§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)
I beg to move,That the Llanelly and District Water Board Order, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 14th February, be annulled.Hon. Members will have seen that there is an Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), that the Petition be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses. The purpose of my Motion is to clear the way for this Amendment. I wanted to make clear at the outset that my hon. Friend and I are on the same side of the fence—or, perhaps I should say, on the same side of the watershed—and that this collusion has been necessitated by the very strange procedure under which the matter is raised.
This procedure has only once been used since the 1945 Act came into force—and that was in the other place. It has never been used in this House. It is a Heath Robinson procedure, which achieves its purposes in an unnecessarily mysterious way. It is cumbersome, complicated, archaic and rather ludicrous. I think that I am not the only one who would be glad if some other and simplified form could be found to achieve the same purpose. That is all I want to say about procedure.
The application for the Order was made by four authorities in the County of Carmarthen. They were Llanelly Corporation, Kidwelly Corporation, Burry Port Urban District Council, and Llanelly Rural District Council. The effect of the Order is to set up a new general water board to cover these four areas only.
Subsequently, objections to the Order were lodged by the rest of the county: Carmarthen Corporation, Llanbovery Corporation, and the Urban District Councils of Cwmamman, Llanbeilo, Newcastle Emlyn, and Loughor.
I expect that the Parliamentary Secretary is listening to the pronunciation and is ready to embark upon these names—or perhaps I have saved him the trouble.
A public inquiry was held in Llanelly at which the cases for the promoters and for the objectors were heard. Expert 1262 witnesses were called, and the inspector who held the inquiry concluded in his report that the Order should be made. Accordingly, it was made in December, 1961. The objecting authorities I have named oppose the Order on the grounds that the proposed water board would not constitute an effective grouping of water undertakings in the county, and that it would have the effect of splitting the county into two halves—the industrial areas on one side and the rural and poorer authorities out on a limb on the other side.
The Order does not appear to conform to the principles laid down by the circular of September 1956, which was sent out by the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in which he told the local authorities how, in his view, they could promote the most effective use of the water resources of the country. I shall quote part of what he said, because it has some relationship to this Order. He said:In modern conditions these aims can hardly be achieved unless water undertakings are large enough for local resources to be developed to the best advantage, for major capital works to be financed and supervised, and for the expert full time staff, including engineers, chemists and accountants to be employed.There is no doubt that the Llanelly and District Water Board will be able to function effectively according to these terms. It has the collective means and the staff. But what of the rural areas? No one who knows the finances of these areas can possibly say that they can fulfil these conditions. They are in no position to do so. It is for these reasons that the petitioners hold the view, expressed in the Petition they are about to present, that the proper regrouping in the county would be a wider board covering the whole county.
The county is a place of infinite variety. That is part of its charm, but, as in other instances, it presents many difficult problems. There are large areas of sparsely populated territory, interspersed with small urban communities, while in the south there is the concentrated, packed industrial area. This industrial area will be completely within the new proposed water board area.
How different will be its circumstances and finances I should like to point out 1263 by giving one or two facts to mark the tremendous differences. The density of population within the proposed board's limits is 883 persons per square mile, as compared with 108 persons per square mile in the rest of the county. I do not call that a very effective regrouping. The result will be to split the county not only as between the industrial and rural areas but as between areas of high-cost waiter and low-cost water, because the Order promoted by the Llanelly district proposes a maximum domestic rate of 3s. 6d. in the pound and a maximum charge for supplying water by meter of 3s. per 1,000 gallons.
What of the remainder of the county and smaller urban communities? If the Minister's policy is to be carried out—and no doubt it will be—then further regroups in the county will have to be carried out. The new undertakers will have to bear the whole burden of the rural supplies in the county, and then the burden—let us face it—can only be met by the imposition of high rates and charges very greatly in excess of those provided for in the Order. I would point out also to the House that the evidence is already available that the cost of water is already between two and three times as great in the rural areas as it is in the proposed new board area, and, of course, if the Order goes through then the future cost will be immensely increased.
So I think that in these circumstances it is hardly surprising that the petitioners feel that before this new water board is proceeded with these and other relevant factors, many of them of a highly technical nature, should be put before a Joint Committee of both Houses. Although I am not quite certain about it, I understand that the promoters themselves would not be entirely averse from this. I therefore hope that the Motion, as amended, will commend itself to the House.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
Perhaps this is the appropriate moment at which I should intervene, but I am quite willing to let my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) move his Amendment if you think that the better course, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
I am very ready to move it, and then perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) can deal with the question in an omnibus form.
I beg to move, to leave out from "the" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:Petition of General Objection of the Carmarthen Borough Council and others against the Llanelly and District Water Board Order, 1961, be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses".I shall not deal with the merits of the Order as my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) has done, because this is something which is to be sent for consideration, if my Amendment is successful, to a Joint Committee of both Houses. I should like to join my hon. Friend in protest about the procedure which makes what she called this act of collusion necessary. It is the only way in which this kind of problem can be dealt with. It would be far better if the normal Private Bill procedure could be operated, with a committee to consider the various arguments and to hear the various objections, and with proper time and facilities to consider maps, local interests, and so on, in the normal course of events. This is the only way in which we can put this problem into that kind of tramline for consideration to see not only that justice is done but that justice is apparently done as well. The fact is that under this procedure it is only possible, I think I ought to explain to the House, to move a direct Motion of annulment, and then for another Member to move an Amendment to the Motion, an Amendment to secure reference to a Joint Committee.
There are all sorts of other complications as well. There is a limit to the number of days on which it is possible for this kind of procedure to operate. The matter is limited to fourteen days from the report of the Chairman of Ways and Means, and, excluding the date on which the report is laid and the next day, since notice has to be given of the Motion, and excluding Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, this 1265 leaves only six days. Moreover, under Standing Order No. 95A this opportunity is reduced still further by it being laid down that any debate of this nature must be concluded by 11.30 at night.
It is easy to see that in certain circumstances, such as during the period of the Finance Bill, there might not be any days at all on which this kind of procedure could operate. Therefore, I venture to say that more serious consideration should be given by the House as to whether or not this sort of procedure should operate in the future. As my hon. Friend said, it really is a kind of bogus collusion. It ensures, of course, that justice is done rather in the manner of the divorce court, of a suitably marked pair of shoes being put outside the bedroom to ensure that the proper evidence is available. I should be happy to enter into such an arrangement with my hon. Friend on any other occasion and, indeed, on behalf of the mayor, aldermen and burgesses of the Borough of Carmarthen, although what they would say about an act of political adultery I do not know. In the harsh light of publicity in this Chamber I doubt whether this is a suitable arrangement except as the only way in which we can ensure that the arrangements are properly dealt with.
With these few words and with a very strong protest against the procedure and in the hope that the matter will be dealt with more satisfactorily if the House sees fit to adopt my Amendment, I have much pleasure in commending it to the House.
§ 10.38 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I will not intervene in the conspiracy which has been taking place between my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) and my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), except to say how much I agree with what they have said. Quite frankly, this procedure is anomalous in the 1960s, and we ought to look at it from that point of view.
The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke is part of the outdated machinery. It means that this matter will go to a Joint Committee of both Houses with the paraphernalia of barristers and instructors and that an enormous amount of money will be spent 1266 by these two authorities. Llanelly cannot afford it, and I am sure that Carmarthen cannot. But that is what it will mean.
I think that I ought to say a word for my town of Llanelly, and, indeed, for the other three authorities, because there are four authorities here concerned which have joined together. Three of them are in my constituency. They are the Borough of Llanelly, the Rural District of Llanelly and the Urban District of Burry Port, and there is one authority in the constituency of my hon. Friend. They have not come together because of conspiracy. They are natural industrial units, and that is what has brought them together. It is the common experience of several generations and, in particular, the experience of the past twenty years.
These were the areas around which a very large part of the steel and tinplate industries of South Wales grew up. They made an enormous contribution to the wealth of this country and, not least, to the wealth of the county. They have been going through, and are still going through, the consequence of a great technical and industrial revolution. The old slate and tinplate industries have virtually disappeared. In the last twenty years, particularly in the last ten years, they have been going through very difficult times. There was a time when in this area literally thousands of men were employed in the steel and tin-plate works, but now only a single tin-plate works is left. To replace those industries, my constituency, Carmarthen, Neath, Kidwelly and Burry Port, all of which were part of this integrated industrial system, have had to work might and main to attract new industries.
This is a very important problem. I do not agree with the action of the President of the Board of Trade. Until recently these areas were specified under the Local Employment Act. They have joined together for the purpose of providing collectively one of the essential means of attracting new industries. If they are to attract new industries they must have an abundant supply of water. The county might have taken action to get a supply some time ago. It is no good going to Kidwelly and Burry Port if the idea is to have a county borough. I ask the Minister if a scheme has been submitted for a county borough.
1267 If the feeling of the House is that this question should go to a Select Committee and the Minister agrees, I shall not oppose that. I suppose that Carmarthen and Llanelly would have to pay for it. But has the county put forward an alternative scheme for the whole county? It is open to the county to do that. I suppose that all that would go before the Joint Committee for consideration would be whether the Order should be confirmed or not. If it is confirmed the Order would come into operation and the joint water board of these four authorities would be established. If perchance the Order were not confirmed but was annulled, what would happen then? Nothing would happen. Llanelly is already the water authority and the rural district is already a water authority. There would be no joint authority; the separate authorities would remain as they are.
This procedure does not deal with the problem. Has the Minister any information that in the not too distant future the authorities in West Glamorgan, Port Talbot and Neath will be making an application for water from Carmarthenshire? We have to deal with this matter in a piecemeal fashion. It is known that Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and adjoining authorities are seeking water, and there is water in Carmarthenshire. Alternative schemes have been considered. I hope that when he replies the Minister will deal with this problem. I want a water board for the whole of Wales to deal with the problem on a national basis.
When the Chief Secretary to the Treasury was Minister for Welsh Affairs we discussed this matter with him in debates in the House and in the Welsh Grand Committee, and he told us that he would give consideration to the whole question of the future organisation of water supplies in Wales when the Welsh Water Advisory Committee's report on the water resources of Wales was available. It was published in April, 1961, nearly twelve months ago, but nothing has happened. One would have thought that the right thing to do would be to have a technical examination of the water resources of Wales and then consider the whole problem.
The last time we discussed Welsh water in this House there was a row. 1268 We were then dealing with Trewern. There was a tremendous debate—there was a great deal of anxiety about it—with a Division at the end.
The report on Welsh water resources which is now available shows that there are some areas in Wales which are deficient in water resources and water will have to be brought to them from outside. There are zones defined by the Committee. Indeed, it is clear that water will have to be brought from England to certain parts of Wales.
A suggestion is made about the integrated area of West Wales. Why should we in such a problem confine ourselves to county boundaries. I see here the hon. Members for Swansea, West (Mr. Rees) and Barry (Mr. Gower). Their areas will be going to Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire for water. The right thing to do is to look at this whole matter again disregarding local authority areas. I should like to see that done, for I am certain that it is the right thing to do.
The whole of the water supplies in the country should be made a public service. Most of them have so been made. The case for the public ownership of water as an essential of our daily life, industry and everything else is overwhelming. But this is not the moment to argue that.
I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to answer my questions. If this matter goes to the Joint Committee of both Houses, presumably all it will have to decide is whether or not the Order shall be confirmed. If it is confirmed, I take it that the Order then comes into operation. If it is not confirmed, then everything stands where it is now. Am I right?
Also, since these authorities have objected, I should like to know whether the Minister has received an alternative proposal from the county. I should also like to know what the view of the Ministry is about all this. Has the Ministry now made up its mind, having before it all the available information, including the report on water resources in Wales, to look at the matter in a broad and sensible way?
Here is Wales with all its available resources of water—all we need for ourselves if it is wisely distributed and 1269 sensibly exploited. But the fact is that large numbers of local authorities in Wales are too poor to be able to do it. They will never be able to do it. Carmarthenshire by itself is not one of the richest counties of Wales. Half the population of Wales is in one county—Glamorgan, with a great deal of its resources, and four county boroughs.
My hon. Friend's argument was that the richer areas ought to help the poorer. I could not oppose that; indeed, I agree with him. But why make Llanelly the only one to help? Why not ail the rest? Swansea is a richer town—except for rugby football—than Llanelly, and Glamorgan is richer than either of them. When we count in the county boroughs, Glamorgan is richer than the whole of the rest of Wales in resources, potential and rateable value.
That is the way to do it. I am not going to oppose this, but these four authorities have been going through a great transitional period during which they have seen the industries to which they have given a century of their lives undermined and destroyed. This is why they have now said, "We are determined to get new industries, but to do so we must get water. Therefore, let us pool our resources". They have done that with the best intentions, and not with the intention of not playing their part in the community.
Until recently—if I may speak of my lifetime as comparatively recently—the eastern part of Carmarthenshire paid two-thirds of all the rates, although it had only one-third of the population. The authorities there cannot therefore be charged with not having played their part in the community.
If the Minister thinks that this ought to go to a Joint Committee I shall not object, but I hope that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Welsh Affairs will shortly tell the Welsh Grand Committee that he will consider the matter and will bring in a plan for Wales which will ensure that everyone in Wales pays in accordance with his ability to meet the charge.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
I support as strongly as I can the points put forward by my hon. Friends, in particular the procedural point. This exer- 1270 cise has shown once more that no procedure which is not too expensive is open to local authorities to guard their legitimate interests in a matter like this. The decision to send this to a Joint Committee for consideration will impose a heavy expenditure on the local authorities concerned. The procedure of a Private Bill would equally impose a heavy financial burden on them. The point about the procedure involved in cases of this kind is particularly urgent, because we think that piecemeal localised water Orders of this kind are likely to multiply in the immediate future.
It appears to be the policy of the Government and of the Minister not to achieve a solution on the lines outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), that is, to create sufficiently large hydrometric zones and authorities which can effectively tackle the problem of the supply and distribution of water, but rather to gather together selected authorities and parts of counties leaving out other parts, and to form small water boards of this kind. They are not a solution to the problem either locally or nationally.
My right hon. Friend referred to the fact that a special committee set up by the Minister, the Advisory Committee on Welsh Water Resources, had reported as long ago as April, 1961. One wonders whether the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary studied that report before bringing in this piecemeal proposal. Secondly, whether they have properly studied the detailed debate on that report which took place in the Welsh Grand Committee on 5th July, 1961, during which all these considerations were put forward by Welsh Members and were examined by the then Minister for Welsh Affairs, the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. What has happened about the report and about the debate to which I have referred?
My right hon. Friend referred to areas of deficiency in Wales. It is almost incredible that there are such areas in Wales with its heavy rainfall. There are also areas of potential deficiency where new industries of the size and variety which we hope will be introduced—such as to Llanelly—will make very heavy demands on the water supply. Those are areas of potential deficiency 1271 to which the report refers specifically. One of them is the south-eastern part of the south-western hydrometric zone, that is to say, Llanelly and district. It is extraordinary that the Minister should proceed with an Order dealing only with the amalgamation of a few authorities in part of one county, knowing that the real problem in south-west Wales and particularly in the south-eastern part of the area is so great that only an overall policy for the whole zone could possibly solve it.
We are advocating that a Welsh national water board should be created for the assembly of water resources in Wales and their distribution for internal use and for the exporting of the exploitable surplus, which we very much want to do. Such a board could operate in five zones, one of which would be the south-western zone, covering Pembroke, Cardigan, Carmarthen and the western part of Glamorgan. More than enough water would be provided to cover the deficiencies existing now and the potential deficiencies and to provide a supply for the cities of England. By tampering with the problem in this piecemeal fashion none of the objectives will be reached. There will not be enough water in Wales or to export to England. We take this opportunity to press on the Minister the lesson contained in the report of the advisory committee which was presented to the House twelve months ago.
§ 10.59 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
I will try, first, to put this Order into perspective and then to deal with some of the questions which have been raised about procedure.
The House will appreciate that this Order is one of a large number which have been made, or are now under consideration, to effect the regrouping of water undertakings. The policy derives from the White Paper Cmd. No. 6515, issued in 1944, and is aimed at promoting the most effective use of the water resources of the country and providing a reliable service. At that time there were 1,000 water undertakings in England and Wales, of which 26 served about 50 per cent. of the population. As 1272 a result of the action which has been taken to date, there are now about 550 in England and Wales of which 200 are affected by Orders in various stages of completion. So I suggest that quite a good deal is being done.
I think that it is generally accepted that these aims can only be achieved first, if there are sufficient local sources developed to the best advantage; secondly, if their areas are large enough for their capital works to be financed and supervised; and, thirdly, if they are large enough for expert full-time staff to be employed. Subject to these requirements, which are set out in more detail in Circular 41 of 1958, the most suitable size for a water undertaking is a matter for consideration in each particular case, but where possible—and the Order which is before the House is such a case—we reach agreement on the basis of voluntary amalgamations.
I think that some of the suggestions that have been made tonight about a Welsh water board raise wide and different considerations of policy into which I do not think I can go now, but I will certainly convey to my right hon. Friend the views which have been expressed by hon. Members.
This Order, as the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) pointed out, was made on the application of the four local authorities concerned, who are four water undertakings. This question of the right number of boards for Carmarthen is a matter which has a considerable history. A survey of water supplies in the South Wales Development Area was carried out between 1946 and 1949 by Mr. F. A. Gardiner, under the auspices of the Minister, Mr. Gardiner being one of his senior engineering inspectors. His report recommended that the water supply in the part of the county surveyed should be reorganised under three boards, one of which should be administered in the area covered more or less by the board which it is now proposed to create.
From the starting point of that survey a good deal of work has been done and a good deal of time spent in local discussions of one sort or another. It was in September, 1957, that the Carmarthenshire County Council convened 1273 a conference of district councils to discuss the first regrouping circular to which the hon. Lady referred, Circular 52 of 1956. There was a representative of the Minister present and he explained that the Minister would be prepared to consider either two boards—one for the area dealt with by this Order—or a single county board. Subsequently, there was formal correspondence to this effect.
I understand that no formal application has ever been made for a water board for the whole country, but that the objection at the public inquiry was to ask the Minister not to make this Order, but to start again and make an order for the whole county. This would have meant a compulsory order. All along the four local authorities which are subject to the present Order have been in favour of the two boards. The nine remaining water undertakings were in favour of one board. They have not formally put it forward. The four which are subject to this present Order held to their view that there should be two boards and announced their intention to draft an Order, and they made a formal application for it in November, 1959. It was objected to by the remaining nine, who are now the petitioners, and their objection was the only one at the public local inquiry which was held in October, 1960.
After considering this report, the then Minister followed the inspector's recommendation and announced to all concerned in October last year a decision to make the Order with some very slight modification. The decision rested on three factors. First, the application was a voluntary one promoted by agreement to cover the authorities concerned; secondly, there appeared to be no overriding engineering considerations in favour of a larger unit; and, thirdly, it appeared to leave no insuperable problem in the rest of the county.
Our attitude throughout has been—at least, I hope it has been—reasonable and flexible. We would at all times have been quite prepared to give effect to any agreed proposal by the water undertakings concerned which would have satisfied the requirements of the regrouping policy, but the only agreed proposal which has ever come forward is the one which we are now discussing, and 1274 prima facie it was a satisfactory proposal. However, the nine undertakings are persisting in their objection. They have presented their petition within the due time, and the Order has thereby become subject to this special Parliamentary procedure.
I do not want to go into the details of the petition, which has been certified as proper to be received as a petition of general objection. As has been pointed out, the Motion to annul the Order, and the Amendment to refer it to the Joint Committee, are the necessary mechanism to get a petition of general objection before a Joint Committee. Some hon. Members have complained that this is an unsatisfactory procedure. As the House will remember, we had a general debate as recently as 14th February on the question of special parliamentary procedure. The discussion then turned particularly on the procedure relating to certain Orders under the Public Health Act, 1875, but a number of criticisms were made of the general position.
The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said that we wanted something like the Private Bill procedure. The Government have fully considered all this, but do not think that the Private Bill procedure would be normally appropriate in this sort of Order, which is in the nature of an executive Order, giving effect to general policy already laid down by Statute and approved by this House.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that we have all this paraphernalia of going to Committees, and the great expense incurred in employing counsel and hearing expert witnesses. But that, surely, is the whole point. One does not want to incur that expense unnecessarily. The Government have, therefore, throughout taken the view that with this class of Order it would not be appropriate for all petitions of general objection to go automatically to a Joint Committee.
If the Minister regards an Order as being so fundamental to his policy that even if it went to a Joint Committee, and even if the Joint Committee took a certain view, he would, nevertheless, do as he is entitled to do, which is to introduce a Bill under Section 6 of the 1275 Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act, 1945, it would be quite unfair to the petitioners, or anyone else, to allow the matter to go to the Joint Committee.
That, perhaps, is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman, who wanted to know what would happen if the Joint Committee rejected the petition; would we have to go through it all again? I cannot anticipate what view the Joint Committee would take, but it is quite obvious that a case might arise where the Minister might promote such an Order as part of his general policy, and say that, if necessary, he would promote a Bill to give effect to it, and that, therefore, the question should not go to the Joint Committee at all.
The procedure gives the Minister the opportunity, in an appropriate case, to tell the House, "I am prepared to defend this part of my policy at all costs, so I advise the House to reject the Motion and the Amendment." In certain circumstances, that would save a lot of money; it would certainly save it if there were to be two bites at the one cherry.
Nevertheless, we have made it clear that we have some sympathy with the criticisms of the amount of time allowed—14 days—to put down these petitions; and that we also have some sympathy with the view that it should be easier for petitions of general objection to be referred to a Joint Committee. At the same time, I cannot add anything to what I said on 14th February. Despite the criticisms made tonight of the procedure, we know of no case in which a petition of general objection has been unable to go to a Joint Committee because of procedural difficulties, and I think that the fact that that is rather rare shows that it is probably the right procedure to adopt. There has been no serious difficulty in providing the time for this debate, and it has also to be borne in mind—on the question of time—that there has been a public inquiry and that everyone has had long notice of the position.
The petition, I understand, is not a root-and-branch objection to the whole policy of regrouping but just to the form in which it is suggested in this case. Therefore, although we could not accept the Motion for annulment, I would not 1276 ask the House to oppose the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Pembroke. In these particular circumstances, it is desirable that the petition should be referred to a Joint Committee so that we can have an examination of the whole subject with the assistance of experts. That is why I do not want to deal tonight with any of the merits of the matter. I hope that the House will reject the Motion and accept the Amendment, and, at the same time, give joint credit to the mover of the Motion and the mover of the Amendment.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
If the Amendment is carried, and the matter goes to a Joint Committee, will it be confined to considering this Order and the objections made in Carmarthenshire—and, therefore, be confined to the county?
§ Mr. Rippon
There has been no proposal for an Order relating to the whole county. No doubt when the Committee considers all this it will come to certain conclusions. Let us suppose that it came to the conclusion that it would be appropriate—and it gave some indication to the effect—that there should be an Order for the whole county. No doubt it could do that. In those circumstances, it would be open to my right hon. Friend to make a compulsory Order. If he did that, some hon. Members might well say, "We should not have a petition of general objection for a second time."
§ Mr. Griffiths
Let us suppose that a group of people in Wales would like to take advantage of this opportunity to put before this Committee the proposal—which I regard as sensible—that there should be a water board for the whole of Wales. Would that be in order?
§ Mr. Rippon
It would not be appropriate for me to say what could or could not be considered by the Joint Committee under its terms of reference.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
To what extent would the Minister be bound by the findings or decisions of a Joint Committee of both Houses? Am I right in assuming that its findings cannot result in a modification or amendment of the existing Order?
§ Mr. Rippon
There are difficulties about the degree of amendment permitted. As I understand it, this is a 1277 petition of general objection to the whole Order. My right hon. Friend is not bound, in the sense in which I indicated earlier; under Section 6 of the 1945 Act it would be open to him to promote a Bill to give effect to this Order if he were so minded, or subsequently to make a compulsory order of a different kind, which we could consider again.
§ Mr. G. Roberts rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that the hon. Member requires leave to speak again. I have not been here, but I think that that must be so.
§ Mr. Roberts
I wish to put a further question, arising from what my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, Sir.
§ Mr. Roberts
If it is open to the Joint Committee to consider a county scheme or a county board, would it be equally competent for it to consider evidence in support of a zonal board covering south-west Wales and the hydrometric area to which I referred?
§ Mr. Rippon
I answered that point. I said that I was not going to be drawn into a discussion of what it was in the competence of the Joint Committee to consider.
§ Question, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question, put and negatived.
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That the Petition of General Objection of the Carmarthen Borough Council and others against the Llanelly and District Water Board Order, 1961, be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses.
§ Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.