HC Deb 21 November 1912 vol 44 cc655-74

Order for consideration read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now considered."


I wish formally to move "That the Bill be recommitted to the Select Committee." I do not mean to advance any argument in support of the Motion at this stage. I rather propose it in order to ascertain your ruling. I have come with a perfectly open mind to hear the discussion, but if as the result of the discussion the House wishes the Bill to go back to the Select Committee, I understand that course would be impossible am informed that if we wish to recommit the Bill, that decision must be come to now. I understand that certain statements will be made with regard to the voting in the Select Committee. I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this House would have power, if it so chose after hearing the discussion, to send the Bill back to the Select Committee unless I move it now?


The hon. Member can on the Third Beading move to recommit the Bill. If we consider the Bill now, and come to the conclusion of the Report stage, he could not move the recommittal of the Bill.


As I do not wish to intervene and prevent discussion by those who know the facts, I shall, if I consider it necessary, avail myself of that opportunity on the Third Reading.


I beg to move, after Clause 13, to insert the following Clause:—

Undertakers to Pay Compensation for Damage.

If at any time after the undertakers have enlarged their works or have provided additional or substituted works at their Purley and Kenley pumping stations or either of them

  1. (a) the supply of water from any existing well, or
  2. (b) the flow of water in any river or stream,
shall be diminished, and it shall be proved that such diminution is caused by abstraction of water by the undertakers in excess of the amount which they were able to abstract by means of their works or machinery as existing before the confirmation of this Order, the undertakers shall pay compensation to the owner of such existing well for such diminution or to the owner or occupier of any land, mill, or works abutting on such river or stream who may suffer damage by the diminution of the flow of water in such river or stream, and the amount of such compensation shall be ascertained in the manner provided by section three hundred and eight of the Public Health Act, 1875.

The point raised by the new Clause is, I think, of the very greatest importance. The Borough of Croydon has spent close upon £500,000 with regard to its water supply. It receives it from four wells, and also under an arrangement with the Metropolitan Water Board. Of these wells there are two situate in Purley, from which Croydon draws a supply of 1,250,000 gallons a day. Outside Purley is the rural district of Surrey. The East Surrey Water Company have for some time supplied water in that district. Up to recently they had two wells not far from the wells of the Croydon Corporation. From the nearest of these wells they have been in the habit of drawing one and a quarter million gallons daily. They are a statutory company, and it was necessary for them to come to this House for an enlargement of their powers. Before doing so they made borings in the chalk, which undoubtedly showed their ability to draw extra water from the well near Purley. They had not sufficient capital to fit this well with the powerful pumps necessary to draw the water required for the district.

The district supplied by the company extends over an area of fifteen square miles, so it is quite obvious that within that area they could have found an abundant supply of water further from Croydon. That being so, they have appealed to this House for an increase of their capital, and have obtained an Order which enables them to increase their daily average of pumping from this well close to Croydon from one and a quarter to four million gallons. It was admitted before the Committee that in times of drought on particular days they proposed to draw from this well five million gallons a day. Croydon views with great anxiety and alarm this proposed increase of draught of water from one well, and believes that to draw this large quantity from a well in such close proximity to their own will be to endanger the supply from Croydon. Evidence was given before the Committee by experts that this was a well founded fear that the Croydon wells would suffer. The population of Croydon is 175,000 and is rapidly increasing. Before the Lords Committee the Water Company was exceeding astute. They secured Mr. Baldwin Latham's services, but did not call him because he was an adverse witness to their case. When it came before this House Mr. Latham was released from his retainer and gave evidence before the Select Committee. The Committee was evenly divided, and by the exercise of the plural vote of the Chairman the company had their way.

11.0 P.M.

That being the position, what was asked before the Committee was that at least a Clause should be inserted to protect Croydon and the mill owners on the Wandle river for a distance of two or three miles whose supply of water might be interfered with owing to this cause. These mill owners on the Wandle protested against the permission to the East Surrey Water Company, and asked for protection of their rights. When the Croydon authorities obtained power to sink wells and draw water they were put under restrictions in regard to these millowners on the river Wandle. Why the same protection has not been granted as against the East Surrey Water Company and in favour of the millowners it is a little difficult to understand. The East Surrey Company contended that they could not do any damage to the water of Croydon or to the Wandle. Assume that is true, I ask this House whether in these circumstances the Clause for which I ask would do any harm? It does not, and why on earth do they oppose it? If they will neither do Croydon nor the Wandle any harm, why should they not insert in the Bill a provision to make compensation if they should do damage, the amount of the damage to be ascertained by arbitration? The Clause is a most moderate one, and recognises the right of the East Surrey Water Company to draw the same amount of water from these wells as they have hitherto done, namely, one and a quarter millions of gallons, but if they draw in excess of that quantity and the millowners on the Wandle or the Corporation of Croydon can prove damage to their supply, then the East Surrey Water Company should make compensation.

A more fair and proper Clause could not be inserted. It is said that this Clause is without precedent in these circumstances, and in a sense that possibly is true; but in the case of every water company's Bill with which I am familiar, if the company sinks wells for the purpose of obtaining water to sell at a profit, a Clause is invariably inserted to protect the millowners of the district and private owners in regard to their supply of water, and in case of damage to those supplies, the company has to supply to them water free of charge. In my own experience in this House in regard to water companies, if a water company goes into a rural district to obtain a supply for some distant town provision is made that those residing in the district may put the company under obligation to give them a supply of water. There is nothing more important than a good and adequate supply of water. There is an immense sum involved. Croydon has practically half a million of money invested, and if you had a drought, and with the water flowing from south to north there is a real well-founded fear that our supply might be diminished and might suffer. Under those circumstances I do ask the House to pass this reasonable Clause and to protect millowners on the streams, and the corporation and the ratepayers who supply their own water. In my judgment a more useful precedent cannot be established. Everybody will remember the Bradford case in which the corporation went to law and were beaten, and in which it was held that they had no right to complain of the landowner doing what he did. When a company in this case seeks to raise money to sell water for profit then protection ought to be given to the Corporation of Croydon, and fair compensation for any injury done to them.


I beg to second the Amendment. Like many other hon. Members I sit for a borough which has a municipal water undertaking and the borough council of which are looking with grave concern on this precedent of a private company, existing primarily for profit, being allowed to compete, and to compete with disastrous effects, with a long established public undertaking. I wish to put before the House very briefly the case of the London County Council, which is very much interested in getting this Clause which has been moved by my hon. Friend. The County Council of London is interested in the river Wandle, which becomes a covered sewer, and in which a water supply is necessary to wash away the effluent of four sewerage companies which discharge into it before it reaches the county borough. The river is fed entirely from streams. Under the common law if any water were abstracted from a river of course those interested would have redress, but if water is abstracted from the underground river, which eventually becomes the Wandle, before it reaches the surface, there is no redress. The London County Council are anxious to have the opportunity of claiming compensation in the event of the Wandle being dried up. There is a precedent, not an exact precedent perhaps, in the River Wandle Protection Act. That Act was obtained by the riparian owners on the river Wandle, and restrains the Croydon Corporation from taking more than 50,000,000 gallons in thirty days. That Act was passed because it was admitted by the Croydon Corporation that they had the power, by pumping out of the strata in which the river Wandle takes its rise, to dry up that stream. As a matter of fact, owing to the opening of new wells by the Surrey Company it is alleged that last summer the river Wandle was practically dried up.

We ask on behalf of the London County Council that, as it was admitted that in the public interest a local authority should not be allowed to dry up the river Wandle, the same facts should be recognised in the case of this private company. The London County Council are also affected as landowners of the Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum, a large institution with over 2,000 patients, which obtains its water from a well on the estate, Recently the East Surrey Company sunk a trial borehole within 283 yards of the Cane Hill well. The London County Council have been advised that if this well of the East Surrey Company is pumped persistently it will be possible to dry up or materially to decrease the supply of water available in the London County Council well. The Surrey Company sell their water at 1s 6d. per thousand gallons; the London County Council can raise water from their own well at 4½d. per thousand gallons, so that it would be a very serious matter to them, considering that they consume 100,000 gallons a day, if they had to pay more than 1s. additional for every 1,000 gallons they consume. It would obviously pay the East Surrey Company to dry up the London County Council well and make it necessary for that authority to draw its supply from them.

The London County Council do not want money; they do not want compensation in any other way than in kind. They appeal to the House with the more confidence because there is an absolute precedent in a less dangerous case. This same well at Cane Hill Asylum was held to be threatened in 1903 by the sinking of a well by the Sutton Company about a mile away. In the Sutton District Waterworks Act, 1903, a Clause was inserted for the protection of the London County Council, under which Clause, if owing to the pumping of the Sutton Company the supply of water in the Cane Hill Asylum well is decreased, the London County Council can call upon the Sutton Company to supply them with water at the cost price at which it was formerly obtainable at the Cane Hill well. The London County Council feel that the well proposed to be sunk by the East Surrey Company, not a mile away, but at a distance of only 280 yards, is far more likely to deplete their well, that it will be great temptation to the private company to take advantage of the opportunity of drying up the London County Council well in order to get a large profit by selling the Council water at 1s. 6d. a thousand gallons, and they ask that they should have the protection in the form proposed by my hon. Friend. If compensation is payable to them they will be able to get it, by treating with the Surrey Company, not in money, but in kind. Owing to the very important interests, and the heavy financial danger to the London County Council of having their well dried up and being obliged to go to the East Surrey Company, I ask the House to pass this Clause. It is fair to every other private owner in the district whose well is in danger.


It is not properly a Clause; it is an Amendment to the Schedule.


I ask the indulgence of the House which it is always kind enough to grant to those Members who address it for the first time. The House, I submit, should oppose this Provisional Order as it stands, and it should support the Report of the Select Committee the House itself appointed, and it should reject the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Chatham. This Provisional Order has been submitted to three tribunals—the Board of Trade and the Select Committee of the House of Lords, and it was considered at even greater length by the Select Committee of the House of Commons. It is the duty of the House to bear in mind the expert, contentious, and scientific evidence which is at stake, and they should support the Committees which considered the evidence with so great length and care. I claim that the House at the outset should brush aside the contention that has been made inside and outside this House that this is a case between a company paying a dividend of 10 per cent, and a great public corporation such as the Borough of Croydon. Nothing could be more unfair than to state the case in that way. The original shareholders who put their money into the Surrey Company received no dividend for many years, and all the money which is now put into the Surrey Company is subject to an Auction Clause. The return to the investor is only 4¼ per cent. The House should remember that Parliament has imposed upon the Surrey Company a statutory obligation to provide water for an area of 155 square miles, containing a population of 90,000 persons. I claim that the evidence abundantly shows that there is plenty of water for everybody, and that not only can the Corporation of Croydon be supplied, but also the lunatic asylum mentioned by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds.

I submit that these Compensation Clauses are completely unnecessary. The condition by the Select Committee of the House, of Lords of the maximum amount of pumping which is allowed by the Surrey Water Company completely safeguards Croydon Corporation from any appreciable damage to their works. I venture to submit that when hon. Members opposite like the hon. and learned Member for Chatham say, "Well, if we on our side do not think that the Corporation of Croydon will be affected or the river Wandle will be affected, why then do we object to the insertion of these Compensation Clauses. May not the Committee be wrongly urged, and if the Committee is right, the insertion of these Compensation Clauses alone do not prejudice the Surrey Water Company in any way." I dispute that line of argument completely. I venture to say this is a point to which the House should give its consideration. Four companies are now pumping water from this limited amount of chalk, and if Parliament were to assent to the Amendment which the hon. Member for Chatham has moved, Parliament would be saying that the Corporation of Croydon, that the Sutton Pumping Company, that the Metropolitan Water Board could pump such water as they liked, inflict as much harm as they liked, without being subject to any claim for compensation, whereas the unfortunate Surrey, which is in exactly the same position as the other three companies, would be subject to claims for compensation. I submit that is most unfair. If the House wishes to give compensation for underground water it should bring forward a comprehensive measure to make all companies pumping in this chalk area subject to compensation. It would be most invidious if the Amendment of the hon. Member is carried, that one company should be subjected to compensation claims and the others allowed to do any amount of pumping without reparation.

If anybody ought to pay compensation it ought to be the Corporation of Croydon, for it has three wells that are tapping the springs of the river Wandle. These three wells are nearer the river Wandle than the proposed wells of the Surrey Company, and could anything be more unfair than to ask the House to give the Corporation of Croydon compensation against the Surrey Water Company when the Surrey Water Company is denied compensation by the Corporation of Croydon? The House should remember that the water falls upon the area of the Surrey Company, and that the water runs through Surrey on to the land of the Corporation of Croydon, and I claim that since the company I represent—the Surrey Company — own the gathering ground for the water that Croydon uses, therefore the Surrey Company should enjoy the first drink of its water. I venture to oppose this Clause for a second reason, that I regard it as unworkable, and I believe were the House to include this Clause in this Provisional Order it would lead to endless friction and litigation. What would those who desire compensation have to prove? They would, in the first place, have to prove that they had been damaged; in the second place that they were damaged not by the three other companies but by the Surrey Company; and thirdly they would have to prove that the damage would not have been inflicted had the Surrey Company only used the pumping machinery they now have. It is within the knowledge of the House that this Provisional Order does not ask that the House should empower the Surrey Company to sink fresh wells. The wells are already sunk, and all the Surrey Company desire is that the House should empower them to raise additional money for additional machinery.


Do they pump any water from the well near Cane Hill Asylum?


Yes, from the Wandle well and the Kenley well, and those are the only wells which the Surrey Company is anxious to ask for power to pump from. Moreover, I ask the House to reject this Clause because it introduces an entirely new principle into waterworks' practice. It sets up a very dangerous precedent and alters the whole common law relating to waterworks' practice. Any hon. Member of this House who owns land is at perfect liberty to sink a well on his property and pump as much water as he likes, and if anybody else suffers nobody is allowed to receive compensation for damage. Precedents have been quoted by hon. Members opposite, but there is no similarity between this case and the cases they have mentioned. The case of the river Lee has been mentioned, but that is not a parallel case, because it is admitted that where a stream flows in a definite channel and on the surface those on the lower part of the stream are entitled to damages. In cases of underground water under the common law no claim for compensation is allowable. I think it would be most unjust for the House to pass this Clause because in recent years general provision is being considered as to giving compensation to those who suffer through water being pumped from underground. It is within the recollection of the House that in 1910 Lord Desborough introduced a Bill in the House of Lords which was referred to a Select Committee of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, before which authorities like the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Courthope), the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), and experts like Mr. Balfour Browne gave evidence, and the Committee came to this conclusion, which appears most apposite:— They could not give a right to compensation for loss of sub-soil water, unless there was an important alteration of the general law which, as it stands, recognises no property in water unless it is flowing in a known and definite channel. They reported that the Committee could come to no other conclusion without further detailed inquiry into the whole subject of underground water. I hope any Member of the Government who speaks on this question from the Front Bench will be able to tell the House that further inquiry is going to be made upon this most important question of the supply of water from chalk sub-soils. I would also ask every Member who thinks of voting for the Amendment to realise that if he does so he is giving to all landlords a right of property that they do not at present possess. It would be a right most serious from the public point of view, because Parliament must remember if it bestows a right of property upon anybody it must be at the expense of somebody else, and if this Clause is passed to give all landlords compensation for pumping subsoil water it means that compensation to landlords will be at the expense of the local authorities and of the public. I venture to say every landlord has now the absolute right to dig for water on his own land, and what I object to is that there should be one law for the landlord and another for public companies. In conclusion, I say the Corporation of Croydon is treating the House most unfairly in bringing forward this Clause at the very last moment. They did not have the courage to submit it to the Select Committee which sat upstairs. This is the first opportunity we have had of considering it. The Surrey Water Company, on whose behalf I speak, have, owing to the procedure of hon. Members opposite, had no chance of bringing forward expert evidence to show how unfair it is to penalise them and to spare the three other companies who are pumping in this area.


May I interrupt the hon. Member's most excellent maiden speech to ask why it is he has twice said he, being a member of the Select Committee, appears for the East Surrey Water Company?


That is a very unfair interruption.


I would venture to submit to the House that, of course, I have not the slightest interest in the East Surrey Water Company.


Hear, hear.


No Member, remembering the traditions of this House, would presume to consent to sit upon a Committee if he were in any way interested in the Bill. Perhaps I was mistaken in saying I represented the Surrey Company. I, of course, only speak on their behalf, and, having listened to the evidence, I think their case is a just one, and I ask the House to support it. The explanation why the Surrey Company did not bring this Clause before the Select Committee is, I think, a simple one. Mr. Balfour Browne, their legal adviser, gave evidence before a Select Committee of the two Houses some years ago, and his evidence conclusively showed that he himself was against any such Clause of compensation as this. It would therefore have been impossible for him, representing the Croydon Corporation, to have appeared before the Select Committee and to have refuted the views which he had himself publicly expressed. I ask the House to support the decision of the Committee and to reject the Amendment.


I desire to point out that the protection of the water supply of the working class population is a question of the first importance. So far as Croydon is concerned the average number of persons in a dwelling-house is 4.9; the number of houses, 15,639, and the population thereby affected, 76,000. To my mind there should be no hesitation in granting this compensation Clause if the statements made by counsel before the Select Committee are believed in by them. Let me quote one or two which I think demonstrate that no damage would be done to the Surrey Water Company by the proposed Clause. Mr. H. Lloyd remarked: The Corporation say, and no doubt truly so, that they have not at this moment, more water than they ought, to have in order to enable them to perform their public duty. Of course it must be common ground that there is a maximum demand which every company must be prepared to meet. Counsel proceeded: We have no desire to rob our neighbours. We should only be too glad to see Croydon amply supplied with water. But our case is that there is ample for both. If that be so then I think the necessity for this Compensation Clause is amply demonstated.


As Chairman of the Select Committee which dealt with this Bill I should like to add a few words. There is one point I wish to emphasise. Reference has been made to the fact that the decision of the Committee, arrived at after a very long inquiry, was carried by my casting vote. I have to point out that if the House of Commons makes rules those rules are intended to be carried out, and I only exercised the power given to me by those rules when I gave my casting vote. Consequently, there can be no grievance as to the carrying of this Bill through the Committee. The second point I wish to touch upon is this. I do not think it is clearly understood that this Bill is merely one for raising capital—firstly, for the pipe to convoy the water after it has been pumped, and secondly, for increasing the machinery. There is no new bore-hole being made, and the money will be devoted to increasing the machinery and bringing it up to date. On that point I should like to refer to the Joint Select Committee of which mention has been made—the Committee which sat in 1910.

The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) gave evidence before that Committee. He was asked by the Chairman as to the methods of limiting pumping in certain areas. He replied that he was in favour of specifications of the machinery being put before the Committee. The alternative plan was to limit the quantity to a certain number of gallons over a certain period, and that seemed to be, in the opinion of the Committee, the best way of limiting the distribution of water under present conditions. That is precisely what we did upstairs. We followed the precedent of the Committee of the House of Lords who limited the supply, and therefore, I suppose, we have left enough for everybody concerned. With regard to the special Clause relating to the Wandle, I should like to explain to the House that I asked that a Clause should be submitted to the Committee purposely to see whether or not it was practicable, and, having considered it, and having heard counsel on both sides, the Committee—I will admit through my casting vote again—came to the conclusion that it was not possible to include such a Clause, because of the impossibility of proving the liability of the West Surrey Company. Under these circumstances I hope the House will endorse the findings of the Committee and pass this Bill.


I represent, and have for the past twenty-seven years represented in this House the interests of the River Wandle and its riparian occupiers and owners. The case is more simple than the House might suppose from the large number of interesting facts put before it. The Clause which the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) has moved is one which does not dispute or attack the Bill itself. It concedes to the Company all the right and the power that the Company asks for in order to take further water. All that the Clause provides is that if in the future—it must be borne in mind that whether there will be any damage to the riparian proprietors on the Wandle can only be a matter of opinion and conjecture at present—the result of these works is to damage these people, contrary to the expectation and assertion of the Company that they will do no damage to these riparian proprietors and millowners—it was admitted before the Committee by experts on both sides that there was the possibility that in the future the abstraction of water would damage these people—then a reference to arbitration should, if necessary, be made to ascertain and to award compensation to the parties interested. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Francis M'Laren) with whom I have had the pleasure of sitting on various Committees, I believe was on one Committee upstairs over which I presided that dealt with the question of the navigation of the river Don. In that case it was accepted as a recognised principle that water abstracted from existing navigation or an existing supply of water should be restored to the stream if possible, or, if not, and damage arose, compensation in money should be awarded. The principle has also been recognised by this House in many Bills. I believe many of these precedents were quoted by counsel for the petitioners against the Order. I was asked by the Committee of Selection to preside over the Committee, but when I found that my Constituency was interested I was of course obliged to decline. The Chairman, in giving his casting vote, acted in accordance with Parliamentary rules, and there can be no grievance, but it is a fair matter of observation that the question did not obtain the full concurrence of all the Members. There are many precedents. There was the Wolverhampton Corporation Waterworks Act, the Gosport Water Act, and other recent Bills. I submit that the very terms as well as the substance of the matter which the Croydon Water Company have asked the House to grant to them are not in any way interfered with by the proposed Clause. It can do no harm, and it is consistent with the statement of their counsel that the River Wandle Protection Association represents important interests—local authorities, mill-owners, occupiers, riparian proprietors, and so on, and no one whom I represent has any desire to injure any one of them. Everyone can understand that where there are millowners on a stream the lowering of the water by abstraction above their point of access necessarily must cause very serious damage. We had the cases of a number of millowners on the river Don, and these were acceded, being reasonable cases. I think I have said enough to show that the Clause ought to be inserted.


As a Member of the Select Committee, I should like to be allowed to say a few words. Except technically the Committee has never passed the Bill at all because there were two on one side and two on the other. You have no opinion from the Committee, because it was divided. I have no doubt it is a most respectable company, I do not know any of the directors or shareholders connected with it, but I must say that this company is working for and paying dividends. Therefore, we have to consider the matter in that light as against the wants of the people of Croydon, and of the people on the river Wandle. There are 175,000 people in the area we are dealing with, and of these 130,000 get their water from the wells mentioned. The rest are supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board. I think the passing of the Clause which has been proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Hohler) is the least the House of Commons can do for the protection of these people. I heard it said just now that the Clause was not submitted. I was sorry to hear that, because it was actually submitted on behalf of the people on the river Wandle. The Committee adjourned and took a separate day to consider it. Therefore, we had the Clause before us.


The Corporation of Croydon never submitted that any Compensation Clause should be given to them. It was only the people on the river Wandle who asked that.


It does not matter. The people of Croydon are really Londoners, and they deserve this protection in a case where it is proposed to interfere with them. We have been truly told to-night that if there is no damage done, there will be no compensation, and the company, to my mind, would be well advised in accepting this proposal rather than accepting worse by and by. The constant practice of Parliament has been to protect people who have interests, whether in water or anything else. What difference does it make whether the water is underground or not? I cannot see what difference it would make to me whether my watch was stolen above ground or 100 feet underground on one of the tube railways. In my opinion the weight of evidence submitted to the Committee was in favour of the case presented on behalf of the people on the river Wandle.

We were told by the millowners that they had an insufficient supply of water already, and that some of them had to work in the daytime and others at night because of the shortage in the present supply. [An HON. MEMBER: "They work alternately."] They have already lost part of their water supply, and they are likely to lose more. Millowners are protected in all other cases of this kind. Protection was given in the case of the river Lee. There are many others with which I will not trouble the House, but if anybody wants particulars, I will be glad to give them. It has been argued by some people that water is not property. The evidence given by the millowner showed distinctly that they pay a rent for the use of the water, and undoubtedly it is thereby made property. Having paid that why should anybody take it away from them? I trust that this House will not give way to this socialistic doctrine, but will stick to the Eighth Commandment and say to all these speculators, "If you take anybody's property you must compensate."


My name has been mentioned as giving evidence before Lord Desborough's Committee. The question before the Committee was entirely different from that before this House now. It had reference to a general alteration of the law, whether in a large number of cases you should reverse the old common law doctrine that there is no property in underground water. That is the matter on which I hold a very strong opinion, not as a landowner, but as a resident, and now a representative of Hertfordshire, which has taken a very great interest in this matter, because springs and wells are very much affected by the pumping of underground water. In the present instance a very excellent company, which supplies water and makes a profit out of it, desires to pump more than twice as much as it is pumping at present, and make larger profits. The question really is whether it is not for Parliament to put certain conditions which it is to carry out in order to give it a statutory right to make these larger profits. There is no question of creating a new right, of property in landowners. It is merely a question of whether where the company is going to carry on a profitable transaction with the assistance of Parliament, Parliament is not perfectly right and acting justly in the public interest in putting certain conditions upon that right.

The question is whether it is fair to insist as a condition of making the profit that they should not injure other people who already use the water. If that condition is carefully guarded it seems tome as a principle essentially just. It is carefully guarded in this Clause, because the people who complain have to prove not only damage, but that the damage was actually caused by the pumping in excess of the existing pumping. It does not propose to take away rights which have been given, but when Parliament gives what in effect is a new right, and it says that that right shall not be exercised so as to injure other people, that seems a very reasonable proposition. The injury caused by the pumping of underground water is really a most serious thing. The House remembers the case of the late Colonel Kenyon Slaney. A water company or corporation was allowed to pump all his farm absolutely dry, and he made such a case upon the Second Reading of a Bill to enable pumping to take place that the water authority of their own accord paid him £10,000 for the damage already done. That shows what damage might be done. The House in all cases should look to see if there is a likelihood of damage. If there is there ought to be on principle some kind of Compensation Clause inserted to prevent those who are making a profit out of the water doing so to the injury of other people.

12.0 M.


In this matter we are without the help usually rendered by Members of the Committee, who, on this occasion, are not unanimous, and we must, therefore, exercise our own judgment in a matter of this kind. Reference has been made to common law rights, but what are we doing under this Bill but interfering with common law rights? If we were to allow the Company those rights they might cause serious damage, which would be most inequitable to the neighbourhood as a whole. If a company wants to take water they have to come to this House, and we have to lay down rules and regulations as to the amount of water which it takes. Already they do not take more than 1,500,000 gallons. If they are allowed to take more than that quantity the matter becomes much more serious. Where a company seeks to take water to send it to a great distance it is inevitable that the House ought not to permit it, save under certain conditions, and I think we are entitled to this provision which is now proposed. As the hon. Member admitted, the difficulty of proving damage is enormous, and therefore it is well to have proper safeguards.

Colonel RAWSON

The hon. Member who seconded the Clause referred to the bore hole in the chalk about 200 yards from the asylum. It is an experimental bore hole, and is too small to pump from, nor can we pump from it until we get further powers from this House. The East Surrey Water Company are quite prepared to give

an undertaking not to pump from the bore hole without the consent of the asylum authorities.


With reference to the speech of the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil), he, in common with others who have opposed the action of the Committee, and wishes to reverse their decision, has quoted a figure which is entirely inaccurate. He says it is proposed to pump more than twice the quantity (2,500,000 gallons) which is now being pumped, whereas leave is asked to pump 4,000,000 gallons. It was mentioned that the area of the East Surrey Water Company is fifteen square miles; it happens to be 155 square miles. I would also remind the Committee before it comes to a vote, that this point was discussed on the Second Reading, and the question was whether it should be referred to the Committee or not. The main argument brought forward was whether certain material evidence of Mr. Baldwin Leighton would not be given before the Committee in the other House. That gentleman has given his evidence, and he has given it to the extent of thirty pages. It has been considered by the Committee, who have arrived at their decision. One other fact. I think, on the Second Reading, we had the hon. Member for Croydon (Mr. Malcolm) opposing this Bill. He has been conspicuous in this Debate by his absence. I am delighted to see that he has come into the House again. He has taken no part in this Debate. A fresh hare is started altogether, and at the eleventh hour. The London County Council, who did not go before the Committee at all, come before the House.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 66; Noes, 88.

Division No. 323.] AYES. [12.8 a.m.
Adamson, William Doris, William Hogge, James Myles
Addison, Dr. C. Duffy, William J. John, Edward Thomas
Ainsworth, John Stirling Duncan, c. (Barrow-in-Furness) Jowett, Frederick William
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Essex, Richard Walter Joyce, Michael
Barnes, George N. Fell, Arthur Kimber, Sir Henry
Bentham, George Jackson Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Bowerman, C. W. Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)
Brace, William Fitzgibbon, John Macpherson, James Ian
Brady, P. J. Gill, A. H. Malcolm, Ian
Brocklehurst, William B. Goldsmith, Frank Marshall, Arthur Harold
Bryce, J. Annan Goldstone, Frank Martin, J.
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Meagher, Michael
Cassel, Felix Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Hackett, J. Molteno, Percy Alport
Crumley, Patrick Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Morisen, Hector
Dawes, J. A. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
De Forest, Baron Hodge, John Munro, R.
Nannetti, Joseph P. Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
O'Malley, William Rolleston, Sir John Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Parker, James (Halifax) Sutherland, J. E.
Pointer, Joseph Sutton, John E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Reddy, M. Talbot, Lord E. Hohler and Mr. John Ward.
Armitage, R, Flavin, Michael Joseph Morrell, Philip
Baird, J. L. Gibbs, G. A. Needham, Christopher Thomas
Baldwin, Stanley Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Nicholson, sir C. N. (Doncaster)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gulland, John William Nugent, Sir Walter Richard
Banner, John S. Harmood- Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.) Helme, Sir Nerval Watson O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Henry, Sir Charles O'Doherty, Philip
Boland, John Pius Higham, John Sharp O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Booth, Frederick Handel Hills, John Waller O'Shee, James John
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Peto, Basil Edward
Boyton, James Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Horner, Andrew Long Pringle, William M. R.
Bridgeman, W. Clive Illingworth, Percy H. Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Campion, W. R. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Cautley, H. S. Keating, Matthew Robinson, Sidney
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kilbride, Denis Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Clough, William King, J. Sanders, Robert A.
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Lewis, John Herbert Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Cullinan, John Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Touche, George Alexander
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Doughty, Sir George Lundon, T. Wiles, Thomas
Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Maclean, Donald
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)
Farrell, James Patrick MacVeagh, Jeremiah TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Colonel
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey McGhee, Richard Rawson and Mr. Francis M'Laren.
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Marks, Sir George Croydon

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill to be read the third time to-morrow (Friday).

The Orders for the remaining Government business were read, and postponed.

Whereupon, Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Adjourned accordingly at a Quarter after Twelve o'Clock.