HC Deb 14 June 1934 vol 290 cc1882-4
26. Major CARVER

asked the Minister of Health what is the policy of his Department in regard to the water supply of those districts which rely absolutely upon rain water and which are too isolated to permit of any ordinary water supply being provided; whether grants will be given to local authorities to bore for water for isolated houses; and, if not, what is the official policy in respect of safeguarding such communities against drought?


Rainwater, with proper storage, should provide a reasonably adequate supply of water in country districts where other supplies are impracticable. I am issuing a leaflet on measures for conserving rainwater. Where emergency due to drought arises, local authorities and other water undertakers, in co-operation with the Ministry of Health, take the measures to meet it by fresh supplies and emergency methods of distribution which are suitable to the special needs of the locality, and vary greatly. The engineering inspectors of the Ministry advise on the measures to be taken. Local authorities' schemes for boreholes for common use are eligible for grant, but to provide separate waterworks for individual houses is not properly a public service.


asked the Minister of Health whether he has any information as to the extent to which it is possible to produce rainfall by heavy gun fire or the extent to which drought may be accentuated through the disturbance of ether by wireless waves; and whether he will consider the desirability of taking action in either such connection if the present drought should continue?


I am aware of the belief that gun fire affects rainfall, but not of any evidence that it is well founded, and there is no reason to suppose that wireless waves have any influence?


Does not the right hon. Gentleman remember that between 1914 and 1918 very heavy gun firing was almost invariably followed by a long period of torrential rain?


Would it not be desirable to have another war in order to bring rain?

21. Mr. LEVY (for Mr. CHORLTON)

asked the Minister of Health if, in order to accelerate the provision of further supplies to relieve the present water shortage, he will place a time limit on the agreed schemes for earliest completion?


No general rule as to a time limit could be made that would be useful or applicable in all cases. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that it is already the practice for a time limit for the completion of works to be included in contracts.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman in his approaching conference with the Rural District Councils' Association will take advantage of the occasion to refer to the question of water shortage and give them the benefit of his advice as to how local authorities can assist in the situation?


I am much obliged to the hon. Member for the suggestion.

22. Mr. LEVY (for Mr. CHORLTON)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will appoint special commissions to the various districts for the combination of districts covered by regional committees, with powers to carry out schemes for the provision of additional water supplies with the utmost despatch?


The appointment of special commissions as suggested would not, I think, accelerate the provision of additional water supplies. Powers are now available to local authorities to obtain additional water supplies with despatch.


If no commission is to be appointed, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving statutory powers to regional authorities to enable them to do more than talk?