HC Deb 18 July 1889 vol 338 cc703-4

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the serious losses the farmers at Waltham Abbey, in Essex, have sustained from the frequent flooding of the land caused by the silting up of the Old River Lea which forms a part of the Waltham Abbey Powder Works property; and, whether the War Office are proposed to dredge Or straiten the river so as to prevent the recurrence of these losses?

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

As I have been in the habit of fishing at King's Weir for the last 30 years, may I ask whether it is not the fact that the river has been entirely neglected by the Government, that it has remained entirely undredged, and that the weeds are never cut so that whenever there is an extra flood the water rises nearly to the level of the weir and renders fishing impossible?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle

Complaints as to the floods have been received, but the liability to keep the River Lea dredged is a part of matters which have been for many years in dispute, and the War Department does not admit that the onus lies upon it to do so, although it would benefit equally with other riparian owners if joint action to prevent floods could be taken. Legislation is probably called for; but the Floods Prevention Bill of 1881 having failed to become law, the Conservators appear to be unable to cope with existing difficulties.


The Conservancy cannot touch this water, because it is in the hands of the Government, and as the Government do not touch it, it has gone to the bad.


Arising out of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask if he is not aware that the flooding affects the Government works almost to the same extent as these of the other riparian owners?


I have already said so, but I dispute that the Government should have the sole liability in the matter.