HC Deb 19 June 1972 vol 839 cc11-3
16. Mr. Denzil Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations have taken place between the Welsh Office and local authorities regarding the proposal to establish a Welsh National Water Development Authority.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Consultation papers on various aspects of the Government's proposals to establish a Welsh National Water Development Authority have been sent to the Local Authority Associations. Their comments are now being considered.

Mr. Davies

Is the Secretary of State aware that certain local authorities and water undertakings in the County of Carmarthen feel inhibited in taking part in these discussions because of the delay in the publication of the Crowther Commission Report because they feel that certain recommendations which might be made in it might have a bearing on the establishment of this authority? If the Commission does not report by the end of this year, will the Secretary of State give an assurance that at least a report relating to Wales will be published by then?

Mr. Thomas

I am aware of the feelings which were expressed in Carmarthenshire because they were put to my Department at a conference attended by representatives of the local authorities in Carmarthenshire to discuss the implications of the reorganisation of public water supply in the area. As to the publication of what is called the Crowther Report, I cannot give the date, but I hope that it will be published about the end of the year.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that even those of us who warmly welcome the Governments plans for reorganising the water cycle are nevertheless unhappy at the proposed abolition of the British Waterways Board and the fact that there will be no national authority responsible for inland waterways?

Mr. Thomas

Many anxieties have been expressed, and that is why there will be a continuous process of consultation between my Department and associations representing local authorities and other organisations before a final decision is taken on the composition and powers of the new authority.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

Will the Secretary of State reconsider his earlier decision to exclude from the jurisdiction of the Welsh National Water Development Authority an area of great strategic significance in mid-Eastern Wales, namely, the Severn basin? That is the very area in which there are likely to be agonising conflicts of interest between small Welsh communities and adjoining areas in England.

Mr. Thomas

Discussions are taking place on this matter. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the proposals are that the Welsh Authority will have authority over river basins, many of which go outside Wales. The arrangement envisaged in respect of the upper reaches of the Severn ensures that the Authority will be able to safeguard Welsh interests.