HC Deb 13 December 1956 vol 562 cc600-2
22. Mr. T. W. Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received concerning the proposals of the Liverpool Corporation to create a source of water supply by flooding the Treweryn Valley, Merioneth; and if he will make a statement.

23. Mr. Gower

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what protests he has received from Welsh authorities and persons against the plans of the Liverpool Corporation for additional water supplies, involving the flooding of the Treweryn Valley in Merionethshire and the submerging of the village of Capel Celyn; and if he will make a statement.

Major Lloyd-George

I have been informed of a resolution adopted by the Association of Welsh Local Authorities registering concern at the proposal of the Liverpool City Council and I have received twenty-four letters of protestation from individuals and groups of people. This proposal forms the subject of a Private Bill which the Liverpool City Council has already deposited. My colleagues and I are well aware of the strong feeling of the local people.

Mr. Jones

Is it not one of the functions of the Minister for Welsh Affairs to indicate to the Government the feeling in Wales on matters of this kind, and advise the Government?

Major Lloyd-George

Of course it would be. but I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member expects me to think that this feeling is intense. As I have said, I have received twenty-four letters, and I would not call that an expression of very intense feeling. In any case, there is the Private Bill procedure which can be followed, by which people who are protesting can make their views known.

Mr. Gower

If, as now seems to be the case, this project is opposed not only by some local people but by Merioneth County Council and most local authorities in the vicinity, will my right hon. and gallant Friend reconsider what he should do in his capacity as Minister for Welsh Affairs? Does he really think that the Private Bill procedure is the correct method to pursue in matters of this kind, which affect a part of the United Kingdom that successive Governments have already recognised as not just another part of England?

Major Lloyd-George

I do not think that the Private Bill procedure is as bad as all that. I remember that when I first came to the House a similar proposal was put forward by another city, and it was defeated. In any case, I have asked the Council for Wales to look into the matter. as the House probably knows, and to see what advice it can give on the whole question.

Mr. J. Griffiths

When the Minister receives advice from the Council for Wales, which he has asked to consider the problem of rural depopulation—a problem not unconnected with schemes of this kind—may I take it that when the House considers the Private Bill, the report and advice tendered to him by the Council for Wales will be available to the House for its guidance?

Major Lloyd-George

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to look at that point. I am most anxious that this matter should be looked at because it is of tremendous importance. This is not purely a matter of sentiment. There is a great deal of practical politics in it. There are times of the year when the country is not big enough to hold the water that comes down. I want this matter dealt with reasonably and rationally. As soon as I get advice, I shall consider it carefully.

Mr. G. Roberts

Is the Minister aware that the three county councils of the area in which this valley is situated are greatly exercised in mind because of the threat which this proposal presents to their plans for future industrial development, and as that region has the highest unemployment figure in the country, will he please bear it in mind so that this side of the matter, as well as the human tragedy involved, is properly considered?

Major Lloyd-George

Yes, Sir, I certainly will. I am well aware of the problems attached to water conservation and of taking water to other places, and I am also well aware of the effect that it may have on other localities.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Home Secretary aware that Liverpool Corporation took great care to see that difficulties were out of the way from a personal point of view before the Bill was brought forward, and that on no occasion would those responsible meet the Water Committee to have the matter discussed fully in order to reach agreement?

Major Lloyd-George

I was under the impression that the Water Committee did not meet them but that they went to meet the Water Committee.