HC Deb 21 June 1889 vol 337 cc416-7

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if there are several districts in Great Britain and Ireland in which there would be considerable danger to life if the artificial dams which restrain reservoirs, lakes, or rivers were to burst; if the Local Government Board are in possession of any information as to the areas of some of such districts; and, if so, has he any objection to furnish a Return on the subject; and, in case the Local Government Board are unprovided with such information, is it the duty of any local body to be in possession of statistics on the subject; and, if so, would he specify what local bodies should satisfy themselves on this head?


The Local Government Board have no definite information on the subject of this question, but there can, I think, be no doubt that there are in England artificial dams which restrain reservoirs, lakes, or rivers, and which, assuming that they were to burst, would be attended with danger to life. The Board are not in possession of any information as to the areas which, in the event of such burstings, would be affected. No doubt the areas which would be so affected would necessarily depend very much on the circumstances at the particular time, as, for instance, whether the rivers were in flood or otherwise. I cannot say that it is the duty of any local body to be in possession of statistics on the subject, but, of course, it devolves on the Local Authority in whom the reservoir may be vested to take such measures as may be requisite for securing its stability. I may observe, with respect to reservoirs provided by Local Authorities under the Public Health Act, that notice has to be given in the local newspapers of any proposal to construct reservoirs with a capacity exceeding 100,000 gallons, and, in the event of objection, the works cannot be proceeded with until after local inquiry by the Local Government Board. I may also draw attention to the provisions contained in the Waterworks Clauses Act of 1863, which have almost invariably been incorporated in local Acts passed since that date for the construction of reservoirs, either by Municipal Authorities or by water companies. Sections 3 and 4 of that Act are as follow:— III.—Whenever any person interested complains to two Justices that any reservoir constructed by the undertakers is in a dangerous state such Justices shall forthwith make inquiry into the truth of the complaint; or two Justices, on their own view, and without complaint by any person, may proceed under the present provisions as if a complaint had been so made to them. IV.—If, on any such inquiry, the Justices are satisfied that the complaint is well founded, and that the reservoir is in a dangerous state, and that the danger is so imminent as not to admit of delay in removing the cause of complaint, they shall order such person as they think fit to enter on the property of the undertakers and to lower the water in the reservoir, and to execute and do all such works and things as the Justices think requisite and proper for removing the cause of complaint. There are also provisions for the Justices requiring the necessary works to be done when they are satisfied that there is cause for complaint, although the reservoir is not in an imminently dangerous state.


Am I to understand that there is no Local Authority or public officer who has any information as to the districts supplied?


That is so. There is no public body which possesses the information.