HC Deb 16 June 1953 vol 516 cc716-7
21. Major McCallum

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the growing number of unemployed men in the burgh of Campbeltown and the loss to food production by the constant flooding of good agricultural ground because of the failure to keep the Backs Water and the Macrinhanish Burns clear, he will arrange for this unemployed labour to be used for this urgent land drainage work.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNair Snadden)

I regret that in the absence of agreement among the proprietors concerned on the financing and execution of a scheme of drainage works, my right hon. Friend has no powers to undertake this work.

Major McCallum

Is not my hon. Friend aware that if something is not done about this chaos in the drainage of this area more and more land—the best land in Argyllshire, excellent farming land—will be going out of use; and could he not press the local authorities, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and owners to come to some agreement so that after years of negotiation work might be started on this project?

Mr. Snadden

My hon. and gallant Friend will know that works of this nature would require compulsory powers which we do not at present possess. We are hoping to introduce a Bill—I hope next Session—which will give compulsory powers which will enable this work to be carried out.

Mr. Manuel

Is the Joint Undersecretary of State aware that in many areas in Scotland we have been fobbed off for far too long with this answer that the present legislation is quite unsuitable. Where there is a private individual who owns land in a flooded area he can stop the whole scheme. Therefore, could the hon. Gentleman not do something to give us soon legislation with some teeth in it in order that we could greatly aid productivity in these agricultural areas which are now being periodically flooded?

Mr. Snadden

I am aware of these difficulties. One difficulty is that to provide compulsory powers we have to solve some extremely complicated problems but, as I said, we hope to be able to introduce a Bill next Session.

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