HC Deb 29 May 1968 vol 765 cc1944-89


Mr. Carmichael

I beg to move Amendment No. 400, in page 129, line 13, leave out ' pleasure' and insert 'cruising'.

The Amendment was originally proposed by the hon. Member for South-gate (Mr. Berry). He suggested that "pleasure craft" had a different meaning in other enactments relating to inland waterways. He mentioned punts, dinghies, rowing boats, and so on, and said that it would be confusing to use the expression in a different sense in the Bill. I said that the expression was defined in the Bill and felt there was no fundamental reason for the suggested change.

However, I have given further consideration to the point, and my right hon. Friend the Minister has agreed that the point raised by the hon. Member has some validity. The term will also accord more happily with the expression "cruising waterways" and, on balance, the Government have decided it would be reasonable to make this Amendment. I thank the hon. Gentleman for having raised it in the first place.

Mr. Anthony Berry (Southgate)

I am very surprised at the Government even going on with the Bill now that their majority has crumbled to 18. To avoid further votes, they are now accepting all our Amendments.

I am grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for drawing attention to the fact that I proposed an identical Amendment in Committee, and tried to explain the legal aspects. I did not convince the hon. Gentleman then, but I have since. Despite my powerful plea for the Amendment, the Minister of State said at the top of column 3028 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings: It is in the Bill. He said two-thirds of the way down: It is in the Bill. And in the last line he said: The definition is in the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 1st May, 1968; c. 3028.] That must come very near to tedious repetition. However, it was not in the Bill, but as soon as I sit down it will be, and so I thank the Minister for proposing the; Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Bessell

I beg to move Amendment No. 401, in page 129, line 16, leave out subsection (2).

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

One hopes that with this Amendment and its predecessor, now that we have arrived at Part VII, we have come to rather more tranquil territory.

The Amendment moved—

Mr. Bessell


Dr. Winstanley

The Amendment moved so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) is to leave out subsection (2). Those millions of people who have an interest in our inland waterways, whether by sailing on them, fishing in them or walking by them, have been disturbed a little by the possible implications of the subsection. During the past 12 months people concerned with waterways have gained some reassurance from some of the statements of the Ministry of Transport. The recently appointed advisory committee is reassuring. Many statements about waterways have allayed anxieties about the Government's possible intentions over waterways. But with the publication of the Bill there has been much anxiety about the precise intentions. Many people have thought that the Government might intend by the subsection to deny to the general public in respect of waterways the rights of passage, safety and remedies through the courts which are available to road users. It is to provide for that anxiety that we have moved the Amendment. The subsection which it would delete seeks to remove from the Ministry of Transport a responsibility which has been carried by the Government, since the Regulation of Railways Act, 1873, to maintain waterways.

Section 17, Maintenance of canals by railway companies, says: Every railway company owning or having the management of any canal or part of a canal shall at all times keep and maintain such canal or part, and all the reservoirs, works, and conveniences thereto belonging, thoroughly repaired and dredged and in good working condition, and shall preserve the supplies of water of the same so that the whole of such canal or part may be at all times kept open and navigable for the use of persons desirous to use and navigate the same without any unnecessary hindrance, interruption or delay. That comprehensive right was later supported in the Transport Act 1962. It is from those responsibilities it appears the Minister may be seeking to escape.

9.0 p.m.

It is right to make clear at once that no enthusiast for the inland waterways would wish to say to the Government that they must in all circumstances preserve all inland waterways for all time, but what we do say is that it is reasonable to preserve the right in respect of any intended closure to have public hearings and to have access to the courts. It is not the point of our Amendment to stop all possible closures in future, but we want to stop closures taking place without the ancient right; we do not want that ancient right to be abolished.

The closure of a canal or inland waterway is not a light matter. It is important to stress that we are not faced with an option merely of preserving or of doing away with an inland waterway, because we cannot merely leave an inland waterway to go into disuse, for that constitutes a danger; it constitutes dangers in many ways, and money is involved in either case. There is certainly money involved in putting a disused waterway back into a navigable, decent, safe condition, but there is also money involved in closing a waterway. The Government are not in a position to say "We will not maintain this waterway and therefore we abandon it and let it rot", for then it will become a danger. If they are deciding to abandon a waterway they must take certain positive steps for its closure.

The implications of a closure are very considerable, and not merely for the leisure users, not merely for those who wish to sail boats. We have to remember that drainage and irrigation often depend on inland waterways. I shall not detain the House by depicting all the advantages of waterways, but they have immense values for commerce as well as for leisure. Then apart from their recreational value, there is the obvious wisdom of attracting people from the roads on to the water, and I do not think that will escape any of us. Moreover, waterway pastimes are pastimes which a family as a whole can enjoy. Waterways offer diverse recreations, and I am sure that hon. Members opposite are all aware of the immense social value and significance of our inland waterways.

We cannot just close them and do nothing, The passage of boats along a waterway is important because once the locks cease to be used the water becomes stagnant and the canal will then rapidly fall into disuse and then it will become overgrown. The possibility of navigation is one of the reasons for maintaining a waterway in good order, because navigation maintains the circulation of the water, and once the waterway ceases to function it rapidly falls into disuse, with the attendant dangers and waste.

This is a matter which, I know, concerns many hon. Members, and they have tabled many Amendments, and there is a later Amendment affecting waterways in my own constituency about which I have had consultation with the hon. Gentleman, but I think it better to leave that point till later. Then there is also the Minister's Amendment about court procedure. I cannot, in advance, say precisely what this means—not till we have heard his observations upon it.

What I do say here and now is that there is profound anxiety lest this Bill destroy a right which has existed for a very, very long time indeed. The anxiety persists whatever may be the Government's intentions with regard to waterways, though, as I say, I believe they are benevolent, judging by statements which previous Ministers have made.

I will leave it at that for the moment, hoping for an assurance from the Minister.

Mr. John Smith (Cities of London and Westminster)

Like most hon. Members, owing to the mismanagement of the Government I am supposed at the moment to be in two places at once. I have come from the Standing Committee considering the Finance Bill, where I had hoped to make a speech against a wicked proposal to deprive widows of their protection.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. While the hon. Gentleman is in the House he must devote himself to the Amendment on the Order Paper.

Mr. Smith

I have come from that important Committee especially to support this Amendment because, in the past, outside the House, I was a professional nuisance on this subject and I can tell the House with wholehearted sincerity that any diminution or whittling away of the rights of statutory navigation will not help the retention of a network of canals for any purpose, be it for pleasure or anything else. It is only because there are these, to the Government, tiresome rights that there is a network of canals which can be used for pleasure. There are many canals which British Waterways did its level best to abandon, and it was only frustrated by what was thought to be antique and archaic but, as has been shown, valuable legislation handed down from the past.

In subsection (2)(a), the phrase, "customarily used" appears. That may seem to the uninitiated perfectly satisfactory, but there are several canals which enthusiasts would wish to retain and which would make part of a cruising network but which were not customarily used during the period in question because it was impossible to use them. These are canals whose rights will be abrogated by subsection (2)(b) which deals with waterways which have been restored or improved in part—but they may have been restored or improved for boats of very much smaller size than those used on other canals regarded as making a practicable part of a cruising network.

I hope the House will take it from me that these rights handed down from the past have not only been valuable but are the sole cause of there being a network of canals still in existence for us to discuss.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)

I did not serve on the Committee and therefore I am unfamiliar with the case which the Government will make on this Amendment. I am open to be persuaded by the Government if their arguments are sound, but in principle, as at present advised, I agree with the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) and the hon. Member for the Cities of London and Westminister (Mr. John Smith).

I had the honour during the war of serving for three and a half years on the Committee on Canals and Inland Waterways. We were charged not only with maintaining traffic on waterways but also with planning for a great expansion of the commercial carrying capacity of the canals after the war was over.

On Monday, my right hon. Friend told me that the nationalised canals at present carry about 7 million tons of commercial goods per annum. During the war we carried more than 1 million tons a month on our canals. There has thus been almost a 50 per cent. reduction during the last 20 years. That is immensely regrettable in view of the appalling costs of the maintenance of roads and in terms of accidents and of damage to life and limb, involved when traffic is diverted to lorry transport from other means.

The plans we made would have cost a capital sum infinitesimal in proportion to what is now being spent and has been spent upon the development of roads; it would have allowed the expansion of our waterways commercial transport by a very great factor many times over the tonnage which they were able to carry then.

I suspect any Clause which enables a Minister easily, without much public objection, to close any means of transport. We have seen what happened under the disastrous Acts of the late Tory Administration in respect of the railways. It was then arranged that the Minister should be able to close stations, feeder lines—

Mr. Peter Walker

On a point of order. If we are discussing railway closures I am willing to debate them, but I thought that we were discussing canals.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I was beginning to wonder myself. The right hon. Gentleman is getting a little away from the subsection which is the subject of this Amendment.

Mr. Noel-Baker

With great respect, I am arguing that it is desirable to make it difficult to close Canals and, by analogy, I am saying we have had this sad experience with the railways. If I may complete the argument, which I believe to be entirely in order, as a result of closures of feeder-lines and goods depots since 1959, whereas the railways had maintained and increased traffic since 1948, after 1959 they have lost 230-million passenger journeys and 130-million tons of goods traffic.

That comes from closing the means of transport by the will of the Minister without, as I think, adequate protection for the public who wish to use those means of transport. It is for those reasons that I am asking the Minister to explain why I am wrong in thinking that this Amendment should be accepted.

Sir Eric Errington (Aldershot)

The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) has said that he was worried about canals being closed without proper consideration. In my constituency there is a canal which did not come under previous legislation, it is privately owned, and, in consequence, it has not been properly looked after.

There are commercial canals, there are canals for cruising, and, finally, there are those most interesting canals known as "the remainder". What will happen to those canals? Will the Minister give us some information? The Basingstoke Canal has been allowed to go without proper upkeep for a considerable period. It is now open to question whether it can be dealt with by making lagoons or marinas in certain parts, or something of that kind. What is the position about such matters? At the moment, it is most unsatisfactory, because nobody seems to be able to deal with them. I hope that the Minister can tell us how this problem is to be dealt with.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Having given myself a couple of abstentions today on other parts of the Bill, I now want to give my fullest support to the Government on this part.

I say that because it seems odd to me, having heard hon. Gentlemen opposite argue today that we have to put road haulage on a sound financial footing and having argued today and all yesterday that we have to put the railways in a sound economic and financial footing, to hear this argument put forward relating to the inland waterways. To be consistent they should argue along the same lines for our inland waterways.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Bessell

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. This may be the last occasion on which we shall have to give way to each other. He has always been courteous, and I thank him. I should like to make it clear, although I am sure he is aware of this, that, speaking for my party, and I think I may speak for the Conservative Party as well, the proposals for inland waterways contained within this part are generally acceptable and welcome.

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful for that intervention. I will certainly accept that on behalf of the hon. Gentleman's party, but I cannot accept it on behalf of the other party occupying the benches opposite.

I should have thought that if one were to accept the main provisions of this part of the Bill one ought at least to accept the Clauses to which the Amendments being discussed now refer. The main proposal put forward in this part of the Bill is that at last we shall have a definite policy concerning inland waterways. In the past we had a somewhat wishy-washy situation in which we had a collection of rights, to which hon. Gentlemen have made reference. Some of those rights have been exercised and some have not. Because of the dubious position of those rights, we have got to the present situation. The present proposals in the Bill, which state definitely which canals will remain open for certain purposes, are a definite step forward from the kind of situation that has existed hitherto.

If we insist that the Inland Waterways Board, or whatever name we may give to a future board, is to have the duty of maintaining more waterways open, the first question asked by anyone who knows the slightest bit about economics—and this is something that hon. Gentlemen opposite have always professed—is where is the money coming from? Although we shall hear some very powerful sentimental and emotional arguments from hon. Gentlemen opposite about the social and recreational need for keeping these thousands of miles of waterways open, I doubt whether we shall hear any reference made to the sources of finance for doing it. I should have thought it would have been consistent, when talking about putting more obligations on the Inland Waterways Board, to have made some reference to the sources of finance.

Mr. Berry

I should be happy to discuss some of the matters the hon. Gentleman is talking about, but I cannot see that they have any connection with the Amendment.

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I can assure him and his hon. Friends that I have studied both Amendments carefully. All on this side of the House are perfectly well aware of what the hon. Gentleman is trying to achieve with these Amendments.

Mr. Berry

With one Amendment.

Mr. Huckfield

At least let us accept that we have a definite policy for dealing with canals. Here we have a definite mileage and a definite set of proposals. Let us accept and go forward from this, rather than return to the wishy-washy situation that we had which has led to the breaking down and wearing out of canals hitherto. For these reasons, I urge complete rejection of the Amendment.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I support the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) because I think it makes a bad Clause a better one if this subsection is removed. It is a bad Clause because it undermines the maintenance structure of the canal system of this country.

The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) said that he could not see the difference between arguments about the abandonment of a system of canals and arguments relating to the abandonment of certain railway lines. There are real differences If a railway line is abandoned the land can be put to some other useful purpose. However, one cannot abandon a canal and expect no uproar from those who live close to it. As I hope to show in a moment, many problems arise affecting people who live adjacent to a canal that is abandoned. It appears from this Clause that the Government are seeking to remove from the Waterways Board obligations to maintain canals in certain instances. There is not one word in the Clause relating to the obligation which there should be on a Waterways Board towards those who live adjacent to the canal. Perhaps this did not occur to the Minister. Possibly, like the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) he thinks it is possible just to shut a canal and that is that. But there are many associated problems, and I give two examples to illustrate what I mean.

The Grand Union Canal flows through the Midlands and passes close to the centre of Market Harborough, at which point it is 100 feet above the level of the town centre. On two occasions in recent years the centre of Market Harborough has been flooded by the overflowing of the Grand Union Canal, with all the consequent dislocation to office and town life and traffic, not to mention human discomfort. What will happen if the Waterways Board abandons the Grand Union Canal?

There is nothing in the Clause to indicate that a local authority can make representations. The Clause says that representations may be made in relation to the use of the canal for business and commercial and cruising purposes and that those having interests may make representations; but there is nothing which permits a local authority, with all the obligations and responsibilities in the district, to make representations as to how a canal shall be maintained.

There is another illustration which I would draw to the attention of the House to try to bring to the hon. Member for Nuneaton the knowledge that one cannot just close a canal and have done with it.

Mr. Speaker

With respect, we are not discussing the Clause, we are discussing whether subsection (2) of the Clause can be withdrawn.

Mr. Farr

I was aware of that, Mr. Speaker, and was seeking to argue that it would be a much better Clause if subsection (2) were omitted, because as it is there is no responsibility on the Waterways Board to maintain certain canals which cause considerable flooding of adjacent farms. I can quote a recent example of where that happened in my own constituency, when the Grand Union Canal overflowed. The flow was checked to a certain extent by those responsible for the maintenance of the canal, but not before it had done a great deal of damage to the crops and flooded ditches and waterways.

Quite obviously, if this subsection is removed from the Clause it will be a much better Clause, because in my view there is not the same risk of the Waterways Board washing its hands of the responsibility for the maintenance of a canal. It is really a very bad Clause in a very bad Bill.

Mr. Speaker

It may or may not be a very bad Clause in a very bad Bill, but the hon. Gentleman is trying to remove subsection (2) and the hon. Gentleman must come to that subsection.

Mr. Farr

I was seeking to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the removal of subsection (2) would make it a slightly better Clause in a still very bad Bill.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I am grateful for this opportunity to intervene briefly for the first time in the debates on this abominable Bill, and I will not be controversial. I support the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Alder-shot (Sir E. Errington) that, in the light of the experience which we share of derelict canals in our constituency, no provision should be left in the Clause to put anyone else in the same position. My hon. Friend can probably underline my experience that a derelict canal soon becomes a menace to health, a great eyesore, a collector of old bicycles, covered with pond weed and breeding mosquitoes, and is a blooming nuisance to the whole community—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am fascinated by the hon. Member's eloquence. I do not want to read the Amendment to him, but I would remind him that the proposal is to remove subsection (2).

Mr. Onslow

I hope that, in the light of this experience of mine, the subsection will be removed, since that would place greater responsibility on those maintaining the canals and would diminish the risk that they would be run down to this sad state. It is time that something was done with the Basingstoke Canal. When canals reach this state, those maintaining them should have to bring them back into decent order, so that they can benefit the community, not just for transport but for amenity, for the very large number of people who would make good use of them if they were kept in good order.

Mr. Carmichael

I would tell the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) that the Basingstoke Canal is privately-owned, and so has nothing to do with the maintenance duties of the British Waterways Board under this Clause. As to the point of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), the Grand Union Canal, and the branch through Market Harborough, is designated in the Schedule as a cruising waterway.

The Amendment would leave out subsection (2), dealing with the standard of maintenance of the Board's waterways. My hon. Friend the Minister of State will deal later with the much wider question which can be read into this Amendment. To remove this part of the Board's maintenance duties would mean that it would have no standards and no rational maintenance duty and that subsection (1)(a) and (b) would also be removed.

In the interests of the Board and the waterway users, its maintenance duties should be firmly tied to measurable requirements. This is achieved in subsection (2) by relating the navigation maintenance standards of each waterway to the needs of the craft customarily using it during the latest appropriate period, that is, the nine months prior to the introduction of the Bill. This ceiling on the Board's maintenance duty is necessary to protect it against any demand that a waterway should be maintained to an unrealistic standard.

That leads me to refer again to the fact that part of the standard applied in the Clause is to maintain commercial waterways in a suitable condition for use by commercial freight-carrying vessels. Without subsection (2), those vessels could be, in law, of any size. As was suggested in Committee, in law, it could be demanded that the standard should apply to the "Queen Mary". There would be nothing against this if subsection (2) were removed. There is adequate provision in subsection (3) for the Minister to revise the standards to take account of future changes in the shape, size and design of vessels.

I certainly ask the House not to accept the Amendment, which would leave an indefinable and what could be an intolerable burden on the Waterways Board, but to leave the Clause as it is, so that the Board has objectives which it knows and which can be fulfilled.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Berry

I support the Liberal Party Amendment. This has been a wide-ranging debate and I will not add to the arguments already adduced, many of which will be relevant to the debate which we will have on later Amendments. I agree that this is a totally unnecessary subsection.

What will happen in 10 years' time if there is a court case and someone is supposed to know what kinds of vehicle were using a certain waterway during the previous year? This will cause great confusion in the courts. I do not think that talk about the "Queen Mary"— which was also indulged in in Committee when a similar Amendment was moved— is relevant. This subsection introduces an element of uncertainty into the Board's duties which is quite out of place in legislation of this kind. Assuming that the Board remains subject to a duty to the public, the court will be perfectly capable of deciding what that duty is. Without going into any more detail, because other points will be debated later, if the Liberals wish to press this to a vote, I shall support them.

Mr. Bessell

I was disappointed at the Minister's reply. He did not get to grips with the point. I accept that it is necessary to have some form of definition in relation to subsection (1). This is what subsection (2) sets out to do. The reasons why we object to it, and which were rehearsed in Committee, are that it is far too restrictive in its present terminology. That worries us and causes us to believe that what was otherwise an admirable part of the Bill could be seriously misused.

We have had talk about the "Queen Mary", but that is nonsense. There is nothing in the Bill that compels the Waterways Board to extend or enlarge a waterway and do all the things that would be necessary to get a ship of that dimension through an inland waterway. That is no answer at all. Our concern with this subsection rests on the fact that paragraphs (a) and (b) represent two very

narrow restrictions which are not in the best interests of the scheme in respect of waterways.

The general provisions in connection with the Waterways Board, with the notable exception of Clause 45, are highly acceptable to us, but the subsection in its present form is unacceptable and I must ask my hon. Friends to join me in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 224, Noes 259.

Division No. 198.] AYES [9.35 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Eden, Sir John King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Astor, John Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kirk, Peter
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Kitson, Timothy
Awdry, Daniel Emery, Peter Knight, Mrs. Jill
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Errington, Sir Eric Lambton, Viscount
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Eyre, Reginald Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Balniel, Lord Farr, John Lane, David
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Fisher, Nigel Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Batsford, Brian Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Fortescue, Tim Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)
Bell, Ronald Foster, Sir John Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Galbraith, Hn. T.G. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Gibson-Watt, David McAdden, Sir Stephen
Bessell, Peter Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan MacArthur, Ian
Biffen, John Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Biggs-Davison, John Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) McMaster, Stanley
Black, Sir Cyril Glyn, Sir Richard Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Blaker, Peter Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maddan, Martin
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Goodhart, Philip Maginnis, John E.
Body, Richard Goodhew, Victor Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Bossom, Sir Clive Cower, Raymond Marten, Neil
Boyd-Carpentor, Rt. Hn. John Grant, Anthony Maude, Angus
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Gresham Cooke, R. Mawby, Ray
Braine, Bernard Grieve, Percy Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Brewis, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Miscampbell, Norman
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Gurden, Harold Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hall, John (Wycombe) Monro, Hector
Bruce-[...]ardyne, J. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Montgomery, Fergus
Bryan, Paul Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) More, Jasper
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Bullus, Sir Eric Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Burden, F. A. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Murton, Oscar
Campbell, Gordon Harvie Anderson, Miss Neave, Airey
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hastings, Stephen Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Cary, Sir Robert Hawkins, Paul Nott, John
Chichester-Clark, R. Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Onslow, Cranley
Clark, Henry Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Clegg, Walter Heseltine, Michael Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Cooke, Robert Higgins, Terence L. Page, Graham (Crosby)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hiley, Joseph Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Corfield, F. V. Hill, J. E. B. Pardoe, John
Costain, A. P. Holland, Philip Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Crouch, David Hooson, Emlyn Peel, John
Crowder, F. P. Hordern, Peter Percival, Ian
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hornby, Richard Peyton, John
Currie, C. B. H. Howell, David (Guildford) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Dalkeith, Earl of Hunt, John Pink, R. Bonner
Dance, James Hutchison, Michael Clark Pounder, Rafton
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Iremonger, T. L. Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Prior, J. M. L.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pym, Francis
Digby, Simon Wingfield Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kaberry, Sir Donald Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Doughty, Charles Kerby, Capt. Henry Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Drayson, G. B. Kershaw, Anthony Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Stodart, Anthony Wall, Patrick
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Walters, Dennis
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Tapsell, Peter Weatherill, Bernard
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Webster, David
Royle, Anthony Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Russell, Sir Ronald Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
St. John-Stevas, Norman Teeling, Sir William Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Scott, Nicholas Temple, John M. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Scott-Hopkins, James Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Sharpies, Richard Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Worsley, Marcus
Silvester, Frederick van Straubenzee, W. R. Wylie, N. R.
Sinclair, Sir George Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John Younger, Hn. George
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Vickers, Dame Joan
Smith, John (London & W'minster) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Speed, Keith Walker, Peter (Worcester) Mr. Eric Lubbock and
Stainton, Keith Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Dr. M. P. Winstanley
Abse, Leo Doig, Peter Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Albu, Austen Driberg, Tom Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dunn, James A. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Alldritt, Walter Dunnett, Jack Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Allen, Scholefield Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Anderson, Donald Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Archer, Peter Eadie, Alex Judd, Frank
Armstrong, Ernest Edelman, Maurice Kelley, Richard
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lawson, George
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ellis, John Ledger, Ron
Barnes, Michael Ennals, David Lee, John (Reading)
Baxter, William Ensor, David Lestor, Miss Joan
Bence, Cyril Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Faulds, Andrew Lipton, Marcus
Binnes John Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lomas, Kenneth
Bishop, E. S. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Loughlin, Charles
Blackburn, F. Foley, Maurice Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Forrester, John Matron, Dr. J. Dickson
Booth, Albert Fowler, Gerry McCann, John
Boyden, James Fraser, John (Norwood) MacColl, James
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Freeson, Reginald MacDermot, Niall
Bradley, Tom Galpern, Sir Myer Macdonald, A.H.
Brooks, Edwin Gardner, Tony McGuire, Michael
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Garrett, W. E. McKay, Mrs. Margaret
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Gourlay, Harry Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Mackintosh, John p.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Maclennan, Robert
Buchan, Norman Gregory, Arnold McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Grey, Charles (Durham) McNamara, J. Kevin
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Cant, R. B. Hamling, William Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Carmichael, Neil Hannan, William Manuel, Archie
Carter-Jones, Lowis Harper, Joseph Marks, Kenneth
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marquand, David
Chapman, Donald Haseldine, Norman Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Coe, Denis Hattersley, Roy Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Coleman Donald Hazell, Bert Mayhew, Christopher
Concannon, J. D. Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mendelson, J. J.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Henig, Stanley Mikardo, Ian
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Millan, Bruce
Crawshaw, Richard Hooley, Frank Miller, Dr. M. S.
Cronin John Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Howarth, Harry(Wellingborough) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Daiyell Tam Howie, W. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Hoy, James Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Davies G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Huckfield, Leslie Morris, John (Aberavon)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Strettord) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Moyle, Roland
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Neal, Harold
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Newens, Stan
Davies S. O. (Merthyr) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hunter, Adam Norwood, Christopher
Delargy, Hugh Hynd, John Ogden, Eric
Dell, Edmund Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) O'Malley, Brian
Dempsey, James Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Orme, Stanley
Dewar, Donald Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Oswald, Thomas
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Dickens, James Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Dobson, Ray Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Palmer, Arthur
Park, Trevor Ross, Rt. Hn. William Tomney, Frank
Parker, John (Dagenham) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Urwin, T. W.
Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Varley, Eric G.
Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Pavitt, Laurence Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Watkins, David (Consett)
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Wellbeloved, James
Pentland, Norman Silverman, Julius (Aston) Whitlock, William
Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Slater, Joseph Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Small, William Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Snow, Julian Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Probert, Arthur Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Randall, Harry Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Rankin, John Stonehouse, John Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Rees, Merlyn Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Winnick, David
Reynolds, G. W. Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Rhodes, Geoffrey Swain, Thomas Woof, Robert
Richard, Ivor Swingler, Stephen Wyatt, Woodrow
Robertson, John(Paisley) Symonds, J. B. Yates, Victor
Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as) Taverne, Dick
Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Rodgers, William (Stockton) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George Mr. Neil McBride and
Roebuck, Roy Thornton, Ernest Mr. Ernest G. Perry.
Rose, Paul Tinn, James
Mr. Swinger

I beg to move Amendment No. 404, in page 130, line 5, leave out subsections (5) and (6) and insert: (5) If, on an application made by any person under this subsection to the High Court or, in Scotland, the Court of Session, the court determines that there has been, in respect of a significant length of any waterway, a serious failure by the Board to discharge the duty imposed on them by subsection(1)of this section or any order under subsection (3) thereof the court may, subject to subsection (6) of this section, require the Board to remedy that failure; but, save as afore said, neither subsection (1) nor any order under subsection (3) of this section shall be construed as imposingany duty or liability enforceable by proceedings before any court to which the Board would not otherwise be subject. (6) Nothing in subsection (5) of this section shall be construed as affecting the power of the Minister to make an order, or a further order, under section 99(3) of this Act or subsection (3)of this section in relation to a waterway or any part of a waterway which is the subject of an application under the said subsection (5) or in respect of which the court has imposed any requirement on the Board under that subsection; and—

  1. (a) while such an order is pending in respect of any waterway or part of a waterway the court shall not impose any requirement on the Board under that subsection in respect of that waterway or part;
  2. (b) if such an order is made in respect of any waterway or part of a waterway while it is the subject of an application under that subsection, the court shall, in determining on that application whether there has been a failure by the Board to discharge their duty, have regard only to the duty (if any) to which the Board are subject in consequence of the making of the order.
For the purposes of paragraph (a) of this subsection, an order shall be treated as pending during the period of three months beginning with the day on which the Minister notifies the Board that he is considering the making of tie order and, if before the expira- tion of that period notice of the proposed order is published under Schedule 13 to this Act, during any further period until the order is made or the Minister notifies the Board that it will not be made.

Mr. Speaker

I have suggested that, with this Amendment, we take Amendment No. 402, in page 129, line 32, at end insert: 'provided that the duty of the Board to maintain any waterway which is a commercial or cruising waterway shall be modified and made subject to the preceding provisions of this section which shall not be construed as imposing upon the Board in respect of any such waterway any higher duty than the Board are under at the date of this Act in respect of such waterway'. No. 403, in page 129, line 32, at end insert: Provided that the duty of the Board to maintain any waterway which is a commercial or cruising waterway shall be modified and made subject to the preceding provisions of this section which shall not be construed as imposing on the Board in respect of any such waterway any additional duty other than that which the Board was under on the 8th December 1967 in respect of such waterway. No. 405, in page 130, line 5, leave out from beginning to 'but' in line 7, and insert: 'Subsection (1) of this section shall not be construed as imposing either directly or indirectly any form of duty or liability enforceable by proceedings before any Court to which the Board would not otherwise be subject'. No. 406, in page 130, line 5, leave out from beginning to 'if' in line 7 and insert: 'Subsection (1) of this section shall not be construed as imposing either directly or indirectly any form of duty or liability enforceable by proceedings before any court to which the Board would not otherwise be subject'. No. 407, in page 130, line 34, leave out subsection (7).

No. 408, in page 130, line 38, after ' Board ', insert: and which is neither a commercial nor a cruising waterway '. No. 409, in page 131, leave out lines 17 and 18 and insert:

' of the soil, nothing in this part of the Act shall operate to prevent the revival continuance or acquisition of rights of or in connection with navigation on or over any natural water course or on or over any artificial watercourse '. No. 417 and No. 418, all of which are linked.

Mr. Swingler

For the alleviation of anxiety, I am advised to say that the score is 4–1. [Laughter.] I hope that I have been correctly advised.

Mr. Speaker

Is that the final score?

Mr. Swingler

My advice on that subject is deficient, I am afraid. This is merely an interim report.

In moving this very important Amendment, it must be made plain that it refers solely to the nationalised waterways system. Many hon. Members and their constituents are passionately interested in our canals. Hon. Members frequently raise points about canals unaware, perhaps, that some of them are privately owned. In the previous debate, a number of hon. Members referred to the Basingstoke Canal, and it was alleged that it is derelict, polluted, and even a menace to public health. It is a privately-owned canal, about which I am only too willing to make investigations and see what powers we may have to help. The Amendment, however, refers only to the duties of the nationalised Waterways Board and the nationally-owned canal system for which it is responsible.

A little earlier, the hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry) chided me for having said something in Committee and now, on Report, supporting a different proposal. However, it is the responsibility of Ministers attending Committees to advocate the Government's proposals as strongly as they can. It is also their responsibility to listen carefully to criticisms of those proposals and take them into account. I make no apology, therefore, for having considered carefully the views of hon. Members opposite and some of my hon. Friends about this and other parts of the Bill, which accounts for many of the Amendments which have been moved today.

We have arrived at a different view from the one I advocated about the Government proposals in Committee. The hon. Member for Southgate will appreciate that this Amendment and those related to it form a very important matter, which occupied the Standing Committee for some time, in regard to the rights of citizens in relation to the maintenance duties and responsibilities of the Inland Waterways Board. In Committee I craved indulgence to make a statement which contained certain historical matter about the whole development of the canal system. On this occasion I ask for the indulgence of the House to some extent as I have a rather longer than usual statement to make on this Amendment. This is in recognition of the fact that the Amendment covers a wide field and has been produced in response to many criticisms and points which were put forward.

I think it unlikely that there is any basic difference between the two sides of the House on the issue raised in this group of Amendments. The object of Clause 100, as amended by the proposed Amendment No. 404, is to bring the Board's duty to keep the commercial and cruising waterways in repair into line with modern needs as we see them. To use the words of the Inland Waterways Association, it is to provide for this, appropriately limited and reasonable duty to be enforceable in the courts.

Many hon. Members wil have received from the Inland Waterways Association a copy of its letter on the subject. The greater part of the waterway system can no longer do the job for which it was built. To maintain this part today for the old job of providing for the carriage of freight when no freight is carried on the greater part of the system, would impose an undue burden on the taxpayer for these canals are operating today at a heavy loss. Yet this is what the Board's duty would have been had not the Government in 1962, under Section 64 of the 1962 Act, put a moratorium on the duties of the Board for five years, which later was extended to six years and required the Waterways Board to review the manner in which these waterways could be put to best use.

As I said in Committee, fortunately a very thorough and revealing study, as I think all hon. Members will admit, was made by the Waterways Board and resulted in a publication which had a fair circulation. The moratorium of the 1962 Act is now coming to an end and we have the job of bringing the Waterways Board's duties up-to-date in the light of the stud}' it put forward. That study made clear that the cheapest thing to do with the non-commercial waterways would be to close them to navigation where they are not already closed or unusable. The difference in cost between closing those waterways to navigation and maintaining them in such a condition that they could be used for cruising craft would be a net amount to the taxpayer of between £300,000 and £400,000 a year at present levels of traffic. To maintain them to standards for commercial craft would of course cost vastly more. This is a stark fact which we have to face. Nowadays comparatively few people take their holidays on the waterways in cruising craft: at most about 50,000 citizens a year.

Mr. Bessell

I hesitate to add to the hon. Gentleman's burden—he must be feeling intolerably tired—but may we have even an approximate idea of what it would have cost to keep the waterways up to a commercial standard?

Mr. Swingler

I have not got that figure at the moment, but I hope that it will arrive in due course. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that it would be vastly more than the figure that I have quoted in this respect.

I was coming to the point, which we must face realistically, of the revenue potential of the waterways as cruising waterways. In spite of some statements that are made, comparatively few people at the moment use the long stretches of canals in this country for cruising craft. I gave a figure of 50,000 a year. In fact we have a situation—and I put it deliberately in this way without seeking to put any gloss upon it—where each person's waterway holiday is being subsidised by the taxpayer to the extent of £6 to £8 per year. That is the present figure.

Dr. Winstanley

Does the hon. Member take account, in that calculation, of the fact that were it not for cruising on the waterways the waterways would be unsuitable for fishing and many other pursuits?

Mr. Swingler

Certainly, I take that into account, and it is quite correct. I take the hon. Gentleman's point immediately. The fact that one gives these realistic figures of actual costs and actual revenues does not necessarily indicate, as one might say, a negative course; but on the other hand one cannot say "close them all down", because it might be much more costly, and as those of us know who have seen an analysis of the waterways system resulting from the review, that is one of the facts we have to face—that it is more expensive to close waterways than it is to keep them open. When we talk about rights and duties, the important thing is to be realistic. We must accept the fact that nobody has a right to a subsidised holiday on the waterways. On the other hand, these waterways provide a recreational facility of great potential value, and we all agree it would be a great pity to close them. If they were closed, most of them would very soon irrevocably disappear.

There are some waterways, almost completely unnavigable, which the Board must be free to treat in the most economic way without being beset, as I said in committee, by the ancient duty to restore them to navigation at enormous expense to the taxpayer—an ancient duty which has become in many respects as derelict as many of the waterways themselves. The duty may remain on the Statute Book in Local Acts but is not very much practised. By far the greater part of the system, virtually all of the waterways which are navigable, we are aiming to preserve, in the confident hope that their use will increase and that revenue will more nearly meet the cost of maintaining them, if opportunities for this to happen are developed. Having said that, in the last resort—

Mr. Speaker

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not open the debate too widely, for otherwise we shall never complete it.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Swingler

I recognise the importance of that, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure you will understand that this rather lengthy Amendment which the Government is bringing forward covers the maintenance obligations of the Board and also the rights and responsibilities of citizens. I felt that as this has been the subject of great and widespread controversy it was essential for me to explain to the House how we have arrived at the conclusions embodied in the Clause. In the last resort, any Government must be able to control what subsidies should be paid. In Clauses 99 and 100(3) we have carefully circumscribed powers which provide for this. But it would be irresponsible not to ensure that the waterways are in the most economical manner matched to modern needs. Thus the powers and duties relating to the cruising waterways must be to maintain them for the relatively small draught and cruising craft for which they are required today. Even on the commercial waterways it is sensible to tailor the duty to the modern craft—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are not discussing the Question, That the Clause stand part. We are discussing the hon. Gentleman's Amendment to leave out subsections (5) and (6) and substitute others. The hon. Gentleman must come to the Amendment or the debate will become very wide.

Mr. Swingler

The Amendment radically alters the meaning of the Clause in relation to the point to which I am coming, namely the duties of the Board. The new duties to which I am referring, provided for in the Amendment and in Clause 100, are related closely to modern needs to avoid wastage of the taxpayers' money and to make the best use of the waterways.

The Opposition Amendments, particularly Amendments No. 402 and 403, would entirely destroy the new certainty which we seek to introduce. In essence, they are trying to restore the old maintenance duty, and the trouble is that few things could be more obscure than what those duties were, because they were created by a host of Acts of Parliament—literally hundreds—some of them very ancient, but nobody is absolutely certain what is really the statutory position on any particular length of waterway.

The Opposition Amendments have been strongly canvassed by the Inland Waterways Association. It is right that the ideas urged by this dedicated body should be openly and properly canvassed. Hon. Members opposite have rightly provided that opportunity, but the Association's enthusiasm for the cause of the waterways, with which we have great sympathy, is in this case running away with it. If the Opposition Amendments were adopted there would be fewer rather than more waterways available because the tax payers', and hence the Board's resources, would have to be spread more thinly, and so would be less efficiently used in the cause of recreation and amenity.

No arbitrary destruction of rights is involved. We are trying to provide for the fully effective use of the waterways and, by the Amendment, for the Board's duties to maintain waterways to be enforceable through the courts. This matter concerned many hon. Members in Committee and very strong views were expressed on it. In Committee, we resisted the view that these obligations should be enforceable in the courts by citizens. We rather put forward the point of view that complaints about navigability of the canals should be dealt with by administrative processes.

However, on reconsideration of the matter, as hon. Members will recognise from the Amendment, we are providing for the maintenance duties in respect of the commercial and cruising waterways to be enforceable through the courts, and therefore we are altering the arrangements we had made about the duties of the Amenity Advisory Council and the powers of the Minister in this respect in order to substitute a procedure whereby the citizens will have rights of litigation in relation to the maintenance of the waterways.

I apologise to the House, as I did at the beginning, for the time I have taken to explain this. We had in Committee a lengthy discussion on this point. This is an important change which we have made in this respect in the duties of the Board and the rights of the citizens, and we have made it in response to the criticisms made by hon. Gentlemen. Therefore, I hope that in recognition of the change which is being made hon. Members will be willing to accept the view expressed by the Government in the Amendment.

Mr. Speaker

The Question is, That the Amendment be made. I remind the House that we are considering, at the same time, Amendments Nos. 402, 403, 405 to 409, 417 and 418—and may I also remind the House that a former Member of Parliament would have liked to join in this debate—Sir Alan Herbert.

Mr. Berry

The Minister of State took a long time explaining this matter and Clause 100 and I cannot help noticing that there is still another Clause which was not discussed in Committee and is not likely to be now since the Guillotine falls at 11 o'clock. The Minister of State listened very carefully to our arguments in Committee on this point, as, indeed, we listened to what he said at the time, and which he have had an opportunity of considering since. Since then the Inland Waterways Association has provided information for Members of Parliament to sustain an all-party case—because the Association is an all-party organisation.

In Committee, we discussed in great detail the question of legal rights for people who might be hurt or involved in an accident on the waterways, and the Minister of State said: Anybody who sustains injury in navigating on a waterway, with a licence from the Board, will have a right against the Board in the same way as he would have a right against the Railway Board. This is completely covered under the Occupiers' Liability Act, 1957."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 2nd May, 1968; c. 3063.] I think that the hon. Gentleman may agree that that Act does not apply in this case, but he has made an attempt to meet our points and he has drafted this Amendment. Although I believe that the Minister set out to meet our case, my advisers tell me that he has not solved the problem at all.

The only duty the Government Amendment provides is the duty on the Board to keep the canals in repair. Orders to repair a canal have been issued very rarely—only five times this century. But that is the only positive provision in the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman has not solved the problem of action for damages. If someone is hurt on a canal, there is no legal right to sue the Board and receive damages. We thought that he would try to solve that problem, but he has not done so. All he has done is bring in this rare form. The system whereby a local authority is liable if someone trips, for example, on a paving stone and injures himself, is the sort of solution which would have been more satisfactory in this case.

If the Bill goes through in its present form, it will permit the Board to contract out of all liability. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at this again. There is still time for him to find a better solution.

Amendment No. 402, like Amendment No. 403, is essentially protective. We are trying to help the Government. The first three lines will protect the Board and attempt to achieve the Government's own stated purpose. It is the liability of the Board to maintain cruising waterways to a standard appropriate only to motor cruisers so we could have three feet for one sort of boat and five feet for another. It is surely better to maintain a waterway as we suggest than confine maintenance as the Government propose.

The second part of Amendment No. 402 makes it clear that no additional duty shall be imposed on the Board by subsection (1). This covers special facilities for cruising craft which the Board is not bound to supply. That is surely in keeping with the Government's expressed intention in the White Paper.

Amendment No. 405 also attempts to protect the Board. It would provide that subsection (1) would not mean an extra liability on it. Amendments Nos. 405 and 406 depend on Amendment No. 408 and assume that the existing law continues to apply. Subsection (1) would not increase the Board's liability to the public. The Minister recognised earlier the words … to which the Board would not otherwise be subject which also apply to other nationalised industries where necessary, and they have been included in our Amendments.

Amendment No. 408 is of fundamental importance. The alteration it proposes would preserve public rights over commercial and cruising waterways. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will reconsider this point. The abolition of public rights was not White Paper policy. Indeed, it is the exact opposite of what the Government then said. It is pointless in the case of commercial and cruising waterways as general policy to involve unnecessary compensation and is inconsistent with the all-party policy towards access to the countryside and other rights of way. There is nothing archaic about this branch of the law. Nor has it been abused other than by non-observance since 1947, when the law was changed.

Amendment No. 409 refers to waterways where the Board does not own the soil over which the water flows.

There are a number of examples. There is the Kennet, where the mills own the millponds, but the public has a right of way. There is the Severn and the Trent, which have locks owned by the Board, but which owns nothing else. In Somerset, the Board owns nothing on the River Tone other than some ancient navigation duties, long since neglected. We seek to secure the public right where the Board does not own the soil. These Amendments attempt to be helpful. I hope that the question of the public right to use waterways—

Mr. Swingler

I do not understand the complaint that the hon. Gentleman is making. As to actions for damages, they are possible in the usual way at common law, and there is occupiers' liability. There is no difference between this and any other public property. Would he state what case he has in mind, or the particular complainant, because we would be glad to look into it?

Mr. Berry

I had hoped that I had made this clear, that under the wording of the Clause, even as amended, the public have no rights. We discussed this in Committee in great detail, and I thought that the Minister accepted our point, and intended to find a way of solving the problem. That is how I read his speech, and I am sorry that he has not done this. I have quoted the one case, which is a limited one, and I would like him to have another look at this.

Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)

Amendment No. 404 suffers as much as other modern legislation, from shocking drafting. Not only in this legislation, but in a great many other Acts, the wording is such that one can read and re-read them and still fail to understand what is meant.

This Amendment is no exception. I listened carefully to what the Minister said, but he did not refer to the point at all. He gave us an interesting disserta- tion upon the position of canals throughout the country. I did not think it right to interrupt, and suggest that he was out of order, but what he was not doing was explaining the legal position of those who may consider, rightly or wrongly, that they have actions against the Board after this part comes into effect. He has made the task of those who advise him much more difficult by this, and I ask him to take another look at it to make sure that people can understand it.

The Minister did not help us with his explanation. I know, as any lawyer knows, that there is a right under the Occupiers' Liability Act. That is not referred to here. Suppose that there has been a breach of statutory duty, under this Measure, by the occupiers of a particular type of waterway as defined under the Bill. Suppose a bank collapses and one's cabin cruiser goes into a field, injuring a large number of people. Has one a right under this Bill to bring an action under the Statute? If one has, then the words which you did not read out Mr. Speaker, in this Amendment— and I do not blame you because the wording is so long—mean that the Minister can say that he does not think that one ought to have been on the waterway, and so he will make an Order, while the action is pending, to put that waterway into the category of "the remainder"of canals and waterways.

The action fails because the law is changed during the course of it. Whatever the duties of those who own or occupy waterways may be, whether they are waterway occupiers, gas operators, electricity boards or railway boards, the law should not be changed during the course of an action. One does not change the rules of a football match during the course of a game. That is the position under this form of wording which the Minister is asking the House to approve. Basically, I believe that the Minister wants to do the right thing, but he has got it wrong in this Amendment. In voting against this, as I hope to be able to do, I shall not be voting against what the Minister wants to do but against the wording in this Amendment which gets it all wrong.

Mr. Swingler

The hon. and learned Gentleman may criticise the wording, but the point we have established here, as a concession, is that the maintenance obligations of the Board in relation to the cruising and commercial networks should be enforceable in the courts. I am advised that that is what the Amendment means. He referred to the Minister's powers to make an Order, but he will see that the Minister has to adopt a procedure which is challengeable in Parliament. He is implying that Parliament would approve it.

I would have thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman would recognise, on reflection, although he may not like the legal rigmarole involved, that we are trying to establish that the maintenance duty should be enforceable in the courts, which is really what he wants.

Mr. Doughty

I said before that I think that the Minister and I basically want the same thing, but he has not got it. There is a Guillotine on this Clause. These complicated matters should have proper time for discussion. If there was more time, I would read out the wording of the Amendment. It is rather lengthy so I will not waste the valuable time of the House by reading it now. The Minister would have the power to make an order during the course of an action changing the character of a waterway from one class to another, and there are three classes. The duties relating to those three classes vary. If the Minister downgrades a particular waterway during the period of an action the person who has properly brought that action may find himself out of court.

Time is short and others wish to speak. I ask the Minister to look at this again. While his ideas may be right, I believe that he has it wrong this time. I hope, therefore, that the House will knock this Amendment out, leaving the Minister to do what the House wants him to do in simple words so that people will understand.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

I should like to express my gratitude to the Minister of State for moving this Amendment. By so doing, and restoring the rights of litigation to lovers of inland waterways, he has met many of their major preoccupations.

I venture to comment on some of the figures he used in illustrating his argument. He said that there is to be a subsidy of £300,000 to £400,000 a year from the Waterways Board for the maintenance of waterways. He also said that only 50,000 people were using the waterways for holidays. That figure of 50,000 will be greatly increased if the Waterways Board pursues its policy vigorously. But the subsidy is trifling in relation to this vital national asset. We must think twenty years ahead. We are told, the population will increase to 74 million and automation will bring the 30-hour week.

It has been proved by an international council on sport and physical education, of which I have the honour to be the chairman and which has consultative status with U.N.E.S.C.O., that physical recreation retards senile decay and maintains productive capacity in the human body. In view of these considerations, and since the inland waterways are used not only for holidays but at every weekend for rowing, sailing, fishing and swimming, it is a very small contribution if the taxpayer provides only £300,000.

I hope that the Minister will think of these considerations.

Mr. Bessell

I am not entirely happy with the Minister of State's speech. He has gone a long way to meet our concern, expressed in Committee, about the effects of the Clause on the ordinary citizen's rights of litigation against the Waterways Board, and that the rights under the 1962 Act for a temporary period, which was subsequently extended, might be wiped out by certain phrases in the original drafting.

We are both tired, but I was impressed by how he advanced his argument. However, although he was doing everything he could to meet our points, I do not think that the Amendments meet them. He has gone a long way over the cruising and commercial waterways which will be a responsibility of the Board so long as they operate, but the difficulty arises over those which will cease to operate, perhaps without being the subject of a closure.

Any existing right of action is occasionally enforced. I gave the example in Committee of a disused canal close to my house in Cornwall which, under the existing Acts, I was able to compel the Great Western Railway to clear to prevent flooding of my land. These enforceable provisions are essential, particularly as these waterways become more and more derelict.

I am concerned that the point has still not been entirely met. I am hesitant to advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the Amendments because I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has genuinely sought to meet our points. I am afraid, however—all my advice in the last couple of days confirms this—that, despite his good intentions, they have not been carried out by the Ministry's draftsmen. I hope that he will agree to reconsider the Amendments and introduce them in a different form in another place, which would enable him to meet the points on which he has genuinely sought to accommodate the House.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. John Lee (Reading)

Some hon. Members opposite are not being as gracious as they might have been about the extent to which the Minister has gone to meet them. I did not have the privilege of serving on Standing Committee and I have not the same advantage in regard to the matters raised at that time. Clearly, the Minister has gone a long way.

I have some doubt whether the cumbersome procedure of the courts which the Amendment proposes is altogether suitable. Court procedure is a very suitable mechanism for restraining people from doing things they should not do, but it is not so effective in directing them to do something which they do not want to do. I can envisage a situation in which there will be long arguments as to what constitutes a serious failure by the Board. Therefore, although this Amendment no doubt is well-intentioned, ironically I criticise it from the opposite point of view from some hon. Members because it may expose the Board to a certain amount of unnecessary harassment.

I sympathise with the comments of the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) on terminology. I am not necessarily an admirer of Ernest Gowers, but some legal draftsmen might be asked to do a course in plain words, or at any rate recognise that there is some virtue in short sentences. Even after doodling over these two subsections for several minutes, excluding all the supporting clauses, inching in only main verbs and subjects and objects, I find both of them exceedingly difficult to understand.

However, there is a point of substance, apart from questions of text, in the first subsection. What do we mean by the term "significant length" of any waterway? No doubt this is intended by the Minister to be generously interpreted, but it is a question-begging phrase. One would rather it were expressed in a minimum length, or perhaps better still in terms of a percentage. No definition will be perfect, but it is as imprecise a phrase as one could expect to find in a definition of this kind. The Minister is to be congratulated on having gone a long way to meet the objections many people felt about it.

I should like to join with the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East in his strictures on the second subsection. This is obviously not intended, but it would be a most bizarre situation if, in the midst of court proceedings, a Minister were able to intervene and alter the law with regard to which the action was being taken. There is an inevitable uncertainty about litigation, and however clearly things are defined there is an irreducible minimum of uncertainty which one has to face. It is a different matter when one sees a power specifically granted which would allow the basis of law to be altered, which, in fact, encourages a Minister, if he is so minded, to alter the law to divest himself of an embarrassing action.

I do not suggest that any Minister will set out to avoid the consequences on the part of the Board. If I understand the Clause correctly—and I am not sure that I do, because it is so peculiarly worded —it vests in the Minister power to do just that. Although I congratulate the Minister on having gone this far, I hope that, for the sake of good English and clarity, he will reconsider subsection (6).

Mr. Farr

There is obviously much indecision and uncertainty about the meaning of the Clause as amended. I suggest that the Minister gets his legal advisers to consult the legal advisers of the Inland Waterways Association to see whether some clarification can be introduced. The Minister did not help by making a woolly speech, holding up his hands in horror and saying that we could not have public funds subsidising canal users for holidays—

Mr. Swingler

indicated dissent.

Mr. Farr

—and this at a time when British Railways are being subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of £150 million a year and are still running holiday excursion trains.

Mr. Swingler rose

Mr. Farr

I will not give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I wish to be brief.

I still do not know what the Minister meant when he said earlier that the Grand Union Canal was classified as a cruising waterway. It is still used commercially and, if it was classified as a commercial waterway, is the power of local authorities—to object to the standards of maintenance as not being adequate—safeguarded by the Bill?

Mr. Swingler

I said that we were subsidising those who used the cruising waterways and that we proposed to con- tinue to do so. I wished to make plain the facts about the extent of the subsidy because it is realistic for the House to face the financial facts and the implications of the proposals being made to maintain the country's canals.

Mr. Farr

The hon. Gentleman clearly said that no holidaymaker could expect help for canals at the taxpayers' expense.

Mr. Swingler

indicated dissent.

Mr. Farr

I trust that the hon. Gentleman will check precisely what he said in tomorrow's OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Richard Body (Holland with Boston)

Not only is the Government Amendment badly drafted, but it introduces two dangerous principles and thereby creates an unwise precedent. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee) highlighted some of the more foolish drafting aspects of the Amendment. He pointed out that, to begin with, the applicant or plaintiff in the High Court must prove that there is … a significant length of any waterway … The word "significant" is a relative term and does not appear in any legal dictionary. What is significant to one court will not be significant to another. It might be an inch, a foot or a yard and it is intolerable that any applicant should have to try to establish … a significant length of any waterway… Then the wretched applicant must show that there has been … a serious failure by the Board to discharge the duty imposed on them… Here again, the draftsman has included a relative term, and both of these qualifications are unnecessary.

The Minister must realise that because these proceedings will be in the High Court, they will be expensive. Even if the applicant is successful in presenting his case, the costs will be discretionary. This is, of course, a valuable weapon, for we do not want a litigious person to make a stupid claim against the Board. A person making a claim will run the double peril of meeting his own costs and those of the Board. That is sanction enough. It is, therefore, unnecessary to include the words "significant" and "serious", which do not appear in any well-drafted legislation. The word "significant" is new to legislation.

Mr. Manuel

These lawyers do go on!

Mr. Body

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) remembers very well how grateful he was on the Standing Committee on the Land Commission Bill to have one or two lawyers opposite to guide him.

Mr. Manuel

I said quite sincerely that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) had had the advice of his two legal friends who are giving him the benefit of their legal expertise tonight, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would want to impose too much on them.

Mr. Body

Once the applicant has overcome these two obstacles there is a third. A dangerous principle which has been introduced by the Government. The Minister may give notice to the Waterways Board that he is considering making an Order that will alter the duty of the Board to maintain the waterway or to close it altogether. The Amendment provides that the court shall not make an order in respect of the waterway if that notice has been given. In other words, the jurisdiction of the High

Court is excluded before any Ministerial Order is made.

Thus, if the High Court is informed by the Waterways Board that the Minister contemplates a change in the law— not that he has made a change in the law, but merely contemplates it—then the High Court is precluded from hearing the action. Does the Minister realise that he has introduced this principle? It is a novel doctrine, there is no precedent for it, it is thoroughly dangerous and I hope that he will abandon it.

There is another dangerous precedent that he has introduced in the Amendment. The Minister can change the law by making this Order, but if the cause of action were to begin, say, today, it would be some months before it could be heard in the High Court. If there is to be a change in the law between now and the hearing, the court at the time of the hearing will be precluded from reaching a finding on the complaint when the hearing takes place. Clearly, that is thoroughly harsh and wholly wrong, and I hope that the Minister of State will reconsider it.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 262, Noes 223.

Division No. 199.] AYES [10.44 p.m.
Albu, Austen Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Dunn, James A.
Allaurt, Frank (Salford, E.) Cant, R. B. Dunnett, Jack
Alldritt, Walter Carmichael, Neil Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Allen, Scholefield Carter-Jones, Lewis Dun woody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)
Anderson, Donald Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Eadie, Alex
Archer, Peter Chapman, Donald Edelman, Maurice
Armstrong, Ernest Coe, Denis Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Coleman, Donald Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Concannon, J.D. Ellis, John
Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Barnes, Michael Conlan, Bernard English, Michael
Barnett, Joel Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ennals, David
Baxter, William Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Ensor, David
Bence, Cyril Crawshaw, Richard Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Cronin, John Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Ewing, Mrs. Winifred
Binns, John Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Faulds, Andrew
Bishop, E. S. Cullen, Mrs. Alice Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Blackburn, F. Dalyell, Tam Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Foley, Maurice
Boardman,H. (Leigh) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Booth, Albert Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale[...])
Boyden, James Davies, Harold (Leek) Forrester, John
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Davies, Ifor (Gower) Fowler, Gerry
Bradley, Tom de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Fraser, John (Norwood)
Brooks, Edwin Delargy, Hugh Freeson, Reginald
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dell, Edmund Galpern, Sir Myer
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Dempsey, James Gardner, Tony
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Dewar, Donald Garrett, W. E.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Gourlay, Harry
Buchan, Norman Dickens, James Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'busrn) Dobson, Ray Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Doig, Peter Gregory, Arnold
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Driberg, Tom Grey, Charles (Durham)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Reynolds, G. W.
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanetly) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mackintosh, John p. Richard, Ivor
Hamling, william Maclennan, Robert Robertson, John (Paisley)
Harnnan, William McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Harper, Joseph McNamara, J. Kevin Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) MacPherson, Malcolm Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Haseldine, Norman Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Roebuck, Roy
Hattersley, Roy Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Rose, Paul
Hazell, Bert Mallalieu, J.P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Henig, Stanley Manuel, Archie Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Hooley, Frank Marks, Kenneth Sheldon, Robert
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Marquand, David Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Howarth, Harry (Weltingborough) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Howie, W. Mayhew, Christopher Silkln, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hoy, James Mendelson, J. J. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Huckfield, Leslie Mikardo, Ian Slater, Joseph
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Millan, Bruce Small, William
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Snow, Julian
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Spriggs, Leslie
Hunter, Adam Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hynd, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Stonehouse, John
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Jackson, Cotin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, John (Aberavon) Swain, Thomas
Jeger, Mrs.Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras, S.) Moyle, Roland Swingler, Stephen
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Neal, Harold Taverne, Dick
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Newens, Stan Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Norwood, Christopher Thornton, Ernest
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Erwyn (W.Ham, S.) Ogden, Eric Tinn, James
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) O'Malley, Brian Tomney, Frank
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Orme, Stanley Urwin, T. W.
Judd, Frank Oswald, Thomas Varley, Eric G.
Kelley, Richard Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter A Chatham) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Kerr, Russell (Feitham) page, Derek (King's Lynn) Watkins, David (Consett)
Lawson, George Paget, R. T. Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Ledger, Ron Palmer, Arthur Wellbeloved, James
Lee, John (Reading) Park, Trevor Whitlock, William
Lestor, Miss Joan Parker, John (Dagenham) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Lipton, Marcus Pavitt, Laurence Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Lomas, Kenneth Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Loughin, Charles Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Pentland, Norman Winnick, David
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Mabon Dr. J. Dickson Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Woof, Robert
McBridge, Neil Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Wyatt, Woodrow
MacColl, James Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Yates, Victor
MacDermot, Niall Probert, Aruthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Mac Donald A. H. Rankin, John Mr. John McCann and
McGuire, Michael Rees, Merlyn Mr. loan L. Evans
Allson, Michael (Barkston Ash) Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, sir Henry
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)
Astor, John Bruce-Gardyne, J. Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Bryan, Paul Digby, Simon Wingfield
Awdry, Daniel Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Buck, Antony (Colchester) Doughty, Charles
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Bullus, Sir Eric Drayson, G. B.
Bainlel, Lord Burden, F. A. du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Batsford, Brian Campbell, Gordon Eden, Sir John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Bell, Ronald Cary, Sir Robert Emery, Peter
Berry, Hn. Anthony Chichester-Clark, R. Errington, Sir Eric
Bessell, Peter Clark, Henry Eyre, Reginald
Biffen, John Clegg, Walter Farr, John
Biggs-Davison, John Cooke, Robert Fisher, Nigel
Black, Sir Cyril Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Blaker, Peter Corfield, F. V. Fortescue, Tim
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Costain, A. P. Foster, Sir John
Body, Richard Crouch, David Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Bossom, Sir Clive Crowder, F. P. Gibson-Watt, David
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Cunningham, Sir Knox Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Currie, G. B. H. Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Braine, Bernard Dalkeith, Earl of Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Brewis, John Dance, James Glyn, Sir Richard
Brinton, Sir Tatton Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Goodhart, Philip Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Goodhew, Victor Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Cower, Raymond Lloyd,Rt.Hn.G6offrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Grant, Anthony Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Grant-Ferris, R. Lubbock, Erie Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Gresham-Cooks, R. McAdden, sir Stephen Royle, Anthony
Grieve, Percy MacArthur, Ian Russell, Sir Ronald
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain St. John-Stevas, Norman
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. McMaster, Stanley Scott, Nicholas
Gurden, Harold Macmillan, Maurice (Farntham) Scott-Hopkins, James
Hall, John (Wyoombe) Maddan, Martin Sharpies, Richard
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maginnis, John E. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Silvester, Frederick
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Marten, Neil Sinclair, Sir George
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maude, Angus Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mawby, Ray Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Mills, Peter (Torrington) Speed, Keith
Harvie Anderson, Miss Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Stainton, Keith
Hastings, Stephen Miscampbell, Norman Stodart, Anthony
Hawkins, Paul Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Monro, Hector Tapsell, Peter
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Montgomery, Fergus Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Heseltira, Michael More, Jasper Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Higgins, Terence L. Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hiley, Joseph Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Teeling, Sir William
Hill, J. E. B. Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Temple, John M.
Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Murton, Oscar Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Holland, Philip Neave, Airey Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Hooson, Emlyn Nicholls, Sir Harmar Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hordern, Peter Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael van Strauhenzee, W. R.
Hornby, Richard Nott, John Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Howell, David (Guildford) Onslow, Cranley Vickers, Dame Joan
Hunt, John Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Iremonger, T. L. Page, Graham (Crosby) Wall, Patrick
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Walters, Dennis
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Pardoe, John Webster, David
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Peel, John Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Percival, Ian Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Kerby, Capt. Henry Peyton, John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kershaw, Anthony Pike, Miss Mervyn Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Kim ball, Marcus Pink, R. Bonner Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pounder, Rafton Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Kirk Peter Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Worsley, Marcus
Kitson, Timothy Price, David (Eastleigh) Wylie, N. R.
Knight, Mrs. Jill Prior, J. M. L. Younger, Hn. George
Lambton, Viscount Quennell, Miss J. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Lancaster, Viscount Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Lane, David Rawlinson, Rt, Hn. Sir Peter Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Mr. Carol Johnson (Lewisham, South)

I beg to move Amendment No. 562, in page 130, line 46, at end insert: Provided that where substantial parts of any such waterway consist of a river nothing in this subsection shall have the effect of preventing the recreational use as of right by the public in small manually-propelled boats of such parts of the waterway as have not been artificially constructed. The point raised by this Amendment may appear to be a minor one, but I think it of some importance. The waterways which are comprised in the undertaking of the Board include not only canals, but river navigations such as the Trent, the Lee, the Soar and Stort navigations.—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

(Mr. Sydney Irving): Order. I am listening to the hon. Member. I hope that the House will do so also.

Mr. Johnson

By Schedule 12, these are described as either "commercial" or "cruising" waterways, but there are probably others included in what is described in Clause 99(l)(c) as "the remainder ". Although the difficulty that the Amendment tries to cover does not arise on commercial or cruising waterways, the Minister is taking power to move waterways from one category to another—from either named category to "the remainder". The result would be that unless something is done to subsection (7) these waterways will revert to private status and any craft using them would be trespassing.

I presume that the Minister will not transfer river navigation from the active category to "the remainder" while they are used either for commercial craft or powered pleasure craft, but no account appears to have been taken of the use of the river for recreational purposes by small manually-propelled boats, skiffs, canoes and so on. No objection is taken to the removal by paragraph (b) of the duty to maintain, but the right of passage should not be taken away.

In other legislation, such as the Countryside Bill, the Government are furthering the recreational use of waterways and making it possible to improve access to them. it is surprising that this Maesure appears to ignore this completely, except in relation to powered pleasure cruisers. Consideration should be given to the small manually-propelled boats, skiffs, and so on.

Mr. Carmichael

I am very sorry that I must give my hon. Friend unhappy news. He mentioned the possibilities of navigating small craft on natural rivers, but any existing right to navigate with small manually-propelled boats on rivers would normally be common law rights and not rights arising under the local enactment. The Clause does not bite on the common law rights. Subsection (10) makes provision for the Board to license any navigation previously sanctioned by the abrogated navigation rights.

Any fear that small craft will, because of the Clause, be unable to navigate any of the natural water courses in the Board's system is groundless. Perhaps my hon. Friend can take some comfort from that. The statutory rights dealt with

in the Clause are, in general, not rights relating to navigation by small manually-propelled boats but rights relating to freight-carrying vessels.

The phrase "manually-propelled small boats" in the Amendment is a very imprecise definition. There is no real restriction on these boats in the waterways of the Board. The Clause relates to navigation rights.

For the reasons I have given, I ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Sir Frank Pearson (Clitheroe)

On a point of order. I did not hear a single word of the hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. Carol Johnson) in moving the Amendment, and I did not understand a single word of what the Minister said in reply. Is, it right that a Division should be called under those circumstances?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I believe that the House would wish to proceed to a Division, and I am required by the Order to put the Question.

It being Eleven o'clock, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER, proceded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put. That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 225 Noes 260.

Division No. 200.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Buck, Antony (Colchester) Errington Sir Eric
Allason, James (Hempstead) Bullus, Sir Eric Fair, John
Astor, John Burden, F. A. Fisher, Nigel
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Campbell, Gordon Fletcher-Cooke, Charles'
Awdry, Daniel Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fortescue, Tim
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Cary, Sir Robert Foster, Sir John
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Chichester-Clark, R. Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Balniel, Lord Clark, Henry Gibson-Watt, David
Batsford, Brian Clegg, Walter Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cooke, Robert Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Bell, Ronald Cooper-Key, Sir Nelli Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Corfield, F. V. Glyn, Sir Richard
Bessell, Peter Costain, A. P. Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Biffen, John Crouch, David Goodhart, Philip
Biggs-Davison, John Crowder, F. P. Goodhew, Victor
Black, Sir Cyril Cunningham, Sir Knox Gower, Raymond
Blaker, Peter Currie, G. B. H. Grant, Anthony
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Dalkelth, Earl of Grant-Ferris, R.
Body, Richard Dance, James Gresham Cooke, R.
Bossom, Sir Clive Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.) Grieve, Percy
Boyd-carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Braine, Bernard Digby, Simon Wingfield Gurden, Harold
Brewis, John Dodds-Parker, Douglas Hall, John(Wycombe)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Doughty, Charles Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Drayson, G. B. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Eden, Sir John Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bryan, Paul Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Buchanan-Smith, Allick(Angus, N & M) Emery, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere
Harvie Anderson, Miss Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest St. John-Stevas, Norman
Hastings, StephenMarten, Neil Scott, Nicholas
Hawkins, Paul Maude, Angus Scott-Hopkins, James
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Mawby, Ray Sharpies, Richard
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mills, Peter (Torrington) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Heseltine, Michael Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Silvester Frederick
Higgins, Terence L. Miscampbell, Norman Sinclair, Sir George
Hiley, Joseph Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Hill, J. E. B. Monro, Hector Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Quintin Montgomery, Fergus Speed, Keith
Holland, Philip More, Jasper Stalnton, Keith
Hooson, Emlyn Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Hordern, Peter Mott-Radcliffe, Sir Charles Stodart, Anthony
Hornby, Richard Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stoddart-Scott Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Howell, David (Guildford) Murton, Oscar Tapsell, Peter
Hunt, John Neave, Airey Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Nicholls, Sir Harmar Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Nott, John Teeling Sir William
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Onslow, Cranley Temple, John M.
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Orr-Ewing Sir lan Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, Graham (Crosby) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Kerby, Capt. Henry Page, John (Harrow, W.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Kershaw, Anthony Pardoe, Johs Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Kimball, Marcus Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Viewers, Dame Joan
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Peel, John Wainwright, Richard (Come Valley)
Kirk, Peter Percival, Ian Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Kitson, Timothy Peyton, John Wall, Patrick
Knight, Mrs. Jill Pike, Miss Mervyn Walters, Dennis
Lambton, Viscount Pink, R. Bonner Weatherill, Bernard
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pounder, Rafton Webster, David
Lane, David Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Price, David (Eastleigh) Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Prior, J. M. L. Wills Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfiled) Pym, Francis Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Quennell, Miss J. M. Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Lubbock, Eric Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
McAdden, Sir Stephen Rawlinson, Ri. Hn. Sir Peter Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
MacArthur, lan Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Woodnutt, Mark
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Worsley, Marcus
Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wylie, N. R.
McMaster, Stanley Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Younger, Hn. George
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Maddan, Martin Royle, Anthony Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Maginnis, John E. Russell, Sir Ronald Mr. Reginald Eyre.
Albu, Austen Cant, R. B. Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Carmichael, Neil Eadie, Alex
Alldritt, Walter Carter-Jones, Lewis Edelman, Maurice
Allen, Scholefield Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Anderson, Donald Chapman, Donald Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Archer, Peter Coe, Denis Ellis, John
Armstrong, Ernest Coleman, Donald English, Michael
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Concannon, J. D. Ennals, David
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Conlan, Bernard Ensor, David
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Corbet, Mrs. Freda Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Barnes, Michael Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)
Barnett, Joel Crawshaw, Richard Faulds, Andrew
Baxter, William Cronin, John Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Bence, Cyril Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Cullen, Mrs. Alice Foley, Maurice
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridge ton) Dalyell, Tam Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Binns, John Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)
Bishop, E. S. Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Forrester, John
Blackburn, F. Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Fowler, Gerry
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Fraser, John (Norwood)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Davies, Harold (Leek) Freeson, Reginald
Booth, Albert Davies, Ifor (Gower) Galpern, Sir Myer
Boyden, James de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Gardner, Tony
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Delargy, Hugh Garrett, W. E.
Bradley, Tom Dell, Edmund Gourlay, Harry
Brooks, Edwin Dempsey, James Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Dewar, Donald Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Gregory, Arnold
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Dickens, James Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Dobson, Ray Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Buchan, Norman Doig, Peter Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Driberg, Tom Hamling, William
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dunn, James A. Hannan, William
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dunnett, Jack Harper, Joseph
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Haseldine, Norman MacPherton, Malcolm Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Hattersley, Roy Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Hazeil, Bert Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Hudderfie1d,E.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Manuel, Archie Roebuck, Roy
Henig, Stanley Marks, Kenneth Rose, Paul
Hooley, Frank Marquand, David Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Sheldon, Robert
Howie, W. Mayhew, Christopher Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Hoy, James Mendelson, J. J. Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Huckfield, Leslie Mikardo, Ian Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Millan, Bruce Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Mller, Dr. M. S. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Slater, Joseph
Hunter, Adam Mitchell, R. C. (S'tt'pton, Test) Small, William
Hynd, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Snow, Julian
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Spriggs, Leslie
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, John (Aberavon) Stonehouse, John
Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Moyle, Roland Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Jenkins, High (Putney) Neil, Harold Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Newens, Stan Swain, Thomas
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull W.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip(Derby, S.) Swingler, Stephen
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Norwood, Christopher Taverne, Dick
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham, S.) Ogden, Eric Thomas Rt. Hn. George
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) O'Malley, Brian Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Orme, Stanley Thornton, Ernest
Judd, Frank Oswald, Thomas Tinn, James
Kelley, Richard Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Tomney, Frank
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Urwin, T. W.
Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Varley, Eric G.
Lawson, George Paget, R. T. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Ledger, Ron Palmer, Arthur Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Lee, John (Reading) Park, Trevor Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Parker, John (Dagenham) Watkins, David (Consett)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Lipton, Marcus Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Wellbeloved, James
Lomas, Kenneth Pavitt, Laurence Whitlock, William
Loughlin, Charles Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Pentland, Norman Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Mabon, Or, J. Dickson Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McCann, John Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Willis, Rt. Hn. George
MacColl, James Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
MacDermot, Niall Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Winnick, David
Macdonald, A. H. Probert, Arthur Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
McGuire, Michael Rankin, John Woof, Robert
McKay, Mrs. Margaret Rees, Merlyn Wyatt, Woodrow
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Reynolds, G. W. Yates, Victor
Mackintosh, John P. Rhodes, Geoffrey
Madclennan, Robert Richard, Ivor TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Mr. Charles Grey and
McNamara, J. Kevin Robertson, John (Paisley) Mr. Neil McBride.

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Questions on the Amendments, moved by a member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Bill to be concluded at Eleven o'clock.

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