§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Major Leighton (Oswestry)
On a point of Order. May I ask whether, as the same point is at issue in both these Bills—the London Midland and Scottish Railway Bill and the London Midland and Scottish Railway (Canals) Bill—the same discussion should cover both?
§ Mr. Speaker
I feel sure that hon. Members will not want to waste the time of the House, and as the point raised in both cases is identical, the decision on the first Bill would cover the second Bill also. I hope the House will agree to that.
§ 3.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Crawford Greene (Worcester)
I beg to move, to leave out "now", and, at the end of the Question, to add "upon this day six months."
I move this Amendment because I believe I have a very good case, and because I believe I am doing the right thing by the constituency which I represent. There is no thought of vote-catching in my mind because I do not intend to stand again. I am simply carrying out what I believe to be my duty towards my constituency. The story is simply this. Worcester's water supply depends upon the River Severn, and in the River Severn, to use common or garden words, there is clean water and dirty water. The clean water comes from the uplands of Montgomeryshire and where the river turns round and begins to go south it brings down the dirty water from the Black Country, and also salt water from Droitwich. Commercially, it is impossible to take salt out of water, although it can be done in the laboratory. We have our waterworks just near the City of Worcester, and they are able to deal with the water and make it perfectly good drinking water, provided they continue to have this supply of clean water from Montgomeryshire.
The L.M.S. are asking for 8,000,000 gallons a day of the clean water. Before the war, Worcester had a population of 50,000 or 51,000 and required 4,000,000 gallons a day. That was just enough for 1425 a population of that size, but the population at the present time is between 60,000 and 70,000, and it is possible that, at a later date, Worcester will have to supply the areas South of the city with water. If that is so, 10,000,000 gallons a day will be needed instead of the 4,000,000 at the present time. But the L.M.S. want to decrease the 4,000,000 which Worcester is getting at the present time. They want to take 25 per cent. of the clean water which will put Worcester in a most perilous position. [An HON. MEMBER: "What do they want the water for?"] For everything, for drinking among other things. They will have people to speak for them, however, and some will speak quite well. How is this railway company going to account for its demand for 8,000,000 gallons a day? I have some perfectly marvellous figures here: Messrs. J. D. Wood, for driving a turbine at a mill, 840,000 gallons a day; Lord Powis, for driving a water-wheel at a saw-mill, 810,000 gallons a day; J. D. Evans, water-courses for cattle drinking, 250,000 gallons a day.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston): How many cattle?
§ Mr. Crawford Greene
I am coming to that. Mrs. Humphreys Owen, ornamental lakes, 125,000 gallons a day. To make these figures really interesting, let us look at Mr. Evans's farm—250,000 gallons a day. Let us suppose that his stock drink 10 gallons a day each, which, of course, they do not, that means, on his farm, he has 25,000 cattle. These figures are perfectly absurd, and I am looking forward to what is going to be said to bolster them up after I have sat down. The company say they want 3,000,000 for themselves, 3,000,000 for other users and 3,000,000 for waste, leakage and evaporation. Let us call their requirements 8,000,000 in all.
It may be wondered why this Bill has been able to get so far as the Third Reading in this House. It had to go through a Committee in another place and it had to go through Committee D of this House of Commons. A certain gentleman named Wallace, who is an expert witness for the company, stated on oath:all we take out of the Severn is 32,000 gallons a day which is absolutely a drop in the bucket,1426 and, naturally, in the other place, they thought the city of Worcester had nothing to cry about if it were losing only 32,000 gallons a day. But when the matter came before Committee D, the same expert witness was asked by our leading counsel how much water the company really wanted, and the reply was 8,000,000 gallons. Here is Mr. Wallace, in one place, saying 32,000 gallons, and in another 8,000,000. I wish to draw the attention of the House to that point. In my opinion the Committee made a mistake. They apologised for it afterwards and I have the exact words used by the Chairman. The Chairman said:The Committee consider the Preamble of the Bill proved, but we are unable to accept the protective Clause proposed by the Worcester Corporation.The protective Clause is Clause 15 (c) and, under the guidance of the Chairman, the Committee refused to consider that. Later on it dawned upon the Committee that they had made a "bloomer." The House will forgive me for a rather long quotation——
§ Mr. Speaker
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman cannot discuss the Worcester Clause now. It was rejected by the Committee and is not in the Bill.
§ Mr. Crawford Greene
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, and I do not propose to say even what is in the Clause, but I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that The Chairman, later on, apologised on behalf of the Committee for disallowing that Clause. He said this:You will appreciate that I did try to indicate, before the Committee came to a decision, what we had in mind. I must say it had just escaped us"—the House should note that phrase, "it had just escaped us"—that there was in the Clause an agreement to pay half the cost, if they had been set up by the other parties, and I see the difficulty to which you are now referring. Perhaps we may leave it at that.I want to draw the attention of the authors of the Bill to these words, which then follow:We feel that there is a time coming, and very rapidly, when under a Water Bill all these things will be looked into. For something of this sort to have been brought out so glaringly before the Committee, and our having taken no notice of it, it might rather reflect on us, that we were not quite appreciative of the seriousness of the waste of water.1427 There you have an apology and an explanation, and I have tried to explain to this House how the Bill was able to survive scrutiny in another place and, in the earlier stages, in this House.
Now we in Worcester have made what I think is a very sporting offer to the company. We do not think they want anything like 2,500,000 gallons of water per day, but we will let them have it. They can have 2,500,000 gallons and we want what we had before. That is all. I am perfectly willing to negotiate with the supporters of this Bill on those terms. I am willing also to discuss with them the postponement of any definite action at the present time, considering that there is sooner or later to be a national Water Bill.
I think I have taken sufficient of the time of the House. I have made I think the point, that our supply of water for drinking and other purposes will be absolutely polluted if this Bill becomes an Act. I ask the promoters to see that they do not do a grave injustice to the people of the "Ancient and Faithful City" of Worcester.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.