§ 1.—(1) Except as otherwise provided by this Schedule, the seaward boundary of a river authority area shall be low-water mark on the coast of the area.
§ (2) In this Schedule "low-water mark" means low-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
§ 2.—(1) Subject to any order made under this Schedule, where a river, stream or other watercourse, whether natural or artificial and whether tidal or not, or any creek in so far as it does not form part of such a watercourse, discharges into the sea, the whole of the mouth of the watercourse within a line from low-water mark at the seaward extremity of one bank to low-water mark at the seaward extremity of the other bank, or the whole of the creek within such a line, as the case may be, shall form part of a river authority area, and, if both banks are in the same river authority area, shall form part of that river authority area.
§ (2) In this paragraph "the sea" includes any bay, estuary or arm of the sea.
§ 3. Where the entrance to a dock is on the coast, the whole of the dock shall form part of a river authority area, and, if both sides of the dock are in the same river authority area, shall form part of that river authority area.
§ 4. Where paragraph 2 or paragraph 3 of this Schedule applies, but the banks of the water course or creek or the sides of the dock, as the case may be, are in different river authority areas, the Minister may by order determine in which river authority area any part of the watercourse, creek or dock is to be comprised.
§ 5.—(1) Without prejudice to the last preceding paragraph, the Minister may by order designate any tidal waters and direct that those waters, in so far as they are below low-water mark,—
- (a) shall be included in a river authority area specified in the order, or
- (b) shall be excluded from a river authority area so specified or (if the order so provides) shall be excluded from all the river authority areas.
§ (2) Any tidal waters which, by virtue of an order under this paragraph, are included in a river authority area shall by virtue of the order be excluded from any other river authority area, if apart from the order they would form part of that other area.
§ (3) Any tidal waters designated by an order under this paragraph shall be so designated by reference to a map; and where by any such order it is proposed to designate any tidal waters for the purpose only of excluding them from a river authority area, or from all river authority areas, those waters may, if the Minister considers it appropriate to do so, be designated as being all tidal waters which, in so far as they are below low-water mark, lie to seaward of a line specified in the order by reference to a map.
- (a) stating the general effect of the order;
- (b) specifying the places where copies of the draft order and of any map to which it refers may be inspected by any person free of charge at all reasonable times during the period of twenty-eight days beginning with the date on which the notice is first published in a newspaper other than the London Gazette; and
- (c) stating that any person may within that period, by notice in writing to the Minister, object to the making of the order.
§ 7.—(1) The places to be specified in a notice in acordance with sub-paragraph (b) of the last preceding paragraph are—
- (a) the principal office of every river board whose area includes any part of the relevant coast, and
- (b) the office of every county or county borough council whose area includes any part of the relevant coast.
§ (2) In this paragraph "the relevant coast"—
- (a) in relation to an order under paragraph 4 of this Schedule, means the coast which comprises the part of the river, stream or other watercourse, or the creek or dock, to which the order relates, and
- (b) in relation to an order under paragraph 5 of this Schedule, means the coast adjoining the tidal waters designated in the draft order.
§ 8. A notice under paragraph 6 of this Schedule shall be published in the London Gazette and at least once in each of two successive weeks in one or more newspapers (other than the London Gazette) circulating in the area of each river board whose principal office is required to be specified in the notice in accordance with sub-paragraph (b) of that paragraph.
§ 9. If, before the end of the period of twenty- eight days referred to in paragraph 6 (b) of this Schedule, notice in writing of an objection is received by the Minister, and the objection is not withdrawn, the Minister, before making the order, shall afford to the objector an opportunity of appearing before, and being heard by, a person appointed by the Minister for the purpose.
§ 10. Subject to the last preceding paragraph, the Minister may make the order either in the form of the draft or in that form as altered in such manner as he may think fit:
§ Provided that the order shall not be made so as to include in a river authority area any tidal waters which would have been outside all the river authority areas if the order had been made in the form of the draft order.
§ 11. Where an order is made under this Schedule, the Minister shall cause a notice to be published—
- (a) stating that the order has been made, either in the form of the draft order or with alterations specified in the notice, as the case may be, and
- (b) specifying the places where copies of the order and of any map to which it refers may be inspected by any person free of charge at all reasonable times during the period mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) of the next following paragraph.
§ 12.—(1) The period referred to in sub-paragraph (b) of the last preceding paragraph is the period beginning with the date on which the notice is first published in a newspaper other than the London Gazette and ending with the earliest date by which the Ministers have sent to each of the river authorities concerned a map as required by section 11 (1) of this Act.
§ (2) The places to be specified in a notice under the last preceding paragraph in the case of an order shall be the places specified in the notice published in relation to the draft of that order in accordance with paragraph 6 of this Schedule.
§ (3) A notice under the last preceding paragraph shall be published in the London Gazette and at least once in each of two successive weeks in one or more newspapers (other than the London Gazette) circulating in the area of each river board whose principal office is included among the places to be specified as mentioned in the last preceding sub-paragraph.
§ (4) In this paragraph "river authority concerned" means a river authority established under section 3 of this Act whose area includes any part of the relevant coast (as defined by paragraph 7 (2) of this Schedule).
§ 13.—(1)If any person desires to question the validity of an order under this Schedule on the grounds that it is not within the powers of this Act, or that any requirements of this Act have not been complied with in relation to the order, he may, within six weeks after the first publication of the notice required by paragraph 11 of this Schedule, make an application for the purpose to the High Court; and if any such application is duly made, the court, if satisfied that the order is not within the powers of this Act or that the interests of the applicant have been substantially prejudiced by a failure to comply with any of the requirements of this Act in relation to the order, may quash the order either generally or in so far as it affects the applicant.
§ (2) Except as provided by the preceding sub-paragraph, the validity of an order under this Schedule shall not, either before or after the order has been made, be questioned in any legal proceedings whatsoever.
§ 14. Nothing in this Schedule or in any order made there under shall affect the extent of a river authority area for the purposes of the enactments relating to land drainage, fisheries or river pollution, or for the purposes of any order, scheme, regulation, award or byelaw made by virtue of any such enactment.—[Mr. Corfield.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Corfield
I beg to move, That the Schedule be read a Second time.
I touched upon this Schedule earlier when we discussed a series of Amend 878 ments to Clause 3. The object is to provide for complete identification of the seaward boundaries of the river authorities for purposes of their new functions only. This has nothing to do with the landward boundaries because those are already incorporated from the old river boards where they are completely transferred to the river authorities or where two of them become one. Nor does it affect seaward limits for fishery functions or prevention of pollution functions, all of which are unchanged by this Bill except in so far as two river boards are amalgamate.
The principle is that the seaward boundary for the new functions remains the low water mark, but where we have nevertheless a dispute on tidal waters in an estuary which divides two or more river authorities, the Minister is given power to make a definite line of demarcation. Again, where there is any question of difficulty where the boundary follows an estuary or the tidal reaches of a river the power is there to make a definite line on a map identified by a map reference.
The principle, by and large, is that the seaward boundaries will be taken from low water marks on either side of the estuary and read as parallel with the prolongation of the coast rather than of the estuary. The machinery parts of the Schedule provide for the deposit of the order, its public advertisement, opportunity to be given for objection and, where that is asked for, a hearing, publication of the finally approved order and the usual opportunity for a limited time to challenge the validity of the order in the courts.
There will be provision for not more than one such order for any river authority area and, of course, the two conservancies will not need any at all because they have the seaward boundaries. Their areas are of a purely landward character and no preliminary procedure for them is therefore proposed.
It is expected that the orders can be made and all the machinery gone through and completed within a year. Certainly there will be no question of there being any doubt whatever before a charging scheme comes into force. This fulfils an undertaking I gave in Committee. I freely admit that in the early stages we 879 were not aware of the difficulties because these boundaries had worked perfectly satisfactorily for the other functions. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) for persevering and to the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Commander Pursey).
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Commander Pursey
This new Schedule has 110 lines and I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that it is not as simple as he might wish to make out. In order to reduce what I have to say, I will say nothing about pollution. The Schedule begins by saying:…the seaward boundary of a river authority area shall be low-water mark on the coast of the area.There was some difference about that previously, but now that is clear. It goes on to say that "low-water mark" meanslow-water mark of ordinary spring tidesI think that the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that that is a land boundary. It goes on:…where a river, stream or other watercourse…discharges into the sea, the whole of the mouth of the watercourse within a line from low-water mark at the seaward extremity of one bank to low-water mark at the seaward extremity of the other bank, or the whole of the creek within such a tine, as the case may be, shall form part of a river authority area, and, if both banks are in the same river authority area, shall form part of that river authority area.There we have a water boundary.
The question I want to ask is whether the River Humber is the mouth of a watercourse. If so, is the River Humber upstream of the Spurn Head—Donna Nook line in a river authority area? If so, the Minister must prepare a map under paragraph 5(3) to show the position. Where are the maps? In Standing Committee the Minister said that the Humber was outwith the Bill.
Paragraph 5(2) states:Any tidal waters which…are included in a river authority area shall by virtue of the order be excluded from any other river authority area…The paragraph goes on to deal with maps. If we could put this into football parlance, it looks as though we have a football pitch with two centre lines. Whichever side one is on, it is 880 of interest to know where the centre line is.
I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he would be kind enough to clear up that point because paragraph 2(2) says:In this paragraph 'the sea' includes any bay, estuary or arm of the sea".We first have a reference to a water course and for the Humber this could be anywhere out into the North Sea, because there is no line of delimitation, and then we get the reference to the sea including any bay, or estuary, or arm of the sea. How far does the estuary of the Humber go upstream?
§ Commander Pursey
I can assure hon. Members that Standing Committee F would not ask that question.
Paragraph 5(2) says:Any tidal waters which…are included in a river authority area shall by virtue of the order be excluded from any other river authority area…The more one studies this, the more one is driven to conclude that the Minister is to have more powers than Moses had with the divergence of water in Biblical times.
If a river authority is excluded from any other river authority, the question then arises, what happens where an estuary is concerned with two river authorities? Let me take this a stage further to get the River Humber into the picture. What happens when we have an estuary which is concerned with three river authorities? I ask this because I can see nothing in this new Schedule about that.
The consequences are that although we started in Committee with one or more Ministers arguing that the River Humber was in the Bill, we arrived at the stage when the Minister admitted that the River Humber was not in the Bill, and the question which now arises is, is the River Humber in the Bill and, if it is not, has the Minister authority to put it in?
I have discussed this with a number of people and they agree that the Minister is taking power by which he can take into the Bill an estuary which goes well out into the North Sea, and, alternatively, in the river authority 881 direction he can take in estuaries which go miles inland. If the Parliamentary Secretary could give us a clear-cut statement with regard to the River Humber, no doubt the explanation would apply to other estuaries which are similarly placed.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
Paragraph 5(3) of the new Schedule refers to.Any tidal waters designated by an order under this paragraph shall be so designated by reference to a map;…I know that it is rather late in the day to make this recommendation to my hon. Friend, but if he could manage to carry it out in any directions that he gives to river authorities so much the better. I think it is desirable that the scale of the map should be defined, because it may be of fairly critical importance whether a point from which brackish water is abstracted is, or alternatively is not, within a river authority area, and if a small-scale map, which is often employed with a fairly thick line superimposed on it by a china graph pencil, is what is referred to when the paragraph talks about beingso designated by reference to a mapambiguity, expense, and a lot of trouble may arise there from.
That concludes the observations that I wanted to make. It is important that the scale of the maps should be uniformly known and, if possible, laid down by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Temple
I thank my hon. Friend for bringing in this new Schedule. I confess that I was rather a pest in Standing Committee F in pressing this point.
I have had a message from the River Boards Association saying that in principle it welcomes this new Schedule. I have a number of small points to make which can only be dealt with in a matter of detail, and I shall, with permission of the House, send those to my right hon. Friend so that he can consider them.
On a matter of principle concerning this new Schedule, we have come to a rather desperate state of affairs with regard to river authority areas. We now have four different areas of a river authority. I cannot regard this as satisfactory. I regard it as immensely confusing to the ordinary layman to have four different areas of a river authority 882 for four different purposes, and I think that we would have got over many of the difficulties expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, East (Commander Pursey) if we had accepted as the seaward boundary of river authority areas the limits of territorial water.
That is the limit for fishery purposes, and there would have been no question of a low waiter mark, which can itself be a moving mark. The low-water mark can be in one place in one year and in another in another year because the tidal effect on the shingle bank can move the low water mark here and there. Therefore, any line which is fixed by reference to the low-water mark cannot be wholly satisfactory and determinate for all time. I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) made the point about the exact delimitation of these matters. It is most important that they should be precisely laid down with reference to a very large scale map.
My right hon. Friend might have been well advised to have taken yet another boundary of river authority areas, that laid down in. the Clean Rivers (Estuaries and Tidal Waters) Act, 1960. The exact position all round the coasts is in the Schedule to that Act. It would have saved the Standing Committee and the House of commons a great deal of trouble, and I believe that in the future it would save everybody in river authority circles a great deal of confusion, if we had not had to initiate a fresh area for a river authority in this legislation.
Apart from these criticisms, I think that my right hon. Friend has got over the difficulties which confronted us all by introducing this Schedule. I am very relieved to hear that the new seaward boundary will be brought into effect before the first appointed day under the Bill when enacted.
§ Mr. Corfield
I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) that the object is to designate these boundaries by an eight-figure map reference. I assure him that it is possible to plot From that to within a matter of inches. When I was young I was not able to get away for the weekend until I did it, and I became very good at it. I do not think there will be any difficulty about that.
883 In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), I am informed that there would be considerable difficulties in making the boundaries of controlled waters under the Pollution Act the boundaries for the purposes of conservation. I cannot see what we gain on the three mile limit he suggests, because we are still up against the difficulty of what is the three mile limit at one of the wider estuaries, such as the Humber. This is the crux of the matter.
I assure the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Commander Pursey) that the whole purpose is to ensure that there will not be two centre lines. If the Minister fixes a line, it could be inside the line which would result from the application of sub-paragraphs (1) and (3), thus excluding some of the tidal water, or it could be outside it. The whole purpose of the new 884 Schedule is to enable the Minister to fix a line by reference to a map and with the use of eight figure map references so that there shall be no doubt whatever. I do not think that the Humber has moved since the Committee Stage and it is still outside any river authority area.
Fixing the inland extremity of the Humber will be done under paragraph 5 of the Schedule. As to dividing river authority areas one from another if they border on an estuary—I know that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is again thinking of the Humber—paragraph 4 provides for the Minister to provide a line by reference to a map. The whole object is to ensure that there shall be no doubt, and everybody will know clearly whether they are in or whether they are out and if they are in, which area they are in.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Schedule read a Second time, and added to the Bill.