HC Deb 08 April 1964 vol 692 cc991-2
10. Mr. Grant-Ferris

asked the Minister of Transport what was the revenue of the British Waterways Board from sales of water in 1963.

Mr. Marples

Six hundred and nine thousand and fifty-seven pounds. As the Board points out in its Interim Report on "The Future of the Waterways", there are also a number of cases in which water is taken free or at unduly low rates.

Mr. Grant-Ferris

Can my right hon. Friend say whether several hundred millions of gallons of water are taken annually from the Chesterfield Canal by the Staveley Iron and Chemical Company? Is it not about time that some of these people paid something for the water they get?

Mr. Marples

I quite agree that this company takes a great amount of water, but it is primarily a matter for the Board within its management responsibility. I understand that for some time it has been trying to negotiate a reasonable and proper arrangement with this company, but it has not yet been successful. The Board is trying to get a reasonable sum, but the company is standing on its rights which date back to 1771.

Mr. C. Johnson

Has the Board a statutory power to deal with this unfortunate situation disclosed by the replies which the Minister has given to this Question?

Mr. Marples

No, and that is one of the problems in this case. The Board at present has no statutory power to levy a charge on this water, but, as my noble Friend Lord Hastings said in another place, where there were out of date or burdensome obligations to provide water free or cheaply, it seemed fair that Parliament should consider whether in the context of future waterways legislation they ought to continue. In the interim Report the Board foresees the need for general legislation. This question of proper payment for water supply might well be a matter to be dealt with in that legislation.