HC Deb 17 October 1912 vol 42 cc1579-98

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


Perhaps it would be convenient if I say now the course I propose to take with regard to this Provisional Order Bill. The Provisional Order sought to be confirmed by this Bill relates to several companies against whom there is no sort of objection; it is only with the East Surrey Water Company we are concerned. We do not want to jeopardise in any "way the undertaking of any other company with whom we have no dispute at all, and if we were to persuade the House to reject the Second Reading of this Bill we would be causing unnecessary loss to several companies with whom we have no quarrel, and if we failed so to persuade the House we should have to repeat in moving the Instruction on the Paper the arguments we had already used against the Second Reading of the Bill. That would be an unnecessary wasting of the time of this House, and therefore I propose, speaking for myself, to concentrate upon the Instruction and not move the rejection of the Bill in order to save those companies with whom we have no quarrel, and also to save the time of this House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.


I beg to move, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to delete from the confirming Bill the Order relating to East Surrey Water."

This action is taken at the instance of the Corporation of Croydon, upon whom the duty was laid to supply the population of Croydon with water. When this great responsibility was laid upon them the population of Croydon was about 19,000, and now it is over 175,000, and the cost of fulfilling this duty laid upon the Corporation by Parliament has amounted to very nearly £500,000 of public money. Now there comes along a company, the East Surrey Company, which received Parliamentary sanction in 1896 to acquire land, and in 1900, by a Provisional Order, they obtained powers to draw water from the Croydon water area. To-day they are applying for still further powers to draw still more water, and they are applying to do this not by a private Bill, but by a Provisional Order. It is just as though the metropolis of London was supplied with water from Hampstead and Highgate and then a private company came along and got powers to tap the supply north of the wells sunk to supply the metropolis by sinking wells more north, which would supply Hertfordshire and Middlesex from-the same drainage area as that which supplied the metropolis, to the great danger of a water famine in the metropolis itself.

I say to the imminent danger of Croydon it is sought to have this Provisional Order confirmed. The whole of the Croydon drainage area yields at present not more than 7,500,000 gallons per day. Of this Croydon, with a population of 175,000 people, takes 4,000,000 gallons. The River Wandle for sewerage and other purposes, urgently requires 1,000,000 gallons and the East Surrey Company take 2,500,000 gallons. Now the East Surrey Company actually asks to-day, and it has been allowed by the Lords Commissioners, not only for the 2,500,000 gallons, but for an average of 4,000,000 gallons a day from this area. That is to say, from this, particular area, which can only supply 7,500,000 gallons of water per day, an amount of over 10,000,000 gallons is expected if this Provisional Order becomes, law. That simply means that if this House assents to so dangerous a proposal for a private company the population of Croydon stands in serious and imminent danger of a water famine, and of the recurrence of those terrible outbreaks of fever which devastated that borough forty or fifty years ago.

It means therefore that in order to satisfy what I do not deny is the legitimate ambition of a private company, the public authority of Croydon is to be absolutely prevented from fulfilling those duties which have been imposed upon it by a Act of this Parliament itself. I submit this is a question of principle, which may be rightly raised in this House at this time. It is a question affecting the whole principle of the existence and responsibilities of local authorities and the abrogation of their duties at the instance of a private company. It is in my opinion a far-reaching interference with the whole conception of local self government which so far as I know has never been attempted before, or if it has been attempted it has always failed when it has been brought before the notice of this House.

It may be so—and this leads me to my second and last point—that these facts would surely have been before Lord Barnard's Committee in another place. I am sorry to say that was not so. Neither these nor all the scientific arguments connected with the water supply by the greatest authority in England upon this area. On the contrary, they were withheld. I will forbear to criticise the methods adopted by the promoters of this Bill so far as Croydon is concerned, but I will just state what has occurred and leave the matter to the fair judgment of the House. Mr. Baldwin Latham is recognised as the greatest authority upon the chalk waters in England. He has been in practice for fifty years and incidentally I may mention that for forty-nine years he has been a resident in Croydon and knows the whole of the area better than any other man could possibly know it. This gentleman was retained by the East Surrey Water Company, but they did not dare call him throughout all the proceedings before the House of Lords Committee, although he was present the whole time. His mouth was closed, and this is the reason why I have here all the proof sheets of the evidence Mr. Baldwin Latham was prepared to give, and the whole of it backed by the full strength of minute and laborious scientific arguments and a most impressive array not of opinions but of facts, goes to show that whatever advantages may accrue from this Bill to the Water Company the peril to the population of Croydon is of the most serious and dangerous character.

I have very good reason to believe that if Mr. Baldwin Latham had been called by those who retained him before the Select Committee in another place his evidence would have impressed their lordships so much that they would have acted upon the spirit of this Instruction and they would have reserved the Croydon water from the purview of this Bill. I personally am not versed in the way that Private Bill legislation is conducted either in this or the other House. I want to associate myself whole-heartedly with the view that our counsel, Mr. Balfour Brown, K.C., put before the Committee elsewhere: that he had to complain of this extraordinary proceeding. It really looks as if there had been something like suppressio veri. If the truth had been forthcoming with the weight of Mr. Baldwin Latham's authority behind it the verdict of the Lords' Committee would have been otherwise and this House would never have heard of this Provisional Order. Heaven knows there is no man who is going to support this Instruction to-night who will want to reduce by a single gallon the amount of the water supplied to a single individual in the area now supplied by the East Surrey Company. That would not follow if and when this Instruction is carried, as within the theatre of operations occupied by the Water Company there are other sources from which water can be obtained without interfering with the health of this large population. May I make a quotation from the proof of Mr. Baldwin Latham's evidence which was suppressed by the House of Lords Committee:— Within the East Surrey Water Company's district there is an avert of chalk within the watershed of flip Mole and the Hoggs Hill rivers, and other water bearing strata in other portions of the district, such as the lower green sand and the Tunbridge Wells sand, all of which are capable of yielding considerable supplies of water; in fact, from gaugings he has made of the lower green sand at Hindhead in a low-water period he has found that this strata yields more than double, mile per mile, the water yielded by the chalk. It is on these grounds that I confidently ask this House to support this Instruction and to confirm this principle that no private enterprise and no small Committee upstairs shall stand between this House and a local authority endeavouring to do the duty imposed on it by Act of Parliament. I ask this House also to believe that this Order would never have reached us if the whole truth had been laid before the Committee in another place. I further ask this House to say that a new private Bill granting leave to this Company to sink their wells in the places indicated in Mr. Baldwin Latham's evidence would fail to meet the requirements of those served by the Company, and that we will not delegate to any other body the vast responsibility of risking a water famine and consequently disease in the heart of this enormously populated area. It is to effect these objects that I ask leave to move the Instruction standing in my name.


I rise with a certain amount of diffidence to second the Motion which has been made by the hon. Member for Croydon because I am not a resident in that town. But I have read as far as is possible the mass of evidence which has been placed in my hands with regard to this Provisional Order. I regard this Provisional Order as being of a very serious nature. Personally I am always in favour of allowing a Bill to go upstairs so that the evidence and the pros and cons of the case can be discussed, but in this case the Croydon Corporation has a very serious charge to make against the company. In regard to an important Provisional Order like this, which has the tendency to deprive the borough of Croydon of water to which they have a legal right, that should have been stated definitely when it was promoted.

The borough of Croydon has spent over £500,000 upon their water supply. That is a very large sum. The Corporation and their engineers are under the impression that if this Order is carried out, and the company is permitted under it to increase their pumping powers to the extent of one and a half million gallons a day, which means 570 millions per annum, there is a probability of a very serious shortage of water for the Corporation. The two wells affected are Surrey Street and the Waddon. They supply the borough of Croydon with no less than 1,150 million gallons per annum. The statement made by the Corporation is that the increased supply which will be pumped under this Order passes the Purley well belonging to the company, and therefore they have the first pull upon the water before it reaches the well of the Corporation in Surrey Street. The Corporation sunk the Surrey Street well in 1851, which they were empowered to do by the Local Government Board under the Public Health Act. If they sunk this well in 1851 they have or ought to have a prior right to the water in this gathering ground of the well. That, I think, is a claim which every corporation in this country could make. That is to say if they expend money upon any water supply they have a right to the water supply gathered in that particular ground without the interference of any other company. It is a very broad principle, but one as to which a corporation has a right to protection.

How was this power under the East Surrey Water Board of Trade brought about! In 1896, for the first time, the East Surrey Company promoted a Provisional Order. It was for the purpose of buying up the Keigate Water Company, but they also took powers to acquire land. Sections 25 and 26 of the Act of 1896 and Clause 11 of this Provisional Order are in exactly similar terms. They conferred upon the East Surrey Company power to acquire land but there was not the slightest indication in the Provisional Order that they were going to acquire lands in this particular spot and to sink the Purley well. That is a very dangerous precedent. They sunk the well and they have been extracting from it and another well 2,500,000 gallons per day. The Provisional Order did not give any indication to the Croydon Corporation that this Company was going to sink these wells and abstract this water. The extraordinary thing to me is that any company should come to this House and attempt to give a supply of water to anybody under the Provisional Order without explaining in detail what they proposed to do. If they came under Section 14 of the Standing Orders they would have not only to explain but to give notice to all persons—if they were damming a stream or taking water out of it for the purpose of giving a supply—to riparian owners and manufacturers along the stream for a distance of twenty miles, and a very proper thing too.

You have 464 local authorities in this country who have their own water undertakings. They have expended no less than £98,000,000 of money upon these water undertakings. The Board of Trade does not examine these Provisional Orders with regard to water supply in the same way as the Local Government Board would do. I contend that whether it is to be by Provisional Order or Private Bill, there ought to have been an intimation to the authority that the promoters were going to interfere with their water rights. I put the case even stronger than that. What does this company propose to do. They propose to sink these wells, or at least, as I am given to understand, to expend £40,000 out of £120,000—for what purpose? They propose to sink two extra wells.


The hon. Member must state the facts. There are no additional wells, but there are two additional borings.


I understand that they propose to spend £40,000 in putting down new plant for the purpose of extracting this increased supply. This is my point. They propose to take that water away a distance of fifteen miles. I say that is a very serious matter to the Corporation of Croydon. The company are undertaking to raise no less than £120,000 increased capital. If they are able to pay seven per cent. I should say that they ought to seek a fresh field in order, as has been suggested, to sink their wells in another place so as not to interfere with water which, I contend, the Corporation of Croydon has a prior right to as compared with the East Surrey Water Company, seeing that the corporation sank its wells before them. Although I believe that the Bill ought to go to a Committee upstairs, I think the House should consider the important principle involved in this measure on the question that the Corporation of Croydon was not warned and supplied with information as to what was proposed to be done. They were alarmed at the project the company were undertaking to deprive them of what they considered their legal rights.

Colonel RAWSON

The hon. Member for Croydon has made a very touching appeal on behalf of his friends in that constituency. I am going to make an appeal on behalf of an equally deserving number of people in south-eastern Surrey. I am going to ask the House not to pass the instruction, but to send the Bill to the Committee where evidence will be heard on both sides, where anybody who wishes can come forward to express his views, and where people qualified to hear evidence will give their decision. The hon. Member for Croydon alluded to the fact that Mr. Baldwin Latham was retained by the East Surrey Water Company and was not able to give evidence before the House of Lords Committee. On the 16th of last July the Company intimated to him that he was at liberty to give his evidence on behalf of either side. This is essentially a case which a committee should hear, and Mr. Baldwin Latham is now free to give evidence, and the Committee will be able to test whether he is right or wrong. The principal object of this Order is to enable the Company to increase its supply so as to meet the growing demands of its largely increasing area. The wells which they propose to work are from existing borings and are only 100 yards from the two bore holes from which they draw their supplies at present.

The hon. Member for Croydon said that Mr. Baldwin Latham was prepared to state that the Company had plenty of other sources from which they could obtain the necessary supply. They have not got these fresh sources of supply. Mr. Baldwin Latham has alluded to the green sand. The Borough of Reigate, which is in the area of the East Surrey Company and is supplied by them, used to draw its supplies from the green sand, and these supplies were found to be so short and of such bad quality that the borough of Reigate stopped them, and applied to the Company for a supply instead. On the other hand Croydon has got other sources of supply for which they can obtain any extra amount they desire. The borough of Croydon has an arrangement with the Metropolitan Water Board to supply it with 500,000,000 gallons a year, and has never yet drawn the full amount. It can get more from that supply alone, and if it required more than that it would be able to make some arrangement with the Metropolitan Water Board to increase the amount. But the East Surrey Water Company has no other source from which they can get a supply. The hon. Member who spoke last said that the Company were drawing their supplies from water which belonged to Croydon. In the circular sent out by the Croydon Corporation they say that the water flows from south to north, and the result is it reaches the Company's wells before it reaches those of the Corporation. But surely the House will realise that the water which flows from south to north is flowing from the area which belongs to the East Surrey Water Company.

12.0 M.

It is therefore our water, and we have every right to tap it. Our wells are all in our areas, and our nearest well is nearly two miles away from the nearest well to Croydon. Croydon is not all on chalk, for half of it is on clay, and really it is a most extraordinary claim to make that Croydon alone is entitled to the water which comes from the chalk. The claim of the hon. Member for Croydon that if these fresh sources of supply are taken by the East Surrey Water Company there will not be enough for Croydon, is one which I have not yet seen supported by any evidence, and we do not believe that the statement is true at all. The hon. Member said that we are a private company, and that he thought our claim ought not to come before that of the Croydon Corporation. We are a statutory company under statutory obligation to supply good and pure water, and, as a water authority, we are exactly in the same position as the Croydon Corporation. Besides, it is not only a question of the water company, but our Order which we are promoting is supported by all the local authorities in our district; not a single one of them is opposing us at the present time.

I should also like to remind the House that this question has been first of all subjected to inquiry before a Committee of the House of Commons, and that inquiry lasted three days, and the Order was allowed to go forward. Subsequently it came before a Committee of the House of Lords, who also passed it. Therefore we must have some strong arguments on our side, since both authorities have found in our favour, and it is surely a question which we have the right to ask the House to send to a Select Committee for investigation. There is no new principle involved in this at all. It is simply a question of drawing a little more water than we drew before, and we are on very strong ground indeed in asking the House to allow this question to go before a Select Committee, where it can be thoroughly inquired into, and where it can be settled as it should be settled. I should like to say on behalf of the East Surrey Company that we are prepared to abide by that decision. All we ask for is fair play, and I hope the House will allow it to go to a Committee.


I think that the speeches delivered have made it pretty clear to the House that this Bill ought to go to a Private Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I will give reasons. The hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel), made a very earnest speech in support of the Instruction moved by the hon. Member for Croydon (Mr. Malcolm). That speech made it clear to the House that it is only a body which can hear expert evidence which is entitled to come to a conclusion in the matter, and that the course moved by the hon. Member for Croydon will simply prevent any proper hearing of the case at all. The hon. Member for Croydon naturally, I do not in the least blame him for it, makes a case for the population he represents. I have no doubt any Member in his place would. Let mc explain how the Board of Trade has acted in this matter.

I am sure the House will see that the proper course is to take up the line of action taken by the Department. It is not a question of strife between a corporation and a private company. To put it in that way is quite to obscure the issue. Any prejudice there might be against a private company ought not to be allowed to enter into this question. Suppose the area supplied by the Company were being supplied by a local authority, exactly the same strife would arise between them and Croydon as has now arisen. This strife has arisen between two areas. Both areas need water. Let me remind the hon. Member for Croydon that the East Surrey Company is under statutory obligations to supply its area exactly as Croydon are under statutory obligations to supply their area. It is in face of those facts that the Board of Trade was asked by the Company for authority to raise more capital. Remember that is the point that is involved. The Company have asked for power to raise more capital to set up pumping machinery, not to bore new holes, as the wells are there; nor do they need statutory power to draw more water. The Board of Trade had to decide whether the Company should be allowed to go on with this raising of capital and the further raising of water or not. If the Board of Trade decided against the Company's claim then the Company must stop once and for all. It could get no proper hearing from Parliament. The Board of Trade held a care ful inquiry and decided that although clearly there were good arguments on the Croydon side the Board ought not to take any side in the ease at all. The arguments on the Croydon side were not so strong as against the other as to make it clear the case ought not to go to Parliament. The Board of Trade decided that it could not judge in the matter, and that the only proper authority to decide was the House of Commons sitting in Committee to hear evidence in a systematic manner. Any instruction such as that which is moved will have the effect of preventing that inquiry being held. I am sure the hon. Member for Stockton would really be disposed to allow it to go to a Private Committee, but for the reason that the hon. Member for Croydon had laid stress on the fact that an expert—


I did not mention it.


The hon. Member for Croydon laid stress on the fact that an expert was briefed and so could not give evidence for Croydon before the Committee of the Lords. That embargo ha^ been removed, and that is all the more reason why it should go to a House of Commons Committee where he will be free to speak. The fact that important evidence has not been heard hitherto is surely a reason for not deciding now on this question, and it is surely a reason for letting it go to a Committee which will hear all the evidence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Does that not mean unnecessary expense."] There can be no unnecessary expense, in such a serious issue as this, in sending it to a Committee. It would surely be a very improper thing for this House, which cannot have the evidence before it, to give a decision by way of saving expense. That might lead to very strange results if applied generally. The hon. Member for Stockton said that the promoters had not properly let their purposes been known. The public inquiry let everyone know. All the local authorities involved were aware of the inquiry. The Provisional Order brought it about that the matter should go to Parliament, and there the matter will surely be threshed out if the question is allowed to go to a Committee. The hon. Member says the corporation have a right to be protected. Surely he will not deny that the right to water is a universal right, and that the people within the area of the Surrey Company have a right to be heard. While the Board of Trade declines to give a decision as between the opposing forces, it is only fair to point out, when the Croydon authorities tell the Surrey Company that they must go elsewhere for water, that if they cannot go elsewhere their case is a rather hard one. It has not been shown where else they can go for water.


Is the hon. Gentleman quite sure that it would have been allowable for the opponents of this Order to have set out an alternative scheme for getting water? My impression is that they would not have been allowed to do so.


I do not say that that is so. I am simply dealing with the argument. The Company is under a statutory obligation to supply its customers; the demand for water is increasing; the company wants to pump more; the Croydon authorities fear that their supply will be affected and say that the company ought not to be allowed to pump more. Clearly the claim is an important one. The case of the Wandle is also an important one and ought to be heard before the Committee. The Company has nowhere else to go, whereas the Croydon Corporation actually has a supply from the Metropolitan Water Poard and could get more. Croydon really runs less risk of a water famine, so far as has yet been shown, than the area supplied by the Surrey Company. I do not attempt to give a decision as between the two parties; the Board of Trade considers that it is not competent to do so. May I respectfully suggest that neither is this House as a whole competent to give a decision? The proper authority is a Committee, able to hear the evidence fully, and the right course is to let the Bill go to such a Committee.


I disagree with the observations of the Secretary to the Board of Trade. He has told us that this question is not to be considered from the point of view of a company working for profit, and that we are to consider the case on precisely the same lines as if two local authorities were concerned. I wholly disagree, for this reason. The East Surrey Water Company has an area of 150 square miles over which it supplies water. It is incorrect to? say that there is no obligation to increase that area. Under the Order they are taking powers to provide water in at least two new parishes. You have, therefore, on the one hand the Croydon Corporation with its immense population of 175,000 persons. You have on the other hand a company working for profit, seeking to extend a most profitable operation. It did this so long as it could without coming to Parliament. It has so-far under this legal right successfully threatened the supply of Croydon. We are asked to give Parliamentary sanction to an increased take. It is quite incorrect to suggest, as has been suggested, that Croydon has not suffered in the past. It is stated—and not denied—that on several occasions, owing to the pumping operations of the East Surrey Water Company, the pumps of the Croydon Corporationwere unable to reach water in the wells. That is a very serious point. The East Surrey Water Company are asking to-take 4,000,000 gallons a day—on an average.

The House will appreciate the point that it makes a difference whether the water is taken away in the winter or the summer. The difference is obvious if you take eight, ten, or 12,000,000 gallons in the summer season, and very little in the winter! It is our first duty to the ratepayers, the increase in whose rates we arcs ever deploring—.yet doing nothing for them!—to take this opportunity to say that in so far as it lies with us we will see to it that the threatened short water supply for an increasing population shall not be allowed. It is quite true that it is said: Let the Bill go to Committee. I agree in an -ordinary course that it is very desirable. But the law as it stands at present is that you are entitled to the protection of two Committees—a Committee of the House of Lords, and a Committee of this House. I have read the case of the other side, and it is not denied that the Croydon Corporation have by astuteness been -deprived of a hearing in the first House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes. I say- it, and say it advisedly. I will tell you why I say it. Mr. Baldwin Latham, the great expert in the water of the district, was retained by the East Surrey Water Company, and appointed for them at the inquiry before the House of Lords. What happened? I do not say Counsel were wrong in what they did, but I ask myself who was responsible for the keeping out of evidence necessary to make clear the case for Croydon? In this case the company induced the House of Lords to give a decision without a proper hearing and without proper evidence. They have now stated that they released this gentleman from his retainer, and that it is open to the Corporation to call him. That undertaking was given on the 16th of July, while the hearing before the House of Lords Committee was on the 6th July. They did this when the Croydon Corporation took the step of asking their member to block this Bill. In order that it might be safeguarded they promptly released Mr. Baldwin Latham from his retainer. I submit the conduct of the East Surrey Water Company has been shabby and improper; they ought to have allowed it to go forward in a straightforward manner. I do trust the House will accept this Instruction, and thus mark its opinion of the conduct of this company in regard to the way it conducted these proceedings.


I wish to say a few words on this question, and I do so because the mover of this Instruction raised a point of principle and asked the House to deal with this matter on a point of principle. I think the principle my hon. Friend raises is an extremely dangerous one. On the details of the Bill I have nothing to say except to draw the attention of those Members who have not read the Bill to the fact that Clause 13 of the Bill actually prohibits the East Surrey Water Company from making any new works at all without the sanction of Parliament. They are only allowed to draw more water from their existing wells, and if it happened that their existing plant was capable of raising that additional water from their existing wells they would not have to come to Parliament at all. But on the point of principle, which I consider much more important, if the House is misled to-night in setting up this point of principle we shall find ourselves in this position: that in the case of a town that draws its water supply from some distant valley—some great Midland town, for instance, drawing its supply from a watershed in Wales—the town would be able to say to the people in the area of that watershed "you shall not have water because some day our growing population may require what you want." That would be a very dangerous principle, and for that reason I hope this Instruction will be rejected and the Bill sent upstairs.

I should like also to protest against the way in which the opponents of this Bill— the Croydon Corporation—have conducted their campaign against it. I think this increasing practice amongst authorities is a matter for general regret. They have some case which they wish to present to the House of Commons, and they circulate an ex parte statement usually, as in this case, grossly inaccurate, to all the local authorities of a similar nature, whether municipalities or district councils, and they ask them on the strength of that ex parte statement to put pressure upon their members of Parliament. That was done in this case with the result that local authorities all over the country, without any knowledge of the facts, have written communications to their members of Parliament asking them to support the opposition to the East Surrey Water Bill, which I am quite certain the bulk of these members if they studied the question themselves would not have done. I think that is a practice which ought to be discouraged very strongly, and for these reasons I hope the instruction will be rejected.


I wish to answer the contention put forward by the hon. Member who has just sat down in his attack upon corporations generally. The Croydon Corporation is being attacked, and any other hon Member may find his own corporation in the future attacked in the same way. Does the hon. Member mean to suggest that any corporation would send out a whip without having satisfied themselves as to its fairness? I want to bring the House of Commons back to the facts. The Croydon Corporation has spent over £500,000 in sinking wells, and they are under a statutory obligation to supply water to a population of over 170,000. They had an intermittent supply before 1898, before the East Surrey Water Company sunk their wells, and since that time in 1902.


Has there been any shortage since?


I know the Kenley well was originally constructed by a limited company, and after that another well was sunk at Purley. This is the first occasion on which the Croydon Corporation have had an opportunity of coming to Parliament to state their case. The matter has been threshed out before the Lords Committee, and it was admitted that this was a grievance. The Corporation petitioned against the Bill in the House of Lords, and the following decision was given:— With regard to the supply of water, we are of opinion that the very large increase asked for by the promoters will probably have some effect upon neighbouring wells and the resources of the river Wandle. And consequently the Lords inserted an undertaking that the undertakers shall be restricted at Purley and Kenley to a total-quantity not exceeding 4,000,000 gallons per day of twenty-four hours. The Croydon Corporation consider that that is no protection whatsoever to them. If on this occasion we can prevent the Bill from going upstairs we shall be saving the ratepayers money. This question has been before the House of Lords Committee, and all the facts have been placed before that Committee. The £40,000 which the East Surrey Water Company propose to spend is for additional pumping machinery which must have the effect of withdrawing some of the sources of supply now enjoyed by the Croydon Corporation as a result of the expenditure of the ratepayers' money. The Croydon Corporation ask that this part of the Bill shall not be allowed to go upstairs, and that this House shall take the responsibility of saying that the Croydon Corporation having come here on the first opportunity they had of stating their case shall not be penalised by the action of this private company.


Though we have heard a great deal of the population of Croydon, the population of the area the East Surrey Water Company has to supply is already 90,000. Those people are scattered about over a very large area, and they have no other means of getting; water than this additional supply. The hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Jonathan Samuel) made one remark to which I want to refer, and he got nearer to a question of principle than any hon. Member speaking on the other side. He says it is a very serious matter that this Company should propose to take an additional supply of water so great a distance as fifteen miles. If that is the real question: of principle to be considered I ask the House why the two sides in this dispute should not have the opportunity of stating their case upstairs. If that is the-only principle with which we have to deal where does it lead to? It practically means that every population living on a non-water-bearing area is either to be deprived of water altogether or else the population on that area is to be strictly limited and not allowed to increase at all. If that is the only principle on which hon. Members oppose this Bill going upstairs, so far as the East Surrey Water Company is concerned, I think their case can be considered to be amply answered.

Mr. DENMAN rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Debate continued.


I will only ask the House to-consider this one point, which is the only point that ought to be brought into this, matter.


I do not want to interfere in the quarrel between these two companies, or to reflect on the principles governing their Parliamentary actions, but I want to call attention in a few words to the river Wandle, which draws its water from that part of the watershed these companies are quarrelling about. It is a river which is probably worked as hard for power as any river of its length in England. It passes for some miles of its length through the County of London, and through the populous Borough of Wandsworth, and if the river is depleted by the action of either of these companies a very serious danger may arise to the health of the people living on the banks of that river and to the businesses of the very large number of concerns which use this water for power purposes. I merely make these few remarks in order that, as I sincerely hope, those who use the water of this river for power, and the million or more people who live in its neighbourhood within the County of London, may have their rights safeguarded.


I am very sorry to keep the House, but I have been asked by the Borough of Wimbledon, through whose district the Wandle flows for many miles, and I myself reside in Wimbledon, to put their case very shortly: it is this: they think the maximum amount of water is taken from the sources of the Wandle, and that these sources should not be tapped any further, because of the beauty of the stream, the use to which it is put, and the health of the people. It has always been a most beautiful stream as hon. Members will see from the photographs of it. It used to be a fishing stream in days gone by. The Borough of Wimbledon and others round there have bought a large portion of the banks of the river and turned it into a park for the use of the public for ever. If, however, the proposal now before the House is carried into effect, all this expenditure will have been useless as the park will not be enjoyed because the stream will not be sufficiently healthy.


I have been asked by those whom I represent to say something on this question. The interest of Hertfordshire on all questions of underground water is very acute. Though much might be said on this subject, I do not propose to detain the House at this hour with but a very few words. I begin by saying that this is a Bill which must be discussed upstairs. I do not agree with those who say the Croydon case is not

worthy of very serious consideration. The truth is that when you come to pump water out of these deep chalk wells you never know what injury you are going to do. That is the real question which Parliament some day or other will have to face, and face very seriously. I know that every hon. Member, and particularly those with experience of this subject, will agree with me when I say that.

Take this case. Here you have a company which, without any information to the public, and to those who might be injured, bought land and began to sink wells on the very border of London. That is a very deplorable state of things, and leads one to think whether some change ought not to be made in the law. Here it so happens that they have to come for further money. That is the only time Parliament has had an opportunity of reviewing the question. Under those circumstances, although I think the matter is one for the review of the Committee, I do trust that that Committee will consider very deeply whether it is really right that these great supplies of water should continue to be drawn from underground sources and not from the streams, which by modern science could be amply clarified for domestic use. It is in order to emphasise that point of view that I have ventured to trouble the House with these few observations.

Question put, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to delete the Order relating to East Surrey Water."

The House divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 110.

Division No. 257.] AYES. [12.40 a.m.
Adamson, William Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Rolleston, Sir J.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Hudson, Walter Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Jowett, Frederick William Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Bowerman, C. W. Lamb, Ernest Henry Spear, Sir John Ward
Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Lyttelton, Hon. J. c. (Droitwich) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Sutton, John E.
Chambers, James M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Mallaby-Deeley, Harry Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Moore, William
Fell, Arthur Morison, Hector TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Malcolm and Mr. Jonathan Samuel.
Greene, Walter Raymond O'Grady, James
Higham, John Sharp Parker, James (Halifax)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Booth, Frederick Handel Bryce, J. Annan
Baird, J. L. Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)
Balcarres, Lord Boyton, James Campion, W. R.
Baldwin, Stanley Brassey, H, Leonard Campbell Cautley, Henry Strother
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Bridgeman, William Clive Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)
Barnes, G. N. Brunner, John F. L. Cecil, Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. John, Edward Thomas O'Dowd, John
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Clough, William Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Peto, Basil Edward
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Joyce, Michael Pollard, Sir George H.
Crumley, Patrick Keating, Matthew Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Cullinan, John Kelly, Edward Pringle, William M. R.
Dawes, James Arthur Kilbride, Denis Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas King, Joseph Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Doris, William Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Reddy, Michael
Doughty, Sir George Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Duffy, William Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th) Remnant, James Farquharson
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Lewis, John Herbert Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Salter, Clavell
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Sanders, Robert Arthur
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.J Maclean, Donald Sheehy, David
Essex, Richard Walter Macmaster, Donald Smyth, Thomas F.
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton H. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sutherland, John E.
Fitzgibbon, John McGhee, Richard Thynne, Lord Alexander
Flavin, Michael Joseph Marks, Sir George Croydon Touche, George Alexander
Gill, Alfred Henry Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Goldsmith, Frank Mooney, John J. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Gretton, John Muldoon, John Watt, Henry A.
Gulland, John William Munro, Robert Webb, H.
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Needham, Christopher T. Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Hackett, John Neville, Reginald J. N. Wilkie, Alexander
Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Nolan, Joseph Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Colonel Rawson and Mr. Courthope.
Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) O'Doherty, Philip
Illingworth, Percy H. O'Donnell, Thomas

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move "That it be an Instruction to the Committee to insert provisions in the Bill prohibiting the East Surrey Water Company from extending their pumping stations, wells, adits, machinery, and other works for obtaining water at Purley and Kenley and from constructing new works in connection therewith, which would in any way detrimentally affect the Croydon Corporation's existing wells and works in that district."

I do not want to detain the House at this late hour, and I do not suggest repeating the arguments which have already been placed before hon. Members by those who supported the first Instruction. I think the division just taken showed clearly that it is the opinion of the House that the Bill should go to a Committee upstairs, and I do not wish to contest that point. Still, I think that a strong, almost an unanswerable, case has been made out in support of the contention that the Corporation of Croydon ought to receive full protection in regard to this matter. I do not, as I have said, suggest repeating the arguments already used, but I ask the House to recognise the strength of those arguments by adopting the Instruction I am now moving, which would ensure the Committee taking steps to save the existing wells and works of the Croydon Corporation from being detrimentally affected.


I beg to second the Motion.


I submit to the House that my hon. Friend practically attempts through his Instruction to raise again the question we have already decided, although it is put before us in different terms. The House has decided that it will be better to allow the case to go before a Committee upstairs. It is evident from the figures in the division that the House is quite satisfied there ought to be no prejudging of the case, and that the Bill should go unhampered to the Committee. In these circumstances I can only express the hope that my hon. Friend will not press his Instruction, but will allow the whole matter to be dealt with upstairs.

Question put and negatived.

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

Adjourned accordingly fit Twelve minutes before One a.m., Friday, 18th October. 1912.