HC Deb 28 June 1965 vol 715 cc25-6
38. Mr. Bessell

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will take steps to ensure that river authorities replace Form W.R.5, being the application for a licence of right, with a simplified version capable of easy interpretation.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Robert Mellish)

The information asked for in this form is essential to enable river authorities to carry out their licensing duties under the Water Resources Act, 1963. There will be no occasion to use the form after 30th June.

Mr. Bessell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the complexity of this form is such that many farmers are unable to complete it without professional assistance? Furthermore, it is therefore impossible for these farmers to submit their returns by 30th June. Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that only about 500 out of 1,000 of these forms have been received in Cornwall? Will he instruct the water boards to extend the time limit?

Mr. Mellish

I take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said. There have been complaints about the form but the information was required and, indeed, the need for it has been debated twice in this House already. If there is anything we can do, we shall do it.

Mr. Peter Mills

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in my years as a farmer, I have filled in some pretty bad forms but that this form is the limit? Should it not be withdrawn and a simpler form put in its place?

Mr. Mellish

The form is a consequence of the Water Resources Act, 1963, passed by the party opposite.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that "taking note" is not good enough? The time limit expires on 30th June. Will he now take action and give us an assurance that those farmers who, through no fault of their own, fail to send forms in by then, will be given extra time? This is very important to them, because, if they miss the date, they will not get a licence of right.

Mr. Mellish

I can give that assurance to the House. My Department will help those people who are unable to fill in the form and we shall have consultations with the water authorities.