40. Major MILLS
asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, if he is aware that the Commissioners require by way of rent, as a condition of granting a licence to statutory water undertakers to lay, maintain, and renew water mains in the waste lands of the New Forest, the payment of a percentage of the whole of the water rents received by the undertakers in respect of properties served by the mains; and upon what principle this practice is justified, which involves the payment of a royalty bearing no necessary relation to the value of the lands occupied by the mains, and tends to make the obtaining of water supplies by the inhabitants of rural districts more difficult and expensive?
§ Colonel Sir GEORGE COURTHOPE (Forestry Commissioner)
There are two statutory water undertakers serving the New Forest, and one of these has had a licence for over 30 years to lay, maintain and renew water mains on a royalty basis. No difficulties have arisen, and the Forestry Commissioners are not aware that the basis on which the licence was granted has made the obtaining of water supplies difficult or expensive. Similar terms offered to the other undertaker have not been accepted. The laying of the water mains in the waste lands of the forest instead of under the public roads effects a considerable capital saving to the undertaker.
41. Major MILLS
asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissinoners, if he is aware that persons residing in the New Forest and desiring to connect their premises to water mains laid by statutory undertakers in public highways, for the purpose of obtaining a supply of water for domestic purposes, are required by the Commissioners to pay an annual way-leave rent in respect of any connection laid across roadside verges vested in the Crown which form the only means of access from the premises to such mains; and what is the basis and amount of the rent usually demanded as the consideration for such a wayleave?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
A small annual wayleave rent is charged by the Forestry Commissioners for connections laid in land in the New Forest vested in the Crown to the water mains of one of the two statutory undertakers operating in the forest, in order to preserve the Commission's rights to the soil. The amount charged varies according to the rateable value of the premises served, and in some cases is as low as 5s. per annum. The licence granted to the other statutory water undertaker includes the right to make connections without additional charge, and a licence on similar terms is available to the statutory undertaker first mentioned.
Would my hon. and gallant Friend very kindly let me have a copy of the scale of charges to which he has referred; and does he not consider that even so low a charge as 5s. is rather a lot for taking a pipe an inch or less, in diameter across a few yards of land?
§ Sir G. COURTHOPE
I will see that the scale of charges is communicated to my hon. and gallant Friend. I do not think that 5s. is an unduly heavy minimum for the granting of an easement by the Crown.