HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc935-6
3. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the refusal of the Department of Health to meet the cost of or lend officers to assist in making the survey of water supplies in rural areas has seriously handicapped many authorities, with the result that counties which made returns months ago are unfairly delayed in their water and drainage supply schemes; why such surveys are required of Scottish local authorities when no similar demand was made in England, where the Minister of Health made his own estimate of needs; and whether he can announce the provision of grants for the execution of essential drainage and water supply developments?

Mr. Colville

The answer to the first and last parts of the question is in the negative. Following a meeting with my predecessor, the Association of County Councils in Scotland set up a committee to examine the whole question of rural water supply and drainage in Scotland. The surveys which my hon. Friend doubtless has in mind are being made in connection with the work of this committee, and the Department of Health is not in a position to undertake them. The information obtained, in addition to giving a general picture of requirements, will be of great value to the county councils concerned in carrying out their statutory functions.

Mr. Stewart

Is it not the case that these surveys are being very seriously delayed, and that, until the results of the Government's review are available, other counties which have submitted their surveys will be held up in regard to the carrying out of their necessary work?

Mr. Colville

If my hon. Friend has in mind any particular case, I shall be glad if he will let me know. In point of fact, a number of the surveys are well forward.

Mr. Levy

Is it not true to say that surveys have repeatedly been made with regard to water supplies, and that there is really no need for fresh surveys, which are merely side-stepping the issue? Will the Secretary of State do something to accelerate the provision of the water supplies which are so urgently needed?

Mr. Colville

I cannot accept that as regards Scotland. There are certain districts where we have not an accurate picture of the position.