HC Deb 07 February 1949 vol 461 cc59-60

Amendment made, in page 7, line 31, leave out "net."—[Mr. Woodburn.]

Mr. Woodburn

I beg to move, in page 7, line 42, at the end, to insert: (3) If in any particular case the authorities concerned are satisfied that the allocation in manner provided by the last foregoing Subsection of the expenses of a supplying authority among the local authorities concerned would impose on any of those authorities (including the supplying authority) a financial burden greater than they could reasonably be expected to bear they may enter into an agreement for the purpose of regulating the manner in which the expenses of the supplying authority in that case are to be defrayed, and if the Secretary of State, being satisfied as aforesaid, makes an order approving the agreement the terms of the agreement shall during such period as may be specified in the agreement come in place of the provisions of the last foregoing Subsection. This Amendment is designed to meet the desire of the local authorities that it should not be necessary every year to deal with this particular method of allocation, and it provides that if an agreement is made between the authorities it may remain operative for a number of years to avoid the necessity of going through the whole process each year, as would be required as the Clause stands.

Commander Galbraith

I will just say that so far as we are concerned this Amendment is quite unexceptionable.

Mr. McKie

I also wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having been so good as to introduce this new subsection. The effect of these clarifying words will ease the somewhat troubled minds of certain local authorities who are concerned with supplying water outside their own particular orbit. I, representing as I do in this House smaller local authorities, have a special interest. Those of us who represent smaller local authorities will know of cases where these local authorities are supplying water outwith their own bounds, and who may be within the sphere of very much larger and richer circumferences, if I may so express it, of local government in Scot- land. I feel sure that my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling), representing as he does one of the Divisions of the Scottish metropolis, who has great experience of local government in the capital city of Scotland, will at once agree that this is a most necessary insertion, because he will be able to recall to mind cases—and one case in particular—where the local authority in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is receiving water from within the bounds of a very poor local authority, namely the County Council of Peebles. It would be out of Order for me to go in any great detail into the somewhat sorry state of affairs that has developed in that direction; I merely mention that by way of illustration.

The right hon. Gentleman has now come forward and is good enough to include this new Subsection, which will give us at all events a period of stability—I think I heard him say 10 years—within which both authorities—the supplying authorities, which in most cases will be the smaller authorities, and the supplied authorities, which in most cases will be the bigger authorities—will know how they stand. This Clause raises far-reaching issues, and I, representing a Division in which there are two small authorities, am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has seen wisdom after consultation. The further we go on this Report stage the more are we seeing the value of consultation with local authorities. I am glad that, after consultation on this specific point, the Secretary of State has allowed us—if I may associate my hon. Friends with the local authorities—to know for a period of years just where we shall stand.

Mr. Rankin

The formula dealing with payments is fairly strict, and I take it that in the first order presented, there will be room for flexibility between the supplying and the supplied authorities in the payments that they require to make. If that flexibility is allowed under the order, away from the strict formula of the Bill, I am sure we should all welcome it.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 7, line 45, leave out "the foregoing provisions," and insert "Subsection (2) or Subsection (3)."—[Mr. Woodburn.]