HC Deb 25 April 1967 vol 745 cc1313-4
18 and 19. Mr. Pym

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) why he rejected the recommendation of the Water Resources Board that a feasibility study of the Wash barrage scheme should be undertaken at an early date;

(2) what representations he has received against the forthcoming loss of agricultural land to reservoirs within the area covered by the Great Ouse River Authority; and what reply he has sent.

1. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what recent representations he has received about his refusal to allow the feasibility study of the Wash barrage scheme to go ahead; and what replies he has sent.

Mr. MacColl

My right hon. Friend has received a letter from the President of the National Farmers' Union and telegrams from two branches. In his replies he has agreed to receive a deputation shortly.

In his view, we should not at present be justified in spending a large sum on studying the barrage proposal. On present information the barrage would appear much more expensive than other means of obtaining the necessary water.

Mr. Pym

Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that, unless this feasibility study is begun now, it may turn out to be too late? For how long will the Government continue with their "couldn't care less "attitude to the prospective loss of thousands of acres of good agricultural land?

Mr. MacColl

The Government have a responsibility to keep down public expenditure, and it is surprising how often the Opposition ask for more expenditure. There is at present no justification for this additional expenditure of £1½ million.