§ MR. COBB (Warwick, S. E., Rugby)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that questions affecting river improvements and the mode of dealing with floods are being discussed with great and increasing interest by tenant farmers, and that last week a resolution proposed and seconded by two county aldermen, was adopted by the Farmers' Club, at Southam, in Warwickshire, suggesting that Parliament should confer further powers upon County Councils with regard to these matters; whether he will consider, with a view to legislation, if it would be practicable to enable County Councils, representing counties having interests in the same watershed, to act through a joint Committee in dealing with these important subjects; and whether he is aware of any financial difficulty in the way of such legislation which could not be equitably met, so as not to impose taxation or expense upon those who would not share in the benefit?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE, Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
I am aware that the subject of rivers conservancy and floods prevention has been 141 discussed by some County Councils, and that suggestions have been made that the County Councils should be invested with powers in regard to this matter. I think that when legislation is proposed on the subject it will be a proper matter to consider whether such powers as may be required should be conferred on the County Councils or a Joint Committee of the Councils of the counties by or through which the river passes. One of the difficulties incidental to the question is no doubt that as to the rates to be levied. In the Bills which have been introduced on this subject it was proposed that the area of charge should be divided into lowlands, midlands, and uplands with a view to the charges varying according to the benefit derived by the owners and occupiers.