HC Deb 26 November 1959 vol 614 cc530-2
3. Mr. Jeger

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the implementation of the Heneage Report of 1951.

25. Mr. du Cann

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement upon the action the Government propose to take following upon his discussions with the associations concerned about the Heneage Report on Land Drainage.

27. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement on the Heneage Committee Report on Land Drainage.

Mr. John Hare

I am glad to say that, as a result of discussions with them, agreement was reached between the four main Associations concerned, namely, the River Boards' Association, the Association of Drainage Authorities, the National Farmers' Union, and the Country Landowners' Association, on the principles which should be adopted for dealing with the main land drainage problems considered in the Heneage Report.

The Government have carefully considered these principles and are prepared to accept them as a basis for the preparation of future legislation. I propose shortly to issue a White Paper giving the outline of the proposals which I have in mind. I will, with permission, circulate the text of these principles in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Jeger

May I congratulate the Minister on at last, after eight years, having made up his mind about what he will do? Is he aware that this is a very fortunate occasion, because it is the thirteenth time I have asked a Question about the implementation of the Heneage Report? No doubt farmers in South Yorkshire who have been expecting action for a long time will consider this their lucky day, too.

Mr. Hare

I am glad that the hon. Member is occasionally lucky. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the bodies concerned, and I think the hon. Member will agree that it is much better when these things can be done after consultation and agreement.

Mr. du Cann

While congratulating the Minister and the bodies concerned on reaching agreement, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he can say anything about when he anticipates this legislation will be introduced?

Mr. Hare

I cannot do that, but I think that we could have a full discussion on the matter when the White Paper is available to the House.

Mr. Bell

Can my right hon. Friend at least say that the legislation will be introduced during the present Session of Parliament, so that it can come into law before next winter? We have already had nine winters since the Heneage Report was issued.

Mr. Hare

I could not possibly forecast what the Parliamentary timetable will allow. Hon. Members must be satisfied with what I have said.

Mr. de Freitas

Will the legislation also cover the points on water conservation and the spreading of drainage rates, as asked for in the Motion put down for "An early day", signed by my hon. Friends and myself?

[That this House deplores the condition of drainage and the drainage rating system in the country generally, and in Lincoln, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire in particular; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation to co-ordinate drainage and water conservation and to permit the construction and maintenance of drainage works and reservoirs at the expense of the nation as a whole.]

Mr. Hare

It would be much better to await the White Paper.

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