§ 1.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Does the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey agree to that suggestion with respect to his Amendment?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon
Yes, Sir, I think the discussion should be on the two Amendments, but we must have one or the other. We cannot have a combination of them.
§ Mr. Ede
I did not gather at the time that the arrangement was so limited. I was prepared to have accepted that arrangement now that we have reached Clause 2. I still hope that the promoter 2276 of the Bill will be prepared to accept either my Amendment or that of the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey. I should prefer my Amendment, because if we are to have a fight it would be the more complete victory. If we have to fight, we had better fight for the higher stakes. If the promoter of the Bill finds it possible to accept the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey, I shall not press my Amendment to a Division. The question was very well and ably argued on the previous Clause, and I only want to say that the effect of carrying my Amendment would be to take the bodies represented by the Docks and Harbours Association right out of the Bill as far as this matter is concerned. We think the case that was put on the former Amendment amply proved that this Bill ought not to apply in those bodies when they are inside the river area. As the Government say that they do not intend to interfere with them, we desire to remove any temptation from them to do so. Most people pray to be delivered from temptation, and we are really offering the Government that relief.
If they accept either of these two Amendments it would relieve the minds of the people responsible for carrying on these very important public works. They are not profit-making authorities. They have very heavy duties to discharge, and I cannot understand why they should be under the perpetual menace that they must watch constantly to see that some Order is not promoted that would affect some part of the long river frontage that they have to look after. I sincerely hope that the Minister will be prepared to stand by the statement he made, as we understood it, on the previous Clause. There is no need for him to be unnecessarily cross merely because for once this House, which is a very subservient House, is not inclined to follow him into the Division Lobby. I sympathise with him, because I am often in that position myself. I hope he will show us how to bear misfortune with fortitude, and give us either one or other of these Amendments.
§ 1.44 p.m.
Mr. David Adams
I beg to second the Amendment.
I offered a few observations previously on this subject. It seems to me that the acceptance of this Amendment will eliminate completely any opposition which 2277 harbour, conservancy and kindred authorities may have to the Bill. Those authorities are anxious that the Bill should go through but, naturally having obtained certain powers they are desirous that those powers, obtained at great expense and used with great caution in the general interests, should not be stultified or reduced. Anyone reading Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 will see that as it stands it certainly restricts the present powers of harbour and conservancy authorities. It says:Nothing in this Act or any order made there under shall take away, diminish, or prejudice any rights, powers, or privileges in relation to conserving, maintaining, or improving the navigation of a tidal water conferred by any public, general, or local or private Act on any harbour authority, conservancy authority, or navigation authority.But these authorities have much greater powers than that. The Tyne Commissioners are the owners and the builders of dry docks and railways, the owners of ferry services and they have quite a multiplicity of other powers which they utilise or which can be utilised. They have in contemplation an expenditure of £2,000,000 on the River Tyne towards the mouth of the river, and this would clearly be excluded by the Clause as it stands. It would be left to any minion of the Board of Trade to declare that this work should not be put in hand. The powers and authority of the Tyne Commissioners might, therefore, be most severely restricted. If the Minister will accept this Amendment it will fully meet, the case and leave these authorities in full possession of all the statutory powers which they at present enjoy.
§ 1.48 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon
What the promoter of the Bill has to decide is whether he is going to leave out these words and put in others, or whether he is going to leave the Bill as it is. I hope he will accept my Amendment. It is a good deal more constructive than the more negative one of the hon. Member. Originally the Clause was put in upstairs in Committee as a method of dealing with the matter from the point of view of harbour authorities. It does not go far enough, and we feel that if he could accept the words which I have suggested the whole situation would be perfectly satisfactory. If the words: 2278constructing, improving, repairing or maintaining a dock, wharf, pier, embankment, or other workwere inserted, it would meet the particular point upon which docks and harbour authorities have some misgivings.
§ 1.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
I hesitate to intervene between these conflicting parties on the Bill, but what the hon. Member in charge of the Bill has to answer is this. On the surface I think the point made by my two hon. Friends is a good one, and that we should take out the words which refer to the conserving, maintaining and improving the navigation of a tidal water. I am all for giving these authorities the rights and privileges which they now possess, but this is a Coast Protection Bill, and the rights and privileges of these statutory bodies might be exercised in such a way as to continue coast erosion. Blackpool is not very far from my own division, neither is St. Anne's, where they have turned the sand dunes into a town. People who have made themselves rich in my constituency are now living on those sand dunes. The hon. Member who is in charge of the Bill, whatever may be the opinion of my two hon. Friends, will have to decide whether in safeguarding the duties and privileges of the statutory authorities they may not do something unwittingly to destroy the main object of the Bill.
§ 1.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Holmes
May I say at once that I shall be glad to accept the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)? I do so, first, because I feel that it does not in the least weaken the Bill, and that it may avoid some Provisional Orders coming into force in future. The effect of his Amendment is to take docks, harbours and conservancy powers out of the Bill altogether except in one respect. The Amendment of the two hon. Members opposite would take them out altogether, including this one respect, and it is this one exception that I am sure the House will want to keep in the Bill. All harbour, docks and conservancy authorities have in their Acts the right to take sand and shingle and sell it for their own profit. This Bill is to prevent that if it is a case of coast erosion. The Bill is going to apply this provision in every other case, and there is no reason why it should not 2279 apply equally to docks, harbours and conservancy authorities.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdraw.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon
I beg to move, in page 5, line 4, after "water," to insertor constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dock, wharf, pier, embankment, or other work.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 1.54 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Heneage
I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, at the end, to insert:Nothing in this Act or any order made there under shall take away, diminish, or prejudice any powers to construct and maintain sea defence works (including river embankments), conferred upon any person by any public, general, or local or private Act.The object of the Amendment is to safeguard the position of those authorities which have to deal with sea defences, and among them are, of course, catchment boards. It is apparent that any work which they may have to do for sea defence may have to be done exceedingly rapidly. The sea is no respecter of works; it may come in without much warning. Hon. Members will be aware that during the past year the sea has made several inroads that have been very rapid. I have moved this Amendment in order to safeguard that position. The Catchment Boards Association, on whose behalf I have moved the Amendment, had thought that the word "excavation" would be eliminated from the Bill, and it is possible that another form of words may be advisable. I would ask the promoters to bear in mind the possible effects of the word "excavation" not having been eliminated. The catchment boards and other bodies responsible for sea defence cannot be said to be against the principle of the Bill, which is to prevent coast erosion, and as, naturally, that is the purpose of sea defence, I hope the Amendment will be accepted.
§ 1.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
There is on the Order Paper, in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams) and myself, an Amendment to this Amendment, but I am advised that the Amendment which has just been accepted covers the point that we desire to raise. Therefore, we support the Amendment moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage).
§ Amendment agreed to.