HC Deb 08 November 1932 vol 270 cc182-3

asked the Minister of Agriculture the total estimated cost of the work now proceeding at the grand sluice, Boston, in order to prevent the flooding of 250,000 acres of land, including parts of the city of Lincoln; whether the Treasury have agreed to make any contribution towards the cost of such work; and, if not, have the Witham Catchment Board sufficient funds to meet this necessary expenditure?


In their application to my Department for a grant in respect of the work for repairing the grand sluice, Boston, the total cost was estimated by the Witham Catchment Board as £12,700, to be spread over three years, but I have since been informed by the Board that the total expenditure will probably be considerably greater. After a careful consideration of the application, it has been decided that no grant can be made in this case. As regards the last part of the question, I would remind my hon. Friend that the Catchment Board are required by the Land Drainage Act, 1930, to precept the internal drainage boards within the catchment area for such contribution as they consider to be fair, and that they can also precept the county councils and county borough councils within the catchment area for the produce of such rate, exceeding 2d. in the £, as the majority of the representatives of these authorities on the catchment board agree.


In view of the fact that drainage work is of national importance and that the maximum rate permissible is 2d. in the pound, may I ask whether the Government have reconsidered their previous decision not to make grants for necessary and urgent drainage schemes?


It. is not possible to contemplate further expenditure from central funds.


Are we to understand that the reply is general and that no national funds will be available for drainage purposes?


I do not think that it can be taken as general, but in this case, which has been carefully considered, I fear that no grant can be made.