HC Deb 01 February 1961 vol 633 cc1070-87

7.23 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, to leave out first "or".

It might be convenient to the Committee if we also take the Amendment in line 7, after "alteration", insert "or major reinstatement".

Hon. Members will recollect that in Committee I gave an undertaking to consider the drafting of Clause 2 to make it clear that maintenance and management operations were the day-to-day works of a routine nature which any prudent local authority might be expected to carry out and that they were not intended to embrace, for example, the clearance of major obstructions from a watercourse. That was the meaning we tried to convey in the original draft of Clause 2 (1, (a). We specified by a reference to cleansing, clearing and repairing the types of operations which might appropriately signify maintenance and management operations.

I said, however, that I recognised that the use of the word "clearing" in this paragraph might possibly result in local authorities who wish to remove large boulders or other major obstacles from a watercourse being debarred from carrying out the work under a flood prevention scheme and so not getting a grant. This was never our intention. The Committee will recollect that I undertook at the outset to remove the word "clearing" from the paragraph, and I will deal with that in a subsequent Amendment.

The purpose of the second Amendment now under consideration is to insert the words "or major reinstatement" in Clause 2 (1, c). I think this reference more accurately covers the sort of clearance and restoration work which is beyond the scope of maintenance and which should be dealt with under a scheme and so qualify for grant. As I said, we had never intended it should be otherwise. I am grateful to hon. Members for raising the point. I hope that the Committee will now feel the Amendments effectively cover the matter.

I should, perhaps, say that the first of the two Amendments on this line, which is to leave out the word "or", is purely a drafting Amendment which is consequential on the second Amendment.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

Since we are discussing both proposed Amendments together, I think it is only fair to express our appreciation to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for having listened to what we said in Committee and to have gone this far in making these changes. I cannot, however, entirely agree with him about what he has said. I persuaded him in Committee that it would be unfair to ask a local authority to take over a new responsibility, such as a watercourse, and to clear it and put it in a state of proper efficiency. The initial operation might well be quite a considerable one and might be a very expensive one. Where the Government have the ward "clearing" in the original Clause, it meant that no grant would be available and the operation would be considered to be purely a matter of maintenance. However, our logic prevailed and the Government said they would do something about it.

We will look at what they have done. They propose to put in the words "or major reinstatement". Our complaint—and it is one we voice time and time again about the Government, and particularly about a certain Scottish Minis- ter—is that they just cannot resist the lure of language. If a thing is simple they have to put in some other word. Obviously, if we are asking a local authority to assume a new responsibility and that responsibility is a watercourse, which is not in a reasonable condition, and the local authority, first of all, has to reinstate it, the Government are not satisfied with the simple word "reinstatement", but they must have the words "major reinstatement". Why on earth should it be "major reinstatement".

We must appreciate that it is going to be left to the Secretary of State to decide whether it is "major" or whether it is "minor". If this is the differentiation that will be placed on it the difference to the local authority is whether it will be grant aided. I presume that if it is merely a reinstatement, somehow or other someone will contrive to call it maintenance. I hope that having gone so far to be persuaded in Committee the Secretary of State will be persuaded to leave well alone in relation to the word "reinstatement" at which he first arrived. I hope that he will resist the temptation to put in a word which merely complicates, obstructs and restricts the work of local authorities in relation to what they might be able to get from the Government in carrying out a task which, hitherto, has not been their responsibility.

With those remarks, I invite the Joint Under-Secretary to say that he is prepared to consider the position and to see whether he can, at a later stage, delete the word "major", so leaving the matter quite clear and yet still within the bounds of the authority of the Secretary of State. Why not trust local authorities for a change? Let us get rid of this horror of clarity which seems to come over the Joint Parliamentary Secretary or the Secretary of State when he deals with legislation in relation to Scottish affairs.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

Having heard the lucid and persuasive plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I am sure that the Government will have something to say. I appreciate that the Joint Under-Secretary may feel that he is not empowered to concede anything, but we have with us tonight the Secretary of State, who is always amenable to the reasoning put forward from this side of the Committee. He appreciates its cogency and understands the fight that we put up to get the best we can for Scotland. I should think that he would appreciate the very good arguments put forward by my hon. Friend.

What does the word "major" mean? When does "major" cease to be major and become minor? I do not know. The Lord Advocate is also here tonight, completing a veritable array of talent, legal and everything else, on the Front Bench. I am sure that he would be prepared to advise us on the meaning of the word. He will be able to tell us what construction the courts will place upon it.

I can understand the meaning of the phrase "reinstate a watercourse", but I cannot understand how it can be reinstated in a major way. If a local authority reinstates a watercourse it reinstates it. There is a good reason for leaving the word out. As my hon. Friend pointed out, in the final analysis the Secretary of State will decide whether to accept the proposals of a local authority. If he thinks that something is not the kind of reinstatement which should qualify for grant, I have no doubt that he will tell the local authority, "This is not in order under a flood prevention scheme; this is the type of work we expect you, as a local authority, to carry out in connection with the maintenance of the scheme." He will send the application back and suggest that the authority should frame the scheme again, leaving that part of it out.

The inclusion of the word "major" is likely to deter a local authority from applying. It will be apt to think that the grant is paid only for something big. That is surely what the word "major" means. Members of a local authority, seeing the word, are likely to say, "We had better not put this in," and will be apt not to apply for the moneys which the House, including the hon. Member, thinks it is entitled to. I am sure the hon. Member would not like to treat local authorities in that way. In those circumstances, I hope that we shall have some reply on this point. There is something in this argument. The word "major" does not seem to serve any useful purpose, especially in view of the other safeguards contained in the Bill.

Mr. Galbraith

The word "major", to which the hon. Member has taken exception, was put in in order to differentiate between the minor sort of reinstatement which might come under cleansing and the major kind which might occur if large boulders had to be cleared out. However, I agree with the hon. Member that there is not a great deal in it, and I am prepared to consider deleting the word.

Mr. Ross

That is very generous of the Joint Under-Secretary. He has just made one of the best speeches I have heard from him for a long time. If we go on in this way we shall finish up with a really good Bill, despite all its limitations.

Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

I want to clear my own mind on this point. The Joint Under-Secretary will know that in Clause 3 (2, b) there is a reference to the paragraph which the Amendment would alter. It refers to the fact that the powers mentioned in the paragraph shall (without prejudice to the generality of that paragraph) include power to remove any dam or other work situated, or any tree growing, in, on, over or under the watercourse. Is the Minister quite certain that the insertion of the words "major reinstatement" will not be misleading when read in conjunction with that paragraph?

Mr. Galbraith

We shall be able to consider that point in another place.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 7, after "alteration", insert or major reinstatement".—[Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.]

Mr. Ross

I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out line 26.

This Amendment will come as no surprise to the Joint Under-Secretary. If the words proposed to be left out are retained, it will mean that the Secretary of State has power to tell local authorities, at the start, that whatever else they do in relation to flood preventing operations they must not do anything about sewers or water mains. He may regard me as a little churlish, because he has answered some of our arguments by putting down a later Amendment. It is true that that Amendment partly meets the points we made in Committee, but even if we accepted it as adequate I do not see why he should not see his way to accept this Amendment.

If, in the first and most important operational Clause, we provide that a local authority can do A, B, C, D, E, F and G, it seems strange to provide that it must not do anything about sewers or water mains when, in Clause 12, we provide that it can do something about them, even if only in a limited way.

Secondly, bearing in mind the fact that the Clause is governed by the reference to the purpose of the Bill, which is for the prevention or mitigation of flooding of non-agricultural land in the areas of local authorities, the construing of any reference to a watercourse as including a sewer or water main would mean that any operations in addition to that work must be operations relating to flood prevention or mitigation.

In that respect, the fears that he expressed in the Standing Committee are quite unjustified—the will remember what they were, although he may not like to be reminded of what he said. He said—and I think that this is the real reason behind the Government's obduracy—that unless those words were there some unscrupulous Scottish local authority would use these powers to get, perhaps, a new sewer or something like that, and would get a better grant under this Measure than under other legislation. I think that under the desk of every civil servant at the Scottish Office there must be a placard with the words, "Never forget—do not trust the local authorities".

Not only have we the limiting words that the work must be related to flood prevention or mitigation, but we have the overall dominion and surveillance and control of the Secretary of State over all these things. I cannot therefore conceive of some small—or large authority—even if it were so unscrupulous as to try that sort of thing—being able to get round the whole Scottish Office. Even if it did, I am perfectly sure that it would not get past the eye of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

I still think, therefore, that although the Government have gone in a very roundabout and imperfect way to meet objections that during the Committee stage they considered were valid, they would have done far better to accept the advice we gave on these words and on the financial provision Clause, which would permit grants to be given for work connected with the sewers and water mains.

They have done the second part of the job for us, and acceptance of the Amendment would, I think, put us in the position of trusting the Secretary of State, trusting the local authorities, and trusting the words of the Bill that anything done in relation to these things would be related to flood prevention and mitigation. The Government's Amendments are not at the moment under discussion, so I shall not deal with them, but I think that they are subject to valid criticisms that could be better met were this Amendment accepted.

Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)

I support the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). In the course of cleaning up a river, an authority might have to deepen it, and that, in turn, might mean an alteration of some water main or sewer belonging, perhaps, to a local authority adjacent to that doing the work. If the Clause is left as it is, that could give rise to a certain amount of feeling, and it would be in the best interests of local authorities and of the Department if the Government were to accept this Amendment.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Manuel

To leave in line 26 will undoubtedly cause confusion. By a later Amendment, the Government show that they are cognisant of the difficulty here, and are, I presume, indicating that they would be prepared to take our point of view where a local authority, in relation to a water main or a sewage pipe, had to divert the previous course or, in deepening operations, had to lower the existing level. To do that is quite common. Since I spoke on this subject in the Standing Committee I have taken particular note of the number of authorities that have, passing through their townships, burns and rivers in which are housed sewage systems, water mains and other like services.

It is possible that we have been a little timorous; perhaps we should also have included electricity, gas and other services. We want our view to be very firmly in the Government's mind. Acceptance of this Amendment would avoid misunderstanding and confusion. As the Amendment standing in the name of the Joint Under-Secretary goes more or less the whole way on this matter, I do not see much value in now retaining this line. When the Government's Amendment is accepted they will assume the onus in that connection, so I do not see that the hon. Gentleman is laying himself open to anything such as he fears.

Mr. Galbraith

After the pleasant way in which we started our proceedings, I must confess that I thought that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was perhaps slightly churlish in not accepting what we proposed.

The effect of this Amendment—which, as the hon. Gentleman stated, we discussed at considerable length in the Scottish Standing Committee—would be to include sewers and water mains as defined in Clause 15 amongst the watercourses on which, under the Bill, local authorities could do work. I said in Committee that I could not agree that a local authority should be able by this Bill to carry out work that should be done as part of its own or another authority's responsibility for sewering or for providing water for its area. Perhaps the phrase I then used—of which hon. Members have been good enough to remind me—was a little unfortunate.

On that occasion, however, I undertook to look at the drafting of Clause 2 to see whether anything could be done to allow local authorities to carry out under the Bill work on a sewer or water main to the extent that such work was necessary to prevent urban flooding. I have done this, and while I do not wish to anticipate consideration of later Amendments, I think that I can say that we have achieved the desired results by the Amendments that my right hon. Friend seeks to make in Clause 12, page 8, line 12, and in Clause 13, page 8, line 30.

The Amendment that we are now discussing goes very much further than is necessary to achieve what the Opposition asked me in Committee to try to achieve. It would not only enable flood prevention authorities to carry out work on installations that are the concern—and, in some cases, the highly specialist concern—of the sewerage and water authorities, but would make it possible for the flood authorities "to encroach on functions that properly belong to those other bodies.

I have given this matter very careful thought—because I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that it might have been better if we could have introduced the concept at this early stage in the Bill rather than later on—but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the proper thing to do in order to achieve what the Opposition want is to arrange for any necessary work on sewers and water mains to be specified in the flood prevention scheme, and to have it done—with the assistance of whatever contribution from the flood prevention authority may be thought appropriate—by the authority whose job it is to provide these water or sewerage services.

Our Amendments enable the flood authorities to get grant on the contribution which they make for this purpose to the sewerage and water authorities. As that also meets another point made by the Opposition, I hope that, with that explanation, the hon. Gentleman will not feel disposed to press the Amendment.

Mr. Willis

I did not find the argument of the hon. Gentleman very convincing. By leaving these words in Clause 2, he indicates to local authorities at the beginning of the Bill That when they are dealing with watercourses they cannot include any sewers or water mains. He says that he has met us—we are very grateful for that—by making provisions later in the Bill, in Clauses 12 and 13, for work to be done on those and to be paid for. I wonder whether that does what the hon. Gentleman says it does—makes it possible for those to be included in flood prevention schemes.

Clause 2 deals with the powers of local authorities in the preparation of flood prevention schemes and in maintaining and managing such schemes. In that Clause the hon. Gentleman deliberately excludes these two things, yet he has told us in justification that he wants a local authority to include them in schemes put before him. Unless he does something about these words, or puts something into Clause 4 which tells us about flood prevention schemes, it does not seem that he will be giving a local authority power to do the things for which he is now providing the money.

He is deliberately excluding the local authority from undertaking this work while at the same time providing money for it to be carried out. Surely there is a contradiction there. The contradiction comes out all the more clearly by virtue of what the hon. Gentleman has said in justification for refusing to accept this Amendment. If he left these words out, what difference would it make? The local authority would include the work. I have no doubt that it would see that it was done in the best possible way, as the local authority responsible for sewerage and drainage, or by another authority responsible for those services. If the local authority tried to take the Scottish Office for a ride—a particularly difficult thing to do, I imagine—the safeguard would be that the scheme has to be approved by the Secretary of State. In view of that, there is no need for these wards.

This suspicious attitude of mind towards local authorities is astonishing. My hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter), my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) have all given many valuable years of service to local authorities. They have played leading parts in local authorities. With the wealth of their experience on how local authorities operate, they have said to the hon. Gentleman that it would be better to leave these words out. In view of the practical advice he has been offered and the arguments which he must admit have some validity, surely the hon. Gentleman can look at this matter again?

We appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has done in relation to later provisions, but that will not have value if a local authority cannot do anything under those provisions. We cannot see how that can be done if these words are left in the Bill.

Mr. Galbraith

The difficulty is that hon. Members opposite have not appreciated the practical problems involved. They seem to be assuming that the flood prevention authority and the sewerage authority are to be the same.

Mr. Manuel

They usually are.

Mr. Galbraith

They may be, or they may not be. I agree that if they are the same authority there is not the same obstacle in the way of accepting the Amendment, but equally they may not be the same authority. That is where we run into difficulties; because, if the Amendment were accepted, it would be giving the flood prevention authority power to enter in and act on another authority's sewers or water mains.

On reflection, I think that is something which the whole Committee would agree would not be a good thing. For that reason, I cannot accept the Amendment.

Mr. Ross

We had lengthy discussions on this point in Committee upstairs, but this is the first time that the hon. Gentleman has dragged in this argument. The Bill gives the right to a local authority to go into another local authority's area and on to someone else's land to conduct operations in relation to that land The hon. Gentleman should appreciate, also, that that could be done only under a flood prevention scheme, and, before such a scheme is even discussed with the Secretary of State, it has to be advertised. Anyone with any concern in relation to it has the right to give evidence and make objections. I think the hon. Gentleman is making a mountain out of a small molehill.

Bearing in mind that in most cases the sewerage authority, the water authority and the local authority doing work, are most likely to be the same authority, the sewers and water mains are most likely to be within the area of the authority which initiates the scheme. I do not say that that will always be the case, but I think the difficulties are being overestimated. On the other hand, I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not underestimating the difficulties in relation to his solution.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) put some very cogent points. That is why I allowed this Amendment to remain on the Notice Paper, despite the fact that the Joint Under-Secretary has suggested that there is a way round this difficulty without making any change in the Clause. We shall have to examine that point when we come to it. I do not know whether the Lard Advocate has looked at this from the point of view of the legality of the alternative to the Amendment I have moved. A flood prevention scheme includes flood prevention operations and those operations are specifically defined in the Clause. That means that they will not include anything to do with sewers and water mains.

8.0 p.m.

There are considerable difficulties in what the hon. Gentleman has suggested. We are pressing the Amendment, not only because we think it is right, but because we have doubts about the validity of the Government Amendment, well meaning as it is within its limits. Does not the Minister appreciate that all the restrictions which he requires are in the Clause to meet the objections which he has advanced both in Standing Committee and today? This cannot be dealt with at all unless there is a scheme for flood prevention or mitigation. It must be included in a flood prevention scheme if it is to attract grant. If it is only maintenance, it does not come within the scheme and the Secretary of State is not concerned because he is making no payment. If it is to cost anything, then it must be in a scheme which must be prepared and published to everyone, including any authority which might be concerned. Finally, the scheme must be confirmed by the Secretary of State.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Secretary of State, the Lord Advocate, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State do not see the logic and the sense of that. They are being far too timorous. I cannot help feeling that it is not the last argument which the hon. Member advanced which carries weight with him. He had made up his mind long before he produced it. The true reason is that he fears that local authorities might get away with something. The Government lack faith in themselves because, after all, they have to confirm the schemes. I feel very strongly about this, because what we suggest is such common sense. We must press common sense on the Government, and I therefore ask my hon. Friends to divide on the Amendment.

Mr. Manuel

Surely this is not a subject on which we ought to have to divide. The Joint Under-Secretary of State said that the authority concerned might be the local authority but it might not. If it were not the local authority directly, it would most probably be one of a combination of local authorities. A sewerage authority, after all, is not an abstract body divorced from local authorities; it is either itself a local authority or is in partnership with other local authorities in dealing with a sewerage scheme. The Minister is making confusion worse confounded by taking the powers outwith the local authorities.

I am convinced that the provisions we suggest would create not the slightest difficulty. The local authorities would agree harmoniously about this. With experience of this work, I say that the Minister's fears are quite unfounded. I challenge him, because I think that he has made no sounding of local authority opinion in this matter. I am certain that had he done so he would have received every assurance he wanted about possible future difficulties.

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) accuses me of being suspicious of local authorities. The trouble with him is that he is suspicious of me and my motives, and without any justification.

Although he does not believe me, I have tried to meet his point about whether a local authority should have power to meddle with another local authority's sewers. It is a matter of judgment. The hon. Member considers that the local authority ought to have power to do so, but I consider that it ought not. I had hoped that it would not be necessary for the Committee to divide on this Amendment, but in any event I cannot make any further move at all on this subject.

Mr. W. Baxter

This proposal is only incidental to the scheme being proposed by the local authority. It proposes a scheme to the Minister for flood prevention in an area and, in the course of carrying it out, it finds it necessary to interfere with another local authority's sewers or water pipes. Surely it is reasonable in those circumstances that the authority which presented the flood prevention scheme should have power to deepen the mains or alter the course of a main without having to consult the other authority and to hold up the scheme. The only way in which it would be interfering would be in deepening the river for flood prevention purposes—and those are the purposes of the Bill.

The necessity to consult other local authorities will add a great deal of extra time and trouble. I have been associated

Division No. 36.] AYES [8.8 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Percival, Ian
Aitken, W. T. Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Pilkington, Capt. Sir Richard
Arbuthnot, John Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Pitt, Miss Edith
Ashton, Sir Hubert Harvie Anderson, Miss Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Balniel, Lord Hastings, Stephen Price, David (Eastleigh)
Barlow, Sir John Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Prior, J. M. L.
Barter, John Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Berkeley, Humphry Henderson, John (Cathcart) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Black, Sir Cyril Hendry, Forbes Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bossom, Clive Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Ramsden, James
Bourne-Arton, A. Hiley, Joseph Relmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Box, Donald Hill Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Renton, David
Brewis, John Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Hirst, Geoffrey Ridsdale, Julian
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Hobson, John Roots, William
Channon, H. P. G. Holland, Philip Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Chataway, Christopher Hollingworth, John Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Hopkins, Alan Scott-Hopkins, James
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Seymour, Leslie
Cleaver, Leonard Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Sharples, Richard
Cole, Norman Hughes-Young, Michael Shaw, M.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hutchison, Michael Clark Spearman, Sir Alexander
Costain, A. P. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Stodart, J. A.
Coulson, J. M. Jackson, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Craddock, Sir Beresford Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Studholme, Sir Henry
Critchley, Julian Jennings, J. C. Tapsell, Peter
Cunningham, Knox Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Curran, Charles Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Temple, John M.
Currie, G. B. H. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Deedes, W. F Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
de Ferranti, Basil Kerr, Sir Hamilton Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kershaw, Anthony Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Doughty, Charles Kimball, Marcus Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Duncan, Sir James Linstead, Sir Hugh Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Litchfield, Capt. John Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Elliott, R.W. (N'wc'stle-upon-Tyne, N.) Longden, Gilbert Tweedsmulr, Lady
Emery, Peter MacArthur, Ian van Straubenzee, W. R.
Errington, Sir Eric Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Vane, W. M. F.
Farr, John McMaster, Stanley R. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Finlay, Graeme Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Maddan, Martin Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Markham, Major Sir Frank Wall, Patrick
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Ward, Dame Irene
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Marten, Nell Watts, James
Freeth, Denzil Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Mawby, Ray Whitelaw, William
Gammans, Lady Mills, Stratton Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Gardner, Edward Montgomery, Fergus Wilson Geoffrey (Truro)
Gibson-Watt, David More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Glover, Sir Douglas Nabarro, Gerald Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Goodhart, Philip Neave, Airey Woodhouse, C. M.
Goodhew, Victor Noble, Michael Woodnutt, Mark
Grant, Rt. Hon. William Nugent, Sir Richard Woollam, John
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Osborn, John (Hallam) Worsley, Marcus
Green, Alan Page, John (Harrow, West)
Gresham Cooke, R. Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Partridge, E. Mr. Bryan and Mr. Pearson.
Gurden, Harold Peel, John
Ainsley, William Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Boardman, H.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Beaney, Alan Bowden, Herbert W. (Leios, S.W.)
Awbery, Stan Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Bacon, Miss Alice Blackburn, F. Brown, Alan (Tottenham)

with local authorities for a long time, and I think that it is foolish to include the Clause in the Bill as at present drafted. The Bill simply enables the presentation of flood prevention schemes, and the interference with sewerage and water mains would be only incidental to the operation.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 170, Noes 128.

Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Chetwynd, George Kenyon, Clifford Ross, William
Colliok, Percy Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Short, Edward
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lawson, George Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Crosland, Anthony Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice McCann, John Small, William
Darling, George McInnes, James Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) McKay, John (Wallsend) Snow, Julian
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Mackie, John Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
de Freitas, Geoffrey McLeavy, Frank Spriggs, Leslie
Dempsey, James Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Steele, Thomas
Diamond, John Manuel, A. C. Stones, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Mapp, Charles Swain, Thomas
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Sylvester, George
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Marsh, Richard Symonds, J. B.
Evans, Albert Mellish, R. J. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Fernyhough, E. Millan, Bruce Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Fletcher, Eric Milne, Edward J. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Forman, J. C. Mitchison, G. R. Thornton, Ernest
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moody, A. S. Tomney, Frank
Ginsburg, David Morris, John Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Moyle, Arthur Wainwright, Edwin
Gourlay, Harry Neal, Harold Warbey, William
Grey, Charles Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Watkins, Tudor
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oram, A. E. Weitzman, David
Gunter, Ray Oswald, Thomas Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Owen, Will Whitlock, William
Hannan, William Padley, W. E. Wilkins, W. A.
Hart, Mrs. Judith Pargiter, G. A. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hayman, F. H. Parker, John (Dagenham) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Herbison, Miss Margaret Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hilton, A. V. Pentland, Norman Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Holman, Percy Popplewell, Ernest Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Howell, Charles A. Prentice, R. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Price, W. T. (Westhoughton) Woof, Robert
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Probert, Arthur Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Proctor, W. T.
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Randall, Harry TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Rankin, John Mr. Cronin and Mr. Ifor Davies.
Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith

I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, at the end to insert: and in the foregoing subsection cleansing ' in relation to a watercourse means the removal from the watercourse of mud, silt, debris or other obstructive matter in the ordinary course of good maintenance". The Amendment follows on from what I have already said on the earlier Amendments, taking major reinstatements out of the category of maintenance work. Its purpose is to clarify for those who will operate the Bill the types of minor operations which will be covered by maintenance work.

Hon. Members will remember that we had a fairly lengthy discussion in Committee on the theoretical distinction between cleansing and clearing a watercourse. This served to demonstrate the doubt which might have arisen with these words in juxtaposition. During the course of the debate, I was asked by hon. Members opposite to define the meaning of "cleansing" in this subsection. I explained then that the reference was intended to cover comparatively simple operations, such as the removal from a watercourse of weeds, branches or sand if it was causing silting.

I have given further consideration to the point and feel that it might be helpful if the matter were put beyond doubt by defining the operation of cleansing in the Bill. The Amendment does this, and at the same time serves to make it doubly clear that major clearance of a watercourse is not intended to be dealt with under maintenance operations and so will qualify for a grant. I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the Committee in the same way as the earlier Amendments have done.

Mr. Ross

All I want to do is to give the Joint Under-Secretary full marks. He has done very well indeed, because the original wording of the Clause was very complicated and far from clear. A very telling speech on cleansing was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey). I hope to convince even my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) that the Government have done very well in the definition of "cleansing".

The hon. Gentleman said that we had had a long argument in Committee. He keeps talking about long arguments. The trouble is that it takes a very long argument to persuade the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends to accept common sense. I think that he will admit that by adding these words he has made the position much more clear. To that extent it is a much better Bill. I hope that in future he will be much more grateful when he improves his Bill as a result of our complaints and helpful suggestions in Committee.

Mr. W. Baxter

I seek clarification. The Amendment seeks to define cleansing as removing mud, silt and debris. What about effluent from an industrial undertaking or a badly constructed or obsolete sewage works? That can cause obstruction in watercourses. How would that be dealt with under the Bill?

Mr. Galbraith

If a watercourse was obstructed by it, it would come under the Bill. If it were not, the effluent might have to be dealt with under the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act, 1951.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.