HC Deb 18 July 1963 vol 681 cc858-60
Mr. Temple

I beg to move, in page 74, line 39, at the end to insert: to the extent to which they prohibit the use of those waters for boating or by boats which are not for the time being registered with the river authority This is another Amendment that has the full backing of the River Boards Association, and its object is to give to a future river authority the power to regulate, but not to prohibit, boating in its own area in certain circumstances. I would remind the House that this differentiation between prohibiting and regulating is already contained in the Clause, and the concept of this Amendment is in Section 76(1) of the Public Health Act, 1961. My right hon. Friend will recollect that when the Public Health Measure was going through the Standing Committee, I spoke on the subject of regulations in connection with boating.

I have very bad news for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, as I must again refer to the great difficulty of establishing the limit of tidal waters and, indeed, of tidal effect.

9.30 p.m.

The river boards are of opinion that unless the Amendment is acceded to the Parliamentary Secretary will run again into these very difficult stretches of the river referred to as tidal stretches. The River Boards Association has taken counsel's opinion and counsel are quite categoric that the limit of the tidal waters of any particular river has never been determined, is quite indeterminate, and indeterminable. Therefore, byelaws made under this Clause may well be subject to many legal battles just because the tidal stretches of the river must be indeterminate and for these reasons it would be advisable for the House to give serious consideration to the Amendment.

In future, the regulation of all kinds of boating and water ski-ing and the like will be of great importance on tidal stretches. If there is no navigation authority of similar authority that can regulate this kind of boating we may have boating getting out of hand on these stretches of river. It is for these reasons that I hope that my right hon. Friend will advise the House to accept the Amendment, which is supported by the River Boards Association.

Sir K. Joseph

My hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) has a disarming way of moving shattering Amendments. I feel that he is trying to do something here which will be very difficult to achieve. What he is sug- gesting would have the effect of limiting the right of free navigation in tidal waters. I am advised that this would be a serious encroachment on common law rights, and it would not be proper in a Bill of this sort to introduce, as it were by a side wind, any such major change. I know that the River Boards Association has long wanted to increase its powers in this regard and I respect its wish to do so. I understand that the Association has taken legal advice, but I am advised that the byelaws would derogate from common law rights of free navigation on tidal waters and it would be going further than my hon. Friend realises if he presses the Amendment. If he does so I ask the House not to accept it.

Mr. Temple

In asking leave to withdraw the Amendment, I would remind my right hon. Friend that I said in my opening speech that in moving it there was no wish whatsoever to derogate from the authority of river authorities. It was purely to ensure tidal regulations where there was not a navigational authority or similar authority; but, having regard to what my right hon. Friend has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright (Dearne Valley)

I am glad that the hon. Member has decided to withdraw the Amendment. I was rather surprised at some of the words in it. It says that a …river authority may provide, or otherwise make available, facilities for use by persons resorting to that inland water for the purposes of that form of recreation.

Mr. Temple

On a point of order. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? The words to which the hon. Member refers are not in my Amendment.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Wainwright

I beg to withdraw what I have said. I was on the wrong Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.