HC Deb 12 April 1937 vol 322 cc607-9
41. Mr. de Rothschild

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Director-General of Inland Waterways of the Netherlands and Director of Navigation on the Rhine has recently made a tour of the drainage works of the Great Ouse catchment area; whether, in view of his experience and authority on questions of land drainage, he has been in touch with any representative of the Ministry; and whether the Ministry have been informed of his observations and opinions with reference to the improvement of the drainage of the Fens?

46. Mr. Markham

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to Dr. Schoenfeld's suggestions on the Fens and the possible reclamation of the Wash; and whether, in view of their importance, he will have them considered by the responsible authorities?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I myself met Dr. Schoenfeld in the course of a recent visit to the Great Ouse catchment area and I have seen the three articles which he contributed to recent issues of the "Daily Telegraph." Dr. Schoenfeld's second article proposed that a barrage should be erected across the River Ouse at King's Lynn to keep out the tidal water. A proposal of this nature has been before my Department on several occasions, and has provoked great opposition in the district and among land drainage engineers generally. Dr. Schoenfeld's third article, however, rejects this proposal in favour of a dam being built across the whole southern half of the Wash, but he admits that there would be considerable difficulties in the way of such a proposal. Apart from the fact that he estimates the cost of the dam at nearly three times that of schemes already partially being carried out by the Ouse Catchment Board, I have considerable doubt whether his proposals would be practicable or economic.

Mr. de Rothschild

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his personal visit to the Fens was received with much satisfaction by the people there, and that they are all very anxious that some tangible result should be the outcome of it; and if he will not consider the proposals of Dr. Schoenfeld, will he give further consideration to the proposals which are at present before the Ministry and give them adequate financial help?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the situation is very present to my mind, and that anything I can do to help the Great Ouse Catchment Board in their difficult duties will be done with good will.