§ 8.17 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on the Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Sandford.)
§ House in Committee accordingly.913
§ [The VISCOUNT HOOD in the Chair]
§ Clause 19 [Land drainage]:
§ EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 47A.
Page 24, leave out lines 27 to 29 and insert—
("(4A) Land drainage functions relating to the London excluded area shall continue to be exercised by the Greater London Council and other authorities by whom they are exercisable immediately before the passing of this Act, and in accordance with the enactments by virtue of which they are exercisable, but Part IV of Schedule 4 to this Act shall have effect for the purposes of their exercise.")
§ The noble Earl said: This Amendment is almost drafting, in so far as the words which will be substituted serve to make abundantly clear—more so than do the words which are removed—that the land drainage functions, which are at present exercised by the Greater London Council, will continue to be exercised by them in perpetuity. I beg to move.
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
I suppose that one ought to acknowledge the grand gesture of the Government, if I am not taken too seriously in referring to it in that way. But it is appreciated that this matter is being treated in the way that was promised.
§ The noble Earl said: If I may speak to Amendments Nos. 49, 50 and 51, because they are all linked together, their purpose it again to make much clearer than the Bill at present does the effect of a charges option order when it comes into force. This is, in fact, almost solely drafting. I beg to move.
Page 25, line 3, at end insert ("and shall thereupon be treated for the purposes of section 38(2) of the Interpretation Act 1889 (effect of repeals) as if they had been repealed in relation to that area by another Act.")—(Earl Ferrers.)
Page 25, line 6, leave out from beginning to end of line 8.—member(Earl Ferrers.)
§ Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.
LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH moved Amendment No. 51A:
After Clause 19 insert the following new clause:
§ Provision for maintaining and developing sonic inland waterways for freight carrying
§ ".Without prejudice to any powers which may be transferred in accordance with Section 8 of this Act, a water authority may maintain and develop for freight carrying vessels an inland waterway for which it is the navigation authority."
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Kinnoull. In so doing, I should apologise to the Committee on behalf of my noble friend who has been called away. This Amendment seeks to clarify the purpose of water authorities, particularly in regard to the maintenance and development of river navigation for the carriage of freight. It is my understanding that, under an earlier clause, authorities have a duty to promote the use of waterways for all kinds of navigation, but there appears to be some doubt that their powers as set out in the Bill are sufficiently explicit for them to carry out their functions where freight carrying is concerned. It is the purpose of this Amendment to provide for their ability to look after this activity, which could well be of growing importance. I beg to move.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
In considering this Amendment, I think it best to begin by setting out the aims of the Bill, which are two-fold. First of all, it provides a new structure of water authorities; and, secondly, it transfers a number of existing powers to water authorities. Among those existing powers, the new authorities will inherit from existing river authorities statutory navigation responsibilities in respect of some 510 miles of river. These existing statutory navigation responsibilities derive from various local enactments, many of them old, governing particular stretches of the river concerned. The new clause which my noble friend Lord Lucas has moved would remove 915 any doubt that there may be by giving water authorities clear powers to maintain and develop these 510 miles of river for freight-carrying. The Government would not wish in any way to be discouraging about freight-carrying on inland waterways but, as I understand it, the difficulty is that it is intended in the present Water Bill simply to transfer existing powers and not to add to them, which is what this Amendment would do. As a result of this, we consider that we are not able to accept this Amendment, but I hope that the noble Lord will rest assured that all the existing powers are transferred to the new water authorities.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I thank my noble friend Lady Young for her reply. Your Lordships will perhaps recognise some of the inadequacies with which I am faced. It would appear, however, that in transferring the existing powers we can make no provision for an element of improvement, and it was the thought of my noble friend in setting down this Amendment that, through it, the Bill would provide the opportunity for improving that which already exists. He will be somewhat disappointed in that the Government do not feel able to add such an improvement to the powers which are contained in the Bill. However, it would not be my wish to pursue the matter unduly, and in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 20 [Recreation]:
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE moved Amendment No. 52A:
Page 25. line 29, at end insert:—
("Provided that every water authority and all statutory water undertakers shall so discharge their duty under this subsection as to have due regard to the duty of the water authority under section 10 above to supply wholesome water in their area.").
§ The noble Lord said: I hope your Lordships will appreciate my personal support for any steps that lead to an encouragement of the provision of amenities. I think that was indicated by an Amendment that I moved early on in the Committee stage. So, naturally, I give full support to the proposals which are inherent in this clause. According to the clause, water undertakings have a 916 duty to take such steps "as are reasonably practicable" to make water space and associated land available for recreation; but the overriding duty is to provide wholesome water. In another place an Amendment similar to my own was tabled, but in his reply I think the Minister missed the essential point of the Amendment. The Minister said (if I may paraphrase) that water authorities' duties would extend beyond mere water supply and would cover the whole of the water cycle. That, of course, is true. He said it was impossible to segregate and wrong to separate one duty from another.
§ Now it is true that the provision of what the Bill describes as wholesome water is but one function, but the fact is that it is the most important function. I think one must appreciate that it is possible to neglect drainage without an immediate risk to life and health, but that is not so in the case of water. Therefore, this Amendment merely underlines the priorities of responsibility. It does not detract one iota from recognition of the necessity for the authorities to provide adequate amenities, but it makes crystal clear to both the public and to the authorities that, while that prevision is important and must be recognised, the overwhelming and overriding responsibility is that of the provision of wholesome water. I therefore recommend this Amendment to the Committee, and I hope the noble Baroness opposite will be willing to accept it, because I think it would strengthen the clause. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I would say in answer to the noble Lord that a reconciliation of all these purposes rather than talk of overriding priorities is the underlying philosophy in the Bill before us. The water authorities will have statutory duties relating to a far wider ranee of functions than hitherto: water supply—I certainly put it first—sewerage and sewage disposal, prevention of pollution, land drainage, fisheries, navigation, recreation and amenity. Now these will interrelate at many points, and it will be the job of the regional water authorities to decide how they should be reconciled. This is what the comprehensive management of the whole water cycle is all about, and it is the Government's main reason for setting up the 917 regional water authorities responsible for discharging this whole range of functions.
For that reason, we believe it is undesirable to single out in the Bill one particular function to be given what the noble Lord calls overriding priority, even though we would agree with him that it is the basic one. To do this would, I think, cast a doubt on the relationship between it and the other functions as they are now envisaged. So, while taking the point that the noble Lord is making to the extent of agreeing that the supply of water is a basic purpose, we believe that the matter is best left to the water authorities to determine in the circumstances of each case, and with particular reference to Clause 10 where the noble Lord will see that water supply is rated high, as it should be, in the category of functions to be fulfilled. In considering the recreational developments which are given new prominence they will have to take all their other relevant statutory functions into account, including that in Clause 10.
It is misleading to imply, as the Amendment might be taken to imply, that there is an inevitable clash between recreation and water supply in the sense that it was believed, and is still believed in some quarters, that it is not possible to have a water supply reservoir with any recreation going on in it or near it. I think the Committee will agree, and I hope the noble Lord will agree, that we have moved a long way from the days when every reservoir catchment was totally forbidden territory; the development of the regulating reservoirs has facilitated this. I hope the noble Lord will agree that the philosophy that we are stressing is now the right one to adopt and that the prominence, importance and basic indispensability of water supply is recognised without his Amendment and that he will not feel it necessary to press it.
§ LORD PEDDIE
I am encouraged by the noble Lord's comment that the provision of water is the major activity. I think he made that clear in his reply. I accept that a wide variety of functions are involved, so long as the major activity is made crystal clear as it was in the course of his reply. I hope this will be borne in mind constantly by the authorities who will have responsibility 918 for judging the extent to which the provision of amenities should be made available. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 52B:
Page 25, line 41, at end insert:
("(3A) In exercising their functions under subsection (1) or (3) above a water authority shall not obstruct or otherwise interfere with navigation which is subject to the control of a harbour or navigation authority without the consent of the harbour or navigation authority.
In this subsection "harbour authority" has the same meaning as in the Harbours Act 1964 and "navigation authority" has the same meaning as in the Water Resources Act 1963.")
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment makes clear that a water authority exercising its function with regard to recreation shall not interfere with navigation controlled by another authority without the agreement of that authority. There are already safeguards of this kind with respect to water authority functions other than recreation. This Amendment fulfils an undertaking given by my honourable friend in another place at an earlier stage of the Bill. I beg to move.
§ LORD DE RAMSEY moved Amendment No. 52C:
Page 25, line 41, at end insert:
("( ) The Secretary of State may, where he is satisfied that it will assist the exercise by a water authority of their functions under this section, make an Order under section 82 of the Water Resources Act 1963 (for the transfer of functions and property of a navigation authority, conservancy authority, or harbour authority):—
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment has to do with navigation, a subject which appears to be nearly as complex as land drainage. There are, it seems, certain river authorities to-day with navigation responsibilities and powers. There are many without any. The object of this Amendment is, first, to extend these existing navigation powers to river authorities, even if they are defunct; and, secondly, to improve them. This needs to be done. This Amendment is a simple way of effecting it. If the Government do not like the drafting, let them put down their own draft at Report stage; but let us hear that they are willing to agree that in principle this must be done now in this Bill. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I am glad to respond to the Amendment by saying that we agree that, broadly speaking, something on these lines is needed. One must apologise for not being in a position yet to propose the precise form of Amendment that would commend itself to the Government, but I am glad to confirm that we have the matter in hand and hope to be able to bring forward an Amendment at Report stage which will meet the case. I hope, with that undertaking, that the noble Lord, Lord De Ramsey, and anybody here who may be intending to move Amendment No. 57B on behalf of my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, will agree to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 8.36 p.m.
BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 53:
Page 26, line 8, leave out ("that") and insert ("the Welsh")
§ The noble Baroness said: It will be to the general convenience to consider Amendments Nos. 53 and 54 together, because what we seek to do in this Amendment is to transpose the responsibility in subsection (5) of this clause. This is an Amendment of considerable importance in the Principality. I should like briefly to explain to these who may not be familiar with the arrangements proposed for Wales why it is that we are concerned about it.920
§ Your Lordships will recall that when we were discussing the Amendment concerned with the Severn-Trent authority it was made plain that the Upper Severn catchment area which lies in Montgomeryshire would be, in general, in the charge of the Severn-Trent authority and not under the supervision of the Welsh National Water Development Authority. It was realised by the Government, as the preceding subsection (4) and the subsequent subsections (6) and (7) make plain in this clause, that it would not be acceptable in Wales if the Severn-Trent authority were made entirely responsible for recreation and amenity provisions in Montgomeryshire or what will be the new county of Powys. Therefore this rather complicated arrangement was proposed, that the Welsh authority, after consultation with the Severn-Trent authority, should prepare recreational plans for the whole of Wales including the Severn catchment. That is entirely satisfactory to us. It was also made clear that it would be the Welsh authority who would he empowered to acquire land and so on for the purpose of recreation connected with water throughout the Principality, including the area otherwise administered by the Severn-Trent authority.
§ So far, so good. But when we come to subsection (5), to which these two Amendments refer, we are told that any such plan for the promotion of recreation connected with water, in so far as it falls to be carried out in the area of the Severn-Trent Authority shall be carried out by that authority in accordance with the scheme agreed to by them and the Welsh authority or, in default of agreement, in accordance with the directions of the Secretary of State. With that we do not quarrel. We cannot see the sense of this. If the Welsh authority is allowed to go as far as it is in making all plans and acquiring land et cetera, we cannot see why it cannot proceed also to carry out those plans, provided they were agreed with the Severn-Trent authority which has the overriding responsibility for the management of the Upper Severn catchment and which plainly would not agree with any provision which conflicted with its primary duties as the senior authority in the area, so to speak, for all purposes other than recreation.921
§ I will refer in a moment to some extremely obscure and ambiguous remarks on this subject made in another place by the Minister of State for Wales, Mr. Gibson-Watt, in the proceedings in Standing Committee D from which, frankly, I could not understand what it was that the Government had in mind. Before I turn to Mr. Gibson-Watt's remarks I will explain further why it is that we are so anxious that this should be an entirely Welsh undertaking—with always the authority and consent of the Severn-Trent people. In Wales we have our own Sports Council and we have our Welsh Statutory Committee on the Countryside Commission. We have our own Welsh Tourist Board, and these, together with the local authority, the new County of Powys and possibly any elected regional council which may be forthcoming ultimately under the Kilbrandon proposals—will all be the people concerned with life in mid-Wales. They will want to see how things are going and whether the schemes are working satisfactorily; whether the local people are happy about them and whether there is any conflict between the innumerable visitors who come to our beauty spots and the local people. I am not now speaking of any other aspect of water management or control. Despite the various pleas that have been put forward about local democracy and so forth, I agree that for the most part the management of water is a technological function. But when you come to amenity and recreation it is after all a human and a local function. Therefore one's relationship with the local community is of overriding importance.
§ Were we living in the old days, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandford—very rightly I thought—emphasised, the position might be different. In the old days, when water went directly from the reservoir into the pipe and into the tap, so to speak, one had to be extremely careful about what happened in the surroundings and on the surface of the reservoir. I assume that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will reply for the Government, and I am quite sure that he is not living in the old days and will not put forward any such nonsensical argument. Knowing the Upper Severn catchment as I do—I live very close to it: I live actually in the Dyfed catchment, but I am very close to Clywedog, and so forth—I cannot conceive, 922 and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, will agree with me, that in the Upper Severn catchment we shall ever again have the kind of reservoir that we have in the Elan Valley, where the water is pumped direct to Birmingham. They do not do that any more; it is absolutely "old hat". The Severn is now used as the pipe, the river is the conduit. The Clywedog is a regulating reservoir. The quantity of water going into We Severn is regulated from the Clywedog reservoir and would, I am certain, be so regulated in any other reservoir which might be constructed in the future in the Upper Severn catchment. There would be no water in the Upper Severn catchment going straight to the consumer, and so there is no question of the Severn-Trent Authority having to be on the spot as guardians of the purity of the water. It is absolute nonsense.
§ The Clywedog reservoir, which I know very well, has its boating and fishing and all that, and people are allowed to wander all round it, as I do. The actual purification of the water takes place miles away, hundreds of miles away so far as the Severn is concerned, and not on the spot. The only people who might drink the Severn water would be in Montgomeryshire, and much of their water conies from the shale-bearing areas adjacent to the Severn and not from the river. But I must not go into technical details of that sort.
§ All I am trying to make plain is that, in my view, it is not necessary for the Severn-Trent Authority to be responsible for the execution of the plan, provided that the plan is fully agreed in detail; and if it is desired that the Severn-Trent Authority should have some authority if things go wrong to appeal to the Secretary of State, this is provided for. If they are in disagreement with the Welsh Authority the Secretary of State can issue a direction. There is a good safeguard and a good appeal to the Secretary of State if, by any chance, the Welsh Authority proposed something which the Severn-Trent Authority felt was detrimental to the carrying out of their overriding duty regarding the supply of water. I can assure the Committee that this will make a great deal of difference in Wales. This is not one of the great tourist areas it is not, for example, like Snowdonia in the pressure of visitors at the moment. 923 But it is an important and developing area, and there is no part of Wales which is more sensitive politically on this matter of water than the Upper Severn catchment.
§ Clywedog dam was bombed and we do not want—I am serious about this—to encourage any forces of this kind, or to give any sort of excuses for the kind of trouble which can be caused. I am happy to say that we have not had any trouble for the last two or three years. But when I was Minister of State I went to see Clywedog when explosives had been discharged which damaged the dam. Fortunately, it was before the darn had been entirely completed and there was no flooding. This is a matter which is not to be entirely overlooked. One does not wish to give any sort of excuse to any people who may wish to express themselves in this way. Therefore it appears to me that it would be entirely proper to reverse the responsibility in subsection (5) and give the Severn-Trent Authority the privilege, if you like to call it so, of approving or disapproving the scheme; and if there is disagreement, there is an appeal to the Secretary of State, but then the Welsh Authority would carry through the entire business. The Welsh Authority already has the planning and the ownership of the land required for such purpose. Why, therefore, cannot it also have the management? To us in Wales this makes complete sense. With modern methods of reservoir management—and I stress the term "modern methods" because this would not have been true 20 or 30 years ago but it is now—I do not believe that there is any reason for conflict with the duties of the authority.
In conclusion, may I turn to the comments of Mr. Gibson-Watt which, as I say, I do not understand. As he is a Minister I Presume that I may quote him. I quote from col. 157 of the Committee's Report of March 1—St. David's Day, as it so happens—and it is in reference to recreation and amenity provisions. Having described the general pattern, Mr. Gibson-Watt went on to say:
To say that those who will be running this executively—
that is, executing the plan—
will be people who live at Scunthorpe is totally wrong. What will happen is that on the
spot these important amenity activities will be run by local people.
But we have no guarantee whatsoever anywhere in the Bill that they will be run by local people. There is nothing in the Bill which puts any duty on the Severn-Trent Authority to employ local people to carry out the schemes, and therefore I cannot see what authority Mr. Gibson-Watt had for making such remarks which are completely unsubstantiated. When he was pressed by other members of the Committee who, not being Ministers, I must not quote, he was driven to the fallback position, in which lie said:
I give the advice now to the Severn-Trent Authority that those who should actually administer and arrange matters on the spot"—
with the agreement of the Authority—
should be people Aho well know the area.
§ That is a very different thing. This is a middle Minister at the Welsh Office giving advise to the great Severn-Trent Authority. Are they going to pay the slightest attention to something that he happened to say in Committee D if there is nothing in the Bill? Frankly, I do not think they will. Why should they? Therefore, with the greatest respect to Mr. Gibson-Watt (and I have quite an affection for him), I do not believe that he was entitled to say, as he did, that what will happen is that on the spot these important amenity activities will be run by local people. I do not think he had any right to say that. I do not see how he could possibly substantiate it. I do not see that there is any guarantee that it will happen. I believe, therefore, that the Amendments that my noble friend Lord Champion and I have put down—and my noble friend also knows this area, though not quite so well as I do—are right. We submit that the only safeguard that would be adequate would be to put the primary authority for execution on the Welsh body and the supervision of it on the Severn-Trent Authority. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I should like, quite shortly, to support the main contention that the noble Baroness made in her speech. Coming as I do from the English side of the Welsh Border, ail my experience and instinct tells me that unless there is strong reason indeed to suggest the contrary. any recreations that are to happen in Wales are very much better managed by the Welsh.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
I have a great affection for the noble Baroness opposite and for my noble friend, to whom I am slightly related, who has just supported her. I also have a great affection for Wales and am naturally predisposed towards this Amendment, but I must say, having gone into it very carefully, that the logic lies in the Government's proposals. I take it that we are at one on the planning proposals and I do not need to touch on those; it is simply a matter of who should manage the recreational use of the water in the Upper Severn basin and part of the area of the Severn-Trent Authority.
The noble Baroness made great play with Clywedog; but Clywedog is not the only reservoir in this area. There is also Lake Vyrnwy, which she did not mention. She said emphatically that it was "old hat" and old fashioned (I suppose I shall be called "fuddy duddy" again) to take water from a reservoir in pipes to its destination; but that is what happens at Lake Vyrnwy. Lake Vyrnwy is a direct-supply reservoir for Liverpool Corporation, and the water goes straight from Lake Vyrnwy to Liverpool in pipes. It is for that very reason that it would be quite wrong if the Severn-Trent Authority, who are responsible for the delivery of what I think is called potable water to Liverpool, were not in charge of the water in Lake Vyrnwy and the recreational use of it, because quite easily recreational use can lead to pollution, as the noble Baroness will acknowledge. It would be impossible, I think, to lay the responsibility on the Severn-Trent Authority to supply clean water to Liverpool and at the same time not allow them to manage and look after the recreational facilities on Lake Vyrnwy.
So far as Clywedog is concerned, I think the same applies. Although I recognise that this is a regulating reservoir, at the same time, water is drawn off from the River Severn to supply Birmingham, Gloucester, Bristol and many other places.
§ LORD ABERDARE
I do not think it fair that one should say to a water authority: "You are responsible for the production of clean water to many important cities in England", and at the same 926 time that another authority should have the responsibility for recreational facilities on those waters. After all, it is not only in the reservoir but on the waters, too. It seems to me absolutely logical and right that the management and responsibility for clean water should rest with one authority. I say that with sympathy for those who speak on behalf of Wales, naturally, but I am convinced that it would be quite wrong to separate these two responsibilities.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am sorry about this, but surely the noble Lord can appreciate that, so far as Vyrnwy is concerned —which I agree is a direct abstraction reservoir—all the Severn-Trent Authority have to do is to say: "Sorry, but you cannot have that scheme here, because that is an old reservoir; it is a piped reservoir and not a regulating reservoir". The Severn-Trent Authority have the right of veto.
§ LORD ABERDARE
No; that is not correct. The Welsh Authority put up the plan in conjunction with the Severn-Trent Authority, and if there is disagreement it is the Secretary of State for Wales who has the final word.
§ BARONESS WHITE
Yes; quite so. But what we are suggesting is that the Welsh Authority should have the power to run the scheme, but a scheme agreed upon between them and the Severn-Trent Authority, and only in default of agreement will the Secretary of State be appealed to. The normal procedure would be that any scheme would have to be agreed upon with the Severn-Trent Authority. The Severn-Trent Authority would therefore say about Vyrnwy: "We are sorry, but this is not a place where you can carry out much recreation provision. It is not suitable. It is one of the old-fashioned reservoirs where there is a strict limit to the kind of recreational provision that could be carried out." I think that is true.
§ LORD ABERDARE
It is not exactly the type of recreation, because whatever sort of recreation takes place, pollution can occur. Human beings can cause pollution. You could say, "We will allow fishing"; but a fisherman could 927 cause pollution if he was careless in the way he acted. Somebody has to be running that reservoir who can stop that kind of thing from happening.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I still think that arrangements can perfectly well be made between the two authorities for that. I agree that Vyrnwy is much more sensitive than Clywedog because it is old-fashioned. Clywedog itself, and any new reservoir, would be a regulating reservoir, where the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, would, in my submission, have no force at ail. To talk about what happens to the people in Gloucester, for example, for anything which could be done in Montgomeryshire is really quite irrelevant, because the water sup? plied in the taps of the city of Gloucester has gone many miles from Montgomeryshire before it is treated in such a way that it is suitable for drinking purposes. That is not done in Montgomeryshire; it is done far lower down the river. As I say, this applies to all the abstractions from the Severn. There is a tremendous amount of abstraction from the Severn, and then the water is treated and goes hack into the Severn and so on: there is a cycling that goes on the whole length of the river.
I grant the noble Lord a certain validity in his argument about Vyrnwy, but, as I say, I believe that could be dealt with by the Severn-Trent people's simply not agreeing to a scheme which did not give them adequate supervisory powers, if that is what they want. They would then Le part of the scheme. But the politics of this—and this is serious—is that in any new scheme it should be the Welsh Authority which should have the real say, I would have said, in running Clywedog as well as Vyrnwy, but, for the reasons put forward, it may well be that the scheme agreed upon for Vynrwy would need to contain some special provision. I think it is far better to do it in that way: to have the Welsh Authority as the executive as well as the planning authority, with the consent of the Severn-Trent people. If the Severn-Trent Authority felt that the more sensitive situation in Vyrnwy was such that they wanted a different type of scheme, I cannot believe that in those circumstances the Welsh Authority would be obstructive—and if they were the Severn 928 Trent Authority has a remedy in going to the Secretary of State and making its case. It is far better not to base the whole thing on what might happen in the case of a very old reservoir like Vyrnwy, where I believe perfectly suitable safeguards could be arranged—in other words, to take Vyrnwy as the pattern (in the Platonic sense) of the whole of the Upper Severn catchment. It is the wrong balance: you are making the lesser govern the greater cause, and this seems to me to be unstatesmanlike.
I think the technical arguments can be met within our proposition and that full safeguards can be agreed, since the Secretary of State has the over-riding power in any case. I do not think the Welsh Authority would be unreasonable over Vyrnwy. Vyrnwy is not one of the places on the whole which arouses political problems. Undoubtedly new reservoirs would; and I am really trying to safeguard the future. Water is the most inflammable substance in Welsh political life and it is just foolish not to recognise that. I am pleading with the Minister because I have to live with this perhaps more closely than he does. I was delighted to have support from the Shropshire side of the Border, because our Shropshire friends are close enough to know what goes on in Mid-Wales. We are merely asking the Government to show some statesmanship about this. I am quite sure that the technical anxieties about Chilworth water can be dealt with by agreement. I do not think that will stand in the way of what I am asking for, which is that the recreational and amenity provisions in Wales shall he seen very clearly to be the responsibility of the Welsh people.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
Before the noble Baroness sits down, would she tell us, for the benefit of those who do not know that part of the world very well, what recreation takes place on these various reservoirs at the moment?
§ BARONESS WHITE
It is mostly a matter of fishing, sailing, nature trails, picnic sites and view-points where you just sit and absorb the view and the beauties of nature. The Clywedog reservoir that I have mentioned so many times is a modern regulating reservoir. It has a very active sailing club and arrangements for fishing. I think myself 929 that other amenities could be very much better developed there. This is partly because at the moment these things are not run locally—it is the week-enders who come for the most part, though not exclusively, from the Midlands who run the sailing arrangements, and so forth. I believe there is scope there for better provision for refreshment arrangements and so on. This is something that I know the Welsh Tourist Board in particular are very anxious to promote, and I would hope also that the Countryside Commission Welsh Committee would arrange for amenities such as picnic spots and nature trails. There is considerable scope for that type of recreation.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
May I ask the noble Baroness about Vyrnwy? Is it one of those reservoirs which are surrounded by a fence that no one can possibly get through, or is some recreation allowed there at the moment?
§ BARONESS WHITE
It is very much more closely guarded, certainly. I am not so familiar with it as I am with Clywedog, but it is one of the two old Eland Valley reservoirs, where the water is piped directly. Therefore there is greater control, and one appreciates that there has to be.
§ LORD ABERDARE
Perhaps I might add, for the information of my noble friend, that all this planning and development would be done by the Welsh National Water Development Authority. It is their responsibility to do that. All we are talking about is the running of it—that is, to see that the running of the reservoir is properly carried out and
§ that human beings do not pollute the reservoir once the recreation facilities are there.
§ BARONESS WHITE
Are we not really boggling at something which could be arranged in the scheme? If this is really of over-riding importance, then surely the Severn-Trent Authority, before the beginning of the scheme could say, "We must have our watchman on the spot", and that would be part of the scheme. I seriously put forward to your Lordships that the Minister is allowing the lesser points, which I believe could be dealt with quite satisfactorily on an administrative basis, to obscure his vision of the essential political point of all this. I do not believe that these difficulties cannot be met within the formulation of an intelligent scheme by agreement between the parties. If the Severn-Trent Authority say, "We would not be happy unless we had our own inspectors or wardens on the spot", I believe that could be included in the scheme. I think that point applies to Vyrnwy but not to Clywedog, because it does not matter what you do with Clywedog, the water just goes down mingling with all the Severn water until it is extracted and purified when it is needed for use as drinking water. So far as Vyrnwy is concerned, all right: have a special scheme where you have your uniformed Severn-Trent people parading all round.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 53) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 15; Not-Contents, 40.931
|Atholl, D.||Champion, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Davies of Leek, L.||Snow, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.]||Stamp, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Peddie, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Brockway, L.||Shackleton, L.||White, B.|
|Aberdare, L.||Byers, L.||Gowrie, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Colville of Culross, V.||Henley, L.|
|Aylesford, E.||Conesford, L.||Lothian, M.|
|Balfour, E.||Cork and Orrery, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Cranbrook, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]|
|Belstead, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Drumalbyn, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Brahazon of Tara, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Ferrers, E.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Gainford, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.||Sudeley, L.||Vivian, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]||Tenby, V.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Sandford, L.||Trefgarne, L.||Young, B.|
|Sinclair of Cleeve, L.||Twcedsmuir, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 9.14 p.m.
LORD HENLEY moved Amendment No. 55:
Page 26, line 26, leave out ("in Wales").
§ The noble Lord said: I am moving this Amendment on behalf of the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale. It deals with community compensation, which is a relatively new idea. The Bill enables the water authority which makes a reservoir in Wales, which may affect but not necessarily benefit a local community, to provide certain facilities for that community. I think the reason for this is that when the Welsh Council made a report in 1970 on water in Wales they suggested not only that compensation for the landowner and the occupier should be better than it was—and noble Lords will remember that this has been a bone of contention for a long time—but also that those members of the community who do not benefit in any way should get some benefit from it.
§ If this is a good idea in Wales—and I am sure it is; everybody has accepted that it is; it is in the Bill—is it not also suitable that it should be extended to those parts of England which are very similar to Wales in this respect? I could mention the Lake District; Devon; the Peak—upland areas which by their very nature are poor, supply water which goes somewhere else and which yields them very little advantage. The suggestion is that people living in areas of that kind in Wales should benefit. May I, by removing the words "in Wales" from Clause 20(8) of the Bill, extend this to other parts in England? Noble Lords will remember what an emotive issue reservoirs in this kind of area arc, and the psychological advantage of being able to do something for these areas is very great. I beg to move.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
I would support very strongly indeed what the noble Lord, Lord Henley, has said. I cannot see any reason for any distinction between England and Wales. As he has already said, there are certain parts of our country very similar to Wales 932 with hills where the rain is greater and where water can be collected and passed long distances. It is not only from the Welsh hills that water is passed long ways to Birmingham and the Midlands; the same thing happens in the Lake District, which the noble Lord has mentioned—and I declare an interest in both the Lakes Ullswater and Windermere there. Water is carried from there a very great distance to Manchester and beyond. We have identical situations both in Wales and in parts of England, and for the life of me I really cannot see why there should be this difference between two parts of the United Kingdom.
There is of course in this Amendment no intention whatever of doing any harm to Wales at all. All that is wanted is that the same advantages which, quite properly and quite rightly, belong to Wales in this clause should also belong to England as well. I know of no reason of any kind why the same facilities given to local communities in the hills in Wales should not be given to local communities in the hills in various parts of the United Kingdom.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I should like to make it perfectly clear that, so long as we secure the provision of this part of the clause for Wales, we should not in any way wish to be selfish or dog in the manger. I am sure we should raise no objection at all to comparable provisions being made for similar places in England —the Lake District is perhaps the most outstanding. I think the reason why this is in the clause is, as the noble Lord, Lord Henley, said, because we had a report from the Welsh Council, which had set up a special committee to study this matter in Wales, and they made this very strong recommendation. But I am sure that the feelings which gave rise to it must be common to all the supplying areas of the United Kingdom. And it is a quite simple matter. After all, those of us who live in these areas have to suffer the rainfall, which then flows to other parts and, apart from the addition to the rates, we get nothing for it. It is felt that this is one of the natural assets. Water is, after all, a natural asset like any other mineral substance, but we 933 get nothing for it. The rates of course really just save the Treasury. Nearly all the counties concerned are on some form of rate support grant, and all it means is that they get less rate support grant. They do not receive any more cash in the end; it just comes out of a different pocket.
So they do not feel that this is of any real benefit to the local community, although as I have said, it may save the Treasury something. There is a very strong feeling indeed that this is a local asset which is being abstracted from the area in which live the people who suffer the discomforts of the heavy rainfall, and it is enjoyed by people in far more prosperous parts of the country. Therefore, it was felt that this proposal that something might be done by the authority concerned for the local people would at least do something to mollify their feelings. I am sure that none of us in Wales would want to prevent the appropriate parts of England from receiving the benefits.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I agree that certainly in the past and probably in the future there has been—and there will be —an explosive relationship between those parts of the Kingdom where the rain falls and where the reservoirs are built and from where the water is supplied, and the cities, such as Birmingham. Liverpool and Manchester, where the water is drunk and consumed. I do not think there is any doubt at all that the provision that is now in the Bill and to which the noble Lord, Lord Henley, referred, is a provision which is designed to defuse to some extent this explosive relationship and to soften and mitigate the effects of the construction of these reservoirs. I think perhaps members of the Committee would share my view that there is something about the relationship between Wales and the West Midlands which is even more explosive than any other relationship, though I suppose that between the Lake District and Manchester comes pretty close. It may be that when we get to the Peak District and Nottingham and Derby we are a little lower in the scale, although between Cornwall and Plymouth I should think there is something of the same nature of explosiveness. The Bill as it is drafted makes special provision for Wales—I 934 think rightly, because Wales is a major supplier of water to England.
There is one factor which noble Lords have not yet recognised and which I ought to point out. Since this point was made by the Council and incorporated in the Bill, we have passed the Land Compensation Act and this empowers water authorities as well as other authorities to do things in mitigation of the adverse effect of public works, and this is what we are talking about. Of course it goes further than the provision in the Bill because that would apply to sewage treatment works and mitigation of the adverse effects of those. So the case made by the noble Lord is not perhaps quite as strong as he sought to make it appear.
I should like to take away the points that noble Lords have made and consider whether it is not possible to introduce a different sort of Amendment, perhaps conferring a power and not a duty upon the river water authorities to make provision of the kind that is already incorporated in the Bill. I hope that, with the undertaking to consider the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, he and his supporters will agree to withdraw this Amendment for the time being.
§ BARONESS WHITE
Before the noble Lord, Lord Henley, does or does not do so, may I say that we certainly would not be happy if the duty were merely turned into a power. We feel most strongly that the duty should remain.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I was not proposing to alter what is in the Bill at the moment in respect of Wales, but to add to it.
First let me say that the noble Lords reference to the Land Compensation Act is not a very happy one. After all, the Land Compensation Act deals with England as well as Wales already, and I know that it has made certain improvements with regard to compensation—not very great ones, but it has made some—and it has clone one good thing which is to begin to change the attitude of mind toward compensation. But so far as this Amendment is concerned it is irrelevant and has nothing to do with it. I will of course withdraw the Amendment on the undertaking that 935 the noble Lord has given. But I should not be at all happy if the noble Lord's own Amendment were to fall short for England in respect of anything he has already offered to Wales. I know that the situation in Wales is perhaps even more explosive than it is in Devon or Cumberland, or yet in the Peak District, but that is no reason at all for treating it any better than the rest of England. We should all be treated the same in this respect, and I hope that when the noble Lord drafts his Amendment and we see it at Report stage it will neither diminish what Wales now gets under the Bill nor offer less to England. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 55A.
Page 26, line 35, at end insert—
("( ) The Secretary of State may with the approval of the Treasury and after consultation with the Council and the Water Space Amenity Commission make to any water authority such grants as he considers necessary to enable that authority to discharge their duty under subsection (1) above.")
The noble Lord said: The "subsection (1) above" referred to in the Amendment is subsection (1) of Clause 20 which reads as follows:
Every water authority and all other statutory water undertakers may take steps to secure the use of water and land associated with water for the purpose of recreation and it shall be the duty of all such undertakers to take such stew as are reasonably practicable for putting their rights to the use of water and of any land associated with water to the best use for those purposes.
§ I welcome very much indeed the Government's attitude in placing emphasis on the importance of making the maximum use of water space for sport and recreation, and for the preservation and enhancement of amenities. That is indeed very welcome. But this Amendment poses the questions: "Where is the finance to come from?" and "Where is the finance to come from in the ultimate?" We appreciate—and I speak now as a member of the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on Sport and Leisure—that grants can be made by the Sports Council. But the amount available to the Sports Council for all forms of sport is not very much, and certainly is not a great deal when compared 936 with what may be required for the purposes of water recreation in the future, because water recreation is an up-and-coming occupation and there is no doubt that it will play a very important part in the leisure pursuits of people in this country.
§ As I said on Second Reading, this is not just a question of canoeing or fishing. but of walking by the riverbanks, of picnic sites and all the rest of it. We appreciate' that grants can be made, possibly by the Countryside Commission. I do not know whether the Minister can say anything about that but, at the moment, as I understand it, the Countryside Commission has a very limited budget for all forms of countryside activities. I am not sure of the amount but I think it is something in the region of £1 million, which will not be anything like enough. Local government can provide grants for water recreation purposes and so on, but we are dealing with facilities which may well, and often will, transcend the locality. And the point remains that the concept embodied in Clause 26(1) of the Bill, namely, that taking one year with another the water authorities ought to aim to break even, could well mean that where it is impossible to obtain sufficient revenue to justify providing or maintaining facilities for water recreation, or recreation on water and land together, then the facilities will simply not be provided. This, in my view, would be very unfortunate indeed.
§ I do not believe that this Bill embodies the proper concept of what is going to be required in the future. It is going to be something much greater than can be provided by the Sports Council, the Countryside Commission or local government. We should like to be assured, first of all, that adequate grants will he available to enable water authorities to discharge their obligation on recreation if they cannot do so otherwise out of their revenues; secondly, that water authorities will not feel that they have to charge excessive fees for some recreation, thus risking denying the sport or recreation to the less well off; and, thirdly, that where the general revenue of the regional water authority is only sufficient to meet their general outgoings there will he cash available to help them to provide facilities for which charging is not possible, for instance, the use of river banks, 937 picnic areas and so on, where you simply cannot levy a per capita charge.
This is only a permissive Amendment; nothing is lost by including it in the Bill, and some Government some day may wish to take advantage of it. I should like to conclude with an extract from the First Report of the Select Committeee on Sport and Leisure where they emphasised this point very strongly indeed. They said:
Recreation is not a field in which monolithic central policies are appropriate. Regional variations and local involvement are indispensable. The responsibility of local authorities, however, is subject to two important conditions. The first condition is that national strategic planning must co-ordinate the activities of local authorities and influence their decisions; and, secondly, a substantial clement of central grant aid must supplement local finance.
§ This is the point of this permissive Amendment, which I am quite sure one day some Government will want to use. I beg to move.
§ LORD WAKEFIELD OF KENDAL
I should like to support very strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has just said. It is essential that every facility that can be obtained for water recreation, and that of course includes finance, should be so obtained. I very much support and appreciate subsection (1) of Clause 20, which encourages the use of water for recreation. Water, particularly in the inland areas, is getting in very short supply. More and more people are wanting to use water in that way. I declare an interest, in that I am President of the British Water-Ski Federation. More and more is it necessary in this country to use every space of water that can be obtained for recreational purposes. We see an increase in angling, an increase in canoeing, in under-water activities, as well as in water-skiing and nature conservancy, swimming and all the rest. It is, therefore, extremely important that we look ahead in this way. Therefore, I very briefly but most warmly support what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has said. Of course a very important step is this permissive Amendment, which does help on the financial side; it could be very essential in ensuring that the kind of water recreational development we should like to see occur in our country does in fact take place.
I, too, would like to support the noble Lord, Lord Byers's Amendment, with the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield. I was in Luxembourg last year with the European Parliament, and I know what goes on there. I have been in Epernay; I came back last Sunday. I saw what use was being made of waterways at Pentecôte—our Whitsun holiday which we have wrecked; we do not have it now. I was with my good lady wife coming back from Epernay on the train, and I saw all the people who were camping and making great use of the waterways and the lakes they have there, and even elsewhere in Luxembourg. I thoroughly support Lord Byers's Amendment.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I have read this Amendment very carefully. It seems to me to add nothing at all that really matters to this clause. The first subsection of Clause 20 can be carried out without any grant at all from the Government. No grant at all is necessary for the river authorities to carry out the function that is imposed upon them by Clause 20(1). When we come to grants under Schedule 3, we have an Amendment down which suggests that the Secretary of State should make money available for the purpose of enabling the authority to make only such charges as are reasonable for the authority's recreational facilities. In that Amendment we have an Amendment which has some Punch and some force to it. What are you going to apply the money for? What are you going to use it for, if the Secretary of State will grant it? You will use it for the purpose of reducing the charges on the recreational facility users. Our Amendment, No. 94, seems to me to be a much better Amendment—perhaps it is because we devised it—than the Amendment now before us.
I can see what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, is up to, but if he reads his Amendment carefully and considers the first subsection of Clause 20 he will see that it does not really add any punch at all to what he would wish to see happen in connection with recreation. With the rest of what he and other noble Lords have said I am in absolute agreement. We ought to use these facilities to the maximum, but using them to the maximum means that you must be able to let people use them without imposing charges on them which would prohibit their use 939 by most people. Here is the difference between the two Amendments, and I rather think that it would be better if eventually we could persuade this Committee to adopt our Amendment rather than the one which the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has proposed.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
This is difficult. I see the point of my noble friend's speech, but also see something else here, because the wording of the Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, says:The Secretary of State may with the approval of the Treasury and after consultation … make to any water authority such grants as he considers necessary"—and here I think is the operational bit—to enable that authority to discharge their duty …".Their duty under the subsection may in the beginning have nothing to do with recreation. It may help if some people have read The Background to Water Reorganisation in England, as no doubt nearly every noble Lord in the Chamber has. I do not want to bore you, but it may have to do with a massive amount of things, like widening canals, or puddling canals, about which I know something. Before you can use the canal the canal has to be cleaned out and made fit. If we are thinking of collecting pennies from the public—and I know how many pennies they collect in some of these lovely National Parks—to make these canals available, another "think" is due for this noble Chamber. From reading the latter part of this Amendment, I think, with all due respect, that the Liberal Amendment is looking at the matter from the point of view also of getting the amenities prepared, whatever those amenities may be.
§ LORD BYERS
Will the noble Lord allow me to correct him? This is not a Liberal Amendment; it is an Amendment which stems from the First Report of the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure. It is not a Party Amendment.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
I meant liberal with a small "1". The noble Lord has now contradicted his own liberal outlook. One has to be careful with the English language; the Welsh is 940 much clearer. Consequently, this liberal and far-seeing Amendment, moved with the perspicacity of the noble Lord who has just interrupted me, is worthy of attention and I shall move into the Lobby with him if he feels so inclined. I shall also move into the Lobby on the other Amendment No. 94, when we reach it, together with my noble friends. I would refer to pages 26 and 27 of the Report, about the massive preparation which is needed—it would be invidious to read those pages out to the Committee—on canals and water space, on the preparation for sports such as those which the noble Lord opposite spoke about, and on these cheap underwater sports for youngsters and teenagers at school. There has to be safety, and pools, rivers and canals have to be prepared, to say nothing of the three-and-a-halfmillion fishermen of England who no Jonger have any rights of consultation, and who are now losing their right at Common Law—I shall raise that matter another time—to make a protest. Consequently, I am delighted that this liberal Amendment has been put forward and I shall move with alacrity into the Lobby, if the noble Lord has the courage to divide the Committee.
§ LORD SANDFORD
It may not be necessary for us all to move in support of this perspicacious and liberal Amendment. But I should like to start by acknowledging the helpfulness of the House of Lords Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, and to say that the Report has been a very great help in drafting these clauses in this Bill. I hope that when we have been through them the Committee will agree not only that the Lords Select Committee has done a useful job, but that the Government have responded effectively to it. Two sets of Amendments have been commended to the Committee—the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, which is No. 55A, and those of the noble Lords, Lord Winterbottom and Lord Champion, which are Nos. 94 and 94A—and I agree that it might be useful for us to consider them together.
They are indeed admirable Amendments and I should be happy to accept them, if I did not feel that what they are seeking to do is already fully and adequately provided for in the Bill at 941 Schedule 3, paragraph 34, where there is this permissive power, which the noble Lord, Lord Byers, so rightly said should be somewhere, for the Secretary of State to make grants to water authorities. In sub-paragraph (1)(b) of paragraph 34, your Lordships will see that there is additional provision for a direction to be given, if necessary, indicating for what purpose those grants are to be paid. Furthermore, there is also a power to lend sums of money. So I can assure all three noble Lords that what they are seeking to do, which is something which ought to be in the Bill, is already in the Bill, so their points can be said to be fully met. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, raised a rather different point on the grant-giving power of the Water Space Amenity Commission, which I think we shall have an opportunity to go into more fully when we reach Clause 22 which deals with that body. With that explanation and assurance, I hope that all three noble Lords will be happy and that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, will riot feel it necessary to press his Amendment.
§ LORD BYERS
I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said. If he feels that what he has proposed and what is embodied in Schedule 3 is a proper response to the recommendations made in the First Report of the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, then I am quite happy to withdraw my Amendment on the understanding that that is so. We may want to come back to it if, after having studied Schedule 3, we feel that this is riot entirely what we had in mind; but, having had a quick look at it, it may well be. I beg leave—
§ LORD SANDFORD
I wonder whether, before the noble Lord sits down, I could "come clean" on this to the extent of saying that this is not so much a response as a successful anticipation of what the Select Committee would say because this was already in the Bill. There are other points where we have specifically responded.
§ LORD BYERS
I am very grateful to the noble Lord. I wonder whether he could anticipate our final Report. It would save us a lot of time. I beg to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 21 [Duties with regard to nature conservation and amenity]:
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 56A:
Page 26, line 44 leave out ("natural beauty of the countryside") and insert ("beauty of, or amenity in, any rural or urban area").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend. This is in fulfilment of an undertaking given at the Committee stage in another place. My honourable friend Mr. Griffiths recognised that in this context the term "natural beauty" is not sufficient because we may well find that the water space that ought to be used for the benefit of the local population is in a derelict urban area, and by no stretch of the imagination could that be encompassed by the term "natural beauty". Therefore, to make it clear that what we are concerned about is not only the preservation and conservation of natural beauty in the countryside but also the improvement and enhancement of less attractive, ugly and derelict areas in town as well as in country, this particular Amendment has been made to the Bill. I beg to move.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
I am sure we all agree with the principle of this Amendment, but it seems to me that the English of it is not very attractive. I was wondering if it could not read "beauty or amenity of" any rural or urban area. It seems to me that "amenity of the area" rather than "amenity in the area" would be more expressive.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I shall be very happy to consider that with the draftsman. It is not always easy to get elegant English and accurate legislation, but we shall do our best.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND moved Amendment No. 56:
Page 26, line 45, at end insert:
("( ) In formulating or considering any such proposals water authorities shall have special regard to their possible ecological consequences and in the event of their deciding that any proposal is desirable in spite of the possibility
that it will cause injury to natural beauty, or flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest, or buildings or other objects of architectural, archaeological or historic interest, or the ecological condition of an inland water or river estuary, they shall advertise their intention in at least one newspaper circulating in the area likely to be affected at least two months before starting to take action.")
The noble Lord said: Clause 21 deals with nature conservation and amenity, and this is surely one of the vital parts of the Bill. The more one considers this Bill from the point of view of one who is merely a consumer of water, the more involved some of the technicalities become. Indeed, this is in itself a very technical Amendment, but it is an important one. The existing legislation comes under the ambit of the Water Resources Act, which has done a great deal of good but does not in fact go far enough. It is not only the quantity and the quality of water supplies that we have to consider: there is another aspect, and that is the ecology, which, defined by the Encyclowdia Britannica, is:
a basic approach to the conservation of natural resources".
§ Your Lordships have debated this particular subject on a number of recent Bills, and in a major Bill of this kind it is something which has to be considered very carefully.
§ Rivers vary in their length and in their composition, and ono of the necessary things is to avoid pollution as far as possible. This pollution can take a number of forms: sunshine on certain vegetation, pollution from land drainage and from animals and birds. This Amendment seeks to give protection. One criticism of the clause as drafted is that the Government merely "have regard" to these matters—which is really rather a discretionary power. The adjective "special" might be inserted here; because it is very important if we are going to have our rivers and other waterways for recreational use as well as for sources of drinking water that we should keep them clean. There is another very important part to this Amendment which concerns a matter not yet been considered in the Bill. Many of these rivers are in rural areas which often do not have the modern media of communication of our cities and urban areas. They 944 have to rely very much on the local newspapers. This Amendment seeks to cause the authorities to make sure that the local newspapers (or at least one local newspaper) carry an advertisement at least two months before work begins of what is proposed to be done. As I understand it, this is no new proposal. For any compulsory purchase or for any local government matter of that kind there is a requirement for a public inquiry which is advertised in local newspapers. The Amendment seeks to add that provision to this Bill. I hope that that explains the purpose of this Amendment. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My noble friend has explained the purpose of this Amendment perfectly clearly. I think he is making two points: he is asking that the regional water authorities should have regard to the possible ecological consequences of what they are proposing and that they should advertise their proposals. I will answer those two points separately. My belief is that the possible ecological consequences are fully covered and embraced in the terms of Clause 21(1), particularly where they refer to the duty of the water authority tohave regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty, of conserving flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest…I will draw the attention of the draftsman to my noble friend's remarks, and if he can satisfy me that the possible ecological consequences are not embraced in those terms we will see what we can do to amend the Bill to make sure that they are.
As to the second point, that the proposals of the regional water authorities shall be advertised, I can assure him that what he is seeking to do is more than covered by the Town and Country Planning Acts and the Water Resources Acts, which require not only what he has suggested in his Amendment but a great deal more to be done. A number of other stringent requirements—more stringent than in my noble friend's Amendment—have to be undertaken and gone through before any proposals such as he has in mind can be proceeded with. So I hope that my noble friend will feel satisfied, at any rate for the time being, that his points are fully met already.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
I thank my noble friend for that full answer which I should like to consider carefully. This relates to a part of the Bill which has caused a great deal of interest up and down the country, but I think that my noble friend's reply has covered the point satisfactorily. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ LORD HENLEY moved Amendment No. 57:
Page 27, line 7, at end insert:
("(2A) It shall be the duty of every water authority for any inland waterway consisting of or including a navigable river to maintain any bank of such river which carries a towpath being a public right of way.
Provided that this subsection shall not affect any duty which the highway authority may have in respect of such right of way.")
§ The noble Lord said: I am moving this Amendment on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Molson. The Amendment seeks to make it the duty of every water authority to maintain the banks of the river along which a towpath runs which is a right of way. Walking along the banks of rivers is becoming increasingly popular. I use the term "towpath" because an Amendment was moved in the Commons which was rather wider in its scope and did not meet with the approval of the Government. This Amendment deals with towpaths in a rather narrow way. Towpaths are being lost, partly I think because of the increase in the number of power boats which are used and which cause damage to the banks by erosion.
§ At present no authority has a duty to maintain the river bank. Of course, a river authority has a duty to maintain the river for navigation and a highway authority has a duty to maintain the surface of a path which is a right of way. But there is no responsibility at all in the case of towpaths. I need not quote examples as no doubt your Lordships will be able to recall instances where towpaths have been lost. This Amendment seeks to lay the duty firmly and securely on the new water authorities, as the successors to the river authorities, which seems to me perfectly just and equitable. In any case, the authority will need to inspect the river and its banks regularly, and this will not exclude any arrangement made between the river 946 authority and the planning authority for the improvement of a towpath and the adjoining land for recreational purposes. It may well be that the river authority should be able to recover some part of the cost of this work by a small increase in the navigation charges on power boats, which represent only a tiny proportion of the total cost of boating. A small increase in the charges would not be an undue burden on boat owners or hirers.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
I should like to say a word before my noble friend replies to the Amendment. The highway authority has a permissive power to spend money on a right of way, and in some cases it does so. It is true that the river authority has no responsibility for maintaining a towpath when it is no longer used for towing, and to-day the paths are not used for towing. But the solution suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, of an increase in the registration charge for launches using the river sufficient to cover this work, would, let me assure the Committee, be a very heavy charge. The cost of repairing towpaths which have been eroded, and which in many cases have fallen into the river, is very high. I could give an example of the restoration of a towpath by the River Thames where originally the thought was to try to get it completely repaired the whole way from London to Cricklade. That idea has been abandoned, but the Thames Conservancy was successful in persuading the local authorities concerned to pay the very heavy cost of repairing the towpath as far as Staines, which was at least a start. But the cost ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It is a very expensive thing to do. Personally, I entirely sympathise with Lord Henley's object. The towpath is a very attractive walk, and it should be preserved, but the cost of doing it is heavy. It certainly could not be borne by the users of the river without imposing on them a completely intolerable burden.
I would ask my noble friend to give us, as I am sure he will, his considered opinion on this, but I am rather of the opinion that this is a responsibility of the local authority. It is a right of way; it is like any other footpath. The highway authority already has a permissive power to spend money on such parts, and I think this is the right thing to do. This 947 is an amenity for the general public enjoying themselves walking by the side of the river. I should have thought that the right approach here was for the Government to encourage local authorities to take up their burden, use the powers that already exist, and for them to provide what is needed—as it is undoubtedly needed—in restoring and maintaining footpaths wherever they should exist or have existed.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak on behalf of my noble friend Lord Kinnoull in connection with his Amendment No. 57A, which has a bearing on this matter. My noble friend seeks by his Amendment to establish quite squarely where the responsibility lies for the maintenance of a pathway or walkway that is used for commercial purposes. It is understood, of course, that where there is a public right of way the highway authority has a duty to maintain the services. Then there seems to be below the surface of the right of way some rather peculiar no-man's land from the point of view of who looks after the support of the surface. My noble friend's Amendment seeks to put this responsibility—that is, the responsibility for the bank and that which supports the surface and indeed the whole responsibility, on the water authority.
If my noble friend Lord Sandford is unable to fix a responsibility for the whole or for the pathway in its various parts, then, frankly, irrespective of the cost, it seems to us to be the responsibility of the water authority to maintain, since they derive the benefits of income from running the rivers, recreation facilities and so on on the waterways. Therefore it would seem quite reasonable that that authority should bear the responsibility for the upkeep.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken on this topic. I was particularly grateful for the information given by my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford, who, from his experience as Chairman of the Thames Conservancy, has well made the point that a duty quite as starkly expressed as it is in the two Amendments that have been discussed would not be practicable, and would, if it were carried into the Bill, badly distort the functions of both the 948 Waterspace Amenity Commission and the regional water authorities, because they would then have to devote quite an inordinate amount of their resources to one particular recreational facility.
I think we all agree that a well-kept towpath on an attractive bank of the river is one of the most valuable amenities. But the regional water authorities have a clear duty to make the best practical use of their water space, their rights on it and their rights on the land associated with it. That, I think, is about as far as it is right to go in legislation. What will undoubtedly happen is that the Water Space Amenity Commission, when they get to work, will address themselves to a big general problem such as to how to make the best use of towpaths and in the general discharge of the recreational duties laid on the regional water authorities, and will be able greatly to assist the regional water authorities in the preparation of their own particular plans for so doing.
What I should like to do is to thank the noble Lord for drawing this to our attention and to say that I must resist the Amendments because the duty is too starkly and simply put. I should like to ask him to recognise that in the terms of the Bill, and in particular the duty to make the best practical use of the water and water space, the rights on it and the rights on the land associated with it, is really the best way to set the task before the regional water authorities. I confirm, though I will not follow, my noble friend's remarks about the parallel duties with the highway authorities in these fields. The problem is too complicated to be set forward in quite the simple terms set out in this Amendment, but I would certainly agree that this is a matter that needs to be looked at, particularly by the Water Space Amenity Commission.
I should like to thank the noble Lord for those words. It seems to me that that is probably sensible, and it may well be that such a duty is really well beyond what a regional water authority should do. Nevertheless, it is something which somehow—and sooner rather than later —we must look at and we must do something about, because every time a 949 towpath falls into a river it becomes just that little bit more expensive to put it back again. To lose these towpaths at a time when we need every bit of this kind of access into the countryside would be a great pity. I was not suggesting that all the cost of this, if that had been accepted, should fall on the users of power boats. I agree that would be an intolerable burden, but in so far as a great deal of the damage that is done to towpaths is done by these power boats, it does not seem to me unreasonable that a rather larger measure of the cost needed for keeping the towpaths up should be put upon them. I also accept the point that there is a permissive duty upon the highway authorities to do it. I know very few which take advantage of that permission, and it may well be that when the noble Lord looks at this he may be able to devise means by which the highway authorities and in some part the new regional water authorities and the Water Space Amenity Council may be able to devise means of doing this. Certainly it must be done. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
On behalf of my noble friend, Lord Kinnoull, and in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has said in speaking to Amendment No. 52C, together with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, I do not wish to move the next Amendments, Nos. 57A and 57B.
§ Clause 22 [Water Space Amenity Commission]:
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 58:
Page 27, line 16, leave out from beginning to end of line 21 and insert:—
("(1) For the purpose of exercising the functions conferred on them by this section there shall be a body to be known as the Water Space Amenity Commission consisting of").
§ The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move Amendment No. 58, and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 62. These are the two Amendments in which we are responding to some of the recommendations 950 of the first Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Sport and Leisure, fulfilling a promise made by my right honourable friend at the Committee stage in another place to reconsider the "promotional role" of the Commission, and seeking to clarify the duty and powers of the Water Space Amenity Commission. To summarise what we are doing in these two Amendments, we are responding to the proposal that a more positive duty, a more realistic purpose, a wider national role, should be assigned to the Water Space Amenity Commission. More specifically, we are adding to their advisory duties a duty to submit proposals, not just to wait to he asked, and to encourage and assist in the preparation of plans. We are also adding a duty to collate and publish. All those expressions will be found in the two Amendments that I have just mentioned. I hope that the Committee, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in particular, will agree that this pair of Amendments implements quite a few of the recommendations the Committee put before us. I beg to move.
§ BARONESS WHITE
I am not sure whether this is the appropriate moment to speak. I was deferring to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, owing to his particular connection with the Select Committee on Sport and Leisure. At the end of our considerations of Clause 22 my noble friends and myself suggest that we should leave it out altogether, and it may be easier to discuss the matter here than on the Motion, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Frankly, we are not convinced—even the Amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, do not convince us —of the necessity of having the Water Space Amenity Commission at all. It applies only to England, not to Wales, although the noble Lord, Lord Byers, wishes to extend it to Wales. I can assure him, however, that that would not be welcome in Wales; we prefer to remain as we are. I say this after some experience, because, as one of those responsible for dealing with the Countryside Bill when it was before another place, I proposed that we should keep the Welsh arrangements under the same xgis as those for England, but with a separate Welsh Committee. I have Dome to the conclusion that what I thought then was 951 the wiser thing to do was not in fact justified. Having gone to Scotland, for example, I found that the Scottish Countryside Commission got on much better by itself than it would have done had it been linked to the English one. I suspect that we might have done better in Wales had we had a separate Countryside Commission for Wales. This was not my view some years back. But I find that the Welsh problems are apt to be regarded as peripheral; they do not get the same attention as they would if they were part of the totality which embraced England. Therefore for matters of this kind, which are so largely local in their application, it is better to have a separate arrangement for Wales, and we are perfectly content with what the Goverrnment propose.
Having said that, I repeat that we are not convinced that it is really necessary to have this body. We have the Sports Council, whose duty it is to promote water sports as much as land sports. We also have, of course, the British Waterways Authority, which will deal with the canal aspects, or can deal with them. We have the Countryside Commission. We have the Tourist Board. I am not at all certain that an information body, which is what the Water Space Amenity Commission is largely to be, is going to be anything other than yet another entity interposed between the water authorities, who also have the duty to promote recreation and so on, and the other national bodies—the Sports Council, Countryside Commission and Tourist Board—who also are engaged on this matter.
Should we really gain so much advantage by setting up yet another body? Will it not lead to a great deal more paper work and correspondence, and the kind of consultation which does not lead to anything productive but takes up a great deal of time of busy people? I am not in the least convinced that this is the way to tackle the promotion of water space amenity. It is not as though this body is to be, for example, a channel for grants. If it were able to use financial inducements or sanctions, as the case might be, to further its policy, then I should have looked at it with at least much greater interest and respect. But this, I understand, is not the intention of the Government. It seems to me that by establishing 952 this body one will have a diffusion and not a concentration of purpose. It is for those reasons that my noble friends and I do not think the Government are wise in putting forward this proposition. I repeat that, although the Amendments now proposed add some kind of substance to its duties and functions, they do not shake us in our basic objection to it.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
May I again briefly support my noble friend who has just spoken about this Water Space Amenity Commission. Once again, no notice has been taken of the advice that has come from local authorities over the last two or three years, with the massive knowledge they have accumulated over a period of fifty years. We seem to be creating yet another body which has no real power in any sense at all; it is an advisory body. I find the precise role of the Commission ill-defined. One agrees that the noble Lord who has spoken for the Government wants to extend it, and that is all very well. But so far as its duties are concerned in regard to Clauses 20 and 21, and its duties in relation to local government, these are not at all clear. There is no reference at all to real consultation.
How can all this work be done? This Commission is going to be responsible for expansion. Let us take one item in which I am interested—the increase in sailing clubs, which has been from 400 to 1,600 in the matter of half a generation. The rowing clubs have increased by hundreds. Worst of all: the poor old fishermen of England, about whom we have made rollicking barrack-room songs, some of which I used to join in in my Eisteddfod days, are not even consulted, although there are 3½ million of them. They are just moved aside. Most of the jokes of the comedians of old, red-nose ones, and the jokes of noble Lords who were great after-dinner speakers, were based on stories about fishermen. But they are altogether forgotten in this connection. We are forgetting people. We are dealing with figures, computers and bodies—this wonderful floating word "body". It must be the effect of spaceship flight.
We are talking about amenities and river pollution, yet we have about 3 million people in Britain without water closets while they are gazing at the television, 953 watching people on the moon. We are so busy legislating that we are getting out of touch with reality. Consequently I see no real purpose in the establishment of this Water Space Amenity Commission. Why not use the local authorities properly? They have more knowledge tucked up in their own local heads than all this new-born body will acquire in the next 25 years; and that knowledge is being drastically cut aside in this neophiliac age in which we are living —love of change for the sake of change. That is the kind of world in which we are living to-day. Consequently I support wholeheartedly my noble friend's remarks at this time of the night and I hope that noble Lords will soon come to an end of their talking.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
I should like to give a qualified welcome to what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has said. I should not like to anticipate what will be the final recommendation of the Select Committee. What we said in our First Report was that the Water Bill makes no provision for positive recreational planning and the Committee would like Clause 22 to be amended.
They did not want to get rid of it, as the Opposition appears to do to provide that periodical reviews, plans and programmes for water authorities should include short and long-term plans for recreation. We said:There is a strong case for a national body interested in the provision of facilities forwater recreation across the whole country".I still think that is right, and by "the whole country" I should like to include England and Wales, though I do not want to offend the Welsh susceptibilities in this matter. I honestly believe that we need more positive planning on a larger area when we are dealing with a matter such as water, whether it is on the technological side or the recreational side. We said,At present the function of providing facilities for water recreation was shared between the Sports Council and the Countryside Commission, and the Committee would have liked to see this involvement developed.We said:However, if the decision is taken to set up a Water Space Amenity Commission then the Commission should be given a realistic purpose and should assume a national role.954 I think this is what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has been trying to say that the Government are doing in order to meet the Committee so far as they can —to give the Commission a more positive role, to give it a promotional role, and, if possible, to remove it solely from its advisor, field; and so far as he has gone, I welcome what the noble Lord has said.
§ LORD PEDDIE
On more than one occasion the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in replying to my own comments on an Amendment, has emphasised that the water authorities will be alive to their responsibilities with regard to amenity, and he was at great pains to emphasise that they were capable of carrying out that responsibility. I am prepared to accept that; but I now see that there is suggested a Water Space Amenity Commission, and I share the view of my noble friends that this is but a piece of window-dressing. None of us would oppose the general principle of doing all to encourage amenity but, frankly, if we set up a body like this, which I think is completely unnecessary, it will be full of advice but will have very little power to implement. It will just be another talking shop. The noble Lord opposite may reply to that particular point and indicate that a member of the Council will probably be the Chairman of the Water Space Amenity Commission. But if that be so, it is indicative of the fact that this job could be far better done by the Council itself, or by a Committee of the Council, upon which could be recruited or co-opted all the various interests.
You may ask, "What is the difference?" There is a fundamental difference, because here you would find that those people who will be urging the amenity use and development of these facilities, would be living, talking and working with people who have the power, the skill and the ability to implement those proposals. But what the Government are suggesting is to set up a separate body which, over the course of 'time, will simply mean developing a measure of non-co-operation, if not antagonism. Therefore, if the view is genuinely held that we seek to develop amenity through these water facilities. I do not think that this is the best way of going about it.
955 It has already been stated that under this Bill as it stands the Commission's advice would be limited to England. The Welsh National Development Authority is to be given—under Clause 24, I think it is—responsibility for preparing recreational planning for Wales. There is no justification for yet another national body that would be limited in effective power. It is very significant indeed that the Sports Council and the Regional Sports Council object to these proposals. So I hope that the Government will accept this point of view. I do not offer this suggestion in a spirit of intense criticism. Somebody, somewhere along the line, has felt that it was necessary to give a very positive and recognisable gesture that they wanted to do something to encourage amenity. Fair enough! We shall accept that. But on considered reflection upon this Bill, surely it is perfectly obvious that, with all the continuing emphasis we have heard from the other side that the water authorities will recognise their responsibility for dealing with amenity, they will accept the proposition. We recognise the need for developing amenity. Let it be part and parcel of the Water Council's obligation. Let it be a special cornmittee of that Council upon which would be co-opted all the different interests that could express themselves and be, as I said previously, working cheek by jowl with the people who can implement those proposals.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I agree that it has been helpful to have the debate on whether or not we should have the Water Space Amenity Commission at this point. I must say to the noble Baroness, Lady White, that the Government have given much thought to whether or not to have this body, and we think that it is a good idea, more especially because the emphasis on amenity and recreation has come upon us not only suddenly but with such tremendous force. Both aspects need to be developed and a special body at national level is required, not only to advise but to do all these other positive things which have now been incorporated in the Bill in response to our own Select Committee's recommendation that a positive, promotional, recreational role is called for. I do not accept that this will be a mere talking shop. I do not accept that it is little more than a mere gesture 956 in this direction. It will be a body that will have an important, positive, valuable and indispensable role to play, and therefore I think that we must have this Commission.
It may well be that some of your Lordships can think of a better name for it. I do not think that the Water Space Amenity Commission is a particularly elegant name but we have not been able to think of anything better. I cannot agree (I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek who made the point) that there are built into this the seeds of perpetual antagonism. The fact that we have on this body the Chairmen of the Water Authorities themselves and other members appointed by the Secretary of State itself establishes close links between this body and the regional water authorities whom the Commission will be there to advise, assist and encourage. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that this body will not serve any useful purpose, and indeed will be fruitful of all sorts of conflict, if we fail to get the relationship right between it, the Countryside Commission, the Sports Council the English Tourist Board. But I believe we have now managed to achieve this. I admit that there were objecttions from these bodies in the first place, but I think the one thing they chiefly objected to was the proposal originally mooted that we should give grant-giving powers to this Water Space Amenity Commission, because this would have introduced a series of duplications. But as the noble Lord will see, we have stopped short of doing that, not least because of the objections of these bodies to it.
I do not have to persuade the noble Baroness, Lady White, to accept the Water Space Amenity Commission for Wales, because it does not extend there. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, may continue to advocate the Council for Wales, but we do not go as far as that with him. I see a good deal of merit in what the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, was saying about a recreational committee, but I think that where this particular suggestion has force is if his remarks are applied to the regional water authorities. That is where a committee of the main body to execute recreation and amenity policies will be very useful, and I shall be very surprised if the regional water authorities themselves do not adopt the 957 suggestion. But I stand firm in my belief that at the national level the pattern set forth in the Bill and now amended in the light of the Select Committee's Report is about what we should have, though I do not exclude the possibility of being able to improve it further in the light of experience.
§ 10.33 p.m.
LORD HENLEY moved Amendment No. 59:
Page 27, line 25, leave out ("ten") and insert ("eight").
§ The noble Lord said: I think I am rather nearer the noble Baroness, Lady White, and the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, about the Water Space Amenity Commission than to my noble friend Lord Byers. I shall need a good deal of convincing that it is really a worthwhile part of the Bill. Neverthless, if we are going to have one, it seems to me that a little amendment is needed as to its composition, because I think the relationship between the various overlapping bodies is the one thing that must be got right. Similarly, the advice that the Council is to get must be right. It seems to be the intention to provide representation for nearly all aspects of sport and recreation, but to leave out those on whose land or in whose vicinity this sport and recreation takes place. Recreation brings very great problems in relation to the primary use of the land. If that is wrong, it means destroying any possibility of a proper relationship on the Water Space Amenity Commission.
§ It seems to me, therefore, that it is vital, in getting the balance right, to make provision for getting advice from people who have a knowledge of what the primary use of the land is—agriculture and so on. Unless we get that right, we shall not obtain the co-operation of owners and farmers in order to get provision of those facilities at all. It has universally been accepted that fisheries should be represented on the Commission, and it seems appropriate that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries should appoint this representative. I think he would probably also be the right Minister to appoint someone to advise the Council with regard to problems related to the land itself, which is, 958 after all, the raw material which is going to be used for recreation. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I have considerable sympathy, if not actual agreement, with the drift of the noble Lord's argument. In answering him I wonder whether I might also answer my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, if he would agree that we could consider at the same time Amendment No. 61A. I imagine the noble Lord, Lord Henley, is also speaking to his Amendment No. 60. In answer to all three of those, what I would say is that provision for consultation about the appointment of persons interested in these fields is secured, or can be secured, under subsection (3)(d) of this clause. I can add to that the assurance, which has already been given in another place, that it is the intention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to consult the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food before making these appointments, to ensure that the aspects for which that Minister is responsible are satisfactorily covered. I can also say that the Minister himself is content with that proposed procedure, and satisfied that when it is carried out the aspects for which he is responsible, and with which noble Lords are concerned, will be adequately met. I hope that the two noble Lords will be satisfied also, and will not feel it necessary to press those three Amendments.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am grateful to my noble friend. May I apologise for being unavoidably absent earlier in the evening. I do, in fact, return now refreshed. The two arguments basically here concern those who should serve on the Commission, and those who should be consulted. Of course my Amendment No. 61A simply asks that the organisations representing farmers should basically be consulted. As I understand my noble friend, this will be done under subsection (3)(d), and I am grateful for that assurance.
What I should like to ask is why it could not be written into the Bill? It is not, I understand, an obligation at the moment, and the farmers represent a very important aspect of the Commission's work. I would remind the Committee that there are two miles of farms 959 to every one mile of river. I think farmers add a very substantial voice to the whole success of the Commission's work. Perhaps before I withdraw my Amendment my noble friend could say what harm there would be in accepting this simple Amendment, which concerns purely a matter of consultation and not of serving.
§ LORD SANDFORD
The general answer is one that I have given at several earlier stages of the Bill, that we are combining in the regional water authorities and in the Water Space Amenity Commission an enormously wide range of interests. I have catalogued them several times already. If I were to respond as my noble friend would like me to respond and give an undertaking that the N.F.U. specifically should be consulted before any of these appointments were made, that would open the floodgates to a vast number of similar applications from a whole range of bodies, all of whom have a claim—maybe not such a strong claim— to be consulted to the same extent. This is why I am asking the Committee to accept the assurance from me that my right honourable friend will consult with the Minister of Agriculture certainly—and that does not exclude other consultations—and that the Minister of Agriculture, with his responsibility for the N.F.U. and other primary users of the land, land drainage, and so on, is satisfied from his point of view that this will meet the interests of this particular very important sector.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
I am most grateful to my noble friend for that assurance. May I just ask him specifically whether the Minister will recommend that bodies responsible for farming interests will be represented?
§ LORD SANDFORD
No. That is just the kind of direct assurance that I cannot give. Obviously, my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will both have an interest in conducting through consultations with all the bodies concerned in developing the recreational potential of water space and the land associated, as thoroughly as they possibly 960 can. But for me to give categorical assurances that one particular body or group of bodies will be consulted would mean that I should have to come back at a later stage of the Bill and give a comprehensive catalogue of umpteen different authorities, each member of which would be fully consulted on every occasion. I hope that the Committee will be content with the broad assurances that I have given.
I am perfectly happy to beg leave to withdraw my Amendment. I think that subsection (3)(d) of Clause 22 completely covers the noble Earl's point though it does not cover mine, which is extra representation. Nevertheless, I am glad to know that the Minister of Agriculture is content that the point which we both raised is met, and I fully accept the noble Lord's point that one does not necessarily want to have these matters written into the Bill. I think I said something earlier about not necessarily wanting to have a statutory representative for amenity. I do not know that one necessarily wants to have a statutory representative for any other interest either, so long as one is assured that these very important points are met. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 60A:
Page 27, line 37, at end insert—
("( ) one shall be appointed after consultation with the British Waterways Board;").
The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with the membership of the Water Space Amenity Commission, but before I briefly develop the argument I should like, unusually, to correct my noble friend Lord Henley, who said that I was wedded to the Water Space Amenity Commission. I am not wedded to it, nor is the Select Committee. I quoted what the First Report of the Committee stated, which was:
There is a strong case for a national body interested in the provision of facilities for water recreation across the whole country.
It went on to state that if, however, the decision is taken to set up a Water Space Amenity Commission, then various things should follow. I want to make this clear,
because I do not want to anticipate in any way what the final decision of the Select Committee should be on what is quite a complicated and difficult point, particularly when it has to be integrated into a whole pattern for recreation. But if there is to be a Water Space Amenity Commission, we should like to see one member of it appointed after consultation with the British Waterways Board.
The British Waterways Board is not included in this legislation but, in our view, it must be closely integrated into the whole scheme, and one way of assisting this aim is by giving it a seat on this Commission. I believe that this is rather different from asking for consultation with a whole list of different authorities and interests, because if we could get the British Waterways Board closely integrated we should have a better chance of getting the positive planning of water recreation as a whole on a comprehensive basis. The thought that led to this Amendment was included in the First Report, which stated:
The numerous waters outside the water authorities' control, such as canals under the British Waterways Board and gravel pits, have a place of the first importance in any scheme of recreational provision and it would be wrong to confine the Water Space Amenity Commission to part only of the country's water resources. There is scope for the Commission to foster a unified and coherent policy of provision among the water authorities, the British Waterways Board and the private owners of water.
I do not think it is too much to ask that the British Waterways Board should be consulted as to one member of the Water Space Amenity Commission. If not, I shall be interested to hear the Government's reasons. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I certainly do not exclude this, but it is not written into the Bill for the reason that the English Tourist Board, the Countryside Commission and the Sports Council, which are written in, have parallel functions in precisely the same field as the Water Space Amenity Commission. It is for that reason—and noble Lords have pointed out the importance of it already—that we feel it must be provided for statutorily. Although the British Waterways Board, like the regional water authorities, has a network of watercourses all over the country, it is a rather different body run 962 ning its own affairs on a different set of waters; and the closest relationship for the Water Space Amenity Commission will, if anything, be with the Inland Waterways Advisory Amenity Council of the British Waterways Board. I can confirm that the Secretary of State will certainly consult them among the others envisaged in Clause 22(3)(d).
§ LORD BYERS
I must say I am not very convinced by that argument; but I happen to have an advantage over the noble Lord since he will be giving evidence to the Committee next week and we shall see how far we can take him along this route. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE EARL OF KINNOULL had given notice of an Amendment (No. 61A):
Page 27, line 40, after ("interested") insert ("in any riparian agricultural land or").
§ The noble Earl said: In saying that I do not intend to move this Amendment perhaps I may thank my noble friend for the assurance he gave earlier. Perhaps I could also say that although the noble Lord, Lord Henley, feels that my Amendment was not necessary, in fact, my advisers tell me it was.
§ Amendment moved—
Page 27, line 44, at end insert:
("(3A) It shall be the duty of the Com-mission—
LORD BYERS had given Notice of an Amendment to the Amendment:
Line 4, at end insert ("and Wales").
§ The noble Lord said: In view of the semi-nationalism which has emanated from certain quarters of the Committee, I will take my Amendment back to my Committee and not move it to-night.963
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS moved Amendment No. 62B:
Page 27, line 44, at end insert:
("( ) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3A) above, the Commission shall advise the Secretary of State, the Council and water authorities with a view to securing a national policy for the development of facilities for water-based recreation and may for the purpose of giving effect to such a policy themselves promote or collaborate in action to be taken by other bodies or persons interested in water or land associated with water.")
§ The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is really to stress once again what I have been saying most of the evening, and that is that the paramount need is for a national body for water recreation. In producing such a body we feel it is essential that there should be a positive plan for all water amenities, and that this plan should be one in which those making it look a long way ahead. We have a long view of leisure and recreation, particularly water recreation, ahead of us; and the purpose of this Amendment is to find out what the Government intend to do in this field. I beg to move.
§ LORD SANDFORD
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, for his Amendment and on behalf of the Government I welcome the stress he is laying on this concept of laying the duty of positive recreational planning upon regional water authorities, and indeed upon other executive bodies like them in other spheres. But if a statutory duty is to be laid on this new body, or any other body in this field, full consideration needs to be given to the role of the new body in relation to other important bodies like the Countryside Commission and the Sports Council. This Amendment would need further improvement before it could be said to do this satisfactorily. I should like to consider the Amendment and perhaps we shall have to have further discussions with the Countryside Commission and the Sports Council and perhaps the members of the noble Lord's Committee in order to be sure that we have the matter right before we accept any further amendment to the Bill; but I 964 am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Byers.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 23 [Periodical reviews, plans and programmes]:
BARONESS YOUNG moved Amendment No. 63:
Page 29, line 41, leave out from ("any") to end of line 46 and insert ("of the following plans prepared for any part of that area under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, that is to say, a structure plan, a local plan and any development plan within the meaning of Schedule 5 to that Act").
§ The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is in fulfilment of an undertaking given during the Committee stage in another place. Its effect is to require the water authorities in carrying out their duties under Clause 23 to have regard to local plans under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, to structure plans and, where appropriate, to development plans.
§ Clause 23, as amended, agreed to.
§ 10.54 p.m.
LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 63C:
After Clause 23 insert the following new clause:
§ Discharge of recreation and amenity functions in and around Greater London
§ ,—(1) The Thames Water Authority shall, after consulting the interested bodies, submit to the Secretary of State not later than 1st April 1975 proposals for the transfer to the Greater London Council of the recreation and amenity functions of water authorities as respects the whole or part of the watercourses and land to which this section applies and, subject to subsection (3) below, the Secretary of State may by order give effect to the proposals, either as submitted to him or with modifications.
§ (2) The Secretary of State may himself at any time after consulting the interested bodies amend or revoke an order under subsection (I) above or, where any such order has been revoked, provide for the transfer of all or any of the recreation and amenity functions of water authorities as respects the whole or part of the watercourses or land to which this section applies to the Greater London Council.
§ (3) If it appears to the Secretary of State that it is desirable to make an order under 965 subsection (1) above giving effect to any proposals with modifications which appear to him to be substantial, he shall direct the Thames Water Authority, after consulting the interested bodies, to reconsider the proposals and submit revised proposals to him under that subsection within a time specified in the direction, but the foregoing provisions of this subsection shall not apply to an order under this subsection giving effect to the revised proposals.
§ (4) While any recreation and amenity functions are exercisable by the Greater London Council by virtue of an order under this section, section 22(3A) above shall have effect as if refences therein to water authorities included references to the Greater London Council.
§ (5) In this section "the interested bodies" means—
- (a) the Water Space Amenity Commission;
- (b) the Greater London Council;
- (c) in the case of proposals made by the Secretary of State under subsection (2) above, the Thames Water Authority and in any case any other water authority whose recreation and amenity functions will be affected by these proposals in question;
- (d) the Port of London Authority;
- (e) the Common Council of the City of London;
- (f) the London Boroughs Association;
- (g) such other bodies representing persons interested in the use of the watercourses and land to which this section applies as the Thames Water Authority consider desirable or the Secretary of State directs in the case of proposals submitted to him and as he considers desirable in the case of his own proposals.
§ (6) In this section "recreation and amenity functions" means, in relation to any authority, the authority's functions under section 20 above and, so far as relating to those functions, their functions under sections 21 and 23 above, not being in any case functions with respect to navigation conferred by or under any enactment.
§ (7) The watercourses to which this section applies are:
- (a) so much of the River Thames as lies within Greater London;
- (b) every watercourse, other than the River Thames, which is for the time being a main metropolitan watercourse within the meaning of Schedule 14 to the London Government Act 1963;
- (c) so much of the River Beam, the River Ingrebourne and the River Roding as lies within Greater London; and
- (d) so much of any other watercourse situated wholly or partly within, or adjoining the boundary of, Greater London as lies within the flow and reflow of the tides of the River Thames;
§ (8) Without prejudice to any power exercisable by virtue of section 31 below, an order under this section may contain such transitional, incidental, supplementary or consequential provision as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of the order.
§ (9) A statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."
§ The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lady Young, I beg to move Amendment No. 63C. It looks rather formidable but I think that I can move it fairly briefly. It is the Amendment which secures the discharge of recreation and amenity functions that would otherwise vest in the Thames Water Authority and confers them on the Greater London Council. I explained that it was the intention of the Government to secure this and this is the Amendment that does it. Associated with it are Amendments Nos. 73A and 74F. The noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, has apologised to me for his I absence and asked that rather than expand the whole philosophy and detail of this matter in full, I just give an assurance on one phase that is used in the new clause, "whole or part", which I understand raises some anxiety in the G.L.C. that they are not going to get quite what they expected to get.
§ The reason why the term has been used is that there are in fact three exceptions. One of them is in relation to the short sector of the Thames above Teddington and within the Greater London area. This is an area in which the Thames Water Authority will remain responsible for navigation; and the present view of the Government is that it would be unduly complicated if the G.L.C. were to exercise recreational functions on this short stretch. The matter is not now, finally resolved because, as noble Lords will see, the general intention of this clause is that a scheme should be worked out between the Thames Water Authority and the G.L.C. between now and April 1, 1975.
§ That is one reason for using the phrase "whole or part". There are other similar instances, such as that which makes it necessary to retain that kind of flexibility. At this stage of the evening I think it would be the general desire of the Committee that I should 967 do no more than the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, asked me to do in explaining the purpose of this new clause.
§ LORD CHAMPION
On behalf of my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy I thank the Government for having put down this new clause and the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, for his explanation of the point which my noble friend would have raised. Had I been able to read the noble Lord's writing I should have made a long speech, but as I cannot read it, I do not propose to make that speech.
§ Clauses 24 and 25 agreed to.
§ LORD SANDFORD
Now that we have reached the end of Part II, which is where we had agreed to get to I think the time nas come for me to move that the House be now resumed.
§ Moved, That the House be now resumed.—(Lord Sandford.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.