HC Deb 15 February 1940 vol 357 cc1044-5

As respects any agricultural land within a catchments area but not within an internal drainage district, the powers conferred on the council of the county or county borough within which the land is situated by Section thirty-five and Sub-section (2) of Section fifty of the Land Drainage Act, 1930 (which enable the council to require a person in default to put a watercourse in proper order) shall, during the war period, be exercisable by the Catchment Board for that area as well as by that council.—[Mr. Ramsbotham.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.13 p.m.

Mr. Ramsbotham

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

Under Section 35 of the Land Drainage Act, 1930, read in conjunction with Subsection (2) of Section 50 of the Act, a drainage board, not being a catchment board and/or a county council, may serve notice on an occupier requiring him to put his watercourse in order if, by reason of the condition of that watercourse: agricultural land belonging to or in the occupation of some other person is being injured by water or is in danger of being so injured. Catchment boards have, under Clause 14 of the Bill, to prepare schemes for the drainage of land that is under the authority of the county council. I hope it will be clear to the Committee that it is desirable that the boards should have the complementary power in appropriate cases to serve a notice under Section 35.

7.14 p.m.

Sir Ralph Glyn

The two catchment boards which have the power referred to by the Minister have been enabled, by Act of Parliament, to remove the local land drainage boards, which existed mainly for the purpose of paying salaries to officials rather than for carrying out any drainage scheme. It is now possible for the main river to appear in a comprehensive scheme with the neighbouring watercourses and streams. The Clause that we are discussing, and that will probably be inserted in the Bill, will be more productive of rapid drainage work than anything else in the Bill. It enables the expert engineers of the catchment authorities to carry through drainage, not in a haphazard manner but in a proper manner. No doubt the hon. Gentleman who addressed us just now, with all his hatred of landlords, may remember that it is the obligation of the person who owns the land to see that the ditches and things are clear.

It is necessary to point out that the agricultural committee of the county council is a different body from the war agricultural committee; it is essential that the agricultural committee, as distinct from the war executive committee, should be able to work in conjunction with the catchments board. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will accept the proposed new Clause, recognizing that it endeavors to do something in the spring of this year for areas which ought never to have been allowed to get into their present derelict condition.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.