HC Deb 21 April 1939 vol 346 cc697-700

(1) If, on an application for an order applying this Act to land, the Minister is of opinion that the making of an order in accordance with the application without modification would involve danger of pollution of a water supply of statutory water undertakers, he shall, in making any order in accordance with the application, make it with such modifications as are in his opinion necessary in order to prevent that danger arising, or, if it is in his opinion impracticable so to do, shall refuse to make an order.

(2) If, on a representation made to him by any statutory water undertakers or other wise, the Minister is of opinion that the re vocation or variation of an order made under Section three of this Act is requisite in order to prevent danger of pollution of a water supply arising or continuing, he shall make a varying order giving such directions as are in his opinion requisite for that purpose, or, if it is in his opinion impracticable so to do, shall make a revoking order.

(3) Section three of this Act shall have effect subject to the preceding provisions of this Section.

(4) In this Section the expression "statutory water undertakers," means any company, local authority, board, committee, or other persons or person supplying water under an enactment, and the expression "enactment" means an enactment in any Act of Parliament, whether public, general, local or private, and a provision in an order confirmed by, or made under an Act of Parliament. — [Mr. Creech Jones.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.31 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

It has always been the intention of the promoters of the Bill that there should be proper safeguards for water supplies. Obviously, it has been a matter of very great concern to the water undertakers that the risks of pollution should not be increased as a result of the passage of this Bill. In the Committee stage an undertaking was given that the representatives of the local authorities would be met and that consultations would take place with the Ministry of Health. The new Clause has the support of the advisers of the Government and meets with the approval of the representatives of the local authorities. It is designed to make secure the position of water undertakers when lands are brought within the scope of the Bill. Obviously, the original suggestion that all catchment areas should be excluded was too sweeping, but it is felt that in the new Clause all objections are met.

Mr. Marshall

I beg to second the Motion.

12.33 p.m.

Mr. Turton

May I ask the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) why this new Clause applies only to local authorities? Most of the water supplies on the moorlands are not local authority supplies, but village supplies, usually provided by landowners. It seems to me to be unfortunate that the large-scheme supplies to the towns should be protected and that the towns should be given unpolluted supplies, while the villages should get no protection. As far as I can gather from the Bill, it contains nothing to prevent anybody from bathing in a village water supply as long as there are not notice boards all along the stream telling him not to do so. Although I believe in encouraging bathing, I am opposed to bathing in village water supplies. It is important, in a Bill of this kind, that we should try to protect not only the health of the people in the big towns, but that we should also pay regard to the health of the villagers and secure that their water supplies are not polluted. A great deal has been done during the last two years to encourage village water supplies, and some of them will be covered, but a great many of them will not be covered. I do not want to delay the passage of the Bill, but I suggest that this is a matter which might be looked into in another place, and that the promoter of the Bill should seek to secure the same protection for village water supplies as for town water supplies.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

I think it would be well if the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) did not assume that all local authority associations were in favour of this Clause. I wish to ask him whether the British Waterworks Association have approved of this Clause because, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, it deals only with local authorities and does not appear to safeguard private water undertakings?

12.36 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

If hon. Members refer to Sub-section (4) of the Clause they will see that the point of their objection has been met to a considerable extent.

Mr. Turton


Mr. Creech Jones

As to the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) the basis of the Clause was agreed upon after consultation with the body to which he has referred. The principle of the Clause has been approved by the appropriate Government Department and it is considered adequate for its purpose. However, in view of what has been said by hon. Members, I will give an assurance that if there is need for a further tightening up of the Clause, that will be done in another place.

Mr. Turton

It is not a question of tightening up. It is a question of giving the same protection to the villages as it is proposed to give to the towns, and that is a point which is not covered by Subsection (4).

Mr. Creech Jones

If the hon. Member had waited for one moment I was coming to that point. If the Clauses of the Bill are studied, it will become clear that when an order is being considered by the Minister there will be consultation with the interests concerned. The Minister will approach those who are interested in water supplies so that at any public inquiry held in respect of restrictions, their views may be heard. The general procedure of holding inquiries is laid down in the Bill and the Minister has power to impose what limitations and restrictions are considered necessary in the public interest. If there is still need for safeguarding the position of village water supplies, that point will be considered and suitable Amendments made in another place, but the House may take it that the position is covered in the Bill as it stands.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.