HC Deb 18 November 1926 vol 199 cc1938-40
12. Major OWEN

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the representations made to him as to the conditions under which the methods by which the dam at Llugwy was constructed and the serious doubts which exist as to the depth of the concrete core of the embankment, he is now in a position to state what steps he proposes to take to allay the public anxiety which exists among the people in the valleys that would he affected by a break in the dam?


This dam is one of those examined by Messrs. Alexander Gibb and Partners, the firm of engineers who carried out the investigation after the Dolgarrog disaster, and the matter to which the hon. and gallant Member refers is dealt with fully in their report. As I stated in reply to a question last Thursday, the companies concerned are carrying out immediately the various works necessary to satisfy the requirements of the firm of engineers.

Major OWEN

Has the right bon. Gentleman obtained any information as to whether work has actually been begun or not?


I have received a certain amount of information, some, indeed, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been good enough to give me himself. The difficulty is that I have no legal power in the matter. It might be necessary for me to ask the House for legislation to enable me to take a more active part in regard to the complaints about these dams. I have tried to proceed in a conciliatory way with the owners of the dam, and, of course, Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners are a firm of very high standing in engineering quarters.


Cannot the right hon. Gentleman bring this particular class of work under the Emergency Powers Regulations?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware whether any compensation has been paid at any time to any of the sufferers arising from the disaster at Dolgarrog, and are any steps being taken to see that compensation is paid to the sufferers?


That ought to be another question.


Is my right hon. Friend aware that Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners did not recommend that the foundations should be carried down to the rock, and that other firms of engineers more experienced in this class of work think it is necessary, as in the case of other reservoirs, to carry the foundations down to solid rock? Will he consult other expert opinion on the matter?


My difficulty is that I have no powers in the matter. Up to the present Parliament has not given the Home Secretary powers over the question of dams. I have no power to spend public money to employ any firm of engineers. I arranged with the company that they were to pay the fee of this particular firm of engineers. If any hon. Member can satisfy me that there is anything really wrong with these dams, I will consider whether it is desirable to ask the House for powers.

Major OWEN

Has not the right hon. Gentleman power, under the common law, to indict a firm of engineers or a company which has put up something that is a danger and a nuisance to the general community?


I do not think that I have any more power than any other of His Majesty's subjects. It might be open to the hon. Member to indict them. I have no more power than the local authority or the hon. and gallant Member has to indict a company who put up a nuisance.