§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Mr. Speaker
May I remind the House that there are many hon. and right hon. Members who wish to speak for or agains: the Bill. I would like to call them all if I can. It will depend on whether speeches are reasonably brief.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)
I would like to remind the House, before I put the case for the Bill, that this is not a simple issue of beauty versus a reservoir and a dam, or a battle between those who appreciate beauty and those unable to appreciate it and who want to spoil our countryside with an ugly reservoir. It is not nearly so simple as that. There are probably very few hon. Members who have ever been to the site or this proposed reservoir, as I have. I know that some of my colleagues have, but the majority have never been near it.
There are very few of us who understand the enormously complex technical problems involved in the creation of a reservoir or a dam, engineering problems familiar to men who have worked for the water boards for many years, but problems which none of us without that experience could hope to master. It is a complicated and complex subject. Therefore, I recommend that we consider the evidence of the Select Committee of the House of Lords, which was set up to study the Bill. It did so over several weeks, examining witnesses in support of the Bill and in support of petitions and examining other parties in opposition to the Bill. The results of its discussions appear in a large number of complicated pages, giving the minute examination of witnesses.
The Committee wanted to know whether there was any need for these additional supplies of water and whether it could possibly be obtained from any other source. It decided that there definitely was a need, and it also decided in favour of a reservoir on this site, as laid out in the Bill. The additional supply of water needed—it was established, 1802 urgently—was 7.3 million gallons a day. This is needed for the whole of this area, for industrial and domestic purposes. We must look into the future and realise the increasing requirements which will be made by factories, by the industrial expansion which we hope will take place, and which we are certain will take place in some cases, and by householders, who are no less important.
§ Mr. Marcus Worsley (Chelsea)
The hon. Lady said "for the whole of this area". Would she say what area she is talking about?
§ Dr. Summerskill
It has been established that more water will be required both by the Calderdale Water Board, for Halifax and Brighouse and its immediate area, and also by the Wakefield District Water Board and the Mid-Calder Water Board, for which the Calderdale Board has a statutory obligation to supply water. It has established that by the 1980s, if we do not have further supplies, Halifax and Brighouse alone would have a deficit of 3¼ million gallons, and the group already suffers from a deficiency of 5.5 million gallons.
It has been saved from serious inconvenience only by the wet weather of recent years. It is firmly believed that if we wait until the Water Resources Board has given evidence, nothing can be done, even assuming that its recommendations were carried out, which is not certain, until the 1980s. This is definitely far too long for this area to wait.
I come now to the proposed site. I agree that this is a very beautiful site. I have seen it under snow, and even then it was beautiful, and I can see that on a summer's day it would be a delightful place for picnicking or walking. Let us be realistic about exactly where the reservoir will be. It is not proposed to put it in the same place as the earlier reservoir which was rejected by the House in 1948–49. It will be higher up the valley and invisible from Hardcastle Crags. which is the famous beauty spot that people go to see. This has nothing to do with Hardcastle Crags. It is proposed that of the National Trust land only 31.4 per cent. would be inundated by the reservoir and embankment.
§ Dr. Summerskill
When people say that this reservoir will take up National Trust land they should point out that it would take up only one-third and not the whole of it. A large part of the reservoir and what it involves will be on ordinary moorland, which has nothing to do with the National Trust.
It has been well established that although this is an amenity now, it will not necessarily be the case that this dam will be an ugly creation. In the 16th and 17th centuries rich men with the money to spend did not just allow their gardens to grow up naturally—they planned them. They brought into being lakes and sometimes streams. They made sure that the trees were planted properly and beatifully, so it does not follow that anything which is just left wild and to nature is, therefore, the most beautiful. Having talked to the people involved, I am confident that the greatest effort has gone into making this as beautiful a dam and reservoir as possible. It is possible to have a beautiful dam.
Anybody who knows anything about the subject knows the care and trouble which has gone into this proposition. Over £200,000 more is being spent on this scheme than on the previous scheme considered in 1948–49. Trees will be planted round the dam, and the dam itself will be landscaped and planted with trees in tiers to merge the dam with the landscape. The reservoir itself will be used as an amenity for the area for boating and yachting. I repeat that it will not be visible from Hardcastle Crags.
Various other sites have been proposed. The only other site considered by the Committee as at all reasonable was the building of a reservoir in the neighbouring Calder Valley. The Committee noted that this valley was shallow and open and of a completely different nature from the Hebden Valley. A reservoir in this valley would flood an area of cultivated farmland including six farms.
When the Committee visited the area it noticed that…a dam would be visible from every part of the surrounding countryside.Quite apart from these factors, that reservoir would not produce more than a total of 5.8 million gallons a day of water, and not reach the required supply of 7.3 m.g.d., which I mentioned earlier. 1804 The Committee also did not consider that the scheme itself, which involves pumping back to the existing reservoirs, would be as satisfactory as the gravity flow system put forward by the promoters.
§ Mr. Peter M. Jackson (The High Peak)
I presume that my hon. Friend has read the evidence. If so, she will have seen the comment by counsel for the water undertaking that the information was not available on this point. I would draw attention to the statement made by counsel that the position was very unsatisfactory—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Even in a debate on a Private Bill interventions must be interventions, not speeches.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I agree that there is one statistic that is lacking.
The Committee, in its wisdom, decided that the amount of water produced, plus the location of this other proposal, made it not such a good proposal as the one that is in the Bill. At the same time, it would be in full operation far later than would the promoters' scheme. Apart from the missing factor, the other factors were taken into consideration and rejected. The Committee decided that the proposal and the suggestion put in the Bill was the only reasonable and reliable means of meeting the needs of the Calder Group.
It will be said that this is European Conservation Year. On the other hand, both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and myself are vice-presidents of an association to promote the development of the Calder Valley area. We should look into the 'seventies and the 'eighties with a desire to promote the development of the area and to help industry and domestic consumers to get water, which is an urgent necessity and not a luxury.
The promoters of the Bill, and certainly the people who will build the reservoir and the dam, are not entirely without feeling for the beauty of the countryside and the gift that this area is to all who visit it. I personally am confident that this reservoir will not detract from the beauty of the area.
§ Mr. Speaker
I should like to announce that I have not selected the Amendment 1805 in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby:That the Bill be read a Second time upon this day six months.or that in the name of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton):That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill until the ground-water resources in the Calder Catchment Area as estimated in the Hydro-geological Report No. 4 published by the Natural Environment Research Council have been further investigated.This will not affect the debate in any way. The points of view in each Amendment, together with many others, may be expressed.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) for the temperate and fair-minded way in which she ha s moved the Second Reading of the Bill. Nevertheless, it is an unusual experience for any hon. Member to hear another hon. Member discuss in intimate terms the contours, beauty and amenities of one's own constituency. My hon. Friend carried out her duty in a very agreeable way. Nevertheless, I felt a little sensitive about her objective judgment on matters which, from my point of view, inevitably are subjective.
I oppose the Bill and urge the House to reject it. I must try to satisfy the House that it is a reasonable and responsible thing to do and I must try to put the interests of my constituency in perspective with the interests of my neigh-bours.
I believe that I am doing more than fighting a constituency battle. The beauty and unique character of our varied countryside is the wonder and admiration of millions of people who are coming to this country in increasing numbers. Tourism is not merely a matter of people looking at the cities of Britain. It involves people coming to see our countryside, its green fields, woodland, cloud, crag and stream, much of which is unique in the world. I am fighting to preserve a little bit of that. I am sorry if this puts me at variance with some of my hon. Friends who have constituency interests in the supply of water from my constituency—Sowerby gives so much 1806 and gets so little in return—but I am sure we shall not be estranged by being thrown into the same reservoir together.
The Bill is promoted by the Calderdale Water Board, to which I shall refer in a moment. I want, first, to deal with what the Bill proposes to do. It seeks to let the Calderdale Water Board construct a new reservoir in my constituency with an ultimate total capacity of 7.3 million gallons of water per day. It may be of passing interest to mention that the reservoir, if constructed, will be the eighteenth in my constituency. The Calderdale Water Board has seven reservoirs, Wakefield six, Rochdale three, and Huddersfield has one under construction.
The proposed new reservoir is to be called Overwood. It would submerge part of a deep valley of exceptional beauty. I was proud enough of the beauty of this valley to send a picture of it to every hon. Member, so that they could see it for themselves. The dam would cut right across the scene portrayed in that picture.
The valley known as Hebden Vale is three miles long and about one mile of the upper reaches of the valley would be dammed and submerged. The unique feature of the valley is that it descends from moorland and cuts into deep and rocky gorge down into the town of Hebden Bridge, 1,000 feet below. The wall of the dam would be about 200 feet.
The promoters make the point that the dam would cover a small area. The actual area of land involved is not large. Initially acquired would be about 450 acres, some of which would be returned after the works had been completed. The area of water would be about 163 acres. This is not one of those schemes involving large tracts of farmland. At present, the upper reaches are mainly pasture, rough grazing, or just something very lovely to look at as moorland scenery. When a gorge is submerged, obviously the area of water is not as large as if the reservoir were to cover a large area of undulating land. It is depth rather than width which will comprise the bulk of the reservoir.
The House may be sure that the local authorities and preservation societies, as well as the National Trust and scores of 1807 bodies which were formed in 1948 to protect this valley, and which have defended it ever since, do not feel casually about this matter. They have been trying to fight off this scheme for 30 years. This particular valley has been deeply cherished by all who live near or frequent and value its attractions.
The first time an attempt was made on the valley was in 1934, but the Halifax County Borough Waterworks Department then retreated in face of bitter and widespread opposition. The next attempt was made in 1948 when a Bill was promoted in this House. Unhappily, that Bill came before the House when I was not Member for Sowerby. It went to the House of Lords where the reservoir clauses were struck out. The valley has remained inviolate since 1948–49 when the earlier Bill was amended in the House of Lords.
The sponsors of the Bill, the Calder-dale Water Board, comprise the Halifax Corporation water underaking and a number of smaller water undertakings which were merged in the Calderdale Water Board in 1961. This board has 22 seats, of which 11 are appointed by the County Borough of Halifax, Brighouse has 3 seats, and the remaining 8 seats are held by five local authorities in my constituency. None of the five local authorities in my constituency openly supports the Bill. One of the principal objectors is Hepton Rural District Council in whose area it is sited. Other objectors include the National Trust, the Hardcastle Crags Preservation Society and many other local bodies formed for the protection of this valley.
The case for the reservoir rests on estimated consumption within what is known as the Calder group of water undertakings. This comprises Calderdale, Mid-Calder, Wakefield and District Water Board and the Huddersfield county borough waterworks department. All these are separate undertakings with mutual obligations, some statutory and others merely those of good neighbours. I shall a little later examine more closely estimates of supply and demand.
I wish now to deal with the damage to the amenities which will be inflicted by this reservoir on this rare and precious 1808 area of beauty, in a constituency which has many scars inherited from the industrial revolution.
On amenity grounds, the case against the Bill rests on something in life and environment which has no money price. I cannot talk about the loss of food production, about milk, cabbages or cattle. There will be some loss, it is true, but it will be too small to ask the House to take account of it.
The question is whether the House will now let go of what we in Sowerby have striven so hard and for so long to preserve. Is it possible that I can bring the House to take a stand on natural beauty in an area of ugly legacies from 19th century industialisation, of dereliction, discarded junk, crumbling mills, and, at present, economic decline? Can this be preserved? Will the House do it in an area like this?
My hon. Friend pointed out that this is European Conservation Year. An article appeared in the Spectator of 10th January last, by Mr. J. W. M. Thompson, which was apposite to this debate. He wrote:…we are all conservationists now. The movement to protect and preserve the natural environment has gathered recruits at a rate which recalls that celebrated mass conversion to Christianity when a Chinese general had all his troops baptised by hosepipe.He went on to say that the proof of conservation lay in what happened and not in what was talked about, and continued:We are so unaccustomed to measuring value in any but money terms that we haven't even got a vocabulary with which to discuss the question without recourse to bureaucratic jargon about 'amenity value'. That is why the conservationist band-wagon, although suddenly crowded with passengers, is not necessarily going anywhere.This is the issue.
It is true, as my hon. Friend said, that the Calderdale Water Board has engaged a landscape architect and has gone to a great deal of trouble. It is willing to incur greater expense to mitigate the harm that might be done by changing the whole character of the upper reaches of the valley. In the Report of the Select Committee of another place this aspect of the matter was referred to, but when I read the statement circulated to hon. Members this morning by the promoters of the 1809 Bill I saw some things that I could not possibly accept. It was claimed in paragraph 4 of that statement that the reservoir would be an enhancement of amenity in the Hebden Valley. It said:It will not affect in any way, or even be visible from, the well-known beauty spot of Harcastle Crags…and on this man-made lake, we were informed, there would be fishing and sailing.
My first complaint—this is also a criticism of that Select Committee, which sought to divide this continuous and harmonious valley into two and call one "the upper" and the other "the lower" —is that this would entail changing the character and use of the area from its present form into something entirely different.
If sailing and fishing are desirable accompaniments of reservoirs, as I am sure they are, why is there neither sailing nor fishing on any of the 17 reservoirs in my constituency? Why are people not sailing there now? There is not one boat, or, as far as I know, one fish in any of the 17. I cannot accept that this would be a blessing in disguise. Is man going to improve on nature? When the people of my constituency are asked,"Cannot you see how good it will be?" their answer is, "No".
These are, of course, matters of taste, of subjective judgment, but bearing in mind that the local authority in whose district this site wholly lies is fighting against the Board's concept of enhanced amenity, one must ask why it is putting up such a fight, it being the representative body of the area, if everything would be so wonderful if this proposal went through. There must be good reason for the fight, and the reason is to tie found in the Report of the Select Committee, which said, on page 5:The Committee consider that any manmade scheme would intrude upon the character of the whole Valley.That is the whole point.
Certain people have views about the transformation of areas by reservoirs. For example, in a paper given by Lt. Colonel Haythornthwaite, entitled "What Price Water?", to the 30th National Conference of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, he said: 1810Structures built by man reflect the nature of the community which benefit from them There's no disguising the characteristic manin-the-mass domination of a block of flats or a motorway, for example, and this applies to a reservoir. It is essentially an urban structure and a limitation upon the state of nature and extension of the town. This may seem incomprehensible to some who enjoy naturally formed lakes; for what could be more beautiful or more complementary to the space and time scale of the country than a lake, and what's the difference? Both reservoirs and lakes are extensive tracts of water. So they are, but, with a few special exceptions, they differ in every essential, and in every essential they declare their provenance either from nature or from man-in-the-mass. The formation of the basin, in the case of a natural lake, is an inevitable consequence of the shape of the land. In the case of a reservoir a huge malformation of land in the form of a dam is required to hold the water and this contradicts the natural fall and flow of the land. This can be partly disguised on the outfall side but only from distant views below the level of the reservoir.According to the Chairman of the Water Resources Board, Sir William Goode, who also gave a lecture to the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the impounding reservoir, which this would be, is becoming out of date. He spoke of the regulating reservoir becoming more greatly used and said:More and more we are moving away from the traditional concept of using a reservoir simply to store water to be piped away to where it is needed. Today's reservoirs are designed to regulate the river. Water is stored not to go directly into supply but to be released into the river when its natural flow falls below a certain level. Winter rain is stored to be used to supplement low summer flows. For many months of the year the natural flow in a river is more than enough to support abstractions for water supply. The reservoir is only used to top up the river in dry periods. So a given amount of storage can maintain a far greater supply of water than the direct supply reservoir.He expressed the hope that not only new reservoirs of this type would be constructed, but that existing reservoirs would be converted from impounding to regulating reservoirs.
Hon. Members may be interested in extracts from the Halifax Courier which underline what I have said about amenity. One was headed:Hardcastle Crags: The case for preserving 'Little Switzerland'".That was on 21st November, 1968. On 22nd November, 1968 the newspaper declared:Flooding the Crags will mean losing our finest natural park.1811 I cannot hope to arouse the emotions of the House to match mine. For nearly 21 years I have represented this area and I know it back to front; every place in it. I feel far more deeply, as do many of my constituents, than any detached description—of rows of trees, the lapping of water, of sailing boats and fishing—could make one feel. The high amenity value of this area is conceded by all who have anything to do with its future.
What is its money price? Who can tell? This is the dilemma. We know that it will cost £5 million to construct the reservoir. I may be pardoned for being a little bitter when the Calderdale Water Board can propose £5 million of capital expenditure in the area of the Hebden Rural District Council when for months we have had held up a scheme costing a few thousand pounds to put some soil closets on the mains. Are water boards exempt from the restraints on capital expenditure?
We read from the report on the Bill that it will increase operating costs by 80 per cent. and will mean almost doubling the water rates and other charges by 1980, presumably at constant prices. I understand that the Minister accepts that this is inevitable if the board is to do its job. We must, therefore, consider what job the board must do.
In assessing the need for more water we must first consider the basis taken for the estimates of the millions of gallons of water that will be required each day. The primary estimate is called, in the words of the wafer engineers, the "safe, reliable yield", and that is based substantially on the driest season of recent years. It is not wholly based on that, but a large part of the reckoning in arriving at a "safe reliable yield" is the flow in one of the driest seasons of the century, and that was 1959.
There is a mathematical formula known as the Lapworth method, which also brings in the draw over a long period of years. The water men are cautious. They have a big responsibility and a statutory duty. They tell them-selves, "If this can happen once, it could happen again. We must be prepared for it and safeguard against it" It is no reproach to them to say that not only can they be wrong, they can be proved wrong.
1812 In 1949, when Halifax Corporation brought the scheme to the House of Commons, the then Minister of Health said that additional supplies of water were "certainly necessary".
The local water authority, the Halifax Corporation, said that its additional requirements were 7.6 million gallons a day. An expert witness who appeared before the Select Committee in another place said at the time that, after studying the rainfall in this area for the past 50 years, he was of the opinion that there would be enough water there to meet the need for 10 years certain, and probably for 20 years more. That witness proved to be right, and the promoters admitted in the course of examination before the Select Committee that he was right.
For 20 years, the water board had no need for the reservoir which it said was so necessary in 1949. The Halifax Corporation Waterworks contrived to augment its supplies from elsewhere partly by moving the compensation gauge in one of its existing reservoirs and partly from a new supply. The result was that it was in comfortable surplus until recently.
Events proved that there was no real need for the Overwood reservoir in 1949. The authority managed on half the water that it said was then urgently necessary, and that is what the Select Committee in another place says of the miscalculation. After referring to the 1948–9 scheme, it says on page 3 of its Report:It was found later that some of the estimates of consumption and yield were not borne out.That, of course, is the temperate and sober language of another place.
Obviously the water authorities of 1948–9 could not have foreseen the decline in the staple industry in this area. They could not have foreseen the closure of mills by the score, resulting in redundancies by the thousand and large-scale migration. However, the record of rainfall in my constituency should have told them that dry summers, on which safe reliable yields are estimated, are all too rare in the Sowerby division, which is where the proposed reservoir is, and that the average rainfall of my constituency is between 130 and 140 per cent. of the national average. There is almost always 1813 more water lying about in my constituency than the whole area could possibly consume.
I come now to the story of 1969. In June, when the Select Committee was sitting in another place, what no one knew was that my constituency was about to have the driest October for 22 years and one of the driest summers on record. On Thursday, 19th June, Mr. Gray, the Calderdale Engineer and Manager, told the Committee that it was fortunate that there had not been a drought. for 10 years. He went on:If one had taken place, difficulties would have arisen in maintaining supplies at their present level.There was one, and what happened? The lowest ebb in the Calderdale supplies was reached at the end of October, when there were still 84 days of water in stock, compared with 159 days when the reservoirs are full, and compared with 58 days in 1959. They were well over half-full at the end of one of the driest periods that we had had for many years.
Then rain came, and the level went up from 84 days to 96 days in only two days. It rained hard as one would expect it to do towards the end of October, and Mr. Gray was moved to comment on this unexpected situation. On 5th November, he was reported in the Halifax Courier as saying:One may ask why we need to build another reservoir in our area when we are so much better off than our neighbours. One reason is that these neighbours have reservoirs under construction and if another drought occurred they obviously would not be so badly off. So far as rainfall is concerned we have been very fortunate with the rain on our gathering ground this year. The only real anxiety I had dining the drought was over Cold Acre, a reservoir which serves part of Stainland",which is in my constituency.
As I said, the average rainfall in the district is between 130 and 140 per cent. of the national average. The total rainfall for the year to 30th November, 1969, was 33.51 inches, compared with 47.13 inches in the corresponding year before. In October, we had 0.85 inches of rain. Then the deluge came, and we had 7½ inches of rain in the month of November. All anxieties were over, not in weeks but in days.
Ever with this low rainfall in 1969. the Calderdale Water Board had no real 1814 difficulties. In The Times of 23rd January, tucked away on the women's page for some reason, there was a very good map showing rainfall in England. The accompanying article said:Over England and Wales generally, rain fall for the period June to October was only 68 per cent. of average; in the past 100 years there have been only three drier such periods and these occurred in the memorable dry years of 1921, 1947, and 1959.Yet Calderdale came through 1969 without any restriction in its services.
Wakefield was not in such a favourable position. The Wakefield and District Water Board ran down to 55 days of water in stock. One of Wakefield's reservoirs in my constituency fell by 33 ft., to less than half capacity. The board was in difficulty, though not in serious difficulty. I do not minimise the problem in a water authority when it has to impose restrictions, even if they are on such uses as car washing and the hosing of gardens. People resent the restrictions. They do not like them, and very often they ignore them. However, Wakefield applied for a drought order to reduce the compensation water from one of its reservoirs by a million gallons a day. I understand that, in the event, it did not have to use it, because the rain came in time.
That is the story of two dry summers. The reservoirs in my constituency, at the lowest ebb for years, still had enough water at the end of October to last over Christmas without a single drop of rain.
I am sorry to have to take so much of the time of the House, but I have to try to convince hon. Members that the Select Committee in another place was wrong, and I am trying to adduce evidence which will undermine the belief which too many people have in the validity of what is described as the safe reliable yield.
When we come to consumption or demand, we run into a new area of difficulty and speculation. I understand that demand is based on a mathematical projection which is actual consumption over some years past projected into anticipated consumption in future years. Domestic consumption in the Calderdale Water Board area, for example, has risen by 4.5 per cent. in the last ten years and 3.1 per cent. in the last 15 years. This apparently leads to the estimate that domestic consumption will rise by the year 2000 in the Calderdale area to 65 1815 gallons per head per day, which is almost double the existing level of consumption. But the comparable estimate for Wakefield is as low as 50 and for Leeds 52.
I do not know what is the matter with my constituents or with the citizens of Halifax and elsewhere that they will apparently use 15 gallons of water per head per day more for domestic purposes than in Leeds or in Wakefield. I do not wish to hear any snide remarks about the great unwashed or the unlaundered, because they turn themselves out as sprightly as the citizens of Wakefield and Halifax. One explanation is that 7,000 houses in the Calderdale area have still to be connected and that many of the private supplies are unreliable on health grounds and will have to be connected to the mains.
Nothing is ever said in all these estimates about economy in the use of water. The wastefulness of our toilet arrangements is apparently to continue. Car washing and yard swilling is to come off the mains, even in areas like mine where there is enough water lying about in disused mill dams and canals to wash every car in Yorkshire.
Water is cheap—[An HON. MEMBER: "Too cheap"] I believe that the Calder-dale Board is selling water to its customers at the cut price of a shilling for 1,000 gallons. Water is the one thing that my constituency has which many others have not. We have poor local authorities, loss of population, declining industrial activity and a fall in rateable value, but water is going cheap at a shilling for 1,000 gallons. Sowerby ought to be saying, "You want the best water. We have it, and this is the price". Then perhaps the economic prosperity of my constituency could be restored by selling the only natural resource that it has. But, no, it must be supplied on the cheap so that others can wash their cars at a shilling per 1,000 gallons.
Are we not going to urge people to use water with care? Are we going to regard a short period of restriction as some hardship for which the water people will be blamed, not the sunshine? Do we want it both ways all the time: a dry, beautiful summer and still go on using water at our accustomed rate?
1816 Unfortunately, no one can see any comfort beyond 1981. This is described as a bridging operation. I do not ask the House to despise bridging operations. I supported one just before Christmas. I hope that the bridge is still there. We shall have to find a more comprehensive way of settling our water problems after the next 10 years. We cannot go on as we are.
My hon. Friend talked about the needs of the local areas which come within the Calderdale water group. I see a reference in the circular issued by the promoters to a population of 190,000, but their letter does not mention that the estimate for the decline of population in this same area by 1981 is that it will have fallen to just over 180,000.
The headline in my local paper is,"Working population falls by 400.That is in a small town called Hebden Bridge. The headline in the Halifax Courier is:Able young folk are 'being lost to Halifax area'. This is way of death, says Bishop.Unhappily, the population is in decline. The Government did not accept the Report of the Hunt Committee to put the whole of my area and others, too, in the intermediate areas. Only one little slice of my constituency is included in the intermediate areas. So our hopes of getting stimulation of industrial activity and economic expansion have been dashed.
The main reason for this reservoir is not to supply the Calderdale area, but to fulfil obligations, some statutory and some self-assumed increased statutory obligations contained in the Bill. I refer to bulk supplies to Wakefield and bulk supplies to Mid-Calder. But all the estimates of requirements in other areas, as well as the Calderdale Water Board area, are on the formula "safe, reliable yield".
I will not weary the House by going through all the figures of the several water boards which are looking for additional supplies from my constituency. I can sum it up by an extract from Day 2 of the proceedings of the Select Committee in another place on 11th June when Mr. Heatherington, the expert adviser to the promoters, was asked:So really the position is this—it is not Calderdale Water Board that needs the water; it is Wakefield?1817A. It is largely Wakefield, yes.Q. So far as Mid-Calder and Huddersfield is concerned, they balance each other: in 1981 one (Mid-Calder) has a small deficiency and the other a small surplus?A. Yes. That is assuming that the Windscar scheme is implemented for Mid-Calder.There is no doubt that Wakefield is in difficulties, but unhappily the Bill will not remove them. Wakefield came to my constituency in 1957 for additional supplies. It was to collect just over 775 million gallons. But, before it was finished, Wakefield had taken over additional responsibilities to put spring supplies on the mains in some of its outlying areas and it needed extra water.
So, as a friendly act, a reservoir which it had built was connected through a tunnel to another valley, so there was an additional supply of water forthcoming there. Boothwood, a new reservoir under construction, will add another 2½ million gallons a day to Wakefield. But, when everything is taken into account, including 1 million gallons a day from a new reservoir at Scammonden, being constructed for Huddersfield, it looks as though Wakefield will have a deficiency, based on the estimates that I have given, of something over million 3 gallons a day.
During the course of examination, the petitioners were asked by the promoters, "If it is not this place, tell us of another". This provided the classic turn of events to all these inquiries, "If you object to this scheme, show us an alternative and we will look at it". So the comparatively rich Calderdale Water Board turns on a poor rural council, the National Trust and all the smaller preservation societies to find somewhere else.
This is the way it goes. The onus of proof is put on the petitioner. Some alternatives were closely examined. Others were not examined in full detail, because some material information was missing. One of them could not be fully examined because it depended upon the extraction of water from a river, and no one could say whether the flow of extraction proposed would get the consent of the river authority. This is dealt with in a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, in another place, on 13th November, a copy of which has been circulated to all hon. Members.
Hon. Members will ask, "If we reject the Bill, what will happen then? Would 1818 it be a responsible thing to do?". I turn for part of my answer to the Water Resources Board. It undertook no detailed assessment of this scheme. Consulting engineers expect to complete their own feasibility studies on the Morecambe Bay barrage. The board expects to report to the Minister by about 1971. In evidence this year the board said that it was still its hope thatthese barrage supplies, or alternatives if they be selected, will be available about 1981.That was the evidence of Mr. Gibb, the chief engineer to the Water Resources Board.
If that is the programme, should we not pause before going on with this bridging operation? Is my constituency, the town of Hebden Bridge, and the rural district of Hepton, to be churned up by lorries, muck, and slime, for three years while they are building this reservoir which cannot produce a gallon of water before 1974? There are no roads to this site. They will have to be constructed, which means that they will change the whole character of the countryside.
I say that the Bill can wait. As we are within sight of the comprehensive survey of the north by the Water Resources Board, it would be better to wait now and see what it offers in 1971. Meanwhile, if the Bill is rejected—and I think that I can firmly contemplate that —alternative supplies will be diligently examined. This is just another impounding reservoir. Cannot some work be done on impounding reservoirs to convert them into regulating reservoirs? Is nothing more to be said about economy? Is nothing to be said to appliance manufacturers, house-builders, and industry?. If we are to have another 13 million people in this country by the year 2000, is it too fanciful to think of North Sea water, as well as North Sea gas? There is no part of our economy in which there has been so much laisser faire as in water and there has been no part of our parliamentary procedure quite so vexatious as this.
We make suitable obeisances to environment, and to the preservation of natural beauty, but the same incantations come out every time—"unavoidable", "inevitable", "regrettable necessity", "needs must when the devil drives". One by one they go under the water. The Minister will no doubt advise the 1819 House that "on balance the Bill should be allowed to proceed". This is another form, meaning get on with it, we want it. The Minister gives the impression that he has really studied the matter impartially—on the one hand, on the other, and on balance. Many a piece of countryside has been desecrated by a decision taken on balance. The Minister said that the board is urgently in need of additional supplies, both to meet the needs of its area and the areas of the two boards to whom it supplies water in bulk. But the Minister said the same in 1969. Indeed, in a paper which the Ministry published on 21st May, he said:…it has been estimated that in 1969 consumption will outstrip the reliable yield of the Board's sources by 1¾ million gallons per day.It never did.
I conclude by saying that over-insurance on water supplies is enormous and extravagant. I hope that the House, in its sober judgment, will say "No" to the Bill. Let us await the northern study by the Water Resources Board, which we hope to have in a year's time. We can then see the problem in wider perspective, with an assessment of a more comprehensive and adequate solution.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
The right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mx. Houghton) has spoken with eloquence and a deep knowledge of his constituency against the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with this so completely that there is no need for me to follow in that direction.
I want, if I may, to bring the House to the wider aspect of the Bill. As the hon. Lady the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) said in a very temperate speech, the case of the promoters is that for a period of seven years from 1974 to 1981 there is a need for the extra water brought by this reservoir. For that purpose the proposal is to submerge for all time land which belongs to the National Trust, in other words, a national heritage. The hon. Lady said that it was only one-third of the National Trust Land. I thought that that was her weakest argument.
After all, before National Trust land is taken, submerged and destroyed, surely 1820 those who wish to destroy it must have an absolutely overwhelming case for so doing and I cannot, having read all that the promoters have put forward, and listened with great care to the hon. Lady, say that she has made an overwhelming case for destroying that acreage of National Trust land.
I think that I have an even stronger argument. I believe the House has to take a stand against the piecemeal way in which we deal with the water problem. It may well be that in this instance Halifax or Wakefield may suffer, but I believe that we as a nation would gain if we in this House took that stand.
I remind the House that the last reservoir Bill that we had was the Welland and Nene (Empingham Reservoir) and Mid-Northamptonshire Water Bill. When the House sent that Bill to a Committee the chairman of that Committee felt so strongly about the weakness of the way in which Parliament was dealing with water Bills that he made a Special Report, and perhaps I might read from it.
It said:…Your Committee consider it their duty to bring to the attention of the House their view that there is urgent necessity to study alternative supplies of water. They therefore strongly recommend that a feasibility study of the Wash Barrage be undertaken immediately.If that scheme and the Morecambe Bay scheme went forward, there would be no need for this mass of engineering projects dealing with little reservoirs, destroying amenity and agricultural land.
This is not the only possibility. Those hon. Members who read the Yorkshire Post will have read today that the Yorkshire Ouse and Hull River Authority, the river authority for the Calderdale area, yesterday announced that it is sponsoring research at Leeds University into the underground water sources of its catchment area, at a cost of £100,000. I wish to congratulate it on its far-sightedness and its wisdom. What a pity this was not done many years ago.
But part of the work has been done. In 1963, the predecessor of this river authority, the Yorkshire Ouse River Board, commissioned a geological survey to prepare an outline report on the geology of the ground water resources of the river catchments under its jurisdiction. This was done under the auspices of 1821 the Natural Environment Research Council. The report, published, I think, in July last year, shows that there is a ground water potential of 80 million gallons per day in the Calder catchment, and that the present quantity being abstracted is 8.8 million gallons. Thus, 89 per cent. of the ground water resources is untapped and about 71 million gallons per day are available.
After all, this project, at the most that the promoters can make of it, is to produce only an additional 7 million gallons per day. In view of the river authority's attitude and the report, which was not available when the Bill went to the House of Lords, I ask the promoters to hesitate before taking National Trust land and dealing with this matter in this piecemeal fashion.
I know that there is a great attraction in grandiose engineering schemes. We are very proud of our engineers; they are one of our great exports. But do not let us damage for ever the amenities or the agriculture of the country because we have not taken the time, in the House and the Government, to work out a true water policy for Britain.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lomas (Huddersfield, West)
I begin by saying how much I agree with part of what the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) said about the urgent need for this House to give serious consideration to a national water policy. That is absolutely crucial and vital, but here we are dealing with an immediate problem which will affect a tremendous number of people for the next three or four years.
My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) was absolutely right when she summed up what the Bill is all about by saying that it was a necessity not a luxury. The Bill seeks to provide for people in those areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire where there are to be growth points and great development of industry requiring water and all that it means. It is crucial that that water should be made available.
For reasons of which the House knows—we might at some time consider changing the rules—for certain hon. Members who represent, for example, Wakefield, Pontefract, and probably other places, by virtue of holding office in the 1822 Government are debarred from taking part in a debate which is important to their constituents. The House should look at this matter at some future date. Wakefield, Featherstone, Castleford and other parts of the West Riding depend on water being made available and in ample supply. I am informed that there is to be what is called "a five towns explosion" in those areas which could mean tremendous demands on the water supplies.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said that he had represented his constituency for 21 years. One can understand that after listening to his speech tonight. It was a magnificent constituency speech of which he and his constituents can be proud, but I wish that on great issues such as this we could move away from the parochial and look at the really serious problems which confront us. It is no use saying that this would be the 18th reservoir in his constituency as if that were something to be ashamed of. I wish there were 18 in my constituency.
I am sure many hon. Members who represent mining constituencies would be more than willing to have reservoirs in them rather than the scars and slag heaps which are the remnants of the Industrial Revolution. People in the areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire not far removed from Huddersfield, in the Wakefield, Castleford and Pontefract areas, would be only too pleased for slag heaps which mar and scar their localities to be removed and to have the satisfaction of having reservoirs—purpose-built if necessary—to ensure that facilities for leisure and recreation could be provided.
My right hon. Friend made a point which might appear valid, that on many reservoirs in his constituency fishing, boating and sailing do not take place. Of course many of those reservoirs are old and were not constructed for that purpose, but it is implicit in this Bill that facilities shall be made available for those things. Those promoting the Bill intend to fulfil that obligation. The House should give serious consideration to the Bill and I hope it will support it. It authorises the building of a reservoir in the upper reaches of the Hebden Valley, which I know well from the time when as a youth I did a lot of walking and cycling in that area.
1823 The Bill gives Parliament a simple choice between preserving the amenities of the area or providing supplies of water at an economical cost. I believe that the way in which the Bill has been drafted and the way in which the promoters have put forward their proposals would mean that we could get the best of both worlds. Where it is possible to preserve them, the amenities would be preserved and the water which is necessary to industry and for domestic users would be made available.
My right hon. Friend circulated with the briefs which were sent out, a lovely photograph, but it was totally misleading. I am informed—in fact I know—that there will be no desecration of the part of the valley shown on that postcard photograph. Hardcastle Crags, which is well known throughout Yorkshire and among tourists throughout the country, will not be affected by the scheme submitted by the promoters.
§ Mr. Houghton
The photograph was one of those included in the evidence to the Select Committee in another place. My advice is that the dam would cross in the middle of the photograph.
§ Mr. Lomas
I accept my right hon. Friend's point, but I am assured that that part of the valley would not be affected.
My right hon. Friend said that the only reason for the Bill and the creation of the dam was the exporting of water. We must abandon such attitudes. Areas in the West Riding have supplied other areas, not with water—a natural asset—but with the coal that their people dug from the bowels of the earth. They did this in the interests of the area as a whole. A purpose-built reservoir will enhance the area and make it a place of beauty; and the promoters have gone into great detail about the way in which this will be done.
If we can only accept the need, on the one hand, for water to be supplied to these areas and, on the other, the economic reasons why this must be done, we shall come to terms with reality and not live in something approaching a dream world. I therefore hope that the Bill will receive the support that it deserves.
The Calderdale Board will construct the reservoir by means of a dam across the Hebden Water about 10 miles to the 1824 north-west of Halifax. The object of the exercise is to ensure that water is supplied where it is needed. For the first few miles from New Bridge the valley slopes are very densely wooded. This part includes that part of Yorkshire of which we are very proud—the Hardcastle Crags. The upper part of the valley around there is bare and open moorland. The transition from woodland to moorland is acute. I am assured by the promoters that if the scheme goes ahead the embankments of the dam will not be visible from the lower part of the valleys except at close range, first because of the densely wooded slopes and, second, because of the bend in the valley below and that walkers will continue to enjoy the area's natural beauty.
I am also assured and accept that the Calderdale Board has been concerned to protect the area's amenities. I am glad that my right hon. Friend recognised that the board has engaged the services of landscapers and other experts so that by the planting of trees and other such steps the worst features of the dam, if there are any, will be shielded from public view and car parks will be provided. The Pennine Way, of which we are rightly proud. will not be affected by the scheme.
To oppose the Bill purely on the ground of damage to amenity is not to face reality and the challenges of the 1970s and 1980s. Areas in that part of the West Riding are in urgent need of the water for industrial and domestic purposes. I quote from the memorandum submitted by my right hon. Friend, under the headingThe House of Commons should reject this Bill".It reads:This is European Conservation Year—a suitable moment for reflection on what we are doing with our own country. We have a new Minister 'for Civilisation'…Pollution and erosion of our environment are now evils to be seriously tackled by Government. Here is an opportunity for the House of Commons to register is own concern.I agree with that entirely. I also agree with the way in which this dam will eradicate a lot of the evils of the past. It will provide the facilities for leisure and recreational activity which people in the West Riding are anxious to have. Because of that and the economic benefit that the building of this dam will bring to many areas in the West Riding, I 1825 earnestly hope that the Bill will be supported by the House tonight.
§ 8.46 p m.
§ Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), in his magnificent exposicion in opposition to the Bill, referred to it as being "more than a constituency matter". I am glad he used that phrase. He might have added that it is more than a party matter. It affects the whole country and, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has said, it reflects on the way in which Parliament deals with Bills relating to water supply.
I recognise at once that there is a considerable problem in supplying the water needs of this nation, but to do so there is no necessity to adopt a highhanded method in presenting Bills to this House and asking that they be passed when they cause the maximum despoliation to the countryside. If the Bill were passed it would authorise the Calderdale Water Board to take from its present owners, I understand, a very important area of the Hebden Vale, in order to dam it by a vast structure rising about 200 ft. from the floor of the valley to create this additional reservoir.
I feel most strongly that the House should not allow this to happen. It would destroy an area of great beauty—which I have the pleasure of knowing myself—and even if the extra water is needed its provision should not be made at such a sacrifice. I hope that the House will net need convincing further than by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that the vale is exceptionally lovely, but if there are any doubts they can surely be resolved by the attitude taken by two major organisations.
The National Trust, which owns part of the land which is due to be flooded, is passionately opposed to the violation of the beauty of the land which it holds for the enjoyment of the public. Equally opposed is the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. In case any hon. Member should feel that those bodies are too remote from reality or too remote from the scene—and I do not take that view—we have the same evidence from local bodies to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred in detail.
1826 I am impressed by the fact that the Hepton Rural District Council has been so consistent in its opposition, because, after all, it has committed the ratepayers' money to fighting this intrusion. It has not been tempted, as many local authorities might be, by the prospect of increased rateable value. On the contrary, it has fought for this valley because it feels it is a place of exceptional value and is enjoyed in its present state by those who live in the district.
But it is not only those who live in the district with which we are concerned. The area serves the people who live in the great cities which were thrown up during the Industrial Revolution. It is an area to which the people in those cities can escape and find peace and tranquility. I do not believe that their escape should be marred in this way. I hope that the majority of hon. Members will feel, as I do, that places of exceptional amenity value should not be marred unless there is a proven case that the extra water supply is imperative and can only be found at that one spot.
There is no such proof. Other hon. Members, I know, will deal more fully with the argument that there is no need for additional water to be found in the valley. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby has already dwelt on that aspect at some length, pointing out that even the promoters agree that they do not require the extra water save for a stop-gap period which will end in the 1980s. I shall concentrate on another point, that even if the need for extra water from this valley had been established there is not proof that it cannot be found except by perpetrating the proposed reservoir in Hebden Vale.
It is, I fear, a feature of our system that whenever a water authority decides that it needs a reservoir, our practice is to give it every facility to acquire all the land it wants by compulsory powers. As the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton said, Water Bill after Water Bill comes before Parliament and is passed carelessly. True, objectors may petition against a Bill, they may be represented by counsel before a Committee of this House or the other place, but the dice are loaded against them.
1827 The water authority is not required to show that it has gone into all the alternatives and that all are ruled out for convincing reasons. The water authority can find all the money it needs from the water rate to secure technical advice and demonstrate that the scheme of its choice should be adopted. It can brief the best and most expensive counsel to argue its case and shoot down that of the objectors.
In the present case, the petitioners, amenity bodies and a small rural district council, have no such technical advisers. I understand that, far from providing them with technical information, the water board in this instance has deliberately withheld vital information so as to use it during the hearing to demolish the first variant of the petitioners alternative.
I hope that the House will accept that the present system is not fair and does not ensure what we ought to insist upon, namely, that whenever a demand is made for another reservoir, there is proof that its location has been settled only after a truly impartial survey of all the alternatives.
I was, therefore, surprised to receive this morning by post a letter from the clerk of the North and Mid Cornwall Water Board, the headquarters of which is in my constituency, urging me to support the Bill. I have a great respect for the clerk and a great respect for the board which he serves, but I do not think it appropriate that Members of Parliament should be lobbied in this manner, and I do not hesitate to say so.
I quote from the letter:Water undertakings"—says the clerk—in this country are almost all in charge of unpaid councillors giving of their time for the public good and are staffed by a body of men and women whose record of devotion to their job of supplying water to the nation is second to none. There has never, needless to say, been a strike in the water industry.I concede what the clerk says. He goes on:After spending all my working life, over 30 years, in this industry. I think I can say that it is used to frustrations and expects no thanks for its efforts. However, in recent years, arising to some extent from the well-intentioned provisions of the Water Resources Act, 1963, the frustrations have increased, and now 1828 we have this new development whereby water undertakings struggling to carry out their statutory duties are depicted as land-grabbing despoilers of the countryside. The fact that any such alleged 'despoliation' is not only essential but urgently required to meet the ever rising demand for water appears to be too often overlooked.When water boards start writing to Members of Parliament in those terms, it is time for Members to look with anxiety not only to constituencies such as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby, but with anxiety for the future, perhaps, to their own constituencies.
In the present case, as I have said, the petitioners, hampered by the obstruction of the Calderdale Water Board, still managed, with the help of a consultant engineer, to produce an alternative scheme which would avoid this outrageous dam. In essence, it would have let the Hebden water continue to flow down the whole length of the valley, to be tapped at a lower point by direct abstraction from the stream. This, however, they supplemented by a reservoir off a side valley.
In the House of Lords Committee, my noble Friend, Lord Foot, who was one of the minority who voted against this scheme, in a powerful speech pointed out that the majority finding was most unsatisfactory. The petitioners' alternative scheme, produced under great difficulties, have been rejected on such an hypothesis. entirely on an assumption by the majority of the Committee that the Water Authority would probably not allow so much water to be abstracted from the stream. It seems to me quite monstrous that the petitioners' alternative scheme should have been rejected on such a hypothesis. The facts should have been ascertained and I suggest that it has been proven that there can be an alternative scheme.
The outstanding beauty of this valley should not be marred by a reservoir which may well be unnecessary, even for the stopgap period for which the promoters say it is required. Here, I refer the House to the facts given by the right hon. Member for Sowerby. This and other water boards should not be allowed to get away in outdated procedure which gives no opportunity for independent scrutiny of whether water cannot be found by alternative schemes, and I have 1829 no sympathy with those boards, even the board in my constituency, which seek to short-circuit the present system and the democratic procedures we use. The petitioners' alternative should not be dismissed on assumed probabilities, as has been the case in this instance. For all these reasons, I urge the House to refuse the Bill a Second reading.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ginsburg (Dewsbury)
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) referred to a possible alternative scheme. That is surely an argument for letting the Bill go to Committee for examination and not for opposing it outright.
I rise to support the Bill and my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), but first I compliment my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) on the presentation of his case. If I may say so, his speech and the document which he circulated to us a few days ago constitute a classic in the respectable art of parliamentary obstruction. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I said, respectable art.
I would like to have supported my right hon. Friend tonight. We have close personal I links. I was his Parliamentary Private Secretary for a number of years. We support each other at general elections and our constituencies share the same river, the Calder. I know the great beauty of his constituency and I would be loath to spoil it in any way.
But, equally, I have a duty to my constituents, especially the County Borough of Dewsbury, which is in the area of the Mid-Calder Water Board, and the Borough of Ossett, which is in the Wakefield and District Water Board. Like other boroughs, they need more water and are looking to this House to protect their legitimate interests. If, therefore, I concentrate my argument on my constituents' need for more water, I believe that I am fulfilling my own parliamentary responsibility.
I want to demonstrate that need beyond doubt. I do not think that it is my duty to deal with the specific merits of one site in my right hon. Friend's constituency against another. That, as I have said, is an argument not for denying the Bill its Second Reading, but for letting it go to the Select Committee for further examination.
1830 It is perhaps significant that, in his powerful document—and my right hon. Friend has done very thorough research —he did not venture to criticise the arguments deployed so far as the Mid-Calder Water Board is concerned. This may be because he realised that our case is indeed a strong one, and he is quite right. The board itself enjoys statutory rights to 1 million gallons a day and the Bill would increase those rights by a further 0.7 million gallons a day. I stress that this additional statutory engagement is the maximum that the Calderdale Water Board would offer us. It is, I believe, the case that the Mid-Calder Water Board needs and could take more, and it is the advice I have been given that the connecting main between the two authorities could take more water.
My constituency is an area which is beset by water deficits in an era of civilisation which itself is prone to water deficits. It should be borne in mind that part of the supply of Mid-Calder which has been coining from the City of Bradford is not statutory. Some of this is coming to an end just now and the balance that we will still receive from Bradford is not, I would say, simply in jeopardy. We believe that it will come to an end in the next two years. Bradford needs its water and it can no longer be an exporter of water.
Looking at the picture in one's own constituency, one is bound to strike a budget of water resources and water demand and, even allowing for the qualifications which my right hon. Friend made about safe yields, the figures cause one concern. I agree that we are dealing with a bridging operation, but that does not mean that the problem is not real. In 1970, consumption will be 9.2 million gallons a day and we have resources of 7.6 million gallons, a deficit of 1.6 million, which is a very serious situation to be in.
In 1973, although the Mid-Calder area is not a growing area yet economically, although we hope it soon will be again, consumption should rise to 9.8 million gallons a day. Happily, resources will come up a million to 8.6 million gallons and the deficit goes down. But I must make the point, particularly to my right hon. Friend, that this hopeful development depends upon the success of the water board in creating a reservoir in a 1831 [...]isused colliery in an urban part of my constituency.
This will be a very tricky engineering task. There are all sorts of unsolved technical and legal problems as well relating to mining subsidence, if it were to arise after the water board had assumed responsibility. The present budget provides for this in 1973, and very good luck to the board if it manages it. The picture will be a little easier. By 1974, when consumption goes up to 10 million gallons, resources go up to 9.3 million. This is if we get the Calderdale water. If we do not, our deficit is 1.4 million. If we have not had the water from the colliery by then the deficit is even greater.
§ Mr. Peter M. Jackson
My hon. Friend refers to the Calderdale water. Would he not agree that if the Bill is not passed the water board will look for other sites?
§ Mr. Ginsburg
The point surely is that we are dealing with a short-term crisis, over 10 years. Knowing the rate of progress and the chances of promoting Private Members' Bills, and the account that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby has given of 20 years with the Bill, we will have that sort of water in 1985 or 1990.
But that is not the problem we face. It is a short-term problem. In 1976, demand will be 10.3 million gallons and resources 9.3 million. We can get by at this point because we have a major gasworks which the North-Eastern Gas Board plan to phase out. Thus, the requirement for water will fall. Again these things have a way of taking a lot longer than planned, so that, here again. the deficit figures could be substantially larger than budgeted.
It is not until 1977–78 that we begin to see the prospect of a major improvement in supplies. That can only be achieved if the project known as Winscar Reservoir is brought to fruition. This, again, depends on bringing this project to completion at very great speed. The Mid-Calder water area has a serious water deficit, not in the 1980s and 1990s, but in the short term. Projections are hazardous and dangerous. The deficit is in the 1970s and the mid-Calder water would be very useful 1832 indeed. I am, therefore, bound to ask: what happens if the House does not give the Bill a Second Reading? The reservoir will not be built and my constituents will not get the water. Who is responsible? Not the Minister. We hope to have some friendly words from him this evening, but in the strict sense the Government are neutral, even though the Minister supports the Bill.
In a sense, if the Bill is not given a Second Reading this House is responsible. How long will it take to get alternative sites? Does someone else have to promote another Bill? I mention this because it seems that we need to review our procedures about water legislation. In this case I would have much preferred a public inquiry, with the Minister coming to the House and taking responsibility for what has to be done.
Water is an important national service and as a layman it seems to me that we need a water grid, and much closer integration of authorities with Ministerial responsibility at the end of the line. I hope, therefore, that this will be one of the last, if not the last, battle of its kind. Meanwhile, so long as our procedures remain as they are, I end by stressing my constituents' need for more water and my support for the Bill.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
The debate has perhaps reached the stage when the House would like to have the assistance of the Minister. No doubt the Minister is waiting until he is able to answer the views from the Opposition Front Bench, although this is a Private Bill and one does not like to take a strong line either way. The hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) put the case for the Bill very logically and reasonably She pointed out the industrial and domestic need, the lack of alternative sites which would be practical in meeting that need and the way in which amenities would be preserved. That was stressed by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Lomas) and the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Ginsburg).
The right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) put his case in a rather more emotional strain, which is not surprising, as he has told the House he already has 17 reservoirs in his constituency. He asked the House to take a 1833 stand on natural beauty in an area of dereliction. He said that the reservoir would intrude upon the character of the whole valley. In a very apt quotation he said that conservation lies in what happens and not in what is talked about. Perhaps the Minister of State would convey that quotation to his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who, by his speeches on this subject lately, has almost earned himself the title of "Mr. Pollution".
I hope that some action will be taken, and this is perhaps a Bill on which such action could be taken. The House is put in extreme difficulties by an issue of this sort. It is an issue that cuts across parties and it is part of a procedure which the right hon. Member for Sowerby has described as "vexatious" and which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) described as "not fair". In this case we are asked to say whether or not National Trust property should be submerged in a reservoir. Some such problem arises on every Water Bill. On each occasion lately the arguments and conflicts have become fiercer. This is obviously because of the increasing need for water. That need is set against an increasing desire to preserve amenity.
There is no doubt about the increasing need. We are now, as the right hon. Member for Sowerby implied, a nation of flusters. Car washing is in strong competition on a Sunday morning with church services, and in most cases it wins. 'We are extravagant with water, and would not like to cut down upon that extravagance. Therefore, we have to fill that need.
On the other hand, as the Prime Minister has appreciated in recent speeches, there is an increasing desire to preserve amenities. I ask the Minister of State whether the Government have a policy on this matter. Is there to be some firm Government policy on water preservation, or is it, as the hon. Member for Bodmin said, a policy of water Bill after water Bill?
If the Prime Minister is serious about the environment and the prevention of pollution, I am sure nobody in the House would complain if the Government were to come forward today and say, "We have already gone too far in piecemeal legislation. We must find a more com- 1834 prehensive way of solving our water problems".
The right hon. Member for Sowerby asked why we could not await the Water Resources Board's survey. That survey may tell us that, our desire for the use of water being so great, we must put up with the destruction of amenities. The hon. Member for Huddersfield, West said that the need is great and immediate. On the other hand, that survey may say that the ground water potential should be exploited, or that we should concentrate on barrages in estuaries and be prepared for lengthy pipelines. The hon. Member for Dewsbury mentioned a grid system. I personally favour that, and feel that the right way to proceed is by barrages in estuaries. I am to some extent supported in that view by the report of a Select Committee on a previous Water Bill.
Surely this Bill can wait for the survey which is expected in 1971, in the meantime we should have a statement of Government policy nationally on water conservation. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to give a forecast, at least, about the preparation of Government policy. We cannot go on with these piecemeal Water Bills, with hon. Members being put into an extremely difficult position each time they are brought before the House. It is not only a matter of the conflict of increasing need as against the increasing desire to protect amenities. It is a question whether, for example, impounding reservoirs is the right way to tackle the need. There may be another way to tackle the matter rather than by a patchwork of reservoirs all over the country.
I hope that I have not broken tradition too much on the Front Bench by not sitting on the fence on a Private Bill, but this raises such important national problems that we should clearly say to the Government that it is urgent that the water boards, the public in general and Parliament should be allowed to consider this matter fully on a national basis.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Denis Howell)
As the House will know, although the Minister puts in a memorandum and gives advice on Bills, the Government do not take sides on a 1835 Private Bill. My purpose is not to argue the merits of the Bill, though I shall have something to say about the points which have been raised on both sides. I suggest that the case for the Bill, whatever is to be said against it, is entirely dependent on local considerations and upon local need. In my judgment much of the case against the Bill is based on the same local considerations.
§ Mr. Howell
Yes, I believe that to be so. Hon. Members may disagree if they wish to do so. Furthermore, I believe it is a good thing that the House has these debates on merits when the matter is not subject to a Whip or anything of that sort so that one hopes the merits can transcend any other consideration. So far as I can judge, most of the arguments against have been developed on local considerations.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) may be absolutely right, but I believe that the time-honoured way in Parliament of sending Private Bills upstairs so that the promoters and objectors can give their evidence and cross-examine each other is the best method of resolving these matters. Having sat here trying to be reasonably neutral—
§ Mr. Howell
With respect, it is. I think that I can claim to have brought at least as great a degree of objectivity into my consideration of this matter as has my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Peter M. Jackson).
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby may be absolutely right when he refers to the natural beauty of this area, but hon. Members who have never had the privilege of visiting this valley are bound to find it difficult to form a judgment about that. The Select Committee of another place gave a great deal of time to the subject, visited the area and reached a conclusion. It may have reached the wrong conclusion, but, at any rate, it considered the merits as well as it was able to do, examined and cross-examined witnesses and looked at the area for itself.
1836 Delightful though it might be, I cannot imagine the 620 of us adjourning our proceedings while we visit my right hon. Friend's constituency. I am sure that we would get a magnificent welcome, but since that course is hardly practicable, the normal procedure is to send a Measure of this kind upstairs so that a small Committee of hon. Members may go into the matter thoroughly on our behalf.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
The Minister knows that I am as impartial in this as he is, since we are both West Midlands hon. Members with no constituency interests whatever. Would he address himself to a point which concerns a great many hon. Members on both sides; if we give one Second Reading after another to piecemeal Bills of this kind, we will never get the Government or water authorities to address themselves seriously to long-term solutions like barrages and grids?
§ Mr. Peter M. Jackson rose—
§ Mr. Howell
I wish to be brief. When I have completed my remarks my hon. Friend may be able to catch Mr. Speaker's eye.
I share the views of many hon. Members about our procedures, but it is not true to say that all proposals of this type must come here. The normal procedure in respect of these matters is for the Minister to make an order under the 1945 Act on the application of a water undertaking, and objections are heard at the appropriate inquiry.
It is rare nowadays for the House to have the opportunity to discuss a Bill of this kind. Those who believe that there is a strong point of principle involved in an issue like this will no doubt welcome the opportunity that we have had today. The normal procedure is not to have debates like this in the House but for the Minister to proceed by way of an order under the 1945 Act.
This brings me to the question why the Bill is before us, if this is not the normal procedure, and there are reasons for this. I do not put the first forward as being a major reason, but we in the Ministry believe that since the predecessor of the Calderdale Water Authority, Halifax 1837 County Council, had its Bill rejected, we would not wish to be accused of being in contempt of Parliament by not proceeding in this way.
I do not place too much reliance on that first reason because the local authority had no alternative but to come here—[Interruption.]—the logic of my speech is, I hope, impeccable—since under the Acquisition of Land (Authori-sation Procedure) Act, 1946, an authority proposing to compulsorily purchase what is called "inalienable land" must come to Parliament to do so. The National Trust has declared part of this land to be such land, and therefore this special parliamentary procedure is invoked. I will return later to the question of the National Trust, because it is of some importance.
There seem to be three main arguments on the merits of the case which should receive our attention. The first is the need for water. It has not been seriously challenged that our modern society will require increasing quantities of water, although it has been suggested that our water is too cheap. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite echoing that sentiment. I would rather put it the other way that, by and large, we in this country are extremely fortunate to have such large quantities of good, wholesome water available at such economic prices. I pay tribute for this to the water industry and local authorities.
Since constituency speeches seem to be the order of the day, I may be permitted to point out that Birmingham was well to the fore in this matter, and that municipalisation began with the Birmingham Water Undertaking. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby was addressing us I thought that he was a Welsh Nationalist in disguise.
§ Mr. Howell
I agree that we have flooded Welsh valleys.
Whenever a reservoir is built one is bound to upset somebody's amenity. A reservoir cannot be constructed without the amenity aspect coming into it. One must, therefore, make a judgment on the matter. As long as we are building reservoirs we are bound to be interfering with somebody's amenity somewhere.
1838 Some parts of the countryside may seem less spectacular than other parts, but my short experience at this Ministry has taught me that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Parts of the country in which my right hon. Friend and others would think it right to build reservoirs would be just as jealously defended as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby has defended his area. Therefore, we need a great deal more water, and it has to be found by some means, somewhere.
Then there is the question of amenity, and paragraph 8 of the Report of the Minister on the Bill deals with it. Again, I am not competent to know, since the site of this proposal is further up the valley than that of the original proposal, exactly where one should make one's judgment. However, if the decision has to be made, it is better made by a Select Committee which has had the opportunity to consider all the pros and cons than by 600 Members of this House.
At this point, perhaps I might say a word or two about inalienable National Trust land to which the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) drew our attention. This is a piece of information which was made available in another place and subjected to examination and cross-examination. However, to get the facts in the right perspective, I think that it should be mentioned again. Although it is a very serious matter to set aside the National Trust's designation of land as being "inalienable", it is true that, in 1951, before the National Trust so designated the land, it approached my Ministry and was told specifically that the land might be required for a reservoir in the future. Its decision to designate the land inalienable, therefore, was taken in the knowledge that the National Trust would not necessarily have our support in resisting any proposals to acquire the land compulsorily. I make no judgment about that designation, but it is a proper matter, in the circumstances, to be subjected to the normal processes of examination in a Committee upstairs.
A number of other points have been raised, and I come directly to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby. I am delighted to pay tribute to his passionate advocacy. It was a great joy to listen to my right hon. Friend whether we agree with him or not. He 1839 has done an extremely good job on behalf of his constituents.
However, he did not quite get his facts right about the recreational use of reservoirs. If there is no sailing, fishing and walking—[Laughter.]—on the reservoirs in his constituency, it is a disgrace. As the Minister responsible for sport, I am anxious to see such recreational uses of our reservoirs, and I am delighted to see that there are proposals to put matters right. I want to pay tribute to the revolution that there has been in the last two years, particularly as the result of the close co-operation between British water authorities, the regional sports councils and my Ministry. Since we must have reservoirs, and since the greatest shortage in sporting facilities occurs in those sports involving large expanses of water, we are all delighted to see that our reservoirs are being opened up. Already, three of my right hon. Friend's reservoirs have facilities, one for fishing and bird watching— [Laughterl—though not the variety to which hon. Members are accustomed, obviously; another one for walking and sailing—[Laughter.]—I mean, walking in the surrounding areas, because we have not yet got to the stage of walking on the water; and the third one has been opened up to provide access to the public for picnicking, rock climbing and similar purposes, facilities for which did not exist in the area previously. So that, in my right hon. Friend's constituency, out of the 15 impounding reservoirs about which he is talking he is not accurate regarding three of them.
I am sorry to tell my right hon. Friend and the House that I understand, on the best possible advice, that the reason there is no fishing is because all the fish have died of disease.
§ Mr. Howell
Not at all. That is an unfair comment. I have already said that there is sailing on some reservoirs, and there should be sailing on others, too.
I should like to refer, in passing, to the small point my right hon. Friend made about capital. He was very trenchant about laying a sewerage scheme in his constituency and he made some caustic comments about capital pro- 1840 grammes. I suggest that my right hon. Friend has probably had more time than I dealing with capital programmes when he was a Minister responsible for many of these matters. He will know that it is difficult to reach a judgment whether, on the one hand, to proceed with a large water undertaking or, on the other hand, to give authority for certain sewerage schemes. But the one with which my right hon. Friend was concerned, which was properly held up in 1967, became the subject of further and better particulars, as lawyers would say, in, I think, November, 1969, and authority to proceed with it was given in December last year.
§ Mr. Howell
It would be unfortunate if my right hon. Friend thought that the giving of permission or sanction for that scheme had anything to do with the agitation on the water undertaking. I am sure that he will accept my assurance that that is not so.
The major point was the whole question of water policy and future opportunities that will occur. My right hon. Friend mentioned reports from the Water Resources Board. There are two reports. The first is a report on water resources in the North as a whole. This was discussed in another place. I can give a late piece of information to the House about it. That report will be available within the next month. Therefore, if the Bill gets a Second Reading and goes to Committee, it could be available for consideration.
The second report is on the full feasibility of the Morecambe Bay barrage. That will not be ready so quickly, but it ought to be available by the end of this year.
The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) talked about policy. So did the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton. The whole purpose of the Water Resources Act, which hon. Gentlement opposite put through Parliament in 1963—I remember being on the Committee and taking an active part—was to produce a national policy, to create the Water Resources Board, and to get it to do the surveying and the strategic study so that sensible decisions could be taken by Ministers and by Parliament in 1841 order that the great water shortages that we have known could be put behind us once and for all. We could then make sensible assessments whether to proceed by means of impounding reservoirs, by taking more water out of rivers, by barrage schemes or by a combination of these things. The Water Resources Board has been working very well and rapidly doing the fundamental research work on which these sensible decisions and hence a national policy can be based.
The South-East England Survey report has been completed. The survey of the situation in the North has been completed, and is due to be issued very shortly. The Board is now in the midst of preparing a similar report in respect of Wales and the Midlands. I am told that it hopes to be able to publish this report during 1971. Thus, in 12 months' time, we should have three major surveys on which it should be possible to determine the issues which we all agree are important. We should be able to decide which is the most intelligent way to proceed, and what our strategy should be for the country as a whole.
I do not think that there is much more that I want to say on the general question of water.
§ Mr. Turton
Will the Minister comment on the possibility of the Wash Barrage scheme, which is what the special report of a House of Commons Committee suggested the Minister should look into?
§ Mr. Howell
I am speaking off the cuff, but I think that that will be part of the planning and policy-making of the board. That will be part of its report to us.
The Government have obligations, but the point that I am making is that by mid—1971 we should have authoritative views on all these matters. It will be possible for us to add them up, to look at the country as a whole, and then to determine our priorities and what our procedures ought to be.
We are left to consider the Bill against the background of those facts, and I return to the point that I made at the beginning. The Bill received a serious, detailed, and lengthy investigation in another place. The Committee dealing with this Measure was able to visit the 1842 site. I do not wish to take issue, one way or the other, with all the arguments which have been advanced. I should find it difficult to do so, and my advice to the House is that the Bill ought to receive a Second Reading, not because we are asking the House to determine in favour of the principle of the Bill, but because if you do not give the Bill a Second Reading you prevent all the issues receiving a detailed investigation. It must flow from rejecting the Bill that you are preventing a full investigation—
§ Mr. Howell
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if I am associating you too directly with the supply and consumption of water. I should not want to do that.
The House ought to allow a Committee upstairs to examine the details involved and to come to a conclusion on the merits of the case after hearing the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. That is my advice to the House.
§ 9.39 p.m.
§ Mr. David Waddington (Nelson and Colne)
In spite of what the Minister said, I think that one clear message has come through tonight, and that is that we need to review our procedures. In my innocence, I think that the best way of procuring such a review is to refuse to give the Bill a Second Reading.
I reinforce my assertion that there is a real need for a review of our procedures by reminding the House that the real sufferer here has been the Hepton Rural District Council, because it is a strange circumstance that time and again a small local authority such as this has to fight the giants, and has to find the money to do so. It is all very well for the Minister cavalierly to say that the whole matter can be reviewed by a Committee of the House. Who will pay? The money is running out. These unfortunate objectors, who fought this scheme in the 'thirties and again in the late 'forties and are having to fight it again now are expected once again to find the money to fight the giants.
We all know that this happens in other fields. I know from my experience in the law that sometimes a war of attrition is fought. Someone applies for a licence for a public house, objectors object and 1843 brief counsel. The applicant comes back the next year and the next year and the next. A man can make a planning application to build a caravan site in a beautiful valley. A great deal of money is expended to fight the application. He comes back two years later and makes the same application.
It is not good enough for the Ministry to say that this is a procedure which works and allows these matters to be ventilated. It is all very well for the water boards: they have the resources to brief expensive counsel and can put the cost on the rates—but the people who want to object to this do not have the same opportunity.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
Does my hon. Friend realise that, when we fought the proposed reservoir in Rutland, the Bill went through this House and Committee and, when it reached the Lords, we in Rutland could not afford to fight it in Committee there because of the cost which was to be imposed on us on top of the cost which we had faced in the Commons? I asked the Government whether they would help with the costs, and they refused.
§ Mr. Waddington
I am grateful to my hon. Friend; he has reinforced my point. I will not labour it, because it has been made well by various speakers. Nor will I labour the arguments so well advanced by the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton).
I have the greatest sympathy with those hon. Members opposite who believe that it is necessary to have this scheme so as to provide for the water needs of their areas. I have the greatest respect for people with those views, although some hon. Members opposite—in particular, the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Lomas)—did not attach sufficient weight to the most cogent argument of the right hon. Member for Sowerby, that the experts have been so wrong before that we should be very suspicious of the statistics which they have produced in support of the present proposal.
I respect those who say, as they are entitled to say, "We are convinced on the arguments that it is necessary to have this scheme. We recognise that it will cause damage to the countryside and 1844 amenities, but, unfortunately, there is no escaping the dilemma". I understand that argument. I will not, however, put up with the argument, which has been advanced once or twice, that there will be no damage to the amenities at all. That is an argument which I am simply not prepared to accept.
Of course, this scheme will damage the beauty of the area and detract from the enjoyment of those who go there in large numbers. First, it is misleading to talk about the reservoir being considerably upstream of Hardcastle Crags. Anyone who knows the area knows that, colloquially at any rate, the whole valley is referred to as "Hardcastle Crags".
Second, it will not be that far upstream. I checked today and the dam will be only three-quarters of a mile upstream from the two crags themselves and only 400 yards further upstream than the dam would have been if the 1949 scheme had gone forward.
Third, it is very difficult to see how it can be said that amenities will not be affected, when the construction of this dam will inevitably mean blocking up many walks and footpaths and, of course, the most precious path of all, that which actually runs down the wooded part of the valley, where the water will be.
Fourth, not too much attention should be paid to this fine talk of sailing on the reservoirs and other recreational pastimes. The right hon. Member for Sowerby has already said that this is a very late repentance, in view of the other reservoirs belonging to this water board. No such facilities have been afforded to those who use this area and we all know, to give another example, from our own experience with the Manchester Corporation, that, for years and years, we were told that it was impossible to allow people to use these lakes because they were reservoirs. Then the pressure was put on and eventually Manchester conceded that, with a little effort, they could be made available to the public
This deathbed repentance is extraordinary. After years of denying to the public the right to go on the reservoirs it is asserted that, on the new reservoir. one will be able to sail.
§ Mr. Waddington
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. That reinforces the point I am making.
Of course, if this project is to be it has to be. I would not be so foolish as to pretend that if all these towns were to be denuded of water we should oppose the scheme, but as the right hon. Member for Sowerby said, the experts have been wrong so often in the past. Scaring estimates of the growth of demand have been made about the years to come. Similar scaring estimates were made in 1949 and all those estimates proved hopelessly wrong. We are dealing with an area where in recent years there has been appalling population and a fall in industrial activity. One would have expected that there would have tended to be a decline in demand for water rather than the reverse.
The point has been forcibly made that the board's case does not rest on any water shortage in the area actually supplied by the board, but on the fact that it has to supply other boards. Is that not an argument not in favour of this Bill, but for a far-reaching inquiry into how the needs could be met? I hope that hon. Members will vote against a Second Reading of the Bill, first, to ensure that our present procedures are reexamined and, secondly, to ensure that we have the far-reaching inquiry which is demanded into the water resources of the country.
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I hope that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) will forgive me if I do not Follow all the detailed points he has made. It seemed an extraordinary sug- 1846 gestion that because boating was not allowed on reservoirs before, it is reprehensible that it should be allowed now.
§ Mr. Jackson
I had great pleasure in listening to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). It was a tour de force in every possible sense of that phrase. It sometimes wandered a little from the subject. There was an interesting dissertation on the wasteful use of toilets and—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Member is not reflecting on my colleague in the Chair at that time.
§ Mr. Jackson
There was also a reference to washing cars on Sundays.
I hope that my remarks may be rather more relevant to this topic. I should like to go once more over the question of the effect of this dam on amenities. I have made the journey mentioned by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. There is a sharp division in the valley between the wooded area and the open area. If the photograph that has been distributed to all hon. Members—that must have been an expensive matter; I would like to know who bore the cost of the venture—is turned 180 degrees, it gives a most effective example of how there is an abrupt end of the wooded part of the valley and the beginning of the open land.
The dam when constructed will affect only 10 acres of wooded district, the rest being entirely open land. In my conception this would be one of the most interesting, useful and beautiful areas of a combination of woods and water that it would be possible to conceive. One follows up the wooded part of the valley. Then there is the dramatic duty of the Hardcastle Crags. There is the carefully landscaped side of the dam. Then there is a possibility of walking on both sides of the reservoir or of boating. I cannot conceive of any more attractive proposition than this. I do not believe that the amenity value will be affected by the construction.
My right hon. Friend referred to the question of mills being closed. There was some suggestion that the population will be decreasing. In my constituency 1847 quite the contrary is true. The M62 will be moving through there and the demands it will make on the water supply alone will be considerable. Brighouse looks forward to the construction of the reservoir.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) referred to the National Trust. There is no doubt that the Trust is out in force tonight. The Trust and the other interests with which my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Peter M. Jackson) is concerned, and which are not directly related to supporting the Government—[HON. MEMBERS; "Oh"]—that was an unfair remark—are out in force. I have sympathy with them.
Of the 436 acres which will be involved in the construction of the reservoir, only 31 acres are National Trust territory which will be retained indefinitely. In talking about the reservoir we are talking about only one-tenth of the total territory being National Trust territory.
§ Mr. John Smith (Cities of London and Westminster)
Those figures conflict with the figures given by the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill). Is it possible that both hon. Members are wrong? Surely 90 of the 370 acres will be acquired compulsorily from the National Trust.
§ Mr. Jackson
Four hundred and thirty-six acres will be involved; 89 acres will be acquired from the National Trust to begin with, but 58 will be handed back on the completion of the work, meaning that 31 acres will be retained.
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) said that the debate had not given proper consideration to alternative schemes for the construction of a reservoir. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby significantly omitted any reference to the question of an alternative reservoir. The only alternative reservoir which found favour or which received any consideration in the other place when the Select Committee was studying this subject was the Colden Valley.
Except for my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), no one has referred to the Colden Valley tonight. The Colden Valley reservoir would involve six farms and very valuable agricultural land. The landscaping of the reservoir would be of such a variety that 1848 it would be clearly visible in many directions. It would involve a reservoir in a part of the countryside hitherto not affected. Clearly that alternative scheme for a reservoir did not commend itself to the other place or its Committee, and neither should it commend itself here.
It is interesting to note where the support and the opposition have come from in the debate. It is perfectly understandable that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby, who is a keen and devoted constituency man, should, if he so wishes, oppose the reservoir. But let us consider the hon. Members adjacent to his constituency and see what they want. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax wants it. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Walter Harrison) wants it. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Ginsburg) wants it. Brighouse and Spenborough needs the reservoir. In this area, 550,000 people need the reservoir.
But where are the opponents? They come from Bodmin and other parts of Britain, not from the area concerned. En dealing with such a matter, it is important that the local voice should be heard, not just the sort of "buttercup and daisies' variety—people who may have some kind of aesthetic enjoyment in looking at bits of moorland in the distance. Our people in this area need this water. Nobody has been able to convince the House tonight that there will not be a deficiency.
We might, if we followed the ideas of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby, have a kind of autonomy in all water supplies: no constituency should send any water to any other constituency, and neither should any other goods so pass. In that case Sowerby Bridge would be filled up with water. It would be waterlogged. There is a dire need to exploit my right hon. Friend's water. He has ready-made customers around him, busy industrial areas wanting to help the export drive, areas with a new vitality in their whole manufacturing processes.
We are asked tonight to be held up by the National Trust, held up by people who have nothing to do with the area. I urge that we let the Bill go to Committee; let it be discussed there in detail. Let the vast majority of the people of the area have their way and have their dam.
§ Quesion put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—1850
§ The House divided: Ayes 35, Noes 71.1849
|Division No. 56.||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Judd, Frank||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Binns, John||Lomas, Kenneth||Silverman, Julius|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Tinn, James|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Urwin, T. W.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mawby, Ray||Varley, Eric G.|
|Ginsburg, David||Mendelson, John||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley|
|Golding, John||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Harnling, William||Neal, Harold|
|Harper, Joseph||Oakes, Gordon||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||O'Maiiey, Brian||Dr. Shirley Summerskill and|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Mr. Colin Jackson.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Hawkins, Paul||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Bessell, Peter||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Ridley, Hn Nicholas|
|Blenkinsop, Arthun||Hooley, Frank||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Body, Richard||Horner, John||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Booth, Albert||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Brewis, John||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Smith, Dudley (W'wlck & L'mington)|
|Bryan, Paul||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Stodart, Anthony|
|Carlisle, Mark||Jopling, Michael||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Clegg, Walter||Kimball, Marcus||Tilney, John|
|Crouch, David||Lambton, Viscount||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lawler, Wallace||Ward, Christopher (Swindon)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Macdonald, A. H.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Dean, Paul||Maude, Angus||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Miscampbell, Norman||Worsley, Marcus|
|Driherg, Tom||Monro, Hector|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Fortescue, Tim||Newens, Stan||Dr. Hugh Grey and|
|Goodhew, Victor||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Mr. David Waddington.|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St, Edmunds)||O'Halloran, Michael|