordinary one, purely rhetoric, and I cannot understand why any reasonable person should support it. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman scolded the Government in his very best style, but I do not think that what he said cut much ice, because I feel certain that the House generally welcomes the Bill and will do everything it can to get it put on the Statute Book without delay. It meets the emergency in a very adequate way. It gives very great powers, and it cuts away a great deal of red tape which would ordinarily be involved in such a Measure. Therefore, it is up to us to see that it is put on to the Statute Book with a minimum of delay. I am speaking specially for South Staffordshire, where the water supply of all the towns and villages except Wolverhampton is under the control of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company. We are fortunately situated. The water is all got from deep wells, and we have no complaint to make with regard to the quality or adequacy in normal times. I am glad to see that even now the company have really done exceedingly well and have not restricted the use of water to any great extent. But, even so, they are feeling the very serious drought. I have here a letter from the chief engineer of the company, who says:Every endeavour is being made by the company, which supplies an area of nearly 400 square miles, to conserve the available water supply and to prevent waste and misuse. It is, however, apparent that water undertakings generally should be granted additional facilities if they are to meet the difficulties which have arisen owing to the drought extending over the past 12 months. I, therefore, hope you may see your way to give entire support to the Measure.I think that is the general feeling throughout the country, and it is because I feel that the Bill meets the emergency in an adequate way, and with a minimum 528 of red tape, that I heartily support it, and hope it will become law very shortly.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
A large part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) appeared to me to have very little relevance to the point of the Bill or the emergency with which we are dealing. His principal complaint of Government action in the matter was that in the emergency of 1931, which was a financial and not a water emergency, the Government limited the amount of advances to be made to water undertakings and local authorities for the provision of additional water. He showed, taking his own figures, that possibly for the year 1931–2 £1,000,000 less had been spent in consequence of the financial necessities of the time, and for the year 1932–3 possibly £2,000,000. Can anyone suppose that, if we had spent to the full all that could have been spent, according to the right hon. Gentleman, under the legislation initiated by the late Government—if we had spent £3,000,000 more over the whole of the country, and Scotland and Wales, we should have solved the difficulty of the present water shortage? Of course, it would have been literally a drop in the bucket. It would have produced no appreciable effect.
When I read the terms of the Bill and the Amendment I was exceedingly astonished, because there is not the slightest doubt that it is a Communistic Measure. It gives the same rights to every one except to the people who at present own the water. They are the only people who may be entirely deprived of their water, whereas other people must get some share of it. You cannot go further than that in the direction of Communism, and I was surprised to hear it termed wholly inadequate. The right hon. Gentleman explains why it is so regarded. He said it was not because he disapproved in the slightest degree of any of the provisions of the Bill. The only thing of which he disapproved was that it is limited to six months, and he would like it made permanent. Now we know where we are. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite were to come into power, we should not have a Bill of this kind, promoted only under the conditions of the present emergency, but it would be the ordinary law of the land that no one should have any right to 529 provide for themselves for their land, their cattle, their people, their own cottages, whatever it might be, a water supply which would not be at the beck and call of any local authority. Any rural area, or any parish council or small water undertaking could say that there was a very nice and convenient reservoir fed by certain springs upon someone's land and they were going to impound the whole of it and use it for other people.
Let us see exactly how the Bill would operate. The Minister told us that, though it is designed mainly for great urban areas, it would undoubtedly be useful in rural areas. Let us see how it would operate in a rural area. Clause 1 says that the Minister of Health may make an Order containing provisons for any of the following purposes. Subsection (1, e) says:For prohibiting or imposing limitations on the taking by any person of water from a specified source, including a source from which any person to whom the prohibition of limitation applies has, by virtue of an enactment or of the ownership of land or of an agreement, a right to take water.So, if the owner or owner occupier of a certain farm has a water supply, he can be prohibited from taking any of it for his own use. Clause 9 (1) defines the source of water as including springs and wells. Clause 5 (2) explains what the penalty is if the owner, and perhaps occupier, of the farm in question takes any of what is now his own water. He may be imprisoned for three months and also fined £50. That penalty could be imposed, if the Order had been made, if he took so much as a few bucketsfull of water to water his own cattle on his own farm. Clause 7 (2) limits the right of claiming compensation for the taking of this water to one month after the Order ceases to have effect. The owner of the water might be imprisoned for three months after the termination of the Order, so he might be actually imprisoned for using a few bucketsfull of his own water for two months after the term of claiming compensation had expired. When I saw provisions of that kind I really was astonished that the Labour party were not satisfied and said the Bill did not go far enough. I understand that they would like to see such conditions permanently enacted as the law of the land.
My hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. W. Johnston) has dealt 530 with the other question to which I wish to refer—the right which is to be given by Order to cease to provide compensation water for streams and rivers. But there is one point I would like to make with regard to it. Clause 1 (1, b) provides for the suspension of any obligation to discharge compensation water into a stream. Clause 6 (4) provides for money compensation being paid in the case of this compensation water not being discharged into the stream. I have found it extremely difficult to imagine to whom this money compensation could be paid for it to be in any way equivalent to the vital necessity of compensation water for a river. As my hon. Friend pointed out, to those who live in the river valley this money compensation could be regarded as no equivalent. It certainly would be no compensation to a fishery board. The fish might all be destroyed and, therefore, what would be the use of merely paying a certain amount of money to the fishery board?
It induces the reflection in my mind as to whether it would not have been better to have dealt far more drastically with the matter under the provisions which are included in Clause 1, Sub-section (1, d), for the limitation of the use of water. It induces the reflection also as to whether it is better, during the few months of the emergency of a great water shortage, to have all the baths and other modern amenities, all using vast quantities of water, in almost every house, old and new, in the country, and to have an empty stream with no compensation water and no fish, and be, perhaps, like some unfortunate countries abroad in the summer—simply have, instead of a stream, a dry water-course, or perhaps what would be nothing better than an open sewer. Instead of that horrible condition would it not be better to limit our demands for water during an emergency to what satisfied our fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers—to limit our demands always to the use of water for drinking and for such ablutions as are absolutely necessary. Frankly, I would rather give up my bath, much as I love it, during the coming months, as my contribution, than see the rivers and streams in the country turned into dry water-courses and all the fish in them killed.
The main justification for the Bill is that it is an emergency Measure and 531 only to deal with an emergency, but I am bound to point out that Clause 3 applies, as is stated, for an indefinite period, and that is, for all time. That fact, coupled with the frank statement from the Front Bench opposite, that hon. Members opposite would like to see these Clauses a permanent part of the law of the land and all the rights which people now possess taken from them permanently, makes one feel that it is very unfortunate that they should have to be put in a Bill presented by this Government to this House. I would rather have seen the situation dealt with, as I have said, by much more drastically curtailing the use of water in the present emergency.
There one omission from the Bill. We were told when the Rural Water Supplies Act was before the House that it was a Bill merely to promote new water supplies in rural areas and that it did not deal with the present emergency. We were told that another Bill—this Bill—would deal with the emergency as far as the rural areas were concerned. But I can find no Clause in the Bill imposing an obligation upon local authorities to organise the distribution of water to cottages in cases where the wells or other sources of supply are dried up. A source of grievance in the countryside is the haphazard way in which water is supplied at all, and the way the normal small private supply has failed. While these great powers are proposed to be given to local water undertakers and to local authorities, I should have liked to have seen local authorities instructed that it was their duty to organise the distribution of water if there was to be a great emergency shortage.
I hope that it may be possible to remedy this matter on the Committee stage of the Bill. Anyhow, I am glad, as this Bill had to be introduced, that it has been introduced by the present Government frankly as an emergency Measure, and that its main and most drastic provisions are limited, at any rate, to a matter of a few months, and I hope that long before hon. Members opposite take charge of the affairs of the nation we shall have got out of these difficulties. I feel certain that, as far as the timing is concerned, the Government have been very wise to put off the introduction of this legislation until it 532 was perfectly clear that by this means, and by this means alone, they could deal with the situation, and that legislation was justified.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. LLEWELLYN-JONES
ID listening to the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) I came to the conclusion that he had only one remedy for the present situation, namely, the limitation of the use of water. It reminded me of an incident which took place at the beginning of last week. I was walking in the country when a motor van passed me containing a large number of barrels. I saw on the back of the van a large notice containing these words, "Save your water. Drink more of X's beer." I take it that that will be the type of remedy for the situation which will appeal to the hon. Member for Barnstaple. I think that all Members of the House can give general support to the Bill. It is, perhaps, a little belated, and ought to have been introduced earlier, and if it had been so introduced it would have been possible in various parts of the country to have organised water supplies and the distribution of water in a way which would have enabled us during the summer to meet the situation in a more satisfactory manner. It is the magnitude of the calamity which the country may be called upon to face in connection with its water supplies which has really attracted attention at the moment. Do we realise that as far as a very large part of the country is concerned, including huge districts and hundreds of villages, it is not a temporary difficulty which we have to face? The difficulty has been going on over a large number of years. As in many other directions, it is when you get a serious situation that the legislature or the Executive realises that something must be done.
No doubt hon. Members have, during the past few weeks, heard over the wireless broadcasts describing the situation in certain villages and in country districts in Essex and other parts of the Eastern Counties. I did not believe that such a condition of affairs was possible, but we were informed that there were large areas with practically no supply whatever of water which was fit for drinking. No wonder that we hear from time to time of certain epidemic diseases visiting those 533 areas. Neglect to deal with the situation in those villages is not due to the fact that the Ministry of Health have not repeatedly called attention to the danger which might arise unless something was done. Sir George Newman in his last annual report on the state of the public health has drawn attention to this matter, and also to what, at the moment, is the one way of dealing with the situation, namely, co-operation between local authorities, between adjacent councils, with the assistance of county councils. He says that it is possible to give several recent conspicuous examples of an entire lack of effective co-operation between such councils, and that there have been disastrous results. I do not know whether it will be possible, in connection with the administration of this Bill, to do something to ensure the co-operation of local authorities in this matter.
The difficulty has been, as was suggested by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), that we have had too many authorities administering the supply of water, not merely public authorities but small water undertakings. Let me give a concrete example. Until the commencement of this month I lived in a large rural area where a portion of the parish has been embodied in an urban council area. The water supply of that parish was provided by three private undertakings. Also in a certain part of the parish was a rural district council. There was no kind of co-operation between those authorities, not even when there was an abnormal drought and the water companies were in difficulties as to the qauntity of water they could supply. Even now there are parts of the parish with no water supply, and they find themselves in considerable difficulty when there is any kind of drought. I trust that the principle which is embodied in this Bill, which is an emergency Measure, will not be lost sight of. The Government have certainly in the Bill adopted principles which might be embodied in permanent legislation.
There are one or two other points to which I should like to refer, one of which has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. R. T. Evans), and that is, the position of the country districts adjacent to the pipe lines of some of the great English cities. As Welshmen we have no desire for their 534 hurt. These great English cities and towns enjoy the benefit of the water which they can obtain from the mountains of Wales. Two if not three of the largest cities of the country have already secured an abundant supply of water from Wales. There is one great lake, nearly five miles in length, which forms part of the water supply of Liverpool. Not far from where I live there is a large lake which has been made to supply the Borough of Birkenhead and neighbouring boroughs. The tragedy of it is that the great mains which are supplying Birkenhead are about one and a-half miles away from where I live, and yet there is a large area in that district which has not an adequate water supply. A few months ago I put a question to the Minister of Health with regard to the supply of water to a small rural parish in the County of Denbigh, Llanarmon-in-Yale. I pointed out that the inhabitants had complained of not having an adequate supply of water and that they had sent a petition to the Minister with regard to arrangements for a supply to the area. The Minister replied:I have communicated with the rural district council on complaints received as to water supply in this parish. They are investigating the complaints, in consultation with the parish council and the petitioners, and I am now waiting to hear from them. I shall keep in touch with the council.In reply to a supplementary question the Minister said:I can only say that at the present time the matter is occupying their active attention."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1933; cols. 491–2, Vol. 280.]That was in July last year. I went through a greater part of this parish about 10 days ago and listened to bitter complaints that absolutely nothing had been done. There was no water available in a great part of the area. That parish is likely to suffer more during the coming summer than it suffered last summer, yet within 2½ or 3 miles of the village of Llanarmon-in-Yale, the Birkenhead water mains run. I should like to know whether in the Bill there will be any authority to the rural district council to get a supply of water for that area. It would be obviously impossible within a short period to arrange for a pipe line for two miles to a certain part of the parish, or perhaps three or four miles; but I notice in the Memorandum on water shortage which was published in 535 February of this year that there is this paragraph which says that in rural areas, when local sources are not available and other supplies cannot be readily brought to the districts by main, the district councils should consider organising the carriage of water from the nearest available source.
Will the provisions in the Bill enable the Ruthin Rural District Council to go to the Birkenhead Corporation and ask them to enable them to take a supply from their mains and to arrange for it to be carried to different parts of the parish of Llanarmon, where there is no adequate water supply at the present time? I mention this as a specific case, because I believe it will be found throughout the rural areas of the country that there are scores if not hundreds of similar cases where it will be absolutely impossible for anything to be done in the way of laying pipe lines, but where without serious difficulty arrangements could be made for the carriage of water from the mains.
I trust that the Bill will be placed on the Statute Book within a very few days, and that as soon as it has become law the Minister and his Department will do everything not only to encourage local authorities to avail themselves of its provisions, more particularly in the rural areas, but to bring pressure upon the local authorities. It is a trite remark that so far as many rural authorities are concerned there is no endeavour on their part to perform their duties in the direction of providing water for many parts of their areas. This Bill is of an emergency character, but Clause 3 (3) indicates that it may be much more permanent than would appear from the Title. I hope that it will be the first step in arranging for a national scheme for the supply of water throughout the rural areas.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I always like to be in agreement with the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Llewellyn-Jones) because I feel then that I am on the side of the angels. To think that I have lived to see the day when we should hear of such a thing as a shortage of water! I was bred within six miles of Greenock, where six to 10 feet of water falls at frequent intervals in the 12 months, and where if 536 it was ever averred at any time that the day was dry the burden of proof would be upon the man who made that somewhat rash assertion. Here we are landed in the position of having a Bill of this sort brought forward by the Minister of Health. It is said to be only a temporary Measure. It is not a temporary Measure. This is only the thin end of the wedge. It will come on as a hardy annual. It practically means the mopping up of all the streams and rivers and water supplies under the control of the Ministry of Health; a body which I deeply distrust. It is a kind of almshouse or rest home for dud theoretical doctors. As a rule one finds in a country district that the medical officer of health is a kind of angel of death, for when he goes there he prescribes rules and regulations which generally lead to a substantial increase in the death rate.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give particulars of those increases of death rate?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I imagine that my hon. and gallant Friend knows of them very much better than I do.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Then you have not been true to your job. I do not want to exceed the time limit in arguing that point, but I have had experience in other countries as well as this of the very disastrous results from the intervention of the so-called medical officer of health. I would not mind if they were always recruited from the practising doctors.
One of the notable features of this Bill is the complete want of imagination on the part of the Minister of Health. We have heard about streams and water rights and all that sort of thing, but the Ministry of Health have their noses so close to the ground and their eyes so cast down that it never occurs to them to look up to the skies, whence the water comes. Why do they not harness the skies for the needs of the people? I have been in other countries where there is always, more or less, a permanent condition of drought and where the rain falls rapidly in a few weeks time. What do they do? They have very gigantic tanks round their farms in the little country places. In Salisbury, Rhodesia, 537 for instance, I spoke to one man who had between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons of water stored in tanks. He said to me: "I am not afraid of any drought; I have a 100 gallons a day here for a twelve-month." That is a very simple remedy for water shortage in the rural areas. Do not try to use water communally, as we do now; you will waste it. When I was standing as a candidate for a Glasgow constituency, one man asked me—I think he must have been a voter in Silvertown—whether I thought that a third tap might not be affixed to the main sink in Glasgow, where there is hot and cold water. He asked me if I would endeavour to get a third tap fixed, so that the voter might be able to turn on beer. I replied that I thought it was a very wise suggestion, but impracticable, and that I was afraid there would be great competition for it.
We have a serious shortage of water, which is communally supplied. While you may get very considerable results by asking for economy from the substantial majority of people who possess a conscience, the considerable minority who have no conscience will be as wasteful as ever. The great advantage of the Rhodesian, Australian and African way of installing colossal tanks, holding 5,000 or 6,000 gallons of water, is that the water belongs to the individual householder, and it is his own supply, and a good supply. It is far purer and better water than we get from the surface of the earth. In Rhodesia, where so much tea is drunk, all the water is boiled. It is very soft water, with great cleansing properties, coming direct from the sky. You cannot get anything like it in this country. Here we have a remedy to our hand.
Out there, there are motor lorries going about carrying great steel sheets and a couple of men can soon erect a tank. Here is a suggestion to the Minister of Health for the rural areas. In South Wales we have big works where people make steel sheets. Why not get thousands of these sheets and send motor lorries round every rural village and, by bulk production, enable tank storage to be provided. Every house in the rural areas of England, Scotland and Wales ought to be provided with one of these tanks, in order to catch the water from the sky and to enable the inhabitants to 538 tide over periods of drought. But I am afraid that that is far too simple and primitive and far too sensible a suggestion to be adopted by the Minister of Health. It probably never occurred to him. I have great pleasure in making him a present of it, and I leave it to him to see that it is put into force, because it can be done instantaneously.
The rain is falling to-day and during the next few weeks there will be immense supplies of it. What happens? We have drained this old country to such an extent that as soon as the rain falls it rushes into ditches and then into the rivers, and we get no benefit from it whatever. In the old days there were not so many drains and it sank into the land and the people were able to stand, long droughts. But we cannot stand a long drought now because we have made such provision for running the water away. I suggest a method for storing our rainfall. In the old days, in my part of the country, we had a row of old casks, double the size of a hogshead, which caught the rainwater. Everybody had them, and there was no fear of a water shortage. In these days we can make immense tanks. In Africa I have seen them almost as large as this Chamber, tanks capable of holding colossal quantities of water. These might be provided for rural areas, and thus you would save water through the whole of the country.
That is a sensible and practical suggestion which could be carried into execution almost at once to catch the rain which will fall within the next few weeks. Hundreds of motor lorries could be employed to transport the material and hundreds of engineers could also be employed; they would know how to put up the tanks. It would help the Welsh steel trade and give many engineers a job, and at the same time, temporarily at all events, solve the problem of water supply in rural areas. These tanks would remain for as long as they would last. That might be half a century or more, and they would provide in dry seasons for certain emergencies. Then we should get the country into a better condition by reafforestation, which has been so singularly neglected up to the present moment. If you get a sufficient number of trees you will always get a rainfall. In Africa there are no trees, and you get long periods of drought; in Malaya you get luxuriant vegetation and you have a river in a day 539 from showers of rain. That is a permanent remedy, which is needed. If we reafforest the waste places of our country and give the householder a water store of his own, from his own roofs, a long drought will have no terrors for him.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
The hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) has told us that he was born within a few miles of Greenock, and he has spoken of the heavy rainfall in that area. He will not, therefore, be surprised to hear that to-day, when other places are suffering from a shortage of water, there is no lack of rain in that quarter. I think he is under some misapprehension as to the Minister responsible for this Bill in Scotland. Let me give him my definite assurance that the powers contained in this Bill are under the administration of the Secretary of State for Scotland, so far as Scotland is concerned.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Let me assure my right hon. Friend that that completely removes all my apprehensions.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
In that case I will pass on to the criticisms he made on the Bill itself. The Bill applies to Scotland, and the House may think it rather strange that it should apply to Scotland. Those who have been for a holiday in that area always come away with a rather mistaken impression as to our climate. Not only are the heavens very generous to Scotland, but there is an impression that we have more palatable means than water of quenching our thirst. That view is entirely erroneous. I can assure the House that Scotsmen not only drink water copiously, but that, whatever may have been gathered from memories of days spent north of the Tweed, the sun shines there quite a lot, and unfortunately during last year it shone so much that there is to-day in Scotland a considerable shortage of water not only in the towns but in the rural areas as well. During the 12 months ended February, 1934, the average rainfall in Scotland was not less than 25 per cent. below the average rainfall of the last 35 years. The actual fall was, of course, very much less in some areas than in others. The east and the south suffered more than the west. These two areas normally get least rain.
540 There is another factor that I wish to emphasise. Rainfall is not the same thing as a supply of water available to the community. Nature may be generous with her rain, but unless man constructs proper works he will not be able to utilise her bounty properly. There are to-day not a few communities in Scotland which have never had a sufficient supply of water, and there are others which in years of normal rainfall have never been much above the margin of safety. Inquiries which I have made show that during the past summer at least 57 of the 195 burghs in Scotland suffered from an insufficient water supply, and in the rural areas 87 special water supply districts went short of water, and 66 villages, which have no public water supply, also experienced deficiency.
Let me give one or two instances to bring clearly before the House the exact situation. I take two parts of the country. In Fife there are 25 burghs, and in the county area a further 18 special water districts. There is a water shortage in Fife, but it is not spread evenly over the whole county. In various burghs and special water districts the estimated shortage is put at 2,200,000 gallons per day, but in other parts of the county there is a day's surplus of nearly 3,000,000 gallons. Clearly then, if we view the matter arithmetically, there is no shortage in the county of Fife taken as a whole, but owing to the inadequacy of the works in certain areas to catch and carry the water there is undoubtedy a shortage. The problem in Fife is to pool these resources. That is the solution of the problem, and the provisions of this Bill will render valuable assistance in such a solution.
I turn to Moray and Banff. The coastal towns in these two counties have suffered much during the last two years from an inadequate water supply. In some cases the supply has been taken from burns and the water chlorinated before use; but even then the needs of the local hospital and some other properties could not be properly met. The problem there is very much the same as in Fife, but unlike Fife these two counties have no compensating surplus in the county areas. A new source of water supply is required in that area. This, again, calls for cooperation between the various authorities in that area, and the provisions of the 541 Bill will enable these sometime conflicting interests to be brought together and by that means assist in securing an ample water supply for these areas. I could give other instances, but these two cases are, I think, sufficient. Speaking generally, while the low rainfall of last year left our cities and many of our burghs in a fairly satisfactory position, in many small burghs and villages the water shortage was so serious that the normal sources of supply failed and recourse had to be had to inferior and sometimes inadequate alternative supplies.
In considering this Bill hon. Members will naturally have regard not only to the present, but to the future. We have been directing our thoughts to that matter. We cannot say to-day that the prospect of 1934, so far as Scotland is concerned, is too bright. Waterworks in Scotland depend for replenishment upon the rainfall between November and March, and the rainfall this winter has been much below the average. In several places, along the east coast especially, the rainfall during the earlier months of this year has been sadly deficient. Let me give one illustration to make clear the position so far as most of Scotland is concerned. Take the position in the Stirling and Falkirk district. At the end of February the waterworks there contained only 100 days' supply, in contrast to their normal supply of 150 days. In some areas the position is much worse. The winter rains have failed to make good the shortage in the rainfall of last year, and in the light of this position, although hon. Members have spoken with some fears about the Bill, I submit that this proposed emergency legislation is necessary to deal with the position which we find in Scotland at the moment. The Bill has not as its object the final solution of the problem of the water supplies in Scotland. The problem before us at the moment is not only an emergency one, but we have also to consider the future.
I have already mentioned that under the most favourable conditions there are a large number of areas in Scotland where the supply is inadequate. The sources and supply of water, however, are riot distributed—this is a matter to which sometimes sufficient attention is not given—with any close relation to the geographical limits of local government 542 areas. Not only are many natural catchment areas suited to supply much larger communities than a single burgh, or even a single county area as they do at present, but they are not infrequently situated at a considerable distance from the communities to be supplied. If the best use is to be made of our water resources and unnecessary expenditure to-be avoided, co-operation between local authorities is not only desirable but in many cases must be inevitable in the future. The problem needs not only a local and county outlook but a national outlook, and the Departmental Committee which was appointed last year to inquire into the health services in Scotland have been so impressed with the urgency of this matter that they have presented an interim report, recommending that a survey should be made of the water resources of Scotland forthwith. Steps are being taken to-day to survey the national supplies and national needs of the country north of the Tweed. The Rural Water Supplies Act passed a few months ago will reveal possible schemes of improvement, and will help, I think, to solve the financial problems of the rural areas which are certainly formidable.
I propose during the coming months to seize every opportunity which presents itself for consultation between the Department of Health and the groups of local authorities who have an interest in a common water supply. Within the next few days the problem in Fife is being considered. Although the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) has doubts, or rather fears, as to the interests of the consumers over-riding the river interests, I wish to assure him that while it may not be possible actually to advise all the interests affected by a direct appeal there will be notices in the papers so that all those interests shall be advised as far as possible of the changes which are proposed. I know that it may be difficult to hold the balance fairly between the consumers of water in these various areas and the river interests which are affected, but I assure the hon. Member that we shall do our best to safeguard the due rights of the river interests while above all things securing that the health of the people shall be maintained.
§ 6.18 p.m.
I am sure that all hon. Members and especialy Scottish Members listened with considerable interest to the speech of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I would go further and say that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health had convinced all Members of the House who wished to be convinced, of the necessity for steps of the kind suggested in the Bill being taken by the Government. While I may have some criticisms to offer with regard to certain points of detail in the Bill, I in no way associate myself with the reasoned Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). He seemed to suggest that the Government were responsible for the sins of omission of Jupiter Pluvius which have led to the water scarcity in Great Britain, and that in this Bill they were following the example of the great Jewish law giver, Moses—so often cited by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten)—and were striking the rock at the last moment, saying "Here now, ye robots, must we bring ye water." The argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield was somewhat wide of the mark and will not be appreciated by the general public as he no doubt would wish them to do.
The Minister of Health laid emphasis on the differentiation between the two Measures which have been presented in the present Session to deal with the question of water scarcity, namely the Rural Water Supplies Act and the Bill now under consideration. He said that the first Measure, dealing with water supplies in country districts, represented a long-term policy while the present Bill was an emergency Measure. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman stress the point that this is an emergency Bill, especially as he went on to speak of the likelihood of industrial revival and trading and commercial expansion. I think in what he said on that point he right hon. Gentleman put his finger on the spot. That is the crux of the whole matter. It is not merely a question of the scarcity of water at the moment caused by the drought conditions which have prevailed; it is also a question of making provision for the increased con- 544 sumption of water which we may expect in the not far distant future.
We are often told that we may anticipate a considerable decrease in population in the next decade and perhaps afterwards. While that may be true I do not think it is an adequate reason why we should legislate in regard to water supplies upon a temporary or makeshift basis. There may be and no doubt there will be a decrease in population for reasons which we cannot at the moment exactly assign, but, even having regard to that possibility, we cannot say that the position in regard to future requirements of water is such as to justify us in attempting merely to tide over the period immediately before us. We cannot look to the future with complacency and say that matters will adjust themselves and so justify the adoption of a purely short term policy at the present time. The consumption of water especially in Scotland is always increasing. May I with due respect call the attention of English and Welsh Members to the fact that in Scotland we have always had a higher consumption of water per head of the population than other parts of the country? That is a fact, again, to which it would perplex most hon. Members to assign an exact reason.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
In regard to the theory which the hon. Member is now putting forward may I remind him of the classical instance which is referred to in the Scottish historical poem "'Phairson swore a feud"—'Phairson had a son,Who married Noah's daughter,And nearly spoiled the Flood,By drinking up the water.Which he would have done,I, at least, believe it,Had the mixture beenOnly half Glenlivet.
I hope that the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers) will not expect me on the spur of the moment to reply to that reference. That is a poem or rather a rhyme of which I had no prior knowledge. I shall therefore have to ask for notice of his question. I was saying that the Minister had laid stress upon the emergency character of this legislation. I should like, with respect, to carry his argument a stage further and to suggest that an emergency plan need not be a makeshift expedient. As I say we must look forward to an increased consumption of 545 water having regard to the industrial revival and the trade expansion which is sure to follow the activities of the present National Government—prolonged, as I believe these will be, by the electors when the right moment arrives.
I have reason to believe that many local authorities are seeking to cover up their sins of omission in this respect. Many have not made adequate arrangements with regard to water supplies—I am speaking now not of rural but of urban authorities—and they are seeking to remedy the position by suggesting the plan which this Bill seeks to legalise, namely, the taking of compensation water. As the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. W. Johnston) has pointed out, the Clause which grants power for the taking of compensation water reverses' a precedent which has held good in water legislation for 60 years or more. This is going back to 1845 or thereabouts when the first Waterworks Act was passed. In those days the trend of thought, characteristic of the days of the late Queen Victoria, operated in the legislation of this House. The idea was that you could make adequate return in terms of money for water which you took away from an area but after a lapse of 30 years we had a reversal of that idea. We then had the idea, which has persisted since, that when you took water away from a catchment area you had to allow for a certain supply going back to the area or the authority concerned, by way of compensation. That is why I have no doubt that questions will be raised in the course of the further proceedings on this Bill, with regard to what is proposed in this connection.
In Debates on domestic and Imperial affairs, on financial matters or on matters concerning the position of this country in relation to other world Powers, we have had the view expressed over and over again that it is necessary to face the changing conditions of to-day with an open mind and to fight the battles of to-day with the weapons of to-day. I am not an advocate of rash experiments. I do not endorse the pleas which are put forward from time to time for inflation and reflation and huge expenditure on public works. But I wonder whether the provision of a proper water supply for the community, in both rural and urban areas, is not a matter in which we 546 might judiciously expend public money, realising that we shall get from such expenditure a proper economic return. We must consider whether the return from such an expenditure would not justify a small additional imposition upon many rich rateable areas who, with all due consideration for themselves, would be well able to bear the burden. That is why I very much hope that whoever replies at the end of the Debate will give us a little more illumination upon the question of compensation water, and tell us whether the Government mean to make this, besides emergency legislation, a long-term policy.
I hope that, while realising the necessity for prompt action, they will have regard to the future and urge the authorities, particularly in urban areas, to follow on the line of thought that the city fathers in many cases 30, 40, or 50 years ago had in mind and have regard to the conditions which they envisaged would come to pass before three or four generations had passed away. A very good precedent in this direction is the greatest civilisation that Europe has ever seen, the great days of the Roman Empire, which have left so many landmarks, especially in the southern half of Great Britain. They stressed the importance of an adequate supply of water for the whole community. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) spoke of this as a Communistic Measure. If it be so, all that I can say is that Imperial Rome was Communistic also. We in Scotland, who have based our system of jurisprudence particularly on the Roman system, would naturally look for a precedent in that direction. I very much hope that we shall have a little further enlightenment and that the Government mean to stress, so far as is reasonable, the necessity for making due and adequate provision in time against the conditions that will possibly—nay, probably—prevail before many years are past. By so doing, I believe that they and we in this House, no matter what may be said about those who are always talking about the ratepayers, shall be doing what the people of Great Britain would wish us to do.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Lord APSLEY
I should be more enthusiastic in support of the Bill if I really found that in my heart I could 547 share the fears of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health of an impending drought, but coming up from the West Country to-day, where it was raining extremely hard and where it has been raining for the last two or three days, and hearing that Scotland is under deep snow and, further, that there is every indication of more rain to come, and in view of the fact that we are quite likely to have a very wet summer, as we have an Australian test team coming over and an American polo team as well, I am not sure that I would so far trust the English climate as to predict a still further long state of drought. Still, the right hon. Gentleman is quite right; he cannot afford to gamble. He has to take the necessary precautions, and he would be blamed, if it should so happen that there was a prolonged spell of drought, if those precautions were not taken. But I would urge that he should not be pushed, by fears of a great and prolonged drought, into hurriedly rushing legislation through, possibly causing great hardship, inconvenience, and litigation difficulties in future, which the following generation might regret very much.
At the same time, there are one or two matters which I am not sure that the Minister has considered, or at any rate dealt with in the Bill, and I wonder whether some possible further measures might be taken, or it may be that he has power under other Measures that have been passed already to deal with them. In the first place—and this is, to my mind, one of the real reasons for the state of water shortage which undoubtedly exists, particularly in the southern half of the Kingdom—there is the movement from the North, where there is usually an abundant rainfall, particularly in Lancashire and on the North-West coast of England, to the southern parts of the country, causing a considerable increase in the demand for water. Further, the southern half of the country having watersheds which are not of great height and a subsoil, in many parts of limestone or chalk, through which the water percolates to unknown hidden reservoirs, there is a considerable difficulty in supplying the volume required by many of these new industries. Perchance the Minister will consider dealing with this question under the 548 powers given to him by the Town Planning Act, which are now being put into execution and where new industries are being started in the South of England, perhaps he will consider the effects on the surrounding country of the increased demand for water and the possibility of its being obtained.
Secondly, there is an increased consumption of water in the towns, though I am sure there will be no necessity for my hon. Friend the Member for Barn-staple (Sir B. Peto) to go without his bath. It is true that the increased custom of using long baths, with water laid on, causes a considerable increase in the demand for water as compared with the old-fashioned tub that you could have by the fire, which was equally efficacious and far more healthy and did not require anything like the same amount of water; but the amount of water used in baths is infinitesimal compared with what is used in other ways. To begin with, there is the increase in garden cities and in the number of gardens which are, quite rightly, supplied to practically every new house on the outskirts of our towns. A great deal of water is used there. Secondly, there is the increased number of motor cars, and they use far more water than any human being or even any family of human beings for their necessary cleansing. Without any doubt there is a considerable increase in the amount of water that is daily consumed by motor cars, all of which has to come from the watersheds all round, which may be, and are in many cases, running very seriously short.
The hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) made a very sensible suggestion with regard to conserving rainfall, but he only dealt with rural districts. I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to consider that question also with a view to town districts. I have hardly ever seen a council cottage or a new house in any building scheme that was provided with a proper rainwater tank which would conserve the abundant water that can be gathered from the roof. Even a few days' rain like we have had would supply people with water for their gardens for a considerable time. I am not sure that water undertakings do not discourage it. In my own case, before they gave me a, service of public water from the company, they succeeded in compelling me 549 to close my well, and they tried to make me close my rain-water cistern as well; and I am not sure that that is not the case in other parts of the country also. It is a matter well worth investigation, as a considerably increased use of rain water might with advantage be made in towns as well as in rural districts.
Another problem is the increased drainage that is being brought into use in agricultural districts, on account of which water is undoubtedly run off the land very much more quickly, and there is greater waste down to the rivers and the sea. The rivers rise and fall more rapidly, they do not keep their level, and you do not get the same seepage to the wells in the lower districts, which causes difficulties. But still more in the South of England is there an increased demand for water in the rural districts, and this, to my mind, is largely due to the increased amount of land that is growing cattle during the last 10 years. Uplands which used to be used for sheep and wheat now grow dairy cattle and stores for meat, and in the Cotswolds, where dewponds and wells were sufficient for sheep and wheat formerly, they are now asking for water to be laid on, and it has been laid on, in spite of the fact that by so doing the farmer immediately increases his overhead charges and then wonders why he cannot make a profit when prices for his produce drop. He has now got to pay a water rate on the rateable value of the land, and if he does not have to pay on the agricultural part of it, he has to pay on his buildings and, further, an increased amount on Schedule A, or on Schedule B if he is a tenant.
These things are hardly thought of, but there is a continual improvement in the social service schemes which are produced from time to time, and every one of them, whether water, gas, or electricity, always means an increase in your operating charges. Either your rent goes higher, or, if it is a farmer, he must get a higher price for his produce in order to meet his overhead charges. I hope the Minister will give assistance in this matter and increase the conservation of water without incurring any great expense either to the public or to the users of it, and then, if the matter is not hurried unduly—and I hope we may get an abundant rainfall—I believe we shall have the measures that we require.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
We oppose the Bill, but we agree that something ought to be done with regard to the water supply. Although we criticise the method in the Bill, one must join with the Government in bringing the matter forward, as a shortage of water is one of the gravest things that can attack any body of people. The Minister, in criticising our Amendment, asks what practical suggestions we have to meet some of the difficulties, and my contribution to-day will be to try to help in that direction. The Bill speaks of the co-ordination of water supplies, which means to say that if in one district they have more water than they need and some of their supplies are running to waste, then other districts can be allowed to have some of that water. Let me give one or two instances where, if this had been in operation before, certain localities would have had the requisite quantity of water instead of now being short. This week we have had a deputation from Lancashire to meet the Secretary for Mines, and we have been trying to get him to do something with the colliery owners to prevent the flooding of mines. In one part of Lancashire some time ago we had a pumping station that was yielding from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 gallons of water a day to keep the mines clear, but owing to the lack of understanding on the part of mineowners, that pumping station was abandoned, and consequently all that water that was percolating from the surface to the underground workings prevented the mines from being worked.
One can readily see that by a co-ordinated effort that water supply could have been made use of. Here we have to all intents and purposes a huge well cut through the water-bearing strata. There is a potential supply of water but nobody seems to want it. The hon. Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) said that in Lancashire in times past we have been fortunate in having more rainfall than other parts of the country. It was considered unfortunate in those times, and it was said that we got more than our fair share. It was a common thing to say that it always rained at Manchester, and test matches have been more frequently postponed at Trafford Park than in any other part of the country. Such rainfall would not be regarded as unfortunate 551 now. We had more than we wanted then and that valuable thing which is so necessary for life has been wasted.
Now we have colliery owners failing to come together to support a common pumping station and allowing mines to be flooded, and nobody is able to make use of that water. If this Bill will give powers to the Minister to say to such localities Chat this water must be got hold of, it is a step in the right direction. If, for instance, this water is running into mines round Wigan or Leigh or Bolton, it ought to be taken charge of and distributed to the nearest places where water is required. It is too valuable to allow to run to waste. One ought not to blame the Government for what nature is doing. I agree that Governments have to bear blame for almost everything, but no one can lay the blame on them for the shortage of rain. What we have to do is to try to give directions to places that want water as to what they should do when they have water within reach. I put that forward as a practical suggestion, and even if it is not taken notice of by the Government, I hope it will be taken notice of in the localities where the water exists.
Another suggestion I have to make is with reference to baths. The "upper ten" look upon a bath each day as a necessity. In times of stress such as we are experiencing now, may I suggest to these people that they might well forgo their daily bath? We are going to tell householders not to use too much water, and I would say to the people who take a bath every day, that is, the rich people who have no need of it unless there is plenty of water, that, while there is a scarcity they should not have their daily bath. During the drought there will be a cutting down of supplies and everybody should give a share to the common weal. Those people who are advising other people not to waste water—a term I use advisedly—should look to their own use of water and cut some of their baths out.
I would further suggest that the Minister should get into touch with the Postmaster-General with a view to advertising in the stamp books an appeal to people in the national interest to use water sparingly. A common appeal of that kind would have its effect, because if people realise what is required in the national interest they will generally 552 respond; and I feel satisfied that if they know the seriousness of the water position the people of the country will do what they can to save water so that we shall have ample supplies for really necessary purposes. I criticise the form of the Bill, and this and other Governments who have not looked ahead to such an emergency as we have now, and I feel that the suggestions I have made will help to bring to the notice of the people how serious the position is.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. CHORLTON
I view this Bill with very mixed feelings, no doubt because of the fact that I have been concerning myself with the water supplies of the country rather intimately for two years. I have felt that during that time something ought to be done to meet the conditions which were inevitably coming upon us. The resistance to anything being done has been to me rather remarkable. When one has a certain standard in the world in the engineering sense and one tackles a problem with a certain amount of care and caution, one can only conclude that this resistance possibly arises from the fact that one might be thought to be interfering with another line of country than one's own. All the steps that are now to be taken have been advised not by myself alone, but by many others before. We are now going to do violently what we should have done reasonably, carefully and efficiently if we had only started when so many people advised us to start. One can go back into the records and see recommendations from different commissions which have been appointed to look into the water conditions of the country, and to advise the Government. I will read the observations of one commission as an example—The allocation of water has become too serious a matter to be left to a succession of Parliamentary committees which are constituted from time to time to deal with particular Bills.It goes on to say that the whole question of water resources of the country should be gone into and examined carefully, and then allocated properly afterwards, and it advises this to be done by a special water authority. Another problem which is being dealt with now, namely, the saving of compensation water, is an old trouble which has gone on for years and has repeatedly been brought forward and stressed. How is it 553 that this action has to be taken so suddenly? I can understand the Minister saying, "You should not take action until it is needed and, when it is needed you should take it strongly," but, on the other hand, if you do that you run grave risks of doing these things inefficiently. The Minister has an advisory committee of engineers, and how is it that for all this period some more effective action has not been taken and more foresight shown? Who is to blame? Because there is some blame attached to someone. While I am not against the action that has been taken, I think we ought to be told something about how the present position has arisen. I suggest to the Minister that he might consider forming his advisory committee on a much wider basis, so that it included far more interests. The use of water covers the widest field of any service in the country, and he would find some advantage from widening the basis of the committee.
This Bill, in effect, is a pooling of resources. It provides measures whereby water in one part can be used in another part of the country where they have less. This pooling of resources, as the Minister knows, is what we have been driving at for a long time, and it could very well have been started before, but why has it not been started before? One of the reasons, it seems to me, is that the regional committees which have been set up all over the country to get joint action between the authorities have failed to act because they have no power to compel the adoption of the schemes they have drawn up and to bring them into force. That weakness has been repeatedly brought forward against the 1925 Act. It is said that the regional committees are nothing more nor less than meetings out of which people try to get all they can, and the idea of working together collectively to bring about different schemes has been very rarely carried out. Many of us know instances of this.
Arising out of this Bill something ought to be done to bring about a very active carrying out of the duties which these regional committees should undertake. The Minister has said that this is an urban Bill and does not deal with rural areas because they have not water which they can pass about from one area to another. If they are not going to be dealt with now, how will they be dealt with later on? I ask that because the 554 rural areas are those that are suffering most, and we shall hear about them most later on. A lot of our water legislation fails because there is no compelling power to carry out the recommendations made by the regional committees, and even in this Bill very wide powers are given for orders of all descriptions, but I presume it must be left to the good will of somebody to carry them out.
I would particularly like to ask the Minister what he proposes to do with reference to the rural areas, because that question is bound to crop up. Can we have some idea what steps are being taken either collectively or otherwise to bore wells here and there and to take water out of rivers? It would relieve a great deal of anxiety if, for instance, we knew that an active committee were dealing solely with the rural areas with a view to arriving at a definite scheme. I should like to ask for a few more details about what will happen when these powers are exercised. Turning to my own part of the country, what is going to happen about Haweswater? It is the biggest water scheme in the country, and is costing over £12,000,000, with a capacity of 75,000,000 gallons per day, which could no doubt be raised even higher. This scheme has been held up. I have suggested that it should form one of our natural reserves and be used to supply the areas contiguous to it. I should be glad to know whether any steps are to be taken to complete this reservoir to the full size, and whether there is any likelihood of such negotiations as those of which we have heard being conducted and of joint action being taken. Manchester and Liverpool, two large cities, have two separate water supply systems which have been entirely unconnected until lately. It has taken all these years to bring about a connection between Manchester and Liverpool through the water mains. Can the Minister tell us what is being done in that respect in other parts of the country? Are there any more definite schemes of pooling and of joint action nearing a head?
May I refer shortly to London and to what has been said concerning the change in the demand of the South arising from the movement of the population and other causes? Whatever the movement may be—and it has been exaggerated—it is undoubtedly there, 555 and, as I have suggested on previous occasions, you will find before many years have gone by a population in the districts supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board of 12,000,000 people. To-day you talk about methods of conservation. Very good, but the consumption per head will inevitably rise, and if you have that consumption of 60 gallons—remembering that in Scotland it is over 100 gallons—the consumption will be 720,000,000 gallons. The present consumption is 280,000,000 gallons, and we are dependent on the Thames. Are you, in the future, with those figures in mind, quite safe? It would be a wise precaution to spread your risk and interconnect with other areas, and, at any rate, create still larger storage reservoirs in the Thames Valley where the inundation usually takes place.
Can these things come within the scope of the Bill? They are strong measures. There is a possibility of big reserves of water being taken out of the Ouse, which is periodically flooded during the year. Storage reservoirs would get over that difficulty and provide storage for those areas in very dry years. The rainfall varies from 40 inches in Lancashire and on the West Coast to 20 inches on the East Coast, 100 inches in the Lake district, and 80 in the hills of Wales. The distribution of which the Minister has spoken is the distribution according to the month of the year, but our distribution is according to the rainfall and the part of the country. The interconnection of systems should be extended with this object in view. If the water is in the North, it should not be too difficult to devise schemes for helping the South. Los Angeles takes 280,000,000 gallons a day from over 200 miles distant, which is as though the consumption of London were drawn from the Lake district.
Finally, I hope that the Minister, with these powers, will have a hydrological survey of the country taken to determine our actual resources and their full extent. Existing organisations such as the Ordnance Survey might be used, but if we are going to take real steps we must begin on a real basis, and that means an exact computation and allocation of the water supply in the country. The division of the country into regional areas should be then continued until it is complete. The committees should be set up to take joint action between areas 556 where it is required. Those committees operating in rural areas can then, if powers are given to them, see that the schemes which are devised are carried through. All existing systems should, as far as reasonably possible, be inter-connected. The general supply systems of the country are so large in number and so interlocked in their areas—there are over 1,100 in the country—that it is not difficult to carry out a great deal of interconnecting, and I suppose that the Minister, under these powers, will arrange for this to be done. I have dealt with the subject of storage reservoirs, which are not absolutely necessary, but as schemes which will employ a tremendous amount of labour they might very well be taken in hand at a time like this, as we know that from them we should get the requisite safety in future. I am very glad to see at last that this Department is about to take vigorous action, even if the vigorous action is not as effective in its results as it would have been if only it had been started earlier when we begged and prayed the Government to do so.
§ 7.7 p.m.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
I have only one criticism to make of this Bill, but I am afraid that it is a major one. With the solitary exception of six lines on page 2, every provision must aggravate, prolong and intensify the unfortunate shortage of water from which certain districts have suffered and are still suffering. It might well be described as "The Foolish Virgin's Relief Bill," as it puts a premium on improvidence and imposes heavy penalties on forethought and the careful storage of water. It is a typical departmental Bill. It exhibits the failings of much Socialist thought, in that it confines itself to dividing up what there is rather than dealing with the situation by making arrangements so that there shall be more.
The water shortage from which we have suffered can be cured in one way, and in one way only: that is, by adequate provision for storage. Some cities which have taken a wise and a far-sighted view have ample storage; other cities or districts which have taken a less enlightened view are to-day suffering from a shortage, and I believe that the only way in which the shortage will be permanently put right is by having 557 such popular indignation aroused that those authorities which have been negligent in the past will find themselves compelled by the pressure of their ratepayers to set to work to make adequate provision for the future. That is the only way in which permanent good can be done. Every Clause and every feature in this Bill tends to penalise either the individual or the water undertaking which has made good provision in favour of those who have not. This House should always be careful of emergency legislation. We hope that the crisis may pass away before this Bill finally emerges from the House, but, with the exception of the few words which deal with the conserving of water or the using of less, I can see nothing which will stimulate the conservation and storage of water supplies for the future.
I am a water undertaker in quite a substantial way, and I view with great apprehension the provision which can compel water undertakings to deliver water to other undertakings. It stands to reason that every water undertaking is only too anxious to sell its water to as many people as it possibly can. That is what it exists for; that is how it makes its money; that is how it lives. It may be taken as absolutely certain that its only reason for refusing to supply to other undertakings or individuals is its fear that it may have to add statutory obligations to its own business. The undertaking to which I refer, of which I am a director, has, owing to the drought of this year, been approached by three villages adjoining its area of supply with a view to supplying them. That is exactly the right way in which these things ought to be done. The villages have in the past relied on their wells, but have decided that in the future they would like to have an assured supply, even though it may entail a water rate. We shall come before Parliament in the next few weeks for powers to extend our area of supply. That is how the thing should be done. We are now going ahead actively with extending our borings and increasing our storage capacity. Nothing, however, can be more disastrous than an undertaking, of the kind to which I have referred, having the fear that in an emergency it may be compelled by the order of an official to part with water which it has thought right to conserve to meet the 558 emergencies of its own ratepayers or customers. A movement of this kind must inevitably have the effect of deterring the flow of capital into water undertakings, tend to the diminution of security, and tend—especially in the case of private landowners, who under this Bill will run the risk of going to prison for three months for using their own water for their own purposes—to make the provision of storage for agricultural estates a less attractive proposition than it is to-day.
The provision of water undertakings is one of the best possible outlets for the employment of capital. It offers a safe and adequate return, and it is not the least magnificent of the achievements of the capitalist system. Take, for example, the way in which London has, with its colossal growth, gradually been supplied with water, first by the New River Company and then finally by the magnificent institution which at present supplies it with water. Anything, however, which will aggravate the risk or minimise the attraction of providing storage—which this Bill must do—is in the long run prejudicial to the adequate supply of water in the future. If there is a shortage, that shortage can only be cured by the provision of more storage and greater supplies. Where there have been idle authorities, it is as well that there should be a shortage, even at great inconvenience, for a year or so, because that is the way in which an inert authority can properly be dealt with and made to provide storage itself, rather than stealing or begging from its neighbour in time of need.
Parliament should hesitate before it upsets the provisions which have been made for compensation water. Those provisions have been carefully gone over by Committees of this House with the assistance of learned counsel, expert witnesses and water engineers. Pros and cons have been most carefully debated, and compensation arrangements have been arrived at with many considerations in mind, among others, what amount of water is necessary to keep the flow of a river going, so that it may not become either dry or an open sewer. Very many rivers have sewage discharged into them, and it is essential that there should be an adequate flow of water, otherwise the river will become a positive menace to the neighbourhood through which it 559 travels. That and many other considerations have been present to the minds of Committees of Parliament which have framed compensation agreements. Also, great distress may be caused to agricultural districts by depriving them of water for their cattle.
We have a continual growth in the consumption of water, and I believe that no authority which has ever made adequate provision for water storage has ever suffered for it in the long run. It may have had to wait a year or two before getting its return, but, in the long run, the bolder view has had its reward. That view also applies to the provision of adequate compensation water. If this Measure becomes a precedent for enabling compensation agreements to be cancelled or modified at short notice when an emergency arises, it is bound to put a premium upon shirking and leaving things to chance. For that reason I believe the Bill may make things considerably worse in that respect, and, if the shortage of rain continues, this Bill may have no other effect than that of deterring individuals or local authorities from relieving the water shortage in the only way in which it ought to be relieved.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
To an old county medical officer of health this afternoon's Debate has been full of interesting matter and has raised several interesting problems, not the least interesting being that raised by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) in moving the Amendment. We are discussing that Amendment now. That Amendment started with a general accusation against the Government on the law of averages. The first point to be considered is, At what stage is it right for the Government to take emergency measures in order to put an end to the risks? We all know that the weather is subject to the law of averages, and, although a certain section of the community may dislike our living on what they might call a gamble, that we are always living on a gamble or the law of averages. There is an upward and a downward curve in most things, and sooner or later the rainfall curve comes back to the normal. It would obviously be ridiculous for the Government to take emergency measures well in advance of 560 the expectation of shortage. The right hon. Member for Wakefield seemed to think that the Government ought to have taken these measures earlier, but he confused his argument by not saying whether he looked upon this as only an emergency measure or as a permanent provision. He definitely wished that it could be a permanent provision, but his criticism is too late from that point of view. If, however, it is merely an emergency measure and subject to revocation when the ordinary cycle of the rainfall comes to the normal again, it is clear that he has not proved his point that the Government have delayed their emergency measure too long.
It is essential to the policy of us on this side, who trust local authorities and encourage private enterprise wherever possible, as opposed to Whitehall management of all the affairs of life, to let local authorities and private enterprise "feel the draught," so to speak. They have to wait until they see that an emergency is on them or is in sight before they will take measures. That is not the case, of course, with the pure milk of Socialism, for which I presume the right hon. Member for Wakefield still stands. He once said that this country could afford anything it needs. The question is, will it agree that it needs to take action for coping with an emergency before it has seen the approach of that emergency? Obviously the answer is "No," and if any Government were to insist on measures that are in advance of the need and which impose expenditure it would soon be disowned. Therefore, I do not see that the view expressed in the Amendment that the Government have been too slow in introducing their emergency Measure has been established.
A second point of interest is, What is sufficiency? A large number of Members have suggested that there has grown up an idea that sufficiency is the maximum amount commonly used. The hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Chorlton), who has great experience as an engineer, suggests that probably 60 gallons a day is right, and that if we get only 50 gallons a day we are not getting enough. As medical men we are bound to admit that we are much too clean for the essential purposes of life, but it is now an accepted amenity to have a long bath installed in every cottage; we have got beyond the stage 561 when people said such baths would simply be filled with coal. Baths are used daily by the growing generation in all classes—not only among the more well-to-do. There are those who, like myself, have a cold bath in the morning as well as a hot bath in the evening. I like two baths a day, but for anyone to say that is necessary is absurd. There were three or four years during the War when we hardly ever got a bath, and we cannot say that we were any the worse off, though perhaps we were not quite such pleasant neighbours if we were introduced into a London drawing room. There is a perfectly false idea of what is necessary; these baths are, to a large extent, in the category of amenities, they are comforts, they are luxuries.
The idea that it is necessary to have what is now considered a minimum is, from the health point of view, absurd. At the same time I should be the last to suggest that it is not a good thing to satisfy the general desire of the people to have their baths regularly, to have a sufficiency of water for things to be washed down and kept in a cleanly way. But that does not mean to say that in a time of drought, or if a person likes to live out in the country, he must be provided with 30 gallons of water a day. There must be moderation in this as in all things. We talk of a general provision of 30 gallons per head a day. That is all that is generally necessary even in an industrial town and with provision to be made for the washing of the streets, and we must remember that the requirements of the countryside are different.
The problem is a much greater one in the rural villages than in the towns. I feel sure that with an enlightened application of the measures in this Bill, as well as ordinary precautionary measures, there will not be any serious shortage or any real hardship in the towns, but I am rather afraid of the position in the country. There is no doubt that a number of villages have suffered and may again suffer if there is continuation of the drought, and there is no question that there are villages which constantly suffer because no provision has been made for a water supply. It is not only for industrial purposes that extra water is needed. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) pointed 562 out that another cause of increased consumption of water nowadays is the change-over of agriculture from wheat and arable farming to stock-raising. Then there is the modern custom of water-proofing our streets, backyards and courtyards round houses, which diminishes the conservation of the rainwater, and is another reason why the ordinary rainfall is not sufficient nowadays. But in ordinary village life there is need for a greater provision of water in the interests of the rising generation. I am thinking more particularly of villages dependent on shallow wells. Such wells are hardly sufficient even in a good year, and certainly not in a bad year. Unless there is an exceptional supply of water in the sub-soil there are going to be great difficulties, and there ought to be a public water service to provide for the growing cleanliness of habits among the rising generation. I say definitely that the custom of a complete wash weekly—this could be quite well taken under a shower bath; a bath which takes 30 gallons of water is not necessary—which more than anything else has improved not only the health but the general spirit of self-respect of the rising generation and enables them to mix with people in a more comfortable position in life. There is a great deal in the demand for an adequate water supply, but we must not demand too much.
One thing I must point out is that emergency measures interfere with things right and left, and create considerable anxiety for everybody who is likely to be hit. I am rather surprised that the Minister has not been attacked more for the strength and boldness, as the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Leckie) called it, of the Bill. The Minister will make Orders which may be Very drastic and create a good deal of difficulty and personal hardship at times. That, however, cannot be avoided in emergency Orders. But I do not see any provision in the Bill for Parliament to review these Orders. Obviously these Orders ought to lie on the Table of the House. Ineffective as that provision is, it still does give some protection, and the House ought to have these Orders placed before it in that way.
The last problem that is raised is a very old one—the question of the larger areas of water supply and of watershed areas. The right hon. Gentleman the 563 Member for Wakefield suggested a bigger area than that of the Metropolitan Water Board, which he suggested was not large enough. If you say that that is not large enough, I presume that you want to take the area right up to Wales and right across the country. That reduces the idea of watershed areas all over the country to ridicule, unless you are to go in for a national system. A scheme was very largely worked out by the late Lord Haldane and Lord Melchett before the War, and I remember that the British Science Guild made a very good report on the subject, and took a deputation, if I remember aright, to the then Local Government Board, urging either the provision, or an inquiry into the possibility of the provision, of a complete watershed for all purposes of water supply and drainage—the two should, of course, go together—and sewage disposal in a large scheme throughout the whole of the country. That was the intention of a large number of people who looked at the matter from a logical point of view.
The more complete logic is not simply that of the experts, but of the Members of this House as to what is workable and what is common sense. If there is to be a national scheme it will have to be provided with an inspectorate from Whitehall, but if you are to go on the scale to which we are accustomed, and to work, as we do on this side of the House, for local initiative and private enterprise cooperating together, you have to encourage every kind of effort, and you must not mix up your powers or your authorities. You must not detract from the responsibility of the private enterprises or the local authorities by having yet another set of authorities to take away a large amount of their duties. To have separate watershed areas would, I believe, be a mistake. I believe that the water undertakings have to be used as they are, and that we have to work in with them.
The point which comes in is in regard to the accusation which we are discussing in the Amendment as to how far the Minister, in trying to meet this emergency, has been sufficiently tender while being sufficiently severe, with the existing water undertakings. We have had evidence from the hon. Member for Platting who spoke as an engineer. I should like to read to the House evidence from my own constituency, and from the 564 local district gas and water company whose managing director writes to me:I am writing on behalf of the National Water Policy Committee of the Institution of Water Engineers, of which body I have the honour to be a member, to ask you to be good enough to support their Bill which is now before Parliament. The Institution of Water Engineers is a body consisting of 769 members, and has in its membership practically the whole of the water engineers of the country. The Institution were honoured by the Ministry of Health in being asked to consult with them as to the matters to be covered by the Bill which is now before you, and it is the earnest desire of the Institution that the Bill should be passed.I believe that the Minister has taken the right step in consulting existing undertakings and responsible bodies in regard to this Measure and in bringing the Measure forward. He is right in limiting it to a period of six months as an emergency Measure, and I hope that the Bill will go through all its phases and will prove to be a very valuable instrument of emergency legislation.
§ 7.35 p.m.
There are two questions I should like to ask the Minister on behalf of the rural district council in my part of the country who are having great difficulty. Would the Minister be prepared to include in the Bill a provision enabling him, after such inquiry as he thought fit, to authorise the extension of the area of a statutory water company at the request of the local authority concerned? If that be not possible, and I see that there are obvious difficulties, would he consider taking powers to authorise a water company to supply water in this emergency to houses lying outside its own area, but not in the area of any other statutory authority? That, again, is the request of the local authority. The object, of course, in either case is to obviate the delay of an application to Parliament by the water authority.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Sir WILLIAM JENKINS
I support the Amendment which was moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) because, even after the statement made by the Minister, I am not satisfied with this emergency Bill. It is said that the other Measure is a permanent one for the rural areas, but that this is a temporary measure applying particularly to the urban areas. In some of the urban and 565 rural areas of Wales there has been considerable suffering in regard to water supplies, and we are very dissatisfied with this emergency Measure. We believe that the time has come when the Minister should be preparing not only an emergency Measure but a comprehensive Measure to meet the needs of the nation. He said that we were going to tap new sources, to sink wells. If I remember rightly he said on the last occasion, when he was moving the Bill for the rural areas, that there was plenty of water. These are his words:There is of course plenty of water under the soil, and that can be got by driving a bore-hole and by a small expenditure for a reservoir and a simple pump."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1934; col. 528, Vol. 286.]If that can be done at a small expenditure, what is the need for an emergency Measure of this kind?
§ Sir H. YOUNG
The difference between the two Bills is the answer to that question. When I was dealing with the other Bill I was dealing with permanent conditions, and not the temporary conditions arising from the drought.
§ Sir W. JENKINS
The temporary conditions to which the Minister is referring are also related to the permanent conditions. If the water is there and you know that it is there, why should you not take a comprehensive view and adopt a scheme that will benefit the whole of the people for all time? If there is any matter that calls for special attention, it is the question of the supply of water to our people. I sometimes marvel at the tolerance of our population who are deprived of what is essential for their lives. We are in a civilised country and we all love and our proud of our native soil. Consider the huge population of this country and how very scantily they are served with water in the midst of plenty—as stated by the Minister himself. I am astonished at the attitude of the Minister. The Government seem to be nibbling at the problem by this Bill. For the last 20 years, to my knowledge, the Ministry of Health have been discussing questions of water supply for various areas, sometimes for rural and sometimes for urban areas. There have been reports, commissions, Bills in Parliament and deputations from the country, and all those have been pigeon-holed. At the end the 566 Minister comes here with an emergency Measure to deal with the drought, and it is just for one year. Surely the matter demands more attention. The powers that have been given should be utilised, and so should the men who are in the Minister's own Department. The engineers of the Ministry are some of the most capable men I have ever met. I cannot understand why the Minister of Health has come to the House to ask for emergency powers when he could provide for the needs of the people by a comprehensive scheme.
There should be a definite national scheme to provide for the needs of the people. After all the preparations, we are again considering a temporary Measure. I have heard the Minister on many occasions from this side of the House pressing the Government of the day to bring in Measures on sound business lines that would help the people; I do not consider that this Bill is on sound business lines because we are to spend money to meet an emergency in a way that will not meet the needs of the people. Local authorities in every part of the country have been unable for a very considerable time to come to an understanding with the Minister of Health in regard to water, and the method that is being adopted is not an encouragement to them. I have been at the Ministry of Health on some occasions when the Minister declined to give sanction to a local authority to go on with their water schemes because they said that the rate in the area was too much, and they were unable to meet any additional expenditure. When the last Bill was before the House we were asking
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Mr. Shakespeare)
What schemes are those?
§ Sir W. JENKINS
I am talking of the last scheme, put forward from the Gower rural area. The authority came to the Minister the other day and asked for assistance under the £1,000,000 scheme. They were asked "What are your local authority and the county council prepared to pay towards it, and what is the rural area prepared to pay? We will then consider what part we will pay and how far we are going to assist you." That makes it very difficult for a distressed area. In South Wales there are 567 distressed areas which are in need of assistance, and I would like to ask the Minister what financial aid is to be given to those authorities where they put into operation the emergency powers which are being asked for at the present time?
I want to know also whether local authorities will be compelled or will be asked to carry out schemes in order to meet emergencies in their areas, and what grants-in-aid are to be given to those local authorities? I presume that there is no provision in this Bill—I have seen nothing of the kind so far—to provide for any financial assistance to local authorities. I know of both urban and rural authorities in Wales that will not be able to carry out any scheme unless they get substantial financial aid. I hope that those authorities will be assisted in some way, and that the Minister in this emergency Measure will consider making use of all the information that he has in his Department, in order that we may have a water supply for the whole country, and not merely one provided by emergency measures. Everybody in this country is entitled to have water. Why should they not have it, and why should not the scheme be provided by the Ministry of Health itself? Everyone is looking to the Ministry, and I hope that the Minister will take his courage in his hands and say that he will take the lead and will not allow us to remain as we are at present.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
I think I may say that, considering the nature of this Measure, the House in general has given its approval to it. The hon. Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) called the Measure a nibbling Measure, but, whatever adjective one might choose, I should have thought that "nibbling" was the last in the world that would be applied to the Bill. The hon. Gentleman referred to an application by a parish in his county of Glamorgan which came before the Ministry under the recent Act. It is untrue to say that that application has been refused; what happened was that it was pointed out that the various authorities should pay reasonable proportions of the charge, and the county council and the parish in question are considering the matter further. It is untrue to say that 568 there was any refusal on our part. The main attack came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood)—
§ Sir W. JENKINS
With regard to the Gower application, the Ministry said that they must first of all know exactly what the parish council were prepared to pay, and, secondly, what the contribution from the rural area was going to be, and also what contribution the county council were going to make; and they were told that then the Ministry would consider what part they would take in the matter.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
Exactly; that is common sense. I am very glad that those points have been made because that is the whole essence of the last Act—that the charge should be reasonably spread between the various local authorities.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I would point out that the county of Glamorgan includes areas like my own, which has already undertaken an expenditure, with others, of over £2,000,000 to provide themselves with water. Why should we be asked to help through the county council to provide water for Gower, and Gower escape?
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
We are dealing now with a Bill which touches the drought emergency. The hon. Gentleman is raising a question touching the Rural Water Supplies Act, where that very point was raised. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield, in the reasoned Amendment which he moved, accused us of being both untimely and ineffective. The charge of ineffectiveness seems to have been dropped even by him, and, therefore, we are left with the question of untimeliness. The gravamen of the charge, as far as the right hon. Gentleman was concerned, was that my right hon. Friend ought to have taken action last summer, when he saw that for a month or two there had been an absence of rain. The right hon. Gentleman said that in November and December we ought to have known that, even if there had then followed rain for 40 days and 40 nights, there would still be an emergency. That may be true, but it would have been an emergency of a different character—probably one which would have justified our being asked for a subsidy for Arks. The simple answer to the charge that we should have brought in this Bill before is that there is, even 569 at this moment, no general immediate shortage of water. I am sure that my Noble Friend the Member for West Derbyshire (Marquess of Hartington) will bear out that statement. If there is no immediate shortage now, except in a limited number of areas and a limited number of undertakings, how on earth could the introduction of this drastic Bill be justified last summer, before the emergency had arisen? I can imagine what the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) would have said, and said justly. He was a little apprehensive to-day, and, indeed, anyone would be apprehensive when a drastic Measure like this is introduced. The only justification for it that the Government have is that the time has now arrived when the Measure should be introduced, and you cannot introduce a Measure like this even a month earlier than is justified. That is the first answer.
The second is that, even though there is no danger of immediate shortage now, we have introduced the Bill so as to be in ample time for the problems that may arise in certain areas in the course of the summer. Undertakers who rely on surface sources, and, indeed, those who rely on deep sources, may find that the continuance of the drought will put them in difficulties in the summer, or even in the autumn, because there has not been the chance of that replenishment in the winter months which is so vital, particularly for undertakers who rely on deep sources of supply. Therefore, this Bill is brought in in ample time to enable those undertakers to cope with emergency as it arises. The right hon. Gentleman accused me of being gay and irresponsible because I designated as rubbish much of the talk in the Press about the shortage. What I did when I wound up the Debate on the last Bill was to deprecate alarmist talk which was not justified, and I gave several instances in which a complete misrepresentation about the extent of the water shortage had been made. I think I proved my point. But I never denied that shortage existed. What I said was that the condition as regards water in rural areas was chronic, and I notice that I added at the end of my survey:Now we are ready with our emergency powers should the position worsen."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1934; col. 594, Vol. 286.]570 We had in mind then that, if the drought continued for another six weeks, an emergency would be inevitable.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The interesting view that the hon. Gentleman is putting forward seems to be entirely in contrast with what the Prime Minister told the House this week, when he said that he must have this Bill at once. He was extremely alarmist.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
I agree that we must have the Bill at once, to enable any undertaker who is suddenly faced with a shortage to use the provisions of the Bill. It is our view that probably the powers will only need to be used later on in the summer, except in a very limited number of cases, because in many cases the supply is still adequate, but, in order to provide for the minority, or even exceptional cases, we think it right that we should have these powers on the Statute Book.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Gentleman says that the Bill is introduced in ample time, but the Prime Minister came rushing down to the House and said that the business had to be changed all in a hurry because of it. There seems to be ample leisure and ease on the part of the hon. Gentleman, but it seems to be all flurry on the part of the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
Do not let us quibble about words. For "ample time" let us substitute "right time." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield went on to talk about shilly-shallying in a national emergency. I think that here he was giving us a bit of autobiography which needs no comment from me. Then he passed on to discuss what was the right authority to supply water—the sort of body that it should be, and the sort of area that it should cover; and there was a good deal of sound sense in his argument when he suggested that often a larger area would be advisable. That is perfectly true, and it is the policy on which we have been working. In the rural district or the parish you must start with the small unit; no other method is of any use. But when you study the watershed you find that regional committees can well study the needs and arrange for the supply within the region of the watershed. That is the policy we have been following at the Ministry of Health, and we are still fol- 571 lowing it; and the time will come, of course, when we can co-ordinate the policy in some sort of national way through a co-ordination of the activities of the regional committees.
The Amendment expresses regret that funds are not to be supplied to promote these regional committees. But, although there was a drought in 1929, the right hon. Gentleman neither brought in an emergency Bill nor suggested that money should be spent in financing regional committees, and, quite frankly, I cannot see what justification there would have been for doing so. At the present time there is no evidence that water supply is being stinted for lack of financial resources, except in the rural areas, and it was to deal with the lack of financial resources there that the Government gave a grant of £1,000,000. Outside the rural areas there is no evidence that water supply suffers through any absence of financial provision, and it would not be justifiable to bribe any local authority, or any number of local authorities in a region, to provide an essential service like water, which, as my Noble Friend the Member for West Derbyshire has pointed out, should as a rule be profitable.
A number of questions were put to me by various hon. Members. Let me deal briefly with them. The hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. B. T. Evans) called the attention of the House to the water situation at Swansea. At Swansea, as a matter of fact, the reserves are not particularly low. The trouble there is not so much one of drought as of the expansion of industry, and Swansea is not so much concerned with this Bill. But any growing borough, and particularly one like Swansea, which is attracting, or may be attracting, new industries, has, as a matter of town planning, to study the future and consider the increasing needs of industry. That, however, is not particularly connected with the question of drought.
The hon. Member asked whether the rural districts between Lake Vyrnwy and Liverpool had a right to tap that supply. The answer is "Yes." They can get the water at cost price. But I very much doubt if it would pay them. As a rule it would be much cheaper for a rural district to sink its own bore. The cost of water supply in rural districts is really the cost of laying the pipes. 572 He asked about the survey in South Wales which was made by local authorities. The evidence is still there and is available for any local authority that wants to see it. No doubt if our advisory committee, which is always considering the wisdom of establishing proper regional authorities, should consider a regional authority in South Wales, that survey will be of use.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple raised the question of compensation water and drew a graphic picture of what would happen if the compensation water were withdrawn and the stream dried up. It is true that there are cases where the authorities lower down the stream depend on the compensation water coming down. In a case like that the hon. Member can trust us. There are other cases where more water is going down than is necessary for the riparian owners or anyone else, and in a case like that, where the users of water may be asked to suffer restrictions, we must have the right to order a reasonable limitation of compensation water. There is nothing to stop the hon. Baronet from putting down an Amendment, and we shall consider it, as we always do. The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Llewellyn-Jones) raised the case of a parish of which I did not catch the name and which I am not sure that I could pronounce if I had heard it. He did not give adequate information. I should like first to know six or seven other factors, because as he stated the case to the House it seemed as if it came under our previous Act. If he will come and see me I shall be glad to consider the matter.
The hon. Member for Central Bristol (Lord Apsley) said although he did not trust the weather he trusted the Government, and he went on to raise the very interesting question of the effect of industry in diminishing water supplies. That is a question which will have to be more and more considered. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), although he holds strong views which are not ours, made, as he always does, a constructive and useful speech. It may be that there are cases where water from mines might be taken over by local authorities or statutory companies. Some of this water would come out like soup and might need to be filtered, but it is a case that the local authorities might well watch. The 573 hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Chorlton) raised a number of points hardly any of which touched this Bill. He is so full of this water subject that he has brought down on us the speeches he made before experts on other occasions, and I should hesitate to argue with him on any technical point, because I should get the worst of it. I should like, however, to say that we have had throughout the benefit of the advice of the Waterworks Association and the Institute of Water Engineers. The hon. Member must not think we are just acting on our own. He asked what was happening in the rural areas. The answer is that things are happening. There has been a considerable shortage and we are now considering on merits a large number of applications that have come in. The hon. Gentleman knows that we have an active staff of water engineers who are always in touch with any area where there is a shortage, and as a result of their efforts and advice, after going round to about 100 areas, schemes are being actively promoted and we are getting on as fast as we can. Other points, such as what Manchester will do for water, do not touch this Bill, because it will be four or five years before the question will arise and it does not affect a Bill which deals with six months.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
If the hon. Member means that we are going to interchange all over the country and have what amounts to a grid scheme, that is not economical. It cannot be as profitable as an electric grid, and in fact it cannot be profitable at all.
§ Mr. CHORLTON
I do wish the hon. Gentleman would do me the honour of reading the discussion. I am talking of interconnecting systems which are contiguous with each other.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
I have read most of the speeches of the hon. Gentleman with great pleasure, and I am still not convinced that it is a sound proposition, but I will argue that with him another time. The Noble Lord the Member for West Derbyshire raised the question of storage, which of course is vital for undertakers or local authorities. Undertakers with large storage and reservoirs may, if the drought continues, have 574 to use this Bill. We shall not ask undertakers unreasonably to supply outside areas. Voluntary methods are the best, and the fact that this Bill is on the Statute Book may help the voluntary agreements of which we have heard. The hon. Member for the New Forest (Major Mills) asked whether in this Bill a statutory water area could be extended. The answer is no, but water can be supplied from one statutory area to another.
That is not quite my point. It was whether the Minister will take power hastily to extend an area supplied by a company if necessary, or, failing that, to allow houses outside the area to be supplied by the contiguous company?
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
Yes, but it is not necessary to extend the area if you give power to an undertaker in one area to supply outside its statutory limit. It comes to the same thing. There are powers in Clause 1 of the Bill which enable water to be supplied outside an area.
§ Mr. TINKER
Will the hon. Member say something about my suggestion that the Minister should ask the Postmaster-General to impress upon the public in stamp books the necessity for care in the use of water?
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
That suggestion will be considered. This Amendment is really not justified by the facts. It is really an attempt to make a political question of the weather, nothing more or less, and it is due probably to the deep depression overhanging the Labour party. The Bill is introduced at the right time, neither too soon nor too late. It is an extremely practical Bill, though one of a nature with which I hope not to be too often associated. It can only be justified by an emergency, but it will for a number of undertakers serve a useful purpose, enabling them to dispense with the sometimes dilatory provisions suitable for normal times, and to have a machinery whereby they can get a supply of water in the quickest possible time. 575 Under this Bill the undertaker can go anywhere and do anything, and I hope the House, in spite of the Amendment, will give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 184; Noes, 23.575
|Division No. 196.]||AYES.||[8.14 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gower, Sir Robert||Petherick, M.|
|Adams Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Greene, William P. C.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pybus, Sir Percy John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro, W.)||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hales, Harold K.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Balniel, Lord||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Rankin, Robert|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ray, Sir William|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harris, Sir Percy||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Hartington, Marquess of||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rickards, George William|
|Blindell, James||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hornby, Frank||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Johnston, J, W. (Clackmannan)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Burnett, John George||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Leckie, J. A.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Scone, Lord|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Lewis, Oswald||Selley, Harry R.|
|Clarke, Frank||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Loftus, Pierce C.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Soper, Richard|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||McKie, John Hamilton||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Maitland, Adam||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Doran, Edward||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Train, John|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Martin, Thomas B.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'tles)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Morrison, William Shephard||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blk'pool)||Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Nunn, William||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Pearson, William G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Peat, Charles U.||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Goff, Sir Park||Penny, Sir George||Mr. Womersley.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Banfield, John William||Jenkins, Sir William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thorne, William James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Buchanan, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Cove, William G.||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Daggar, George||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||Maxton, James.||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.