§ Any land which, or an interest in which, has been acquired under this Act may be used by any Government Department for the purpose for which it was used during the War or for any other purpose for which it could have been used had the land been acquired under the Defence Acts, 1842 to 1873, or the Military Lands Acts, 1892 to 1903, notwithstanding that such user could, but for this provision, have been restrained as being in contravention of any covenant or for any other reason, and no person interested in any adjoining or neighbouring land shall be entitled to restrain such user; but if, apart from this provision, he would have been entitled to restrain such user he shall, if application for the purpose is made within three years after the date of the acquisition of the land under this Act or after the commencement of the user causing the depreciation, whichever may be the later, be entitled to such compensation as the Commission may think just:
§ Provided that—
- (a) no compensation other than compensation in respect to a breach of a restrictive covenant shall be payable if the land is used by a Govern-
1184 ment Department for a purpose for which it could have been used had the land been ancquired under the Defence Acts, 1842 to 1873, or the Military Lands Acts, 1892 to 1903; and
- (b) where the compensation would be payable by a Government Department, the Department may require the claimant to sell the land or his interest therein at such a price as would have been proper if the value of the land had not been so depreciated, such price in default of agreement to be determined by the Commission; and
- (c) nothing in this Section shall be construed as depriving any person of any right to recover damages in respect of any injury to property caused by accident due to such user as aforesaid; and
- (d) nothing in this Section shall affect the liability of any person in respect of any contravention of the Alkali, etc., Works Regulation Act, 1906, or the Rivers Pollution Acts, 1876 and 1893, or of any local Act dealing with the like matters, or affect the powers conferred by any Act, whether public, general, or local, on any local authority, board of conservancy, or other public authority, with respect to the prevention of the pollution of rivers, or the abatement of nuisances caused by the emission of smoke or other noxious fumes.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I rise to move to leave out paragraph (b).
These Sub-sections deal with the question of compensation. They say that compensation shall be paid in certain circumstances, and then Subsection (b) goes on to say that where the compensation will be payable by a Government Department, the Department may require the claimant to sell the land or his interest therein at such price as would have been proper if the value of the land had not been so depreciated. We had some Debate upon this in the Committee stage, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for one of the Divisions of Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) said:The Government, by this innocent looking paragraph, are getting practically compulsory purchase without any of the usual safeguards by which compulsory purchase is surrounded. There is a good deal in it that will require looking into at a later stage.1185 And then the right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor-General said:We will consider what has been said and see if anything can be doneWe have, as the House knows, a fairly long period in which these rights can be exercised. Compensation will be payable, I presume, during the seven years after the expiration of the War. Where a person has had some land taken which has been damaged, the State can come forward and say, "We are not prepared to pay you compensation, but we will take your land, not at the value that it has at the present moment, but at the value it would have been at if the damage had not occurred." That seems, on the face of it, fair. But let me point this out. Suppose that land has appreciated in value—I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman for the Hallam Division has come in—I may tell him I have been quoting some remarks which he made in Committee on this Bill, remarks which drew from the Solicitor-General an undertaking to look into the question under discussion. I am afraid that looking into it has not resulted in anything effective being done.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Yes, it has. If the right hon. Member will look at a later Amendment in my name he will see that.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If that is so, I need not pursue the matter. But I certainly did not understand at the interview we had yesterday that it was so. It is rather an awkward position for me now. If I sit down and then find I am not satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, I cannot get up again. However, I will move my Amendment and hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I did promise to consider the argument, and I did consider it, and if the right hon. Baronet will read my Amendment which stands next on the Paper he will find I propose to insert these words, "in like manner as if the land had been acquired under Section 3 of this Act." I think that meets the point raised by the right hon. Baronet. He said that this provision was not subject to the safeguards of Section 3, and we propose to make it exactly like purchase under that Section.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
There is another point I should like to raise. Assuming the compensation has been ascertained in respect of any particular land, and the Government think the amount awarded is too high, can they then resort to proceed- 1186 ings under Section 3 of this Act and elect to take the land. I suggest that it would be a very unfair power to give them if, after the land has been damaged, compensation had been applied for and an award had been made by the arbitrator, the Government were to have the right to say that they will exercise their compulsory powers of purchase. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman can put in words which will prevent that, I shall be content.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It is certainly not the intention of the Government that that power shall exist, and I think that is made clear by the next Amendment which I shall move. I have looked into this matter very carefully.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not think the Solicitor-General has dealt with the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend, who thinks that this Section gives powers which the Government ought not to have.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I beg to move, in Subsection (b), to leave out the words "the compensation would be payable by a Government Department," and to insert instead thereof the words "such compensation is claimed in respect of any land."
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I really do not follow what the right hon. and learned Gentleman means by this Amendment, and he has not attempted to explain it to us. It certainly does not meet the point I was putting a moment or two ago. Assume there is a claim in respect of land, and the arbitrator has found that the claim is a good one and has awarded so many hundred pounds. After that, are the Government to come along and claim the right to exercise their powers under the Section, and to require the tenant to sell his interest in the land? I want to have it made perfectly plain that they have not the power to do that, but that they must make their election before any proceedings are taken in respect of the claim for damage.
§ Sir G. CAVE
That is our intention. I think the Government must elect, as soon as the claim is made and before the compensation is ascertained, whether or not they will exercise their compulsory powers. If my hon. and learned Friend can suggest any words which will make 1187 that more clear, I will certainly consider them, but, as I have said, that certainly is our intention.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
It could easily be done by putting in words to the effect that where such compensation is claimed, the Department must, before any proceedings are taken in respect of the compensation, elect whether they will require the claimant to sell his interest.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Proposed words there inserted.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I beg to move in paragraph (b) to leave out the words "By the Commission," and to insert instead thereof the words "In like manner as if the land had been acquired under Section three of this Act."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether this Amendment adequately meets my point. I do not wish to give the Government further powers to acquire land compulsorily. I read the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement that he was prepared to consider the question, and I understood him to say that he had Amendments down to deal with it. This Amendment does not deal with it at all. It only says that the price shall be considered in exactly the same way as when land is acquired under Clause 3. That does not meet my point. I am not concerned with what the price is going to be, but with the apparent determination of the Government to obtain powers to acquire land compulsorily in all sorts of ways. I do not think the Government ought to have power to claim that they can buy land instead of paying the compensation which is due to the owner of the land. The right hon. Gentleman has really misled us, I am sure quite unintentionally. I should not have abandoned my intervention if I had understood this was all that he was going to give us.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I believe that the only criticism which I undertook to consider and deal with was that made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), which was to the effect that the machinery for obtaining compensation which did apply in Clause 3 did not apply under this paragraph. I undertook to consider that point. I have considered it 1188 and met it. I never undertook to consider the view of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that the whole paragraph should go out.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I have an Amendment down in the same place, but I understand that an arrangement was made earlier in the evening that the point which I want to raise should be raised on Clause 8. The point I want to discuss is not identical with that which the Solicitor-General has endeavoured to meet by this Amendment. I want to substitute the procedure of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts for the procedure proposed in this Bill, that is to say, I propose that the Railway and Canal Commission should not be the judges in these cases of compensation where the land is acquired absolutely by a Government Department. I am not sure whether I shall be shut out or whether I shall be able to raise that point, because I am not sure whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment precludes me from discussing the point on Clause 8. I am quite content to discuss it on Clause 8 if I can do so. If not, the point is of such great importance that I should have to take the opportunity of raising it at this juncture.
I do not think that this Amendment would rule that out at all. An hon. Member has handed in an Amendment to leave out Clause 8, no doubt for the same purpose of raising the point there.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (d), and to insert instead thereof the following new paragraph:
"(d) nothing in this Section shall authorise the pollution of, or abstraction of water from, any river or stream in any case where the Local Government Board on the application of the local authority of any district or of any board of conservators or other similar public authority constituted under any Act and having powers with respect to the pollution of rivers determines that such pollution or abstraction would affect the flow or purity of such river or stream to such extent as to prejudice the health of or the supply of water to the inhabitants of the district."
I should like to say a few words upon this Amendment. The reason why we 1189 propose to omit paragraph (d) in the Bill is that having regard to the changes made in Committee it is no longer necessary. In Committee the whole Clause was so altered that it only gives powers to the Crown and not to private individuals, and the Statutes mentioned do not bind the Crown. Therefore the paragraph has no application. In its place we propose to put in this new paragraph (d) which I have moved. It meets the criticism made in Committee with regard to rivers and streams and goes beyond the proviso in the Bill. It gives the right to make a claim wherever the extraction of water from or pollution of any river or stream may affect the supply of water to a district or the health of its inhabitants.
§ Sir EDWIN CORNWALL
I am very sorry the Solicitor-General has proposed this new paragraph in the place of the one that was put in the Bill in Committee. When the Bill was introduced it contained no provision of this kind. During the discussion in Committee, I raised the question as to the position of the Metropolitan Water Board. The Solicitor-General was good enough to say that in Amendments he proposed to move subsequently in Committee, he would protect the public Authorities, and that if the public authorities were not protected he would look into the matter and see that they were. Later on in Committee, the Solicitor-General brought up his Amendments and amongst them were those to safeguard the local authorities, including the saving Clause which now appears in the Bill as paragraph (d). That was put into the Bill by the Solicitor-General, as the result of a discussion, and in order to satisfy authorities like the Metropolitan Water Board. If hon. Members will look at the paragraph in the Bill they will see that it says:—
"Nothing in this Section shall affect the liability of any person in respect of any contravention of the Alkali, etc., Works Regulation Act, 1906, or the Rivers Pollution Acts, 1876 and 1893, or of any local Act dealing with the like matters, or affect the powers conferred by any Act, whether public, general, or local, on any local authority, board of conservancy, or other public authority, with respect to the prevention of the pollution of rivers, or the abatement of nuisances caused by the emission of smoke or other noxious fumes."
That protected a body like the Metropolitan Water Board. I gave an illustration 1190 in Committee of a large area of land which was taken by a Government Department, upon which temporary buildings were put up which were not in accordance with the sanitary regulations. The Metropolitan Water Board 'made no complaint about that, but when the War is over it is very important that they, as an authority taking their supply of water from the Rivers Thames and Lea, should be able to enforce to the utmost all obligations with regard to the prevention of the pollution of rivers. Having got that put into the Bill we were satisfied. Now the Solicitor-General comes along and proposes to delete the paragraph which satisfied the Metropolitan Water Board, and to insert this new paragraph, which says:
"Nothing in this Section should authorise the pollution of, or abstraction of water from, any river or stream in any case where the Local Government Board on the application of the local authority of any district or of any board of conservators or other similar public authority constituted under any Act and having powers with respect to the pollution of rivers determines that such pollution or abstraction would affect the flow or purity of such rivers or stream to such extent as to prejudice the health of or the supply of water to the inhabitants of the district."
That is cutting across very important Acts of Parliament. The Metropolitan Water Board is involved to the extent of £50,000,000 in purchasing the water undertakings of London. It contributes. £50,000 a year, or 80 per cent. of the whole of the income of the Thames Conservancy, and its position with regard to the pollution of the Rivers Thames and Lea is of the utmost importance to the public. It has statutory rights. Why should one Government Department go to another Government Department, and if that Government Department determines that the Rivers Pollution Acts are not prejudicially affected or that the powers of the Metropolitan Water Board are not affected, then nothing in this Bill shall apply? What we desire is that nothing in this Bill shall interfere with the Acts of Parliament which exist for the protection of the water companies and the public. The Solicitor-General said that it only affected a Government Department. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the technicalities of the law to understand the full meaning of that, but I think it would 1191 be advisable for the Government not to take out a paragraph which they gave us in Committee and put in this new paragraph.
Earlier in the Debate this evening the Solicitor-General, I thought very wisely and very much to the satisfaction of the House, accepted an Amendment that the local authorities should be inserted in place of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, thereby providing that it should not be one Government Department going to another, which would mean, when the War is over and we are busy with other things, that a clerk in one Department will communicate with a clerk in another Department and that the public will not know what is happening. We got rid of that difficulty with regard to one part of the Bill. Do not let us set it up in this part of the Bill. The Local Government Board have quite enough to do without in future having to determine whether anything is happening with regard to the pollution or prejudicial abstraction of water. I therefore ask the Solicitor-General to leave the paragraph as it stands in the Bill. Great uneasiness would be created in the minds of those responsible for the water supply of London if the new paragraph is put in. They will not know where they are. They do know where they are now, because they have Acts of Parliament. The Thames Conserancy have their Acts of Parliament, the Rivers Pollution Acts, and all the other Acts safeguarding water supplies and streams and the water undertakings of London and other parts of the country. Do not let us in this Bill, which is brought in to make it easy for the Government to deal with land which they have taken over for munitions and other purposes, complicate the matter and make it difficult for these undertakings to carry out their Acts of Parliament. On these grounds I ask the Government not to persist in this Amendment.
§ Mr. SHERWELL
My hon. Friend has put up a very strong case on definite grounds against the substitution of this proposed new paragraph for that which appears in the Bill. There is another interest very vitally affected by this proposed substitution to which neither he nor the Solicitor-General referred. When the Bill was first introduced there was no protection for the owners of riparian rights, and especially for manufacturers engaged in great industries, requiring water power. 1192 Under the pressure of various suggestions made in Committee, the Solicitor-General introduced the paragraph which now appears in the Bill, and which, although it did not go so far as some of us thought it might go in the direction of safeguarding the perfectly legitimate industrial interests of manufacturers, met us so far as manufacturers' interests in the pollution of rivers was concerned. In the proposed substituted paragraph the manufacturer is left once more clean outside the scope of the protection scheme of this Bill, so that in that very important correction the Solicitor-General has distinctly departed from the concession which he had made in response to the discussion in Committee, and which partially met what I am inclined to think is a very urgent case indeed. The Solicitor-General has been accustomed in previous discussions to say that the protection which was aimed at in the various Clauses of the Bill was designed to secure the rights of private individuals and not of traders. I think he will not be inclined to-day, on reflection, to press the reply that the rights of great manufacturers using the water power of rivers really represent private interests at all. There are cases which will occur to every Member of the House of industries so located that the whole social and economic interests of particular districts depend upon the prosperity and continuance of those particular mills. Suppose a mill to be closed. Suppose the machinery suffers irreparable injury, or the continuance of the trade is made impossible by the effect of pernicious acids, or the pollution of the river, on that machinery. The Solicitor-General will suggest, possibly, that without the provisions of the Bill that manufacturer receives compensation, but the manufacturer himself is not the only interest that is imperilled in this case. There are the interests of the workpeople and of the local shopkeepers, and there are the whole economic and social interests of the particular community whose whole life may centre upon a particular mill industry in a given district, and I would suggest to the Solicitor-General that he should not depart from the Sub-section of the Bill, as it stands after deliberate consideration by the Committee—and there were few paragraphs which received more deliberation than this—and I earnestly join with my hon. Friend in begging the Solicitor-General to let the Clause stand as it is, subject to any further Amendment by way 1193 of extension which may shortly be proposed, but not to press his substituted paragraph for that which already appears in the Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I sincerely trust that my right hon. Friend will accede to the request of the two hon. Members who have spoken. There is no question that is more complicated or more important than that of water rights. It is proposed to leave out this paragraph, which was discussed at great length in Committee, and very seriously and earnestly discussed. It enacts that there is to be no contravention of various Acts of Parliament which have been passed for the purpose of protecting the general rights of people in the interests of the water supply of this country. These Acts are all to be swept aside and in their place is to be substituted the Local Government Board. I have always protested, and as long as I am a Member of this House I shall protest, against attempts by one Department of the Government to say that our procedure is to be regulated not by an Act of Parliament, not by a judge of the High Court, but by another Government Department. When I have said that, it has very often been said that the Local Government Board, or whatever the Department is, is very particular. It may be, but one Department is not the proper judge of the conduct of another Department, and certainly not the proper judge when the act of the Department will overrule many Acts of Parliament which have been passed after very great consideration by this House. It was brought to my notice late last night that the effect of this Clause might be to allow acids to pass down the river and to injure the machinery of mills which were giving employment to large numbers of people. I have in my mind other cases more intimately connected with rural districts, where water is used for turning flour mills, watering cattle, watering villages, and for other purposes, and all the protection which the combined wisdom of this House over many years has put into Acts of Parliament is to be swept aside and the Local Government Board is to be substituted. Then the Local Government Board can only be moved by a local authority. In a rural district the local authority, I suppose, will be the rural district council. I am not saying a word against these bodies, but they are prejudiced, like a great many other people 1194 are—I am prejudiced myself—and under this Clause a person aggrieved could not go and put his ease before the Local Government Board, but must go to the local authority and induce it to move on his behalf. I do not think it is always certain that the local authority would move. Under these circumstances, I hope my right hon. Friend will leave the Clause as it stands; otherwise I should certainly be prepared to go to a Division.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I am appealed to by Members on both sides to withdraw the Amendment on the ground that the paragraph in the Bill was accepted in Committee after discussion. Of course, I feel the weight of that, but I thought—and, to be quite frank, I think still—that this Amendment takes nothing away and gives new protection which will not be found in the Statute. However, hon. Members do not agree with me, and therefore I will ask leave to withdraw.
§ Mr. BRUNNER
I think I gathered from what the right hon. Gentleman said in his previous remarks that the Acts mentioned in the Bill—the Alkali Works Regulation Act and the Rivers Pollution Act—did not run against the Crown. If that is the fact, the Clause as it stands is really no protection whatever, so that it seems to me that my two hon. Friends have rather been giving the case away in not accepting the Amendment which the Solicitor-General suggested. If that is the fact, paragraph (d) as it stands in the Bill is of no effect.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
When the Solicitor-General made that statement I noticed it very strongly, but if it is correct it seemed to me to apply equally to the paragraph and to the Amendment. There is no mention of the Crown in the Amendment.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
If the whole Section applies to the Crown, why does not paragraph (d) apply to the Crown? Surely words ought to be put in there. We are not trying to get an advantage over each other one way or the other. The Government have come to the conclusion that paragraph (d) had better stand part of the Bill; but the Solicitor-General has pointed out that you do not get the full benefit which all the House, including myself, thought you would get from paragraph (d), because the Crown is not mentioned. Surely the Government ought to 1195 put words into paragraph (d) which would in some form or another make it apply to the Crown, because the Crown is the only person who can be touched by this Clause at all. The position is that the Crown will have possession of certain lands. By leaving in paragraph (d) the Government say they intend it to apply to these lands. If it does not apply to the Crown at all, it is playing with the House to leave it in.
§ Question, "That paragraph (d) stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the words "nor shall anything in this Section authorise any interference with or infringement of the rights of any riparian owner or prejudice or affect any such rights."
I move this Amendment in order to give my right hon. Friend an opportunity of replying to the statement of my hon. and learned Friend. If the Clause is valueless and does not apply to the Crown, we should perhaps put in some words which would make it apply to the Crown. The whole Act deals with the Crown. We surely do not intend to put in things under the impression that they are safeguarding certain interests which we think ought to be safeguarded, and then when the Bill becomes an Act to be met with the statement, "You put that in, but it is no nse and it is not valid, because it does not apply to the Crown." If my right hon. Friend cannot give any satisfactory answer, it will be open to us to move to add the words "This Section shall apply to the Crown."
§ Sir C. WARNER
We want this definitely settled. I feel confident that the House does not mean the Crown to be exempted, and I beg to move to add to the Amendment the words "The whole of this Section shall apply to the Crown." I do not know whether that is in order, but I think it is necessary that this should apply to the Crown. It is not meant that it shall be evaded and that we shall be told it does not apply to the Crown.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Has the hon. Member the Crown's Assent? You cannot make Acts of Parliament applicable to the Crown without the Crown having placed its interest at the disposal of Parliament.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I had better deal first with the Amendment. I cannot accept 1196 the Amendment as it stands because it puts the owner of water rights in a different position from that of the owner of land. I have always taken the view that in the case where the interests of the individual and the interests of the public clash the individual must give way, subject to proper compensation. It is on those lines that the whole Bill is drawn, and I think that the riparian owner, like any other private owner, ought to give way to the public needs. If any hon. Member can show me that the Bill does not provide for that proper compensation, I shall be very glad to consider that. Subject to that qualification, I do not think it would be right to. give the riparian owner all these private rights, which would put him in a position to say, "The State shall not do what it wishes because it is taking my water." Our answer is, "We will pay for your water, and on that condition we will take it." I cannot, therefore, accept the Amendment. In regard to the other point, I want to remind the House of what has happened. I said to the House perfectly frankly that in my opinion paragraph (d) as it stood was not of much value, and I proposed to put in its place something that I thought was better. Hon. Members seemed to imagine that I was breaking an arrangement made in Committee. I could not have that said, and I stated at once that I would withdraw my Amendment. That was done, and I do not think it is right to say now that I am going to slip out of something. I cannot consent here or elsewhere that the Crown should be bound by all these Statutes. I cannot give that consent. I have not the authority to do so. Therefore, I suggest that the House must take the Bill in these respects as it stands. I do not want to be unfair, and if any of my hon. Friends can show me, when this Bill is through the House, that there is something in regard to which it ought to be altered, we will deal with it. I do not think after what has happened to-day that we ought to be asked to go beyond what we have already done.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I understand that this affects the riparian owner who has private rights. In giving compensation, would the value, say, of salmon fishing be taken into consideration?
§ Mr. SHERWELL
I am sure hon. Members are convinced that the Solicitor- 1197 General has acted with perfect good faith towards the House, but I would point out to him, in qualification of what we have said, that there is one aspect of the question which was to have been considered by him between the Committee stage and the Report stage to which no reference has been made this afternoon. The case we are putting up is not for the riparian owner as a private individual whose interests centre in himself and might be equitably disposed of by financial compensation. I referred a moment ago to the case of a manufacturer upon whose industry the economic and social life of a complete community may depend, and the Solicitor-General has not dealt with that case. It will be obvious to the House that a manufacturer or a group of manufacturers responsible for the social and economic life of the district are not pressing a private and individual interest when in a matter of this kind they ask for the preservation or protection of their riparian rights. So far as the Sub-section stands it does give what we have considered, hitherto, a measure of protection to the owner of the riparian rights so far as the pollution of a river is concerned, but there is no sort of protection given for the abstraction or diversion of water power. I would ask the Solicitor-General what is to happen to a manufacturer or a group of manufacturers under such conditions? It is true that if the water supply be entirely diverted or abstracted they may receive compensation, and in some cases where favourable conditions obtain they may be able out of the compensation so derived to use alternative motor power—electric power; but there are, obviously, cases in districts where an alternative power would not be available, because the water supply would not be available for the generation of the electric power. This matter was raised in Committee, and the Solicitor-General undertook to consider it before the Report stage, when he would as far as possible try to include in the protection given under this Bill not merely protection against pollution of the river, but against the possible diversion or abstraction of water-power from a particular mill. This is an extremely important matter. It is not a private or individual matter, but a matter which may vitally affect the whole economic interests of a particular locality.
§ Mr. CURRIE
I would like to put the matter to the Solicitor-General from another point of view. There is a body 1198 like the Edinburgh District Water Trust, which has no private interest to serve, such as a private landowner, but has only its duty to perform towards its constituent ratepayers. They took exception to the original proposal and asked me to support the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet. This is not a case of a private landlord or private riparian owner of any kind. There are public water trusts in the country which have acquired property and have rights of that kind, and some of them regard the Clause with a good deal of suspicion.
§ Mr. BRUNNER
I would like to point out to the Solicitor-General that the probable reason why none of these Acts of Parliament have applied to the Crown hitherto is that the Crown has not gone into manufacture on a large scale. They are now manufacturing on a large scale and polluting streams, and that cannot be allowed to go on. We must stop the Government from doing that as well as anybody else. It is the Government's business to set an example. I think the Solicitor-General ought to consider later on whether he cannot put in some sort of words to absolutely safeguard us against any damage to the public through factories under the Munitions Department.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Surely this Amendment would carry out what the hon. Member wishes. I quite understand what the Solicitor-General has said that the whole of this Section 4 applies to the Crown, except those Statutes which we cannot expect him at short notice and with all their intricacies to apply to the Crown, even if we got their consent. This Amendment does carry out what is required, because it says.nor shall anything in this Section authorise any interference with or infringement of the rights of any riparian owner.That would carry out what is required.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I support the Amendment, because it would carry out what is required. It is obvious that if the Government, in the emergency of the War, are running a manufactory or anything of that sort, and are polluting streams, that they ought to be stopped. It is not a question of compensation or anything of that kind; they ought to be stopped. Anybody else can be stopped 1199 under these Acts of Parliament. We are giving the Government new power to occupy this land, which they would not have unless we passed this Act of Parliament. We are giving the Government power to buy this land, which they would not have if it were not for this Act of Parliament. Surely we ought to add to those powers which we are giving to the Government the restriction that nothing that they do shall interfere with the interests of riparian owners. It has been pointed out that the interests of riparian owners cover practically everything. It may cover the result of the poisoning of water. It may affect fish and various amenities of the riparian owners. It may involve anything which would be detrimental to the community. It may even possibly prevent an undue and improper taking away or abstraction of water without the consent of the millowner or the water trust. I submit that the best way of carrying out what the House wants is to accept this Amendment. If the Government accept this Amendment, they could, no doubt, put it into better language in another place.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The Solicitor-General entirely forgot certain things in connection with rivers for which no money could ever compensate. Pollution is one. For the pollution of a river you cannot really compensate the riparian owner. In many cases no payment could possibly compensate him. Therefore, there should be some protection against that sort of thing.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
A case occurs to my mind where streams are used in connection with the milk supply of big towns, particularly London. I have in mind a place seventy or eighty miles from London whence enormous quantities of milk are sent into London. It is absolutely necessary that the cans should be perfectly clean and free from casein; otherwise, the milk goes wrong. The cans in this particular case are cleaned regularly every day at a stream. If there is any acid in that stream through pollution I do not know what the effect will be upon the milk supply. That only shows the necessity of looking into these matters, because very great damage may be done if the Government have the power of polluting a stream in any sort of fashion.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I want the House to understand where I am and what my view is. I appreciate the points which are made about the public, and I say that if a case can be made out we will consider it, and the matter can be dealt with elsewhere. I cannot accept this Amendment, first, because it does not have the effect which hon. Members generally desire. Secondly, I cannot accept it because it does protect the individual even in a case where the public is not affected. This Amendment puts it in the power of a single man, the owner of a mill or something of that kind, to stop the whole of the work of a munitions factory. It goes much further than is generally desired. You are putting the State in the hands of a private owner, and I cannot accept the Amendment for that reason. I think the private owner ought not to have it in his power to stop the whole of this work. While I cannot accept this Amendment, I have promised that I would consider the wider question, and I hope the House will support me.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Under the circumstances, and on the assurance that the question will receive consideration, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.