HC Deb 02 April 1969 vol 781 cc554-617

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

7.1 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

May I announce that I have not selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Gains-borough (Mr. Kimball): That the Bill be read a second time upon this day six months. Nor have I selected the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis): That this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which ignores—

  1. (1) the serious loss of agricultural land and loss of livelihood to farmers and agricultural workers which will result from its passing, and
  2. (2) the alternative methods of water storage available,
and which is based on exaggerated data on the projected water needs declared to be necessary for the future by the Promoters of the Bill. This non-selection will not limit the debate in any way, and hon. Members may speak on the matter raised in the Amendments and any others in relation to the Bill.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether I might make a submission to you. At this point, it might be of assistance to the House on the Question that has just been proposed. You will recollect that it is often the custom when a number of Private Bills, some of them urgent, are for consideration at this time for Private Business, for it to be possible so that they may not be lost at that time, for the debate to continue after the interruption of Business at Ten o'clock. On this occasion, the Motion to achieve that position, which can, I believe, be tabled only in the name of a Minister, has not been tabled, and therefore that is not possible for the House this evening.

What I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, is whether there is any way in which those of us who are concerned as constituency Members about some of the later Bills—as, for instance, the Wolverhampton Corporation Bill—can be assured that time as soon as possible after the House resumes will be found, if necessary, for those Bills which are urgent. I apprehend that if assistance of this kind could be given, it might also be a help to the debate on the Question which has just been proposed.

Mr. Speaker

I am not unsympathetic to the point which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has put. I understand that there is some urgency about the Walsall Corporation Bill, the West Bromwich Corporation Bill and the Wolverhampton Corporation Bill, but, unfortunately, there is no suspension of the Rule tonight. It might be possible to get to them tonight. If not, I think that the Leader of the House or the Chairman of Ways and Means will note the representations made by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

Further to the point of order raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), surely it would be possible, through you, Mr. Speaker, to write to the Corporations which are bringing forward these later Bills to say that if they were to remove an objectionable attitude to the Gypsies Act which is already——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are not going to debate the Amendments to those Bills that are on the Order Paper until we get to them. I hope that we can get on with our work. Mr. Bradley.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, North-East)

I am fully aware of all the passion and fury which this Measure has aroused in Rutland. In fact, protests there have produced a kind of hydrological Stansted. It is not any purpose of mine to raise the temperature of an already inflammable situation, because I believe that the facts, when simply put, argue for themselves.

As it is now fashionable, certainly topical and necessary, to declare interests, I suppose that I ought to declare mine. I have several interests, but I hasten to add that I have no financial interest. I am resident in the area of supply that is designated in the Bill. I am also a former member of the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board. I am also a former Parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Rutland and Stamford. I was the candidate there for eight years, covering three General Elections, and whilst my experience was not as fruitful as that of the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis), whom I am glad to see in his place, I think that I can claim to have gained a similar amount of familiarity with the charm of that county. Let me say at once that I think that this proposed reservoir will enhance the attractiveness of, and will in no way desecrate, that delightful county. My fourth personal interest is as one of the representatives of Leicester City, which stands also to benefit by the passage of the Bill.

The Bill is promoted jointly by the Welland and Nene River Authority and the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board. It seeks authority to construct a very large reservoir, with a capacity of 27,300 million gallons, near Oakham. It is known as the Empingham Reservoir. This is to meet the growing demand for water in the counties of Rutland, Northamptonshire and South Lincolnshire which must be met by 1975–76.

It is proposed to construct the reservoir on the upper waters of the River Gwash, and to obtain supplies from the surplus flows of water, from a point upstream from Stamford, from the River Welland, and from the River Nene at a point upstream from Peterborough, through tunnels and pipes. The Bill therefore authorises the construction of the reservoir at a cost estimated at £16½ million, and states that for the water thus made available through the construction of the reservoir and the intake, the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board should be empowered to construct treatment works, pumping stations, and so forth, in order to make the water available to parts of Rutland and Northamptonshire. The estimated cost of the works for this purpose is roughly £8 million.

I remind the House that the Bill stems from a recommendation by the Water Resources Board, which conducted a survey of supplies in South-East England. The Board issued a report in 1966, and identified a central area within South-East England, roughly from the north of Northampton, south to the London Basin, and east across Essex, for which future water supplies would have to be developed, not on an individual water undertaking basis but, I would emphasise, on a regional basis, by a programme of suggested ground water schemes which needed immediate investigation if known deficiencies by 1981 were to be met.

It is very important to note that, within its observations, the Board made a specific recommendation. It stressed that it was essential to proceed with one major new reservoir scheme before the other studies were completed, because of the rapid growth in the population within the area of the Welland and Nene River Authority and because of the remoteness of that authority from the potential ground water schemes in the Thames Conservancy and the Great Ouse River Authority areas. It therefore recommended that a storage reservoir be constructed at either Empingham or Manton.

The House set up the Water Resources Board under the 1963 Water Resources Act. It is no use hon. Members seeking tonight to reject the findings of the Water Resources Board.

I recognise that the Board's recommendation that a large storage reservoir should be built at either Empingham or Manton does not help the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford greatly, because both places are within his constituency. The Water Resources Board came to the conclusion that large reservoirs could be constructed at either of those sites but that Manton would have a capacity some 5,750 million gallons less than Empingham. Further, Empingham would yield 50 million gallons of water a day, whereas Manton's yield would be 40 million gallons of water a day.

It is also a substantial point that the construction of a reservoir at Manton instead of at Empingham would cost nearly £2 million more, largely owing to the much greater height of the dam needed and bigger raw pumping mains. Empingham, with a top water level 100 feet lower than Manton, obviously involves less costs in abstracting supplies from the rivers Welland and Nene. By choosing Empingham of the two sites suggested there is a 27 per cent. saving in terms of yield.

It should not be overlooked at this point that a reservoir at Empingham is also very conveniently situated for the discharge of water, if necessary, to augment river supplies in periods of low flows to assist the expanding city of Peterborough in the area of the South Lincolnshire Board, which estimates that it will need an additional 10 million gallons a day over the next 20 years.

Having looked at these statistics, we must ask ourselves whether a reservoir is necessary at all. The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford has had an Amendment on the Order Paper for some weeks calling the whole thing in question. He has suggested in the Amendment, which I understand you are not calling, Mr. Speaker, that future estimates of the needs of the area have been exaggerated. Have they? I can argue only from my own experience of the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board. The statistics could be enlarged greatly if they encompassed the whole of the Welland and Nene River Authority.

The Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board has a statutory duty to supply an area of 505 square miles, covering most of Northamptonshire, a small part of Rutland, and small parts of Leicestershire. Whilst being predominantly rural in character, there are large urban centres, and two of those urban centres—Corby and Northampton—are designated for expansion under the New Towns Act.

We can look at some interesting growth rate figures which are projected for Northampton and Corby alone. The total new town area population of Northampton is 130,000. It is expected to rise to 230,000 by 1981 and to 300,000 by A.D 2000. Corby, a town which has already trebled its population in the last 20 years, with 45,000 people today, is expected to enlarge to 75,000 by 1981 and to 100,000 by A.D. 2000.

There are two more important towns in Northamptonshire—Wellingborough and Daventry—which are being specially developed to accept overspill population from London and Birmingham respectively. By the end of this century the population in the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board's area alone is expected to increase from 350,000 to over 737,000, and by 1981 it will be up to 570,000.

The consumption per head of population in the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board's area in 1949 was 23 gallons per day. The existing rate of consumption is 51 gallons per day. It is estimated that by 1981 it will be 77 gallons per head per day. I suggest to the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford, who accuses the promoters of the Bill of exaggeration, that that is not a rash estimate in the light of our past experience.

Therefore, the combination of these two things—increased population, on the one hand, and increased consumption per head, on the other—has always harassed the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board in seeking to supply the community for which it is responsible with adequate water. We all know the great and growing demands per head of population for water. The introduction of immersion heaters, hot water systems, washing machines, garden hoses, to say nothing of an extension of rural water schemes and the needs of industry, have all added to the burdens of water boards and river authorities.

The existing reservoirs in the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board's yield about 11 million gallons a day. These are supplemented by an arrangement with the Great Ouse Water Authority to receive a further 12 million gallons a day if necessary, making a total call of 23 million gallons a day. On existing estimates, these combined resources will probably see the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board through to 1974. Thereafter, the growing needs of the rapidly expanding towns which I have mentioned must be met, otherwise expansion will grind to a halt: indeed, it will never get off the ground.

Not only that, but we can envisage a normal—not a new town, but a normal—population growth in Northamptonshire, if the Bill is rejected tonight, being faced with permanent restrictions on its use of water for domestic consumers. By 1980 the Board estimates that 42 million gallons per day will be required. Five years later the requirement will be 53 million gallons per day. In 1990, 61 million gallons per day will be required. By the year A.D. 2000 70 million gallons per day will be required. This rising curve of demand is fully in accordance with the general pattern revealed by the Water Resources Board's South Eastern Survey which I have already mentioned. It is certainly not based on any exaggeration or wild guesses from any other source.

The Bill, if passed, would enable the Mid-Northamptonshire Water Board to take 36 million gallons a day from Empingham which, added to its existing resources, would satisfy the needs of the area only until 1989. It is then hoped that alternative sources of supply will come to our assistance. I want to deal with these alternative water supplies, because I have a feeling that they will be mentioned by hon. Members opposite as though they are now current prospects.

The Water Resources Board, for instance, has advised that desalination, which is one of the alternatives, will play no important rôle in meeting demands until well into the 1980s, on the grounds of cost alone.

Mr. Peter M. Jackson (The High Peak)

Has not the Water Resources Board been proved to be very inaccurate in its costing, in that it now admits that the figure which it presented to the public in 1963, namely 10s. per 10,000 gallons, was incorrect and that it accepts a figure of between 5s. and 6s. per 1,000 gallons?

Mr. Bradley

I am not specifically talking about the cost of water at present. I am referring in any case to figures produced by the Water Resources Board in 1966, not in 1963, for its estimates of requirements and capacity within the area. It remains a fact—I believe that this is widely accepted amongst all the authorities—that desalination will play no important rôle in meeting demands anywhere until the 1980s.

A similar argument applies to a further alternative, the Wash barrage. This is just simply not on the same time scale as that which is required by the promoters of the Bill. The Wash barrage or other similar schemes will not be practicable before the 1980s, if then. They may not come into operation until 1990. In my view, there is no other prospect.

I remind the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford, who said that not enough investigation has been carried out, that 64 other sites and schemes were examined, and it was concluded that there was no prospect of obtaining sufficient quantities of water for the Board's area to meet the huge demands which will be made upon it by 1985 or even by 1975, when the pressure will begin, other than by constructing the Empingham reservoir.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

May I correct the hon. Gentleman on one point? There were 64 other sites, not schemes, investigated. This is important, because it is the other schemes which offer the possible alternative.

Mr. Bradley

Very well; 64 sites and/or schemes were examined.

To proceed on a day-to-day basis, as the National Farmers' Union and other objectors to the Bill have suggested and seem to desire, hoping that a delay of a "few years"—that is the phrase used—may prove the facilities unnecessary, would, in my view, be the height of folly and a dereliction of duty on the part of public officials who are charged with the responsibility of providing water at the right time.

I said earlier that I had a constituency interest in the Bill. I am happy to say that the Leicester Corporation supports the Bill. The Leicester Corporation as a water authority is responsible for supplying most of Leicestershire and Rutland, an area of 800 square miles, serving a population of 635,000 people, who consume 31 million gallons a day. Its estimate of future trends indicates that by 1973 existing sources will have become inadequate, and total demand is expected in its area to reach a level of 36 million gallons a day. Why is that? The reason is simple. Previously moribund villages in Rutland and South-East Leicestershire—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—are now becoming desirable development areas for town and city commuters. Already in the very area of these villages in Rutland and South-East Leicestershire, for which the Leicester Corporation Water Board is responsible, consumption rose by 86 to 103 per cent. from 1958 to 1965, the last period for which figures are available. Moreover, industrial demands from Market Harborough, Oakham and Lutterworth are increasing. The population of Lutterworth is expected to double by 1981.

Therefore, there is a desire on the part of the Leicester City authority to obtain an extra four million gallons a day to meet the shortfall, and it would welcome the supply from the Empingham reservoir, because its alterntaive, if it could not have the extra supply which it knows it will need from Empingham, would be to obtain it from the River Dove Water Board. This would mean pumping the water 38 miles through large mains from a point in Derbyshire and taking capacity needed there for areas of Derbyshire which already have inadequate sources of their own.

I said earlier that this reservoir would add to the attractiveness of Rutland. If there has been any exaggeration, the exaggeration has come from the agitators on this matter, because the area to be submerged represents only 3½ per cent. of the total acreage of the county. [Laughter.] I am sorry not to have quite understood that collective interruption. I shall repeat the point in case it was misheard, The area to be submerged represents 3½ per cent. of the total acreage of the county.

The reservoir would be not only a public utility but an amenity. This great expanse of water would be an attraction. Many of my constituents would wish to fish and to sail boats there. And why not? The public is putting up the money. They should be enabled to enjoy properly controlled facilities, which I know can be arranged. Experience has shown at Grafham Water in Huntingdonshire and Pitsford Reservoir at Northampton that such recreational pursuits can be organised without detriment to the local residents, and I should expect this to be so so for the Empingham reservoir, too.

Mr. Bert Hazell (Norfolk, North)


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Bradley

No. I have given way once or twice already. I have been speaking for some time, others wish to take part, and I am coming to a conclusion.

I regret as much as anyone the loss of 3,000 acres of agricultural land. But ever since we emerged from a purely pastoral society, we have had to strike a balance between the competing claims of the countryside and the relentless demands of our growing urban areas. If the extent and pace of development is to be maintained in the fast-expanding towns of Northampton, Corby, Wellingborough and Daventry, together with the market towns and villages of East Leicestershire and Rutland, it is vital that adequate water be made available. If we reject the Bill tonight, we shall put in peril all the large-scale planned expansion of population and industry throughout the entire region, and we shall make a mockery of our responsibility for the future.

A number of Petitions have been lodged against the Bill. They can be scrutinised by the Private Bill Committee, together with the promoters. It would be a fatal mistake to throw out the Bill tonight, and a slap in the face for the Water Resources Board. I earnestly hope that the House will give the Bill a second Reading.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I wish to arrange, if I can, a balanced debate. This is a non-party issue. It will help the Chair if hon. Members who wish to speak and who have not done so will indicate to me whether they are for or against the Bill.

As the debate must end by 10 o'clock, reasonably brief speeches will help.

7.27 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

It gives me no pleasure to oppose the Bill because I wish that it had not been brought before the House or that this suggestion had not been made. However, in opposing the Bill and speaking opposite the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley), the only pleasure I shall have will be in debating with him, which I find a pleasure. I hope that he will lose at the end of the debate tonight, in the same way as, happily, he lost the election which he fought in Rutland, but I congratulate him on his speech. He made as good a case as he could for the Bill, a case which I propose now to demolish.

If by some chance the hon. Member were to win on a vote tonight, so that the Bill went to Committee and was accepted, he would have made a great mark or splash upon Rutland, providing for himself a memorial there bigger than any memorial to any Member of Parliament, past or present. Indeed, we should have to consider calling the new reservoir "Bradley's Basin".

I oppose the Bill for several reasons. I take, first, the purely parochial matters. Obviously, the loss of land, 3,000 to 4,000 acres—the water area is about 3,000 acres, but the total extent will stretch to 4,000—is not to be accepted by any county, let alone a small one. We do not wish to be a kind of towpath round a lake. We have no wish for another Windermere in Rutland. The reservoir would be almost the size of Lake Windermere. It is no consolation to the farmers who will be affected, about 40 of them altogether, and a great many more farm workers displaced—

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

I have been studying the National Farmers' Union memorandum on the Bill, which says that 24 farmers and smallholders will be displaced, but a number of other farmers and holders will be affected in varying degrees. Does the hon. Gentleman's 40 include those, and can he say how many farm workers will lose their houses?

Mr. Lewis

The number of farmers affected has increased since that report was issued. I understand from a letter I received this morning that the number has risen because of certain works that have to be built in connection with the reservoir, which will displace or upset some more. The scheme does not involve an enormous number of houses, but the land for food production is important. It is necessary that this country should retain the maximum amount of good land for food production when we are trying to cut down imports.

The finance of the undertaking is enormous. With the works ancillary to the reservoir, the total cost will be about £23 million, and this at a time when the rate of interest has never been higher. Moreover, this is the first of a number of reservoirs likely to be suggested by the Water Resources Board.

I do not deal with this on a parochial basis. We do not want the reservoir in Rutland, but I want to argue the case in the national context, because I think that that is how the House would wish it. First, is the reservoir necessary? Is it justified, and is there an alternative? To the question of whether it is necessary and justified, the answer is, "No". To the question of whether there is an alternative, the answer is, "Yes".

I want to answer all these questions by simply taking the reports of the Water Resources Board, which were dealt with at some length by the hon. Gentleman. I believe that the forecasts to justify the reservoir are wholly exaggerated. The projections for the future are based on over-insurance, and the data are questionable. If I can prove that, then the cost, the upheaval, the destruction of the countryside, and the loss of food-growing land are absolutely unacceptable. I wish now to show that the least I shall prove is that there is confusion and uncertainty in the figures, that everything is guesswork, and that the guesswork is more likely to be wrong than right.

The promoters of the Bill say that there will be a steep increase in the demand for water in the East Midlands for the towns of Northampton, Peterborough and Corby and other areas. They proceed to put the population growth on an escalator. The statement in favour of the Bill gives the increase as 1,282,500 towards the end of the century. But that is a somewhat higher figure than the one given by the Water Resources Board Report on the Great Ouse Basin, which itself was high enough, Here the suggested increase in population of 300,000 by 1981 over 1964 gives a 50 per cent. increase, and the 600,000 increase by 2001 a 100 per cent. increase. I do not necessarily accept these population figures, but I shall come to that later.

There is an interesting fact in proof of the over-estimation of the likely use of water which can be seen in the South-East Report on water supplies for the area. It is estimated in that report that by 1981 there will be a population growth of about 50 per cent. over the 1964 figure, but the growth in demand is given as 150 per cent. That report puts the increase in population between 1981 and 2001 as 40 per cent., but consumption is then estimated to go up by only 60 per cent. So we have a 50 per cent. population jump to 1981 with consumption 150 per cent. up, and a 40 per cent. population increase to 2001 and consumption up by 60 per cent.

But there is another report, by T. and C. Hawksley, civil engineers, who were asked to prepare it by the Welland and Nene River Board. They give the need up to 1981 as increasing not by 150 per cent. but by 100 per cent., and the need to 2001 as being up not by 60 per cent. but by 168 per cent.

Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)

From which report was my hon. Friend first quoting?

Mr. Lewis

I think I gave the reference. I shall take rather long if I have to back-track. It was a report of the Water Resources Board. I think that my right hon. and learned Friend will find the reference in HANSARD, but in any case I will give it to him afterwards if he wishes.

Next we come to the statement in favour of the Bill given by the promoters, which I received only this morning. The promoters give different figures. They say that up to 1981 consumption will be up by only 50 per cent. and that up to 2001 it will be up by 80 per cent. on the present level. Those in favour of the undertaking should make up their minds on what basis they justify it, because the reports conflict. The only thing they have in common is that they absolutely exaggerate the future demand for water. If we are to accept those figures, I can only think that our grandchildren will drink water all day and either bath or flush all night.

I now come to the reason advanced for the projection of population. The major part of the case for the new reservoir and the others to come is on the development of new towns and the extensions of existing towns. I notice that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government was reported to have said at the week-end that by the year 2000 there would be a new town being built every six or seven weeks, and he said that there would be 15 million more people in the United Kingdom. If that is true, it means an increase in population of 27 per cent., by the end of the century and I doubt that, because it takes no account of emigration. It is already indicated that there will be more emigration than immigration in a few years from now.

Mr. Lubbock

And it takes no account of the Pill.

Mr. Lewis

The interesting thing is that the 27 per cent. increase is not as large as the increase in population put forward by the Water Resources Board, which says that by the year 2000 there will be a doubling of population in the East Midlands area. Either the Minister is wrong—and I guess that he probably hopes he is—or the water board is ahead of the Minister. We know that that is not very difficult with the present Government in office. But if the Government's policy of moving industry to the development areas continues, clearly people will not be moving into the East Midlands area. The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East knows perfectly well that it is very difficult to get industrial development certificates for industry to move into the East Midlands area. If the Government continue to push industry into the development areas, an increase in population on this scale cannot possibly take place in this area.

If the need for the reservoir is based on new town development, perhaps we had better look at a new town, let us look at, say, the growth of Peterborough and Corby. The Peterborough new town development is already behind schedule. Apart from this, in a 1966 report on the expansion of Peterborough the Ministry of Housing and Local Government said: Sufficient water is expected to be available from the Lincolnshire limestone aquifer up to 1981. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East says "No", but that is what the Ministry said. Presumably this is assuming that the town is up to schedule, but it is not. Therefore, any possible explosive demand from there in the next 10 years is not on.

Then there is the case of Corby. This will give us a fair guide as to the growth of a new town. It establishes considerable ground for scepticism about the demand for water. The planned demand for housing in Corby was 633 houses a year. After 1970, this is going to drop to 430 a year. Lack of land may well mean that the number of houses built in Corby will be 300 a year. Progress in Corby in recent years has been 20 per cent. below the target today. At the moment the build-up of population is 7,500 people below.

Mr. Bradley

But the hon. Gentleman must accept that the population of Corby has trebled in the last 20 years and is continuing to rise.

Mr. Lewis

Yes—but the proposal for the reservoir is on the basis of a much greater growth of population in the next 10 years, never mind the last 20 years. Employment opportunities in Corby are already dropping. Unemployment is increasing and a considerable number of houses have been standing empty. The statement by the promoters of the Bill says: … the town of Corby is expanding fast. It has expanded fast but it is now slowing up. Facts based on figures are more realistic than trends conjured up by conjecture. Part of the case for the Bill rests on the increase shown as the normal growth of population. Leicester is making a claim but again it has been said by authorities that Leicester can still get sufficient water supplies from Derbyshire.

Mr. Bradley

At the expense of Derbyshire areas.

Mr. Lewis

There are spare supplies for Leicester in Derbyshire. In any case, the growth in the number of individuals is not the main cause of the increased use of water. The main cause is house-building and industrial use and, therefore, population figures have to be divided into two or three because two or three people go into one house and there is communal use of the water. The assessment cannot be based entirely on the number of individuals.

I therefore put several propositions. First, the growth of population forecast is exaggerated. Secondly, the total water requirement is over-stretched even if the population figures put forward are accepted. Thirdly, if the forecast of population is wrong, then there is a massive and expensive miscalculation. But, of course, there is more to it than that. It was the Water Resources Board itself, among others, which asked the Government to go ahead with a desk study of the Wash barrage scheme and, arising from that study, we assume that eventually there will be a feasibility study and presumably the Board expected that, in the long run, we would be bound to have a Wash barrage.

If this present scheme goes ahead, it would probably put off the Wash barrage for ever because the amount of finance involved in this and other schemes will eat the money available, and we all know that the Treasury, once it has allowed expenditure of this scale, would look very closely before it allowed extra money to be spent on a Wash barrage. If this were to happen, then the reservoir would be a white elephant, or a water elephant, or whatever one might call it.

Mr. Lubbock

A washout.

Mr. Lewis

I cannot believe that, in the next 10 years, there will be neither a Wash barrage nor a break-through on desalination. Again, I quote the passage on desalination in the statement issued by the promoters: The Water Resources Board have advised that on the grounds of cost desalination is unlikely to play an important part in meeting demand certainly until the early 1980s. The inference I draw from that is that the Board expects desalination to play a part after the 1980s. So what we want, and what the Water Resources Board wants, is a bridging scheme between now and the 1980s.

Assuming as I do that the demand for water through population growth or through extra use will not be as high as suggested, I want to answer the question as to how we provide the bridging. Again I proceed on the basis of the reports of the Water Resources Board itself. Its report on water supplies in South-East England declares that ground water resources in the Lincolnshire River Authority should be developed. On 27th February, I got out of the Library a report of the Board on the ground water resources available in Lincolnshire. It says: A Pilot Scheme should be carried out to study the problem of artificially recharging the Lincolnshire limestone. This Bill is premature until we get the report of such a study.

Page 2 of the Statement by the promoters says: The Water Resources Board recommended that the most economic and beneficial way of meeting the estimated deficiencies in the central area up to 1981"— this is the bridging period— would be by a programme of ground water schemes supplemented by pumped storage reservoirs, all of which required immediate investigation and … comparative studies. The Board has a committee ready to look into it. It therefore confirms what I have said—that, for the bridging operation, there are possibilities in the limestone of Lincolnshire. The volume of limestone there is about 150 million gallons—20 times the national replenishment.

The 1966 report of the Board said that no large-scale scheme designed to artificially recharge aquifers was in operation but the Metropolitan Water Board had investigated the process and there were possibilities of large supplies through it. This applied to North Lincolnshire and to South Lincolnshire. The Board added that demand from the limestone was likely to exceed the supply by 1978.

If that is so, presumably the supply up to 1978 is assured. If this reservoir is chosen on the basis of a three-year gap between 1978 and 1980, it cannot be justified. I want to requote some figures I gave at the beginning. I said that the population was expected to increase, on the Board's own figures, up to 1981 by 50 per cent. But this was without any redevelopment of ground water supplies in Lincolnshire being taken into account. That was without the study scheme, without any probing and without any evaluation of what this might produce. The demand would be unlikely to exceed the supply up to 1978, presumably taking into account the 50 per cent. increase in population.

In my view, the gap is capable of being bridges between now and 1981. It is not only likely, but certain to be bridged if we take account of three methods which could be used: first, the development of ground water resources; secondly, smaller reservoirs; thirdly, the use of gravel pits. To quote a hydrological survey by the Welland and Nene River Board: There are numerous gravel pits around Deeping, Lincolnshire, and various places in the area some of which are capable of providing appreciable supplies". In other words, there are smaller reservoirs available on the spot.

By implication, the Water Resources Board admits all these things. I have been through dozens of papers. If by 1975 we are not moving towards a Wash barrage or cheaper desalinisation, or metering, which is unlikely—and we have metering in industry anyway—then will be time enough to consider the Bill and the possibility of having to have this reservoir.

Mr. Bradley

It will be too late.

Mr. Lewis

I have tried to prove that it will not be too late and that the gap can be bridged. The likely projected demand is exaggerated, the probable population increase is exaggerated, and the likely growth of the use of water is exaggerated. As has been said, there has been an increase in the use of water in recent years. This is the age of the introduction of the washing machine and so forth. We have had developments in housing which have given people baths which they would not otherwise have had. I accept that there has been an increase in industrial use, but this will level off.

Mr. Lubbock

The hon. Gentleman has perfectly correctly said that domestic use of water is not nearly as important as industrial use. Has he made any study of what will happen to the steel industry in the area in the next few years, or at any rate as far as 1981, and what estimates has he reached of the amount of water which industry would consume?

Mr. Lewis

The steel industry already has its own reservoir, and it is a very pleasant place. This is part of the answer to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East. We have a reservoir for Rutland, partly in Rutland and partly in Northants. It provides water for the steel industry and the facilities for recreation and so on, so that we do not need a second.

The Mid-Northants Water Board gave some interesting statistics of the daily use of water, and these figures completely contradict and suggestion of a large increase. In 1962 and 1963 the number of gallons per person per day was 46.8; in 1963 and 1964 the figure dropped to 46.7; in 1964 and 1965 it was steady at 44.9; and 1965 and 1966 it rose to 45.9; in 1966 and 1967 it was again steady at 45.9. There is no suggestion from those figures that the use of water will spiral if no account is taken of an increase in population.

In Rutland we have had a fund to which all the farmers have contributed and out of which we have paid experts to assist us. They have not assisted me with my speech, but they have produced a report to try to help. They were Dutch experts, because we thought that the Dutch knew a good deal about water. They were Ilalo, water engineers of Arnhem, and they prepared an interim report on the reservoir. I will not weary the House with further details, but I should like to quote one passage of their report. It says: Based on the present situation it is likely that the proposed reservoir will not be fully utilised during the next decade. It will hardly be built in the next five years; the report says that it will not be fully utilised during the next decade, and yet the promoters of the Bill say that they want the reservoir for the years 1970–1980. These Dutch engineers also say that the cost to the consumer of the water from the reservoir would be heavy. I will try to be brief—

Mr. Peter M. Jackson

The hon. Gentleman has been advised that the water would be expensive. Would he give the figures? It would help the House if we knew just how expensive the water would be.

Mr. Lewis

I do not have those figures. I will study the report and perhaps it will be possible to answer the hon. Gentleman. The report shows an increase in cost.

I have tried to show that the conflict of statistics in the various reports, the guesses and the so-called forecasts do not justify a reservoir. They are confusing at best and exaggerated and ill-founded at worst, on population climb, on supply demand and on time scale.

Last week, the Welland and Nene River Board asked the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for more money to improve the drainage of the Welland and Nene. It has been asked to do so by the farmers in the area. The Board has done much good work in this connection. It was refused an increase—the Government said that they did not have the money. There is a tight squeeze by the Treasury and yet here it is proposed that there should be a reservoir costing £23 million to provide water which will be more expensive to the consumer than the water he now uses.

The Bill is premature, disruptive, too massive and unacceptable on the basis of the case made for it. It does not solve anything in the short term and in the long term it is more rather than less likely to be unnecessary, for it will be overtaken by advances of technology in this as in other subjects, and advances of technology in the last 10 or 15 years have been tremendous.

I should like to quote from the 1968 Report of the Water Resources Board. I should like to read much of it, but I will content myself with quoting from paragraph 194 which, under the heading "Meeting the Demand", says: An instance of doubtful reasoning in the water field is the suggestion that there is a self-evident economy in building large projects rather than a series of small ones. The foresight of Victorian engineers who built for posterity is often commended, whilst the truth may be that some of those who built large water projects did not take sufficient account of the reasources they were pre-empting and set a rigid pattern of development for too far ahead. I have no quarrel with that. I am not a Victorian and I believe that the Water Resources Board proposes to build a reservoir similar to the kind of project necessary in the Victorian age. We have outgrown it and we doubt the necessity for it. Rutland makes no plea without proof. We are not lacking in public conscience. There is no alternative to this reservoir. We will accept it. But, on the figures and proposals put forward by the Water Board, we can prove, and have proved, that it is unnecessary.

The County of Rutland has as its symbol an inverted horseshoe. Any peer who comes to Rutland may be invited to go to the castle and put a horseshoe in the castle. There are dozens and dozens of them there which have been collected over the centuries. This reservoir, to big by half, is shaped like a horseshoe. That is the final indignity, and we reject it.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

I am grateful for the opportunity to support my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) in his opposition to the Bill. He made an extremely powerful case against it. This is not the only Bill of its kind which we are likely to see. The Rutland reservoir is not unique. It is one of perhaps half a dozen or more which are pending. Nearly all of them are opposed. This is in a real sense a test case.

The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley), in his advocacy of the Bill, started by saying, in a rather cavalier fashion, "It is no good the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford and other opponents of the Bill saying that this is not necessary". That is precisely what we do say. We think it a little arrogant that the case against the Bill should be pre-empted. The evidence for it is inadequate. Far more evidence should have been produced in the form of, not only population studies, but hydrological studies.

What worries people in rural areas more than anything, as we see reservoir project after reservoir project put forward, is the way in which large areas of first-class agricultural land and the environment of hundreds of thousands of people are gradually eroded or destroyed as a kind of reflex from urban development which has often been planned with no long-term thought about the secondary implications in terms of water demand and other things.

We see in the statement from the promoters of the Bill the expansion expected in Peterborough and the extensions of population in Corby and other places. All too often the country dweller gets the impression that somebody plans development first and then we are presented with a fait accompli in the form of the flooding of another 2,000 or 3,000 acres of agricultural land comparatively remote from the areas where the development is to take place. Rutland is not a very big county, but this reservoir is larger than Lake Windermere, which is no small reservoir.

We are entitled to say that the building of shallow valley reservoirs of this kind is not only uneconomic but is the worst possible use of the land involved. If reservoirs are built in wide, shallow valleys, what happens, as anyone knows who has been near one, is that when there is a period of drought or the replenishment sources begin to dry up there is an increasing area of land which is offensive, unsightly and in every way unsatisfactory

The hon. Member for Leicester, North-East and the promoters of the Bill say that this will provide a fine amenity for the people of Rutland and the neighbouring town dwellers who will be able to use the reservoir as a centre for boating, swimming, fishing and so on. Presumably this is supposed to reconcile to their fate the farmers whose land is to be flooded and the villagers whose villages are to be inundated. In fact, it has precisely the opposite effect. It is bad enough to have half one's land flooded but for it to be turned into an urban tourist resort as well is the end.

Nobody denies that in this case the plans produced by the eminent landscape architects who served as consultants are admirable, assuming that this is the sort of thing that one wants to do. But do not let us be told that this is an additional amenity or attraction for Rutland. It is not. It will be a disaster for Rutland and everybody there knows it.

The hon. Member for Leicester, North East talked as if the Board had made a careful study as between Empingham and Manton and had decided on Empingham which is considerably larger, and left us with the impression that that was that and Manton was safe. But that is not so at all. We are told by the promoters that they hoped that Empingham would make it unnecessary for them to flood Manton as well on the assumption that alternative sources of water would be found by about 1985.

The trouble always is that these things are cumulative. Each time one of these things happens it acts as a precedent for yet another infliction somewhere else Once the Empingham reservoir has started once this precedent has been set, the inducement to do proper long-term planning on a large scale to deal with this and increasing water shortages in other places will be reduced. Sooner or later we shall find that the Wash barrage study has been deferred again, and a Bill will be brought forward in about 10 years from now to flood the Manton Valley as well. This has happened in other parts of the country.

The Wash barrage is a sad story. What seems to happen on these occasions is that the long-term, large-scale thinking and planning is deferred. We are then confronted, as if with fait accompli, with the necessity for emergency action to meet a need which must have been apparent to everybody for some time. Then we are told that there is no alternative and that it is no good our saying that we can argue against it.

Let us see what happened in the case of the Wash barrage. The Water Resources Board appointed a firm of consultants, Messrs. Binnie and Partners, to investigate the Ouse Valley water system. But this firm reported as long ago as 1965 that the Wash barrage was essential and that a feasibility study, which it was then estimated would cost about £1½ million, was urgently necessary. That was in 1965, and we are, as far as I can gather—perhaps the Minister will tell us—no nearer to an undertaking to start a proper feasibility study now than we were in 1965.

Meanwhile, we are faced not only with this Bill but, no doubt, with other similar proposals in the neighbourhood. Everybody who knows anything about this subject has foreseen that a large-scale long-term solution was necessary. Private experts have been doing their own research into it. I do not know whether hon. Members have seen or heard of the study which was done by Mr. Harry Teggin, a partner of the noble Lord, Lord Esher in Messrs. Brett and Pollen, for a combined Wash barrage, city airport and deep sea port. Speaking to The Times on 27th September, 1968, the noble Lord, Lord Esher who is a past president of the R.I.B.A., said this: We have had discussions with government officials about it, but it is so very long term and has so many ramifications that it is beyond the scale of Government thinking at the moment. Financial techniques for this kind of very long term investment do not seem to exist in this country yet. It is time they did. If they do not exist soon, and if Government, local government, water board and river board thinking does not soon make this possible, we shall be confronted not simply with this Bill and with another Bill for Manton in a few years' time, but with a steady shrinkage of agricultural land in a country which needs all the production from its agriculture that it can get.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. John Temple (City of Chester)

I have a great deal of sympathy with my two hon. Friends who are opposing the Bill but, as a member of the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association and as a vice-president of the River Authorities' Association, I feel that I can look at this problem, which is a very difficult one, from both sides.

No one wishes to drown more land with water. It is a very sombre thought. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) that the long-term implications of water conservation are of the highest possible importance. Over the years Governments have dragged their feet on long-term research which would have brought answers which might well have made the Bill which we are considering tonight unnecessary. It is a melancholy picture to contemplate in any county on any agricultural land the creation of a reservoir which will occupy an area almost as large as Lake Windermere. [HON. MEMBERS: "Larger."] It is approximately the same size as Lake Windermere.

The Minister ought to announce today that he will set up a high-powered commission of inquiry to investigate the provision and disposal of water in our country. I do not believe that these two major factors have been looked at together. The technical experts have done their stuff, but the vast capital expenditures involved, which will fall so heavily on our economy, have not been effectively weighed up.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon spoke of a possible six further reservoirs. I do not know where those are, but I am distinctly apprehensive about a further rash of reservoirs breaking out all over our country. There will be an increasing demand for water by the growing population. There may be a case for the reuse of water and for industry using water which is not drinking water. I ask the Minister to announce tonight that he will set up a commission of inquiry to look at the broader picture.

The case in detail for the Bill has been deployed on both sides and I do not intend to talk in terms of millions of gallons per day because that has already been done.

In 1963 I followed most closely the passage of the Water Resources Act. Alas, in certain respects that Act, which was brought in by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), has proved to be defective. If Section 67 of the Water Resources Act had worked in the way in which it was designed to work, the Measure which we are considering would have been unnecessary and the scheme could have been put through by a Ministerial Order. I ask the Minister what plans he has for amending legislation.

I believe that this subject should be dealt with nationally. I have great sympathy with the promoters of the Bill—of course I have—and I shall come down in favour of the Bill but, nevertheless, the onus of promoting this Bill should be firmly in the hands of the Government, as was the intention of the Water Resources Act.

The Water Resources Act, 1963, is defective in other respects. This is a great misfortune, because the whole basis of abstraction from our rivers was on the fixation of what was termed "minimum acceptable flow." Unfortunately, six or seven years have gone by and not a single minimum acceptable flow has been laid down for any river in England and Wales. I question whether one will ever be, and I am in extreme doubt whether the whole system will prove workable.

Are there alternatives to the Empingham scheme? Much has been said about the importation of water from other areas. Alas, there is a shortage more or less universally throughout the country, and the only way in which that can be dealt with is by building somewhere—and I stress somewhere—large regulating reservoirs. I know what the Welsh think about more of their land being covered by water, so we cannot look to the western half of the country, possibly by means of a great contour canal, a water grid or a pipeline having the same effect, for water which can be brought from the west to the central areas and to East Anglia. I hope that the Minister will be able to say something about the feasibility of a contour canal. Feasibility studies of these major works have not been done. They should have been done, and a full feasibility study would be able to prove whether or not these ideas are practicable, although I have great doubts myself as to their practicability.

On the estuarial barrages, the Wash barrage in particular, a full feasibility study should long ago have been put in hand. Desk study is one thing, but it cannot be said that the Wash Barrage scheme is a probability because no engineers have yet gone into it in sufficient depth.

Desalination is a practicability at considerable cost in the not-too-distant future but, on the other hand, no chemists have yet said that the quality of the water which will be produced will be acceptable for potability. This is another highly technical matter upon which we are in the dark.

The possibility of getting water from underground sources, what is called ground water, is illusory. It may be that some will be obtained in the Thames Valley, but my experience is that where ground water is drawn off in large quantities something happens to the water table, and a great deal of harm is done to the agricultural land which is above those underground reservoirs of water. I would caution hon. Members not to accept too readily the provision of extra water supply by drawing on underground sources.

With regard to the recharging of underground sources, my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) spoke about recharging the Lincolnshire limestone. However, no actual recharging of underground aquifers has been done. The Gas Council has investigated the possibilities of storing gas underground, but anything connected with recharging aquifers is a very delicate operation. Again, no practical feasibility studies have been done, and there is no scheme in existence.

I am driven back to the alternative and, quite clearly, it is based on the facts contained in the Water Supplies of South-East England Study carried out by the Water Resources Board. The recommendation of its technical experts, which I accept, is that a reservoir should be built either at Empingham or at Manton. I believe, unfortunately, that the river authority will have to carry out its very difficult duty. It is one which falls upon it as a result of the mechanism of the 1963 Act. The technical situation is that the Water Resources Board has the overall advisory responsibility. It advises the Ministers and the river authorities. In this case, the river authorities have taken its advice under Section 4 of the 1963 Act. They had very little option but to take its advice, and I believe that the case which has been made out on technical grounds is a very strong one.

As I have exhausted all the possible alternatives, I do not feel that we can do other than accept the advice of the Water Resources Board.

Mr. Maude

My hon. Friend may have noticed that, in making its recommendations, the Water Resources Board said at the same time that it was urgently necessary that investigations should take place to see whether there were, in future cases, alternatives to surface reservoirs, about which it expressed serious reservations.

Mr. Temple

That is true, and then we come up against the problem of financing these feasibility studies, which in themselves are a considerable expense.

I will not go too much into actual need, because it has been set out very clearly by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley). I believe that the need based on population expansion and on the increase in consumption per head is very real and can be easily quantified. There is no doubt that the water situation could become extremely acute at any time after 1975. On the pure time-scale of the alternatives, they could not possibly be in existence by 1975, and so I accept that a reservoir at Manton or Empingham, unfortunately, is the right answer. On grounds of cost and on grounds of running expenses, again unfortunately there is no doubt that the Empingham Reservoir is the right one to be chosen in the circumstances.

I have great confidence in the Water Resources Board. In carrying out its duties, it has a very heavy task. I have had the privilege of knowing some of the members of the Board for a number of years. They are dedicated men. They have gone into all the pros and cons of this difficult situation in Central and South-East of England particularly, and I do not think that there is any need for me to recap their conclusions.

It is easy for us to be far-sighted tonight. Unfortunately, the foresight of our forebears was not as good as it might have been. We should not have been put in this position. But, facing the facts of the situation, if we deny this river authority a Second Reading to its Bill, we may well put at hazard not only the lives but the industries of an important area of our country. Weighing up the facts as carefully as I can, I believe that the case has been made out for sending this Bill to a Committee so that it can be examined in detail.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)

My hon. Friend the Member for Chester (Mr. Temple) has spoken with charm and understanding of this very difficult problem. We know that he speaks regularly in this House on behalf of the Association of River Boards. However, I have rarely heard him speak in a more unconvincing way than he has this evening. If that is the best case which can be made for the Bill, then I think that the House would be right to reject it.

We should all agree with my hon. Friend when he talked about the use of non-potable water for industry. Taking Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland as a whole, the North Lincolnshire problem will probably be solved in the next few years by taking non-potable water from the Trent in North Lincolnshire. That is particularly important in that it will reduce the demands likely to be made on the Lincolnshire sandstone further south, and that source can then be made available as an alternative supply for the Peterborough and Rutland area.

We should also agree with my hon. Friend when he talks about the reuse of water. I dare say that we all enjoy putting some of the native wine of your country into the water of London. It is necessary, when one remembers that the water has probably been used six times before it comes out of the taps in this House.

In Water Bills, we are all familiar with aldermen—unfortunately, usually aldermen belonging to the Labour Party—appearing as chairmen of their water boards and arguing that it is essential that the House should pass their Bills immediately. This evening, we have heard an alderman of the Northants County Council representing a falling electorate in North-East Leicester saying that expanding population makes this Bill urgently necessary. At least he did not argue that it was necessary for the next two years and that demand was proved.

I am sure that the whole House will agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) made an extremely informative, accurate and hard-worked speech. Indeed, it was probably the best speech on any Water Bill that we have heard for a long time. He said that all claims can prove to be grossly exaggerated. Certainly I cannot see Corby New Town and Development Corporation expanding rapidly under an 8 per cent. Bank Rate. Peterborough is running into the same trouble as King's Lynn, and Northampton has not even started.

What is more extraordinary is that, faced with these doubts in forecast demands, the promoters of the Bill have acted in an extremely surprising manner. I refer hon. Members in particular to Clause 46, which is concerned with the provision of recreational activities. Not long ago in this House, we had before us the Countryside Bill, which gave local authorities the power to provide recreational facilities. What this House did not give local authorities was any compulsory power to provide recreational facilities. But in the Welland and Nene Bill, the Northamptonshire Water Board six months later asks the House of Commons to give it compulsory powers to acquire recreational facilities in a way that the House has already rejected.

I understand that there has been a change of heart about Clause 46. I mention it because I think it is typical of the forethought, planning and work that has gone into the Bill: "All right, we will add something on. We will tack it on here and if we find that people are against it we will withdraw it." That is to say nothing of the expense involved in briefing counsel, preparing petitions, and solicitors' fees in order to defeat it. If the matter had been properly negotiated, alternative arrangements could have been made.

I will not delay the House long, because we have already heard most convincing arguments from my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford, whose constituency is principally concerned, that the Bill is unnecessary. We know, from paragraph 7 on page 18 of the Fourth Annual Report of the Water Resources Board, that adjacent to Rutland, just south of Gainsborough, there is a considerable untapped reservoir of water in the Lincolnshire limestone. Without having to recharge it, as my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester was suggesting, this water is available in even greater quantities if we decide to use the Trent for industrial purposes for the rest of Lincolnshire.

The House of Commons is always faced with the same problem over Water Bills. It is always told that in the end water boards and industry must have their way. Many hon. Members will remember the case of Teesdale. What a very depressing thing it was to open The Times the next day and see across the Parliamentary page, "Industry wins in Teesdale". This is a very one-sided race, and industry always seems to win.

Unless the House of Commons says "No" to this Bill tonight, alternative sources will not be developed. The promoters of the Bill say that there are not satisfactory alternatives. But we must throw one Bill out to make the water boards get cracking on developing the other sources.

The Treasury line is that the cheapest and easiest way is to continue to push Bills through Parliament annually flooding more and more agricultural land. What are the Ministers doing? Is any study being given to the priority demands for the use of agricultural land? Buildings, roads and industry want more agricultural land. Is it the right priority to use agricultural land for water supply when we have these other competing priorities?

Reference has been made to the future of the Wash barrage. We have only to look at the Appendix to the Report of the Select Committee on Agriculture to see that this has only reached the desk study stage. It does not look as though any party will push forward with this in a very convincing way.

The water boards make up their minds that in two or three years' time they have to start on one of these schemes, and they come along knowing that in the end the Government will say that industry must have its water. The Government will use their Parliamentary majority to push the Bill through. What is so depressing is that if each Member were faced with having a reservoir in his constituency he would vote against it. Therefore, I hope that the House will reject the Bill.

8.33 p.m.

The Minister for Planning and Land (Mr. Kenneth Robinson)

I think that it might be for the convenience of the House if at this stage I expressed the view of the Government.

I shall not need to detain the House very long to hear what I have to say about the Bill.

Certainly this Water Bill has never been at risk of passing unheralded or unsung. No Bill which sought to divert from agricultural use between 3,000 and 4,000 acres of land, and to effect a dramatic change on such a scale in Rutland, of all places, could expect to escape close scrutiny; or, indeed, strenuous opposition.

The amount of land this scheme would require and the disturbance entailed to agriculture and to people's way of life has given serious concern to me and to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—just as it has very clearly engaged the attention of the House.

But, at the same time, just as we acknowledge the produce of our farms to be essential and the way of life of our farming communities to be highly prized and not lightly to be set aside, we have also to recognise how dependent we are for life and health and for the productivity of much of our industry upon assured water supplies.

The issue which the Bill raises is by no means a simple one; it is an issue of balancing one set of needs against another. The water engineer who casts his covetous eye upon our pleasant lakes and valleys does so in response to the demands we press upon him every time we turn the bathroom tap.

The promoters of the Bill are a river authority and a water board set up in accordance with the will of Parliament to do certain essential jobs. Their proposal is to store nearly 30,000 million gallons of water to be pumped out of the Rivers Welland and Nene in seasons of plenty. Part of the water so stored would be taken from the reservoir, treated, and put into public supply, and part would be available for increasing the flows of the river system when necessary. One of the benefits from the greater flows would be to increase the quantities of water available for abstraction from the rivers, and probably from underground sources, too. Both public water supply undertakings and private abstractors would stand to benefit from the scheme.

In selecting Empingham as the site for the reservoir the promoters have not acted in any way recklessly or without proper forethought. On the contrary, they have, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) told the House, followed out the recommendation of the Water Resources Board in its Report, "Water Supplies in South-East England," which foresaw a need for at least one reservoir at either Empingham or Manton. In 1966 preliminary study suggested that reservoirs at the two sites together would be able to produce about 50 million gallons of water per day. As a result of closer study, current estimates are that Empingham alone should produce about that quantity.

The cost of a major scheme of this sort is of course formidable. There is no need for me to dwell upon the attraction of obtaining a higher yield of water for the same investment.

The other attraction of the higher yield is the opportunity that it offers to spread the benefits of the scheme more widely than to the local water undertakers who are the obvious and immediate beneficiaries—the opportunity to redeploy water resources so as to meet other needs and so to enable other investment, and with it other demands upon land, to be deferred, and possibly somewhere along the line to be avoided altogether.

A great deal has been said about alternatives, and I expect the House would wish me to say a word at any rate about what has been said in the debate about a Wash Barrage. I shall not risk your displeasure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by attempting to debate on this occasion the merits of any project which the expression "Wash barrage" would cover. Indeed, until the results of the desk study of the subject are available I do not know what those merits may be. What is abundantly clear, however, as the Report of the Water Resources Board on supplies in the South-East of England shows, is that no Wash barrage project presents, or has ever presented, an alternative to the scheme which is the subject of the present Bill within the time scale which is relewant to the consideration of the Bill.

The Empingham reservoir is intended to deal with the situation envisaged in a period beginning in the mid-1970s. The period to which any Wash barrage could be relevant would be at least a decade later, by which time the yield of Empingham is likely to be fairly fully taken up.

Mr. Maude

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise the anxiety which has been expressed in the House that for another ten or 15 years we shall get a succession of Water Bills for reservoirs in which we are told that the Wash barrage is still 20 years ahead and that there is no alternative to the Bills. Will something be done about long-term alternatives?

Mr. Robinson

The hon. Gentleman has put two questions in one about long-term alternatives generally. I shall have a word to say about that in a moment. On the Wash barrage, obviously we must wait for the results of the desk study, which I hope will not be long delayed, before we can decide to go ahead with a full feasibility study, which in itself is a very expensive exercise.

Mr. Temple

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by saying that it will not be very long? Is it a matter of months or years?

Mr. Robinson

I am sorry that I cannot be precise about that, but the hon. Gentleman knows that he has the opportunity of putting down Questions on the subject. I certainly could not accept the contention of the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) that a Wash barrage would render Empingham unnecessary.

Reference has also been made to the artificial recharge of underground strata as a possible alternative. Broadly, this means pumping water back into the ground during the wet season, when there is plenty available, for abstraction when river flow is low. This, like a Wash barrage, would in any event come too late for the present need to which the Bill is addressed. The potential of supply from the Great Ouse chalk as replenished by natural percolation is not yet proved, although it is already being investigated and has been taken into account in estimating the deficiency which would have to be met from surface storage.

The further development of the Great Ouse groundwater by artificial recharge would have to follow the initial development and would require detailed investigation over a period of years. A recent recommendation by the groundwater division of the Water Resources Board for investigating the possibility of recharge of the Lincolnshire limestone has not yet been taken up and, when it is, several years of investigation would be needed before the practicability of recharge could be established. Within the period for which the Empingham reservoir is designed to cater there is, therefore, little prospect of supplies from either of these sources on the scale required.

Finally, a number of hon. Members have mentioned desalination. As the Water Resources Board mentioned in its Fifth Annual Report, the Water Research Association has recently completed a three-year study of the application of desalination to water supply in England and Wales. The Board has since prepared a Report on the likely future of desalination as a supplement to water resources, and it is to be published within the next few weeks. I do not want to anticipate its conclusions but I can say that with existing desalination techniques the cost of a supply all the year round is likely to be nearly double the cost of water from a scheme like Empingham, so that on grounds of cost alone it can hardly be regarded as a viable alternative.

I want to say one other thing about desalination, because it is a favourite alternative among hon. Members who are particularly concerned about the danger to amenities of reservoirs. I beg them to look at pictures of a small-scale desalination plant, which would probably be placed on the coastline—perhaps rather an attractive piece of coastline—and then to imagine a very much larger-scale plant, able to deal with the sort of needs for which a reservoir like Empingham caters; and then to say which method they think is the greater potential danger to amenity.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

We shall deal with the question of the coastline when we come to it in the years ahead. Let us deal with the question before us. On desalination, assuming that there are possibilities, and that the only difficulty is that the cost will be double that which it would cost to produce water from this reservoir, is it not true that we should have desalination plants operating alongside the ordinary reservoirs? We should not do away with the existing reservoirs. We just would not build Empingham, and we should therefore have two types of water supply—the normal one and that produced by desalination. Surely that would not involve too great an increase in costs.

Mr. Robinson

Nobody is ruling out desalination for all time. I am giving the latest position, as I understand it. The hon. Gentleman would be well advised to await the publication of this Report, which is reasonably imminent. I can appreciate that the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford would not be terribly concerned about the coastline of England.

I want to refer to something said by the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) in his very thoughtful speech. I agree that past Governments, over a long period, have seriously ignored the whole subject of water supplies in the longer term. But I do not think that there is a need for the kind of commission of inquiry which the hon. Gentleman had in mind. Indeed, that is exactly what the Water Resources Board is doing.

At long last, science is being brought to bear on this problem—in my view rather belatedly, but the Board has completed its survey of plots in South-East England, has produced an interim report on water resources in northern England and is expected to produce a final report later this year. It is already engaged on a survey of resources for the Midlands and Wales, and when that is complete almost the whole country will have been surveyed. Meanwhile, we have a working party on sewage disposal at present surveying various methods of disposing of dirty water. There is no occasion to set up a new body, a commission of inquiry, since this long overdue job is being faced and effectively tackled by the Water Resources Board.

Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the Water Resources Board has enough authority to back recommendations? This is a point which I want to elaborate later. It has carried out many surveys. Is the relationship between him as Minister and the Board sufficiently definite for us in this modern age?

Mr. Robinson

I have no complaints whatever about the relationship between the Minister and the Board, which is, of course, an advisory body. I would not disagree with the hon. Gentleman about the defects in the Act. He will not be surprised to know that, in the context of this debate, I can give no assurance about when there might be amending legislation, but there are defects which need to be put right in due course in the Water Resources Act.

Mr. Temple

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if the Act had not been defective, this Bill would have been a Ministerial Order?

Mr. Robinson

That is probably the case.

Mr. Maude

I did not intervene when my hon. Friend mentioned this, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that there are many people who do not like the idea of Rutland or anywhere else being flooded by Ministerial Order, without the opportunity for petitions against a Bill.

Mr. Robinson

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but, as an old Parliamentarian, he will know that, when the time comes for Amendments to the Act, they will no doubt be thoroughly and exhaustively debated in the House, and that, if the House does not like what is proposed, it will not be passed.

I must say, in conclusion, that the Floor of the House is not the most appropriate place to consider the detailed issues involved in the Bill. The evidence for and against a Bill cannot be given or examined adequately here. As the House knows, there are several petitions against the Bill, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing will be reporting to the Private Bill Committee. No one doubts that the Bill will receive the most searching and careful consideration in that Committee and I am sure that the Committee will pay particular attention to all the matters which have been and will be raised during the Second Reading debate. Accordingly, I recommend that the House should give the Bill a Second Reading and send it to the Committee.

8.48 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I do not want to take up too much of the time of other hon. Members, but I thought it appropriate to speak after the Minister.

It is now nearly six years since the Conservative policy for the conservation of water resources was put forward in the Water Resources Act of 1963, a policy which created the 29 river authorities, what one might call the area wáter bankers, and the Water Resources Board, as a sort of central advisory banker. It has fallen to the lot of the Labour Administration to put that Conservative policy into operation, and the urgency of doing this can be expressed in various ways. Perhaps the shortest way to express it is to remind ourselves that in 30 years' time, by the end of this century, we must have provided new resources, by reservoir or otherwise, totalling 30,000 million gallons per day, and that will cost us about £2,000 million.

When one expresses the requirement in those terms one justifies the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) for a commission of inquiry. The Minister suggested that the Water Resources Board was the right body for this and that we did not need another commission. I am not certain that the Board is the right body. It is a body of technicians, whereas we need a statement of overall policy relating to water resources.

Mr. Temple

My hon. Friend mentioned the alarming cost of £2,000 million for the provision of water. He did not couple with it the astronomical cost that will be involved for the disposal of water, the sewage works and so on. A commission could combine provision and disposal.

Mr. Page

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for adding that point.

We are today considering not some of the more unconventional forms of water conservation but one of the conventional ways—the storing or providing of water in a surface reservoir. We know that the Government are considering unconventional ways, too. There are the feasibility studies which were set up for the Morecambe Bay and Dee Estuary barrages and a considerable time ago there was the Report on the water resources of the Greater Ouse Basin. That described the breathtaking scheme of the Wash barrage, providing 620 million gallons a day from that source. The Government have been pressed time and again to set up a feasibility study for the Wash barrage scheme, and I understand that, belatedly, they have set up what is called a "desk study". That is proceeding, but we do not know how long it will take.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) said that this was a sad story. Had the Government moved somewhat faster on this imaginative scheme we might not have needed to debate this Measure tonight and we might have been able to say in a few years' time that such a Bill was not necessary. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) argued, even now the Wash barrage might make the Empingham reservoir unnecessary.

We must consider the Bill in the context that the Wash barrage scheme is not a possibility for at least 15 or 20 years. We must consider the figures that have been given about the increase in population, and therefore the increased need for water, in Northampton, Corby, Wellingborough, Daventry, Peterborough and so on. We must also bear in mind what was said in the Report of the Water Resources Board, "Water Supplies in South East England", in which it was stated in paragraph 27: Even if the ground-water schemes in the Thames and Great Ouse areas are developed successfully as quickly as we hope, there will still be a deficiency in the central area reaching about 20 million gallons per day by 1981. This can be met only by a surface storage scheme. In view of the rate of growth of demand in the Welland and Nene area and its remoteness from the ground-water schemes, it would be preferable to provide the necessary storage in that area by building either the Manton or the Empingham reservoir. We are, therefore, faced with that recommendation from a Board which this House set up to advise not only the river authorities but Parliament. It is arguable, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford said, whether the estimated requirements for the future have been misjudged or exaggerated. It is difficult for us to examine them. Only when witnesses are examined in committee can one inquire into these matters.

We are placed in difficulty in having to examine the figures on Second Reading. As my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester said, it was never intended that these matters should come before the House in a Private Bill, but that the Government should take full responsibility for any scheme of this sort by putting before us a Ministerial Order. That is the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon. If it is done in that way, the Government take full responsibility, and can be questioned on the policy behind it rather than just on the details of a Private Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford put forward what I might call the constituency points, and very strong points they were—the inundation of agricultural land, the displacement of farmers and the cost of the scheme. Obviously, in the short term the costs of alternatives are very great: desalination and, perhaps the Lincolnshire limestone scheme, are schemes that will cost a lot of money—more money than is involved in setting up separate reservoirs. In the long term, however, it may be right to spend the money on investigating, and in starting on non-conventional schemes so that the type of scheme now before us is not overtaken in advance by the progress of technology.

It would have been very much easier for the House if it could have seen the Bill in the framework of the full picture of national policy, particularly on methods other than surface storage. How long are we to go on with surface storage, and producing what has been described as a rash of reservoirs?

I come back to the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester of a commission of inquiry. If the Minister does not think that such a commission is the right method at this stage, can we not have a White Paper on Government policy? The Water Resources Board advises all parties. It is not a body to inform the House of Government policy. It is very necessary now that we should have a full statement of Government policy on water resources, otherwise we shall go on in this rather piecemeal way. I am sure that whichever way hon. Members vote, they will vote with a feeling of dissatisfaction, of lack of knowledge, and of inability to put this Bill in the framework of a sensible national policy.

8.58 p.m.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

My constituency lies between the Welland and the Great Ouse. It has the Nene running through its northern half. That means that the lower reaches of all three main rivers mentioned in the Bill concern my constituency.

I, too, should declare an interest. I am a member of the land drainage committee of the Country Landowners' Association, and a paying member of the National Farmers' Union, both of which are petitioning against the Bill. I therefore have somewhat mixed interests in this Measure. I need hardly say that none of my interests is financial. My particular concern in one matter was aroused by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball), who has now disappeared from the Chamber. That is that the work done by the members of river authorities seemed to me to be gravely reflected upon by him. This is utterly intolerable. The voluntary work which members of river authorities do for the benefit of their fellow men is very considerable. The suggestion that a Bill like this comes forward merely because river authorities like throwing their weight about is absolutely intolerable.

I wish that my hon. Friend were here to hear me say this. I feel very incensed because a number of my constituents serve on river authorities, and served on river boards before them and on the old catchment boards before them. Most of my constituency would not exist were it not for the work which they have done. This goes for any Fenland constituency.

Apart from all that, in the course of my 24 years as a Member of this honourable House I have had occasion to take the Chair in Select Committees on opposed Private Bills dealing with water legislation on more than one occasion. I was chairman for what was perhaps one of the biggest promotions there have ever been. That was the promotion which involved the reorganisation of the entire water supply of England from Towcester in Northamptonshire in the North down to Aldershot in the South-East and Hungerford in the South-West. It was so big that at one stage we got one of the learned counsel representing two conflicting interests simultaneously by mistake. He is now Mr. Justice Thesiger. It was one of the most amusing mornings we have ever spent in Select Committee.

What has impressed me more than anything as a result of having to preside over the Committees on these Water Bills has been their appalling complication and the utter impossibility of a Second Reading debate on such a Bill being able to cover the points which have to be covered before the true merits can be decided. I profoundly agree with the Minister's statement in the concluding part of his remarks that the Chamber is not the place for us to solve these problems. When one has heard the conflicting presentations, as we have heard from the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) and from my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis), one realises that there is at least an element of nicely calculated less or more about some of these propositions. When it comes to nicely calculated less or more, there are plenty of people to give excellent advice from both points of view in a Select Committee on an opposed Private Bill. It is rather like walking down Harley Street and calling at every door to find out what is wrong with one. I am prepared to bet that after such an exercise at the far end of the street one would know less about one's real maladies than when one started.

When one hears two conflicting experts on statistics arguing on either side in a Select Committee, it is essential that we have learned counsel now and again to guide us as to the emphasis we should put upon the evidence we hear. The Chamber is not the right place for us to decide these things. That is why I think that we should give the Bill a Second Reading, because the one figure which nobody seems to have mentioned in the course of the debate is by far the most serious of all. It appears in paragraph 10 of the Promoters' Statement. It concerns the number of gallons of water per head that the population is tending to consume every day. At the moment it is about 51 gallons a head. By 1981 it will have increased to 77. By the end of the century it is expected to reach 94 gallons per day for every member of the population.

This is the answer to the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford sought to make. I am sorry that my hon. Friend is not now here. He sought to see an inconsistency between the growth in population and the growth in the demand for water. He left these figures out of his calculations. If he includes them, he will see that, if the population increases as it is forecast that it will increase by the end of the century by 607,000, that increase alone, if it went on consuming water at the rate of 51 gallons a head, which is the present consumption, would be consuming 31 million gallons a day more than is consumed today. If the figure went up to 77 gallons per head per day, they would be consuming 46.7 million gallons more a day, and if it went up to 94, with the increase of population to 607,000, the daily consumption of that increase would be 57 million gallons more. Yet this scheme is designed to produce only 36 million gallons.

In recent months, I have had the interesting and thoroughly enjoyable, though somewhat exacting, task of carrying out a study of the East of England for my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath). One of the facts which came up over and over again was the appalling position in which Essex now is. Again, I wish to goodness that my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford were here to hear me say this. How many of those who have taken part in the debate so far realise that Essex is already rationed for water all too often, and that already it has had to cut down its building programme because of the parlous state of its water supply? It is for that reason that we have the transfer schemes from the Ely-Ouse into the Essex river area. It is desperately necessary.

If hon. Members suppose that we can all wait for the Wash barrage, for desalination, or for reverse osmosis, which, perhaps, may be yet another method, they are not facing facts. Obviously, it would be ideal if we could recast the whole of the United Kingdom. There are a good many cities built in the wrong place because, when they began to become cities, no one had given nearly enough thought to the underground water supplies which would be available. If we could recast the country, doing away with all the pipes and the rest, how perfectly splendid we could make it all. But we cannot do that. We have to face facts, and one fact is that an awful lot of people are already desperately short of water. If we do not have this scheme now, then, in one way or another, there will be a great many more people even more short of water than all too many already are. That is why I say that we have no alternative but to send the Bill to a Committee and wish it well.

9.7 p.m.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

In my view, there have been two rather complacent speeches tonight, one by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley), who introduced the Bill, and the other by the Minister when replying to some of the points which had been raised. I like and respect the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East, but I must say that his remarks reminded me of a speech which I heard shortly after I first came to the House. The hon. Gentleman said that, in his view, the new reservoir in Rutland would add to the beauty of the county. When I came to the House a few years ago, one of the first speeches I heard was made by an hon. Member who said that, in his view, electricity pylons gave added beauty to the countryside. I can only class the remarks of the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East in the same category as that speech which I heard in my early days here.

The Minister seemed to have the extraordinary idea that we who oppose the Bill were chiefly concerned with the beauty of the countryside. Indeed, he said that if we were to consider desalination seriously, it would involve some large plants around the coast, and he asked, in effect, whether we would not rather have a nice lake in Rutland.

The real point made by many of the objectors to the Bill is that it is good farm country which would he covered by water in Rutland. It is not a question of whether we like to see water or desalination plants on the coast. It is almost a question of this country's survival and being able to feed itself if the trend of land use for this, that and the other purpose is allowed to continue.

As I say, my principal concern is about the 3,000 or 4,000 acres of good land in Rutland which would be flooded by the reservoir. In my constituency of Harborough, I have interests, though I shall not list them all, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) did. One of my interests is that the Welland rises in my constituency, and this is something of which I am quite proud.

It is not just that part of Rutland is being taken for water that concerns me, but that coupled with this are all the other schemes for the alternative use of first-class agricultural land today, when every authority competing with another for the use of land for a purpose other than agricultural says that it is a very good idea to conserve it for agriculture, but that that does not affect the authority concerned. In and around Leicestershire thousands of acres of first-class agricultural land are in jeopardy; 3,000–4,000 acres are threatened by the Bill. We have a doubling in size of Northampton, and we had the enlargement of Peterborough and Corby. It is not just for water storage or building that land is being taken. Many local authorities are still using the best agricultural land for refuse disposal in the Midlands, and in parts of Leicestershire fresh stone quarries covering many acres are still being opened for opencast purposes, again destroying very good agricultural land.

I was lucky enough to be a member of the Select Committee on Agriculture, which finished its proceedings at the end of February. One of the things that concerned us was land use, and the failure of those in authority to pay proper attention to the problem. Conclusion No. VII of the Report deals with land use. As a result of hearing the evidence of many witnesses and getting the feeling of opinion up and down the country, the Committee said: Much land is taken piecemeal out of agricultural production each year. That is exactly what is being done in the Bill; it will take good agricultural land out of production piecemeal.

Mr. Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Farr

I am very glad to be supported by my hon. Friend, who was on the Committee and shared in the production of the Report.

Conclusion No. VII goes on to say: Good agricultural land is a diminishing national asset and we are not satisfied that adequate consideration is given to the long-term implications in the permanent loss of land from agriculture. I am not satisfied that the promoters of the Bill are in the slightest bit concerned with whether they use good agricultural land or bad, provided they get it for their purposes.

In our debate on agriculture on Monday, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) gave, in his excellent speech, a statistic that I think I can get right from memory because it was so telling. He said that if the population of this country is to increase by 2 per cent. per annum, as is forecast—

Sir D. Renton

Will my hon. Friend allow me?

Mr. Farr

Perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend will let me finish, and then he can tell me how inaccurate I am. I believe that the gist of what he said was that if the population increases by 2 per cent. per annum, as is forecast, and yet food production increases by only 1 per cent., as it has in each of the past three years, our grandchildren will be starving. I give way to him with the observation that they will be starving but at the same time having the benefit of a permanent daily bath.

Sir D. Renton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. This gives me an opportunity to apologise to the House, because in order not to take too much time over my speech on Monday I tried to compress what I had to say, which led me into the error of confusing the increase in the world population, which is expected to be 2 per cent. per annum between now and the end of the century, with the increase in this country's population. Therefore, the comparison I made was not completely valid. However, it is a fact that our population is increasing by three-quarters of 1 per cent. per annum, which is all that our food production has increased by in the past four years. Nevertheless, although the figure I gave was wrong, I think that my argument was valid. If world population is increasing by 2 per cent. a year and will double in the next 25 years, and food production may not double, it is obvious that we should be increasing our food production in this country and conserving our farmland.

Mr. Peter M. Jackson

What is even more significant is that, given the present reproduction rate, the population of this country will double in 42 years.

Mr. Farr

Those were two relevant interventions and I am grateful to my right and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire and the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Peter M. Jackson). My right hon. and learned Friend may have been wrong in the figure he gave last Monday, but he was still perfectly correct in principle. Both interventions have emphasised the validity of my case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford put forward various alternatives. He and other hon. Members who are more skilled than I in this matter have made various suggestions such as a desalination scheme, the recharging of the water storage plateau in Lincolnshire and the possibility of an earlier beginning to the Wash barrage scheme. All these ideas are sound and worthy of the attention of the Government and the House.

What concerns me is that the plans for expanding populations in the East Midlands, included in the brief we have had from the promoters, were drawn up 10 years ago. The plans to produce massive increases in the populations of Northampton, Peterborough and Corby were drawn up 10 years ago. Never mind who were the Government—why was not a feasibility study put in hand then for the Wash barrage scheme?

I believe that the powers that be then, planning for the enlargement of the populations of these areas, must have said to one another, "We shall double Northampton and Peterborough and triple Corby, but never mind about water supplies. Of course we shall need more, but Parliament will let us put reservoirs where we want them." If the Wash barrage feasibility study had been launched then, construction would be taking place in the 1970s instead of in the 1980s, and the necessity for this new reservoir would have been avoided.

I wish to oppose this Bill on the ground that very good land is daily being taken from agriculture for other purposes. I am not satisfied that that trend, which at times is unnecessary, will ever cease, and I believe that Parliament sooner or later must put its foot down and show that, whatever the planners may say, they cannot always take us for granted, that we have minds of our own and that they should have thought about future water supply 10 years ago when they laid out their schemes for expanded populations.

9.20 p.m.

Mr. Peter M. Jackson (The High Peak)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) on his speech and I am happy to follow him. I should like also to congratulate the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis). After that speech, there is little left to be said by others opposing the Bill, but I want to make one or two remarks which are pertinent.

As there are some hon. Members present who were not in the Chamber when the debate began, I should like to say that my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) has admitted that about 3½ per cent. of the whole area of Rutland is to be inundated. He threw off that figure in a very complacent manner.

Mr. Bradley

I am sure that in fairness my hon. Friend would not like to put me at that kind of disadvantage. I was referring to the strong protests which had been made within the county and which gave the widespread impression that the whole of the county was to be flooded. A sort of hydrological Stansted operation was launched.

Mr. Jackson

My hon. Friend and I differ as to the significance which we attach to the figure of 3½ per cent. I regard it as of great significance. My hon. Friend may not be familiar with Rutland. It is suggested that an area of water the size of Lake Windermere should appear in Rutland. It would be completely out of scale. This is not a mountainous area. If it were a proposal for the Lake District, one might suggest that another lake would not matter, that another surface of water among 20 or 30 would not matter. But that type of landscape is not traditional to Rutland. It is an urban intrusion to which I and many others who have any visual sense and who are concerned with our environmental capital rightly and strenuously object.

I should like to remind hon. Members just what a small island we are. In England and Wales we have a population of 47 million. The area is 37.1 million acres, which works out at three-quarters of an acre per person. It is proposed to take away 3,000 acres, but perhaps next month, or in two or three months, we shall have a Bill promoted by the Trent River Authority, or one of the several other water authorities, making similar demands. This is not a matter which we should treat lightly or with any degree of complacency.

It is worth reiterating that we currently produce about half of our foodstuffs. Our agriculture has been successful in that it has kept pace with the increase in population, but if my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East were to inquire of his colleagues in the Ministry of Agriculture, they would tell him that the expected rise in production related to the rise in population will taper off in the mid-1970s. We shall then find we are importing more than half our foodstuffs.

The Royal Commission on Population, which reported in the 1940s, was very perceptive in that it warned that an increase in population would bring important economic consequences for our balance-of-payments problem in its wake. I do not think that I have to spell out to hon. Members that the import ratio——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman not only does not have to spell out; he will not be allowed to spell out.

Mr. Jackson

Thank you for correcting me, Mr. Speaker. I hope, nevertheless, that you will allow me to mention in passing that important economic consequences will result from our taking from agricultural use 3,000 acres of land, consequences of which some hon. Members may not be fully aware. This is not a mountainous area, but grade 2 and grade 3 agricultural land.

The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford suggested various alternatives, and the document produced by the agents does not deal with them satisfactorily. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East, did not deal with the proposal for tapping ground water. This can be done, and I gather that it will be done in the Thames Valley in the early 1970. I do not see why it should not be done in Rutland.

I turn to desalination, which is another alternative put forward. It is recognised in the document which the promoters have addressed to hon. Members that perhaps this will be feasible in the last two decades of the century, but they argue in the preceding sentence that perhaps it is not feasible now on grounds of cost. They say: The Water Resources Board have advised that on the grounds of cost desalination is unlikely to play an important part in meeting demands certainly until the early 1980s. I explained in an intervention that the figures put in by the Water Resources Board, by water engineers, in the early 1960s greatly exaggerated the cost of desalination. They argued in 1963——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are not discussing desalination, important as that is, or water supplies in general, important as they are. We are discussing a Bill. The hon. Gentleman must deal with the Bill.

Mr. Jackson

We have heard from other hon. Members a great deal about the techniques of desalination and the cost of water produced through desalination. I am unhappy with the Bill because I feel that the promoters have not considered the alternatives. Desalination is an alternative, and I should like to argue why. I can do so only by quoting the cost——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot do that in detail. He must bring before the House a Private Bill to desalinate water.

Mr. Lubbock

On a point of order. The House is placed in a difficulty because the document sent to us by the promoters goes in detail into the alternatives of the Wash barrage and the various methods of desalination. If we are not permitted to deal with the argument which every hon. Member has in his possession, an adequate debate cannot take place.

Mr. Speaker

We are not discussing the document of the promoters. We are debating a Bill.

Mr. Jackson

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, I shall say no more about desalination, except that it is an alternative which has not been adequately examined by the promoters.

There has been no reprsentation from any of the leisure groups who, it is argued, will benefit from the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East said that the promoters were anxious to provide facilities for fishermen, sailors and other people who would derive advantages and benefit from the construction of this reservoir. Yet it is significant that two bodies which are principally concerned with amenities—the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Ramblers' Association—are bitterly opposed to the Bill.

It is argued in the statement produced by the agents that leisure amenities will be provided. But I, together with, I hope, other hon. Members, are sceptical. This area is not in a national park. It is not in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The demands made on the authority to provide amenities could be considerable, and yet the support given by the Government in grant in aid will be minimal.

In Rutland, the authorities are very small. Their rate revenue is not large. We know from the attitude of the Pembroke County Council that amenities for visitors are not provided. Pembroke has the advantage of 75 per cent. grants. Rutland will not have that advantage. I can understand the representations made by local people that the area will be inundated by town visitors and that the local authority will not provide the necessary amenities. I should feel happier about the Bill if I could be assured that a certain sum of money would be set aside by the Water Board to provide the necessary amenities.

On these grounds I oppose the Bill.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I have an open mind towards the Bill. Some of my hon. Friends are for it, some are against it. I have listened with great respect to the views of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), who has great experience in this matter, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), although I am not entirely happy about the pro arguments which my hon. Friends have propounded.

My hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester touched lightly on one of the alternatives to the Bill, namely, the contour canal. In the past, this concept has been written off as a crank's paradise, and I will not deal with this at length lest you, Mr. Speaker, lump the contour canal in with desalination. This is an increasingly viable alternative to what has been called by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) the rash of resorvoirs. The Bill is undoubtedly only the first of several of this pattern unless we are in future to be flooded by Ministerial Orders. I hope therefore that the contour canal will be studied in greater depth.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford in his careful opposition to the Bill mentioned the new towns in the area which were not growing as quickly as the promoters of the Bill declared. Wherever there are new towns there are acres of concrete, acres of tarmac and acres of tiles, with consequent rapid urban run-off, and, therefore, the reservoir propounded in the Bill is not the right sort of reservoir for this area. Small reservoirs of an equalising tank nature would be more useful for flood control. It has been mentioned that the National Farmers' Union has recently applied to the Water Board for a drainage scheme in this very area for the purpose of flood prevention, but that this was turned down. To provide for the increased run-off smaller reservoirs should be constructed and not this mammoth reservoir.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford, in a nice phrase, said that he did not want his constituency to be a towpath round the reservoir. I am anxious lest this water-girt isle should become a towpath round a series of reservoirs. We must look much more carefully at this problem.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) pooh-poohed the amenity section of the Bill. He said that the amenities would not be used. He inferred that a shallow valley reservoir is a nasty, stinking, smelly place in a dry summer and who would want to go sailing there? I believe he is right. This area is within reach, by the improved roads, of the Norfolk Broads, which is a larger area for boating. I am concerned about the sporting facilities mentioned in Clauses 46 and 47. My hon. Friend the Member for Gains-borough (Mr. Kimball) said that he understood there was some rethinking about Clause 46. I hope, if the Bill goes to a Committee, that the Clause will be re-thought and deleted.

Clause 47 is perfectly deplorable. It is absurd to provide for the compulsory acquisition of a pheasant shoot, a wild duck shoot and the rest of it. It is well known in certain parts of the country that if one wants a good day's pheasant shooting, one accepts an invitation from the manager of the local waterworks. If this compulsory purchase goes through, I hope that any sporting rights will be put out to competitive tender. Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, I should quickly declare an interest in that I am the tenant of the Forestry Commission in a tract of woodland in my own county.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in the case of some reservoirs, the sporting facilities are reserved to certain local clubs? That very materially affects the attitude of the local inhabitants to any Bill. Indeed, this is a point which might be taken up in Committee.

Mr. Wells

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. However, if he looks at a map of the area, he will see that that hardly applies in this case. I deplore the fact that the promoters have not seen fit to circulate a map and that hon. Members have had to get their own from the Library. Hon. Members will see that, at just above the 250 ft. contour mark, which is approximately the area of flooding, there are very few inhabitants. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford indicated that only 28 farms would be flooded. The remaining farms making up the 40-odd are in other areas. As a sweetener to the locals, the sporting amenities are a limited one. I think that they are really meant as a sweetener to the good people of Oakham or wherever it may be in the neighbourhood. In the height of the fishing season, the lake will be surrounded by stinking mud, and I am sure that people will not want to go there. I hope that this myth of the amenity Clauses will be looked at again.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely spoke about the increasing rate of water consumption, and he gave some very impressive figures. However, I believe that this increasing rate of water consumption will level out. People in this country are always behind the Americans in terms of plumbing. I had a shower bath yesterday morning, and I put—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will not be out of order if he talks about the Bill.

Mr. Wells

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. My point is that I put the plug in the bath and, when I had concluded my shower, there was only a wartime warm-water bath left. If people take to shower baths rather than the sort of baths that we usually have, the water consumption per house, which is rising at the moment, will reduce.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must come to the Bill.

Mr. Wells

The figures that have been quoted of rising water consumption in households may well prove to be mythical in the future. As for the figures for industrial use, which again were quoted by my hon. Friend in support of the Bill, I believe that they, too, are probably mythical. There will be and must be an increasing examination on a national basis of a two-quality water system. Potable water is one thing, and industrial water is another.

On balance, having listened closely and respectfully to my two hon. Friends, I come down against the Bill. I feel that the agricultural and amenity arguments which have been put forward in support of it are bogus.

9.39 p.m.

Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)

This Bill has caused me a good deal of anxiety. I started by being opposed to it when it was first mooted, for the reasons which have been ably expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) and others. But, with a somewhat heavy heart, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary. It is not the technical arguments that have convinced me, because there has been no opportunity to consider them. It is not the figures either, because we have had arguments about the different interpretations to be placed upon them. However, these are matters which I hope will be considered more fully in Committee. I hope, too, that the various alternatives that have been put forward will be equally fully considered, because there are other means of accumulating water to supply the growing cities of this country, rather than taking vast acres of good agricultural land. I regret that these have not been probed more thoroughly in the past.

I had hoped to hear that some immediate action was being taken on the investigation of this problem, but the Minister's words were disappointing. He used phrases such as "It will not be long before … We are not yet certain … We have not yet taken up" in connection with various of the proposals put forward. I will not refer to them, Mr. Speaker, because you have ruled them out of order.

What has convinced me that I must support the Bill is that I cannot argue against the need. There is a need and an ever-growing demand for water for industry. In this connection, I suggest that greater use be made of the recirculation of water to avoid the great waste that we get. Industrial processes are making increasing demands on our water supplies. There is also an ever-increasing demand for domestic water. Figures have been quoted going up from 57 to 94 gallons per day. We do not know whether they are right or wrong. All right hon. and hon. Members will be aware that more and more of our constituents are using a greater amount of water for washing machines, greater degrees of hygiene, and all the rest. Therefore, I could not say that those figures are wrong. Also, increasing numbers of houses are being built in certain areas.

I am conscious of a constituency interest. Representing one part of the City of Leicester, I share the same interest as the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) who spoke first in the debate. For these reasons, I feel that I must support the Bill. However, I hope that the alternatives will be considered.

There is a particular irony which I am sure the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East will note. Leicester, which will be served by this reservoir, is a city harassed by floods. One of my hon. Friends suggested that these two problems might be linked together: we might get rid of the flood water which fills up the houses during the winter whilst the city may ultimately suffer from thirst during the summer. These problems have to be looked at.

I hope that we will have assurances from the Government that investigation of some of the ideas that have been put forward will be actively pursued. There is a need for water. I deeply regret that this need can be met only by taking valuable agricultural land and destroying the amenities of parts of our beautiful countryside. I hope that this will be the last occasion on which the House will be faced with the dilemma of having to destroy such land or allowing our cities and towns to suffer from thirst.

9.44 p.m.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

I think that the hon. Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) has been very fair in putting both sides of the case and in saying that, having balanced the needs of the citizens of Leicester and the other towns which will be desperately short of water in a few years against the requirements of agriculture and of rural amenities in the county of Rutland, he has come to the conclusion that the Bill ought at least to be allowed to go into Committee where these arguments can be further developed.

Having listened to most of the discussion, and being an impartial outsider with no axe to grind, I am disposed to agree with the hon. Gentleman that the arguments which have been deployed are far too complex to be explored across the Floor of the House, and would be more suitably dealt with in a Committee upstairs where expert evidence could be given and such conflicts as have arisen between the figures quoted by hon. Members could be explored in depth.

I have read the promoters' Memorandum very carefully. I see that they expect the population of Corby to increase from 45,000 to 75,000 by 1981, and to 100,000 by the year 2000. The hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) disagreed with that estimate and gave some alternative figures. If one is looking as far into the future as the year 2000 one can make mistakes. But we can see what has happened in the past in Corby. We have been told that its population has trebled in the last 20 years. An increase from 75,000 to 100,000 between 1981 and 2000 is a very much smaller rate of increase than has been experienced in Corby since the war. I think, therefore, that possibly the promoters are trying to be fairly modest in their estimates and are not exaggerating the difficulties which this town and others mentioned in the Memorandum will encounter over the next few years.

If one did not make suitable provision at this stage and then one found that the population increased even more rapidly than expected, it would be too late to do anything about that, because a reservoir of this type will take many years to construct. It will take many years to go through all the procedures, the design work, getting out tenders, and completing all the various steps which have to be taken before a large project of this kind can be set in motion. If we were to discover that the population estimates in the Memorandum, far from being too high, as the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford says, were too low, we should be in a truly desperate situation.

I was much impressed by what the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said about the situation which has arisen in the County of Essex and other parts of South-East England. I always listen with great respect to the hon. Gentleman when he speaks on this subject, because he has a deep knowledge of it. He said that he had recently undertaken a comprehensive survey of South-East England on behalf of his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and that on the basis of that study he had come to the conclusions that he gave to the House. I think that we ought to take seriously what the hon. Gentleman said.

I regret the loss of agricultural land. No one can see 3,600 acres disappearing under water without considering the implications of that for food production and our balance of payments. I accept everything that has been said on this subject, but what might possibly be considered by the House as against that is the loss of industrial production which might result if water supplies were not available to the industries in the area. This is why I asked the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford whether he could tell us anything about the supplies of water for the steel industry in Corby, apart from supplies for other users in the area who may be served by this reservoir. The hon. Gentleman said that the steel industry had its own reservoirs and that it abstracted water from them without impinging on the sources of supply available to domestic users and other industries in the area.

If the hon. Gentleman says that, I am sure it is true, but over the period during which this reservoir will supply water, going up to the early 1980s, surely the steel industry will not stand still? New methods of production will be developed which may require additional supplies of water, and one hopes that as the economy of this country expands, albeit very slowly, the need for steel will also expand. In fact, steel production has risen considerably in the last year and I dare say that this will have as great an effect on Corby as on other steel towns.

Then there is the question of the new towns. It may be that industrial development certificates will not be awarded in great profusion in this area, as the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford said, but that does not mean that no industrial development can take place. Developments which take up less than a certain floor area may be permitted without the award of an I.D.C., and many smaller companies expand by using this method. They do not suddenly double or treble the size of their factories; they add a little at a time, as their rate of production increases and as they find more markets. I think that the hon. Member will find that in this area, many of these smaller industries—not huge works like the steel works in Corby, but light engineering and industries of that kind—will want to expand without the necessity of applying for I.D.Cs.

This is where some of the new population will be working in the areas covered by the construction of this reservoir, and they will need these additional water supplies. It will not be the great new industries of Birmingham which attract people to this area; it will be the smaller companies which, I hope, will sustain the level of employment there.

As to amenity, it seems to me that the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, which has furnished a memorandum to the House, is rather unrealistic about the uses which may be made of a reservoir. In my opinion a reservoir, if properly handled, can be an extremely valuable rural amenity, of great benefit to the people in the area. Some years ago I lived in South Derbyshire. I wish that the hon. Member for the High Peak (Mr. Peter M. Jackson) were here; I am sure that he would be aware of the reservoir to which I wish to refer—that immediately adjacent to Melbourne, in Derbyshire. The surrounding countryside is not of great scenic beauty, but there was opposition to the construction of this reservoir, as there is always opposition anywhere. However, after it had been completed and the facilities available could be judged by the members of the public living in the area, they were all quite pleased with it. I had car parks immediately adjacent to the water's edge, so that motorists could picnic there. Fishing was allowed and I rather think that boating was allowed. Many other rural pursuits were available which the local people had not had before.

When I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells) and asked whether he did not consider that these facilities would be particularly valued by the people living in the surrounding area if they were given special privileges, he said that only 24 farmers would be displaced. He did not think that the provision of fishing rights would make much difference to their attitude. I was not thinking only about those who occupy farms or cottages in the area to be covered by the water; as I understood the speech of the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford, this reservoir is opposed by practically the whole county, and not merely those who will be dispossessed.

I urge the promoters of the Bill to consider, in Committee, making special facilities available to the whole county of Rutland and to any fishing or boating societies that may be there for the benefit of all the inhabitants. I believe that this would make a considerable difference to the view which local people take of the Bill.

The alternatives suggested by the objectors to the Bill are not very realistic. The Council for the Preservation of Rural England talks about insufficient account having been taken of modern engineering techniques which will permit other measures to be taken with scarcely any ill effects, which your petitioners strongly believe will occur from the taking of land for the reservoir. I take it that this reference is to the scheme for the Wash barrage, to desalination and to the replenishment of underground aquifers which have been referred to.

I only wish that desalination were an alternative to this reservoir. In spite of what the Minister said, such schemes need not have a tremendous effect on the beauty of the seaside if the plants are put there. What he has in mind is the kind of schemes that one sees in Kuwait and other very hot areas, which are not necessarily the same as would be designed by some of our foremost engineering companies if they were given the task of fitting them into an English landscape. Much progress has already been made by such companies as Weir Westgarth and Simon Engineering in the techniques of desalination and this is already providing a good market in areas like Kuwait and the Middle East for these companies.

As yet, however—the Minister is correct in this—there is no economic prospect of such schemes breaking even in comparison with more conventional techniques for the production of water in this country. The promoters are being optimistic in implying that such schemes could become economic in the early 1980s. I should like to believe that, but we have still a long way to go before schemes which are perfectly economic in areas like the Middle East become so in a place where there is as much rain as there is here.

As for the Wash barrage, it may be that, if a feasibility study had been conducted 10 years ago, we might now be able to begin the construction of such a scheme and render unnecessary not only this reservoir but many of the others which have been the subject of Private Bills in the last few years and which no doubt will continue to have to be discussed until such large-scale schemes are undertaken.

But that is crying over spilt milk, because this study was not undertaken under a Tory Government, and the present Government have been also very slow about barrage schemes in general.

Division No. 150.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Anderson, Donald Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)
Archer, Peter Bradley, Tom Buchan, Norman
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bray, Dr. Jeremy Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James
Beaney, Alan Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Carmichael Neil
Sir D. Renton

Of course, it was not until this Government came to power that the Water Resources Board recommended a feasibility study of the Wash.

Mr. Lubbock

That is true, but it would not have been necessary to wait for the Water Resources Board for such a feasibility study to be done, or at any rate a desk study, such as has been referred to. Mr. Harry Teggin, a reputable architect, published a scheme on the Wash barrage which would have had other implications apart from the enormous amounts of water—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are not discussing the Wash barrage now: we are discussing this Bill.

Mr. Lubbock

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I was only saying that it was not just the Water Resources Board's recommendation which we had to go on but the recommendations of many private experts which have been made to the Government on this scheme and which have been ignored until recent years. I am glad to say that something is moving now, but it is 10 years too late.

For these reasons, and because the arguments are so complex and because there have been differences of opinion between hon. Gentlemen about the figures and the technical merits of this scheme—I have given my own opinion on this—it is right that the Bill should be allowed to go into Committee. If that is done, the experts can be called in to give evidence, there can be proper examination and if, on reflection, the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford is found to be correct, the Bill could be rejected or substantially amended. I have made my own suggestions as to how this could be done.

Mr. Bradley rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 69.

Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Norwood, Christopher
Chapman, Donald Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas O'Malley, Brian
Coe, Denis Hoy, James Peel, John
Concannon, J. D. Hunter, Adam Pentland, Norman
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hynd, John Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Dalyell, Tam Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rees, Merlyn
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Judd, Frank Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dell, Edmund Lawson, George Roebuck, Roy
Dobson, Ray Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Rose, Paul
Doig, Peter Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dunnett, Jack Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lomas, Kenneth Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Eadie, Alex Loughlin Charles Silverman, Julius
Ellis, John Lubbock, Eric Skeffington, Arthur
English, Michael McBride, Neil Small, William
Ennals, David McCann, John Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) MacColl, James Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Macdonald A. H. Taverne, Dick
Fernyhough, E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Temple, John M.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mackintosh, John P. Tinn, James
Maclennan, Robert Urwin, T. W.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Varley, Eric G.
Ford, Ben Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fowler, Gerry Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Wallace, George
Freeson, Reginald Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Watkins, David (Consett)
Ginsburg, David Mendelson, J. J. Wellbeloved, James
Grey, Charles (Durham) Millan, Bruce Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Miller, Dr. M. S. Whitlock, William
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Hannan, William Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Harper, Joseph Morris, John (Aberavon)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Moyle, Roland TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Haseldine, Norman Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Mr. William Hamling and
Hattersley, Roy Murray, Albert Mr. Alfred Morris.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Bell, Ronald Glover, Sir Douglas Percival, Ian
Bidwell, Sydney Goodhew, Victor Pike, Miss Mervyn
Biggs-Davison, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Pym, Francis
Black, Sir Cyril Hastings, Stephen Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Hawkins, Paul Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Body, Richard Hay, John Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Booth, Albert Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Iremonger, T. L. Ridsdale, Julian
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Russell, Sir Ronald
Carlisle, Mark Kimball, Marcus Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Corfield, F. V. Lane, David Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Stodart, Anthony
Doughty, Charles Maclean, Sir Fitzroy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Eden, Sir John McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Emery, Peter Maude, Angus Weatherill, Bernard
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Wells, John (Maidstone)
Eyre, Reginald Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Farr, John Monro, Hector Wiggin, A. W.
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Williams, Dudley (Dudley)
Fortescue, Tim Nabarro, Sir Gerald TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Neave, Airey Mr. Kenneth Lewis and
Gardner, Tony Orme, Stanley Mr. Peter M. Jackson.

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

Division No. 151.] AYES [10.8 p.m.
Anderson, Donald Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)
Archer, Peter Buchan, Norman Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Dell, Edmund
Beaney, Alan Carmichael, Neil Dobson, Ray
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Chapman, Donald Doig, Peter
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Coe, Denis Dunnett, Jack
Boyden, James Concannon, J. D. Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Bradley, Tom Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Eadie, Alex
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Dalyell, Tam Ellis, John
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Ennals, David

The House divided: Ayes 114, Noes 66.

Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Fernyhough, E. Lomas, Kenneth Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Loughlin, Charles Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lubbock, Eric Rose, Paul
Ford, Ben McBride, Neil Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Fowler, Gerry McCann, John Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Fraser, John (Norwood) MacColl, James Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Freeson, Reginald Macdonald, A. H. Silverman, Julius
Ginsburg, David Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Skeffington, Arthur
Grey, Charles (Durham) Maclennan, Robert Small, William
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Taverne, Dick
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Temple, John M.
Hannan, William Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Tinn, James
Harper, Joseph Mendelson, J. J. Urwin, T. W.
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Millan, Bruce Varley, Eric G.
Haseldine, Norman Miller, Dr. M. S. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Hattersley, Roy Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Hunter, Adam Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hynd, John Morris, John (Aberavon) Wallace, George
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Moyle, Roland Watkins, David (Consett)
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Wellbeloved, James
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Murray, Albert Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Judd, Frank Norwood, Christopher Whitlock, William
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) O'Malley, Brian Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Peel, John Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Lawson, George Pentland, Norman TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Mr. William Hamling and
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Rees, Merlyn Mr. Alfred Morris.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bell, Ronald Hastings, Stephen Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Bidwell, Sydney Hawkins, Paul Pym, Francis
Biggs-Davison, John Hay, John Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Black, Sir Cyril Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Body, Richard Iremonger, T. L. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Kimball, Marcus Ridsdale, Julian
Carlisle, Mark Lane, David Roebuck, Roy
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Doughty, Charles Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Eden, Sir John McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Emery, Peter Maude, Angus Stodart, Anthony
English, Michael Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald van Straubenzee, W. R.
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Weatherill, Bernard
Eyre, Reginald Monro, Hector Wells, John (Maidstone)
Farr, John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wiggin, J.
Fortescue, Tim Neave, Airey Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Orme, Stanley
Gardner, Tony Osborn, John (Hallam) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Percival, Ian Mr. Kenneth Lewis and
Glover, Sir Douglas Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Mr. Peter M. Jackson.
Goodhew, Victor

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.