HC Deb 01 May 1973 vol 855 cc1054-74


Mr. Denis Howell

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 11, after ' Wales ', insert: 'on the basis of the public ownership of all water resources'.

Mr. Speaker

With this amendment we will take Amendment No. 28, in page 14, line 1, leave out Clause 11.

Mr. Howell

This is an amendment to which the Opposition attach the greatest possible importance, both on grounds of the policy that is involved and, secondly, in consideration of the disgraceful manner in which the Government have exempted private water companies from their proposals.

First, it is quite clear that we cannot reorganise our water supplies except on the basis of the public ownership of water resources. Water is not a commodity which can be manufactured; it is one of the great natural resources available to us. Therefore, it clearly ought to be mobilised where it is needed for use by the country, and it should be owned by the country.

There is an adequate amount of water in this country. Even though, over the holidays, we have been contemplating the excellent spring that we have had and the reports of a water shortage in various areas, we all know that in other parts of Great Britain there is more than an adequate supply of water. The problem is one of planning and harnessing our water resources. Most important of all, it is a problem of the transportation of water from areas of plenty to areas of shortage. That, in a nutshell, is the problem facing us.

We have just had a discussion about the powers of the National Water Council. As we shall return to that subject on Clause 4 I did not want to weary the House by making two speeches where one would do. Nevertheless, we have considerable sympathy with the point of view put forward in the previous debate to the extent that in terms of the problem of harnessing our resources and transporting the water to the places where it is required—the cities and regions, particularly in the Midlands, the South-East, the East and the South-West, which are the shortage areas—the logic of the situation is that a strong national authority is necessary in order to plan the operation and bring it about by means of a water grid system, or some other method of transportation. It is quite clear that once that proposition is accepted it can best be implemented on the basis of the public ownership of water resources, in order that a strong national water authority may have the resources and powers to enable it to do these things. So we clearly believe that water should be a publicly-owned commodity.

In terms of the Government's proposals for the water resources of this country —proposals to which we object—the Government have to accept the logic of the argument, but for party doctrinaire reasons they have failed to apply the logic over the whole field. They say, "Yes, we quite agree that we cannot bring about a sensible water pattern in this country and a sensible transportation system unless we have a strong national approach. We will therefore take water from the local authorities and the water undertakings of local authorities but we will leave the private companies"—there are 31 statutory water companies in this country—"out of our thinking". That is an absolutely ridiculous way of thinking, and it is almost impossible to understand the arguments of the Government in respect of it.

In order to demonstrate to the House that 31 water undertakings cannot be left out of a national pattern and national ownership, the Government proceed to surround those water companies with all sorts of restrictions. Indeed, the Undersecretary of State said, at the Thirteenth Sitting of the Committee, in regard to the water companies which will be left out of the ownership of the regional water authorities, that the Government would see to it that they would be required to do the bidding of the Secretary of State or the regional water authorities. He went on to say that the obligations he was imposing upon these private water companies included bringing their capital investment programmes under the control of regional water authorities.

In other words, the Under-Secretary of State and the Government say that their proposal to leave private water companies out of public ownership is very much of a nonsense, and that the private companies, although they continue to exist, can be allowed to do so only providing they comply with the directions and planning of the regional water authorities and providing their capital works programme is taken into account alongside all the local authority and public works programmes. If the private companies are going to be subject to this degree of control and direction—if they cannot spend a major amount of money on capital programmes unless permission for those programmes is considered at the same time as the capital programmes of the public sector—why on earth have the Government left out the private companies? The answer is simple: the Government do not wish to take over the £250 million worth of assets which the private water companies represent. In other words, the consideration of the capital interest in terms of the shareholding interest in the private water companies is to predominate over considerations of policy which ought to be uppermost in the thinking of the Government.

That is an extremely serious deficiency. The private water companies cannot be left to go it alone. Even the Government realise that. Even the Government realise that if there is growth in demand for water in an area served by a private water company the regional water authority—which will be a publicly-based authority—must come to the aid of the private water company. In other words, the continuing profitability of the private company in the future will be sustained by the public sector. That is an extremely serious situation.

I now turn to the arguments for taking over the local authorities. One of the grounds on which the Under-Secretary relied in Committee for leaving out the private water companies was that—and I quote what he said: We have a technically proficient private water sector which offers good management, good public relations for the most part, high levels of proficiency, and does not make any call on our national capital resources."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 29th March 1973; c. 677.] In a sense, of course, local authorities do make a call on our national capital resources, although the money is raised by the water users through the water committee, but everything else he said there applies not only equally but even more to our great local authority water undertakings.

6.30 p.m.

The Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds authorities and the Metropolitan Water Board are all first-class examples of local authority municipal Socialism—if one can use that terminology, which is very honourable in Birmingham. There, the water undertaking was brought into being by Joseph Chamberlain, who was born opposite the house where I live and had a distinguished career, of interest to many of us in considering the principles and possibilities of municipal Socialism. I hope that some of my colleagues who are now returned to power in various parts of the country will look at what he achieved —not least, the Birmingham Municipal Bank, which also might be an example for them to follow. However, I now return to water. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] After I visit my bank manager, I normally return to water.

Whatever arguments the Minister produces in favour of leaving private water companies in private hands apply with even greater force to the local authorities. We believe in a publicly-owned water industry and our plan would have been to leave the local authorities to manage and own those water undertakings in their own areas within a national central scheme administered by a strong central authority.

Local authorities feel indignant because one of the reasons put by the Government for leaving out private water companies is that it would cost £250 million to include them. The Government are not disposed, therefore, to take these undertakings into public ownership. The local authorities are asking, "What is the difference between a private investor investing in a private water undertaking and the ratepayers of a local authority investing in a publicly-owned water undertaking? Why do not the same considerations apply also to publicly-owned undertakings? "

It is clear that some local authorities which have provided first-class capital works and water supplies for their citizens are in danger of having to pay twice. They have already paid to provide first-class facilities, but under the Government's proposals they may well have to provide new capital works in order to serve those authorities which, the Minister says, have been badly served in the past. There is a strong feeling that an increase in water charges could well be brought about not by improvement in supply and facilities in London, Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere, whose citizens have already paid to do the job in their own areas, but because they will have to pay a further contribution to make up deficiencies of other areas. It is, in effect, asking the ratepayers to pay twice if the Government exempt private water undertakings from the Bill.

This is a sad and lamentable business, and it is not based on any rational appreciation of need but on pure doctrinaire Conservative Party prejudice in favour of the private water companies. It is well known that in the early days it was the first intention of the Government to take all the water undertakings over, both public and privately-owned. We read with great interest of the battles going on in the Cabinet at the time. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who was then Leader of the House, was reported to have said at a Cabinet meeting how horrified he was—"My goodness. This is Socialism. We cannot take over all these water undertakings. "In order to prove that the legislation was not Socialism, the exemption had to be made, but because the national plan for water cannot work except on a Socialist basis, the Government have had to hedge around their exemption of private interests with so many controls and restrictions, retaining so much power to themselves and the regional water authorities, that they are making an nonsense of it.

We wish to see our water resources reorganised; we wish to see forward planning in the provision and transportation of water to eliminate once and for all the periods and areas of scarcity which are quite unnecessary; we wish to assert the proposition that all this can be sensibly achieved only on the basis of common ownership of water resources, with a strong authority exercising a national control. In these circumstances, the Government proposal to exempt the private water companies is absurd.

Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Sutton)

I support the amendment in the sense of the words: … on the basis of public ownership of all water resources. My region has been bedevilled by the problem of water supply. This is particularly so because a national park is a major part of our catchment area for water. I therefore speak more in the context of Amendment No. 1 than of the specific aspects to which my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) addressed himself in relation to the continued existence of some private water suppliers.

I hope the Minister will recognise that many people, irrespective of political belief, believe that water should now be a nationally owned and controlled asset. I believe that the Bill does not give sufficient central power to the Government. I am particularly concerned about aspects of legislation which has been promoted by water authorities. The concept of the regional water authority is one that I strongly support, although I believe that such an authority should have far greater democratic representation from local authorities.

What causes me concern is that proposals currently being undertaken in the South West may be implemented before the Bill becomes an Act. Will the Minister undertake to halt all proposals from existing water authorities until the regional water authorities take up their position and are able to advise him? I am making particular reference to the proposals from the Cornwall River Board for the reservoir at Bickleigh, supplying Plymouth. We have lived with innumerable proposals affecting water supplies. Swincombe, in the middle of a national park, was proposed to this House as a reservoir but rejected.

The problem needs to be faced, There should be public ownership and public responsibility, with Government responsibility for the legislation providing reservoirs in order to avoid in particular, the vagaries of the private and public Bill procedure when legislation for a reservoir involves a national park or an area of outstanding beauty. The Minister should recognise that existing water authorities are inadequate in scope and power for such a task. As I understand the Bill, any necessary legislation for the provision of reservoirs will be the responsibility of the regional water authorities, under the Government.

I support the amendment because the responsibility for providing the water supply must be with the national Government, in that they undertake whatever legislation is put to them by the regional water authority. They should take that on as a Government responsibility, and the Bill should be brought forward as a Government Bill which is not subject to the vagaries of the present system. The rights or wrongs of the Swincombe proposals should be decided on the Floor of the House and should not be the responsibility of the regional water authority.

The West Country is undoubtedly short of water, and we shall either have to flood agricultural land or go into a national park. There are, rightly, considerable objections to going into a national park and there are, equally, great problems in flooding agricultural land. It is lunacy to continue with a reservoir policy based on assessing Cornwall and one small part of Devon when we are to have a water authority embracing the whole of Cornwall and Devon which will be taking decisions in 1974. It is foolhardy to go ahead with piecemeal legislation for reservoirs.

The Minister should undertake not to allow any proposals for water supply to go through now but to wait until the regional water authority is able to take a decision. He should couple with that a pledge that in areas where the regional water authority is proposing legislation which affects national parks the matter should become a national responsibility. Taking the advice of the regional water authority and the National Water Resources Board, the Government should bring forward the necessary legislation to provide water for the regions. I hope that the Minister will not place the burden of legislation on to the regional water authority. There is a strong feeling in the South-West that we cannot again go through a procedure in which a great deal of public money is wasted, as happens when a legislative proposal is rejected by the House. The feeling in the West Country is that the Government have taken a view on the water supply, and in that context public ownership of the water supply is crucial.

The public feel that there is need for a national grid, and that it is better to flood one large area than to have a multiplicity of small reservoirs which cause considerable ill-feeling and burdensome and difficult planning inquiries. When national parks are involved expensive legislation frequently has to be put through the House, and this causes friction and delay. The water authorities never know from where the water will come, and constantly live with a shortage. It is this measure of public and national responsibility that should be injected into the Bill. Legislation is the crucial factor, but there should also be a postponement of decisions by existing water boards until the new regional authority has had a chance to look at the whole complex picture in an area as difficult as Devon and Cornwall.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

I rise to support the amendment, particularly as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) has moved it. I am also glad to have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen). This is a most important amendment which to many of us is central to the Bill.

I cannot understand how the Conservative Party can pretend to be so concerned about the conservation of water resources when the Government propose to leave out of their plans 31 private companies. Already this year great concern has been expressed in the Press and on the radio about water conservation, and the summer has not yet come. That is sufficient evidence that water supply is a national problem. That being so, it should have a national solution which involves taking into public ownership the private water companies.

6.45 p.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Small Health referred to some of the problems of transporting water. How are we supposed to transport water from Wales to Birmingham and from one side of the country to the other when it has to go through private company pipes? I am reminded of the negotiations which some United States railroads have to embark upon when they want to run trains from one side of America to the other. That might be quite jolly for American railways and profitable for the American railroad companies that happen to be along the route. It might be fine for the profits of long-distance hauliers on the United States railways. But that arrangement is hardly the basis on which we should conserve and operate scarce water resources in this country.

What has the Conservative Party got against nationalisation now? The Conservative Party used to have moral qualms about public ownership and nationalisation and used to regard them as dirty words, but the Conservative Government have now nationalised Rolls-Royce. They have surely overcome their qualms of conscience about nationalisation. The Conservative Government set up the Atomic Energy Authority. The Conservative Government took into public ownership a couple of shipping companies to provide a nationalised shipping fleet for British Road Services 15 years ago. The Conservative Government propose to put public money into BSA. They have surely overcome their moral qualms about public ownership. Is it that one or two political contributions are coming into the Tory Party from the water companies? Have one or two hon. Members opposite shares in some of the private water companies? Is that the reason? I cannot think of a reason why the Conservative Government cannot take over the private water companies if the conservation of water is so vital.

Private water companies have had a pretty poor record in new investment. When some of them get into difficulties —as some inevitably will, with the growing water shortage—the poor old ratepayer will have to bail them out. Why should public money coming from working class pockets be used to help to bail out the shareholders of private water companies? If private water companies cannot manage without the paraphernalia of restrictions and the encouragement of public money, they should not be allowed to exist.

The Conservative Government have already admitted that they have to do this propping up of private water companies. I am not content that our water supply should be provided on the basis of private water companies being propped up by the contributions of ratepayers. If the ratepayers or the taxpayers are to prop them up, let the ratepayers and taxpayers take them over and own them. That is a far more logical solution.

This decade is increasingly becoming one of environmental concern. We are told now that we must be careful about conservation and about the use of future oil supplies. We are told that we must be careful about the usage of future water supplies. The shortage of scarce resources, which has been apparent to many of us for a long time, has always been to me one of the most fundamental and one of the best arguments for Socialism.

I am not content to have scarce resources dished out by private competing companies. If we are to have scarce resources used efficiently by all the people who live in Great Britain, and not just the shareholders of private water companies, we must have complete public ownership of the means of distribution and of the means of the production.

I am glad that the amendment has been moved. I am glad to give it my fullest public and private support. I shall be happy to support my hon. Friend in the Division Lobby.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) who proposed the amendment began by describing Joseph Chamberlain as a great municipal Socialist. If that is the kind of Socialism that he espouses, I can only say that the Conservative Party would be happy to claim the Socialism of Joseph Chamberlain at any time and in any place.

Mr. William Wilson (Coventry, South)

Are we to understand that the Conservative Party will now set up municipal banks throughout the country?

Mr. Griffiths

I leave that to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) raised an important point about water resources in the South-West. He will know that I met recently a deputation from that area along with my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers). I was able to say to the deputation that the Cornwall River Authority had consulted the Devon River Authority and that it will be putting forward evidence on the regional implications at the public inquiry which will seek the necessary powers.

The House should also know that I was able to tell that deputation that my right hon Friend intends to call in any planning applications and, of course, in any event the application for a water order would come to my Department. I hope that meets the main point which the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton made.

National ownership has been urged by a number of Opposition hon. Members

Dr. David Owen

The major point which I was making was about legislation and particularly if legislation should involve a national park. Will that be the responsibility of Government or will the Government continue to make that the responsibility of the regional water authority? Will he consider that aspect?

Mr. Griffiths

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to get on with my speech he will get an answer to his question. I was about to answer the main point of the debate, which is the contention that our water resources should effectively be taken into national ownership. May I remind the House of what the Bill does? It starts by saying specifically in Clause 1 It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to promote jointly a national policy for water in England and Wales and so to discharge their respective functions … to secure the effective execution of that policy… Within that policy the regional water authorities are instruments. The responsibility for the national policy rests clearly with my right hon. Friend. There is no division between the two sides of the House that our national water resources need to be managed by a national strategy for which the Secretary of State and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have a joint responsibility.

I now turn to the debate about the position of the statutory water companies. There are at present some 31 companies. They include some of the largest and most efficient water companies in the country. They provide about 22 per cent. of all the public supplies. They do so by means of large sums of private capital that have been put together over the years at no cost either to the national Exchequer—that is the British taxpayer —or to the local authority—namely the ratepayer. The House must decide whether we should get any more water any more efficiently if we were to expropriate all of the assets and property of the private water companies. I am convinced that simply to provide from the Exchequer about £250 million to take over the private companies, which are doing a good job, is a wholly unnecessary use of public funds and would provide no more water.

There is a good reason for placing the water companies under the proper controls of the new regional water authorities. The Bill provides, first, that there will be the arrangements under Clause 11, which will be agreed between the companies and the water authorities or, in the absence of that agreement, the matter will be determined by the Secretary of State. Secondly, certain functions of the Secretary of State under the Water Acts will be transferred to the new water authorities—namely, the power to require those private companies to carry out surveys, to supervise their bulk supplies and to take over all the functions of the private company if it were to be in default of its obligations.

Thirdly, the regional water authority in each case will take over the function which the river authorities at present exercise in relation to the private water companies, including—and this is very important—the licensing of their abstractions of any water. Fourthly, the new regional water authorities are given new power to take over compulsorily any source belonging to a private water company, subject, of course, to something that Opposition hon. Members always leave out when they discuss this matter, namely, the payment of appropriate compensation to the company.

In addition, the Secretary of State will approve the capital investment programmes of the water companies, which should be submitted to him by the regional water authorities in co-operation with their own programmes. With that combination of controls, and the fact that the companies will retain their financial independence, I believe that we shall achieve the retention of useful agencies without costing the taxpayer and the ratepayer wholly unnecessary and large amounts of money.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

The hon. Gentleman has referred to the efficient and the productive record of investment of the private companies. Assuming, as I think we have to assume, that we shall have to have substantial investment in both water conservation and water production and distribution, is the hon. Gentleman confident that the private water companies can provide themselves with all the capital resources necessary for new investment? If they cannot do so themselves, and if the resources for new investment have to come from public money, will it not be yet another case where every time we ask Questions in this House about the way in which a private company is spending money we are told that it is a management matter and that the Minister cannot tell us?

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Griffiths

Private water companies will continue to obtain their funds as they do at present, in the market and will continue to discharge their functions within the legislation. In the event of their being in default of their obligations under the Bill, they may be taken over or may be given directions, but there is no question of their receiving cross subsidies from public funds. On the contrary, there is no reason to suppose that at all.

I wish to deal with one other point, namely the different position of the local authority water undertakings. The difference is that the local authority water undertakings are already in the public sector, and there is no question of large sums of money being required to compensate private share holders for the assets which they possess. It would be quite improper to place democratically elected bodies under the constraints which I have just described.

The central issue between us—and there is no doubt that it divides the two sides of the House—is the fact that the Labour Party proposes simply to nationalise the lot. We see no reason to do so. We believe that it is possible to provide, within the overall control of the regional water authorities, the efficient continuation of these private companies within the constraints which I have described. We see no reason at all why £250 million should be provided to nationalise them. We do not believe that it would provide any more water. We are interested to hear that this is the Opposition's policy, although at no stage have they indicated where they would find the money. Therefore, I must ask the House—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Before my hon. Friend concludes, will he confirm that in the past there has been adequate co-operation between the municipal water authorities and the private companies—companies which came in for totally unjustified criticism from the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield)—and that they have shown more than lip service both in terms of water conservation and environmental matters?

Mr. Griffiths

I agree with my hon. Friend that they have done a good job. The point that separates the two sides is the proposal by the hon. Member for Nuneaton to nationalise the lot. He has not indicated whether he will pay fair compensation, or indeed any compensation. It is our view that it is unnecessary to nationalise them and that there is nothing to be gained by providing £250 million of taxpayers' money for the purpose.

Mr. Denis Howell

If the hon. Gentleman believes that compensation is so important for private companies, why does he propose to take over every local authority water undertaking in the country without paying one penny compensation to the ratepayers?

Mr. Griffiths

The simple answer is that the local authority undertakings are already in the public sector.

Dr. David Owen

The Minister has still not replied to the question about legislation. He implied that he would come on to the matter later in his remarks, but he still has not addressed his mind to the point. Will he say whether he is prepared to take national responsibility for legislation which a regional water authority might wish to bring before the House?

Mr. Griffiths

If the hon. Gentleman will read the Bill, he will see that the responsibility for the comprehensive development of water resources in each of the regional water authority areas rests with those new authorities which will be able to look at the matter over a much wider area. At the end of the day there is a reserve responsibility on the Secretary of State.

Question put, That the Amendment be be made:—

The House divided: Ayes, 145, Noes 174.

Division No. 112.) AYES 17.04 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hamling, William Ogden, Eric
Ashton, Joe Kannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Orbach, Maurice
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Hardy, Peter Oswald, Thomas
Barnett Joel (Heywood and Roylon) Harper, Joseph Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Baxter William Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bidwell, Sydney Hooson, Emlyn Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Bishop, E S. Howell, Denia (Small Heath) Prentice, Bt. Hn. Reg.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Huckfield, Leslie Prescott, John
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, William (Rugby)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hughes, Mark (Durham) Probert, Giles
Broughton, Sir Alfred Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Radice, Giles
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Butter, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Roderick Caerwyn E. (Brc n&R' dnor)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James John, Brynmor Roper, John
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Rose, John
Carmichael, Neil Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Rose, Paul B.
Clark, David (Coine Valley) Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham, S.) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Coleman, Donald Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rowlands, Ted
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Concannon, J. D. Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda. W.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Crawshaw, Richard Kaufman, Gerald
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Kerr, Russell Sillars, James
Dalyell, Tam Lamborn, Harry Silverman, Julius
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lamond, James Spearing Nigel
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Leonard, Dick Stallard, A. W.
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lestor, Miss Joan Steel, David
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stewart Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lomas, Kenneth Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Doig, Peter Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Dormand, J. D. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Strang, Gavin
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) McBride, Neil Summer skill,Hn.Dr. Shirley
Dunnett, Jack McGuire, Michael Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Ellis, Tom Mackenzie, Gregor Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ewing, Harry Mackie, John Tinn, James
Faulds, Andrew McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fisher, Mrs.Doris(B'ham,Ladywood) Marks, Kenneth Watkins, David
Fitch Alan(Wigan) Marquand, David Weitzman, David
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marsden, F. Wellbeloved, James
Ford, Ben Marshall, Dr. Edmund White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Galpern, Sir Myer Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Whitlock, william
Garrett, W. E. Mikardo Ian Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Gilbert, Dr. John Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, lichen) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Molloy, William Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Gourlay, Harry Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Woof, Robert
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Moyle, Roland Mr. Ernest G. Perry and
Hamilton William (Fife, W.) Oakes, Gordon Mr. Miehacl Cox.
Adley, Robert Critchley, Julian Grieve, Percy
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Crouch, David Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Atkins, Humphrey d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen.Jack Grylls, Michael
Awdry, Daniel Dean, Paul Gummer, J. Selwyn
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Gurden, Harold
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Hall, John (Wycombe)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Drayson, G. B. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Benyon, W. du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hannam, John (Exeter)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Dykes, Hugh Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Biffen, John Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Haselhurst, Alan
Biggs-Davison, John Emery, Peter Havers, Sir Michael
Body, Richard Farr, John Hicks, Robert
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hiley, Joseph
Bray, Ronald Fidler, Michael Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Brewls, John Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Holt, Miss Mary
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hordern, Peter
Burden, F. A. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hornby, Richard
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fookes, Miss Janet Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Carlisle, Mark Fortescue, Tim Hunt, John
Chapman, Sydney Fowler, Norman Hutchison, Michael Clark
Churchill, W. S. Fox, Marcus Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Clegg, Walter Gardner, Edward Kimball, Marcus
Cooke, Robert Gibson-Watt, David King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Cooper, A. E. Gower, Raymond King, Tom (Bridgwaier)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Kinsey, J. R.
Cormack, Patrick Gray, Hamish Kirk, Peter
Costain, A. P. Green, Alan Kitson, Timothy
Knox, David Page. Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Stoddart-Scolt, Col. Sir M.
Lamont, Norman Page, John (Harrow, W.) Stuttalord, Dr. Tom
Lane, David Parkinson, Cecil Sutcliffe, John
Le Marchant, Spencer Pounder, Rafton Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Tebbit, Norman
Longden, Sir Gilbert Price, David (Eastleigh) Temple, John M.
Loveridge, John Proudfoot, Wilfred Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Luce, R. N. Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
MacArthur, Ian Ralson, Timothy Trafford, Dr. Anthony
McCrindle, R A. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
McLaren, Martin Redmond, Robert Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Waddington, David
Madel, David Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Marten, Neil Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Mather, Carol Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Ward, Dame Irene
Mawby, Ray Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Warren, Kenneth
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Weatherill, Bernard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Roberts Wyn (Conway) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Rost, Peter White, Roger (Gravesend)
Miscampbell, Norman Scott-Hopkins James Wiggin, Jerry
Mitchell David (Basingstoke) Shaw, Michael (Se' b' gh&Whitby) Wilkinson, John
Moate, Roger Shersby Michael Winterton, Nicholas
Monks, Mrs Connie Simeons, Charles Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Monro, Hector Sinclair, Sir George Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Montgomery, Fergus Sorel Harold Woodnutt, Mark
Morrison, Charles
Mudd, David Speed, keith Worsely, Marcus
Murton, Oscar Spence, John Younger, Hn. George
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Sproat, Iain
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Stanbrook, Ivor TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Normanton, Tom Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Mr. Paul Hawkins and
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N,) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Mr. Micheal Jopling.

Question accordingly negative.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 13, leave out from second 'the' to end of line 14 and insert: bodies responsible for the matters mentioned in those subsections'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

With this amendment it will be convenient to take Amendments Nos. 3 and 4.

Mr. Page

In Committee, as a result of constructive speeches from both the Opposition and the Government sides, I said that I should like to re-examine Clause 1(2). This amendment to subsection (1) deals with a point that came up in the course of that re-examination. It makes clearer the exact responsibilities of the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. They have a duty to secure the effective execution of the various elements of a national policy assigned to them in subsections (2) and (3). The amendment aims to identify the position of the executive authorities in this chain of responsibility. Although only a drafting amendment, it is of importance in producing a reasonable understanding of the purpose of Clause 1.

Amendment No. 3 deals with the words "coastal waters". The use of that term in subsection (2)(c) was a little confusing.

We do not need it there. "Inland waters" covers what is necessary by, as it were, transferring a definition from the Water Resources Act 1963. As defined there, "inland waters" include everything which comes within the river authority areas. That is then translated by the Bill into everything which comes within the regional water authority areas, and that is described in Schedule 2.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)

I recall that the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Standing Committee on the Water Resources Bill when there was discussion about estuarial waters. May I ask whether this definition covers estuarial waters and up to what point?

Mr. Page

Yes, it covers estuarial waters within the river authority areas. The river authority areas were defined by schedules and plans to the 1963 Act. The definition includes estuarial waters within the regional water authority areas.

The jurisdiction of the water authorities, particularly regarding water pollution and its control, could be extended by the proposed Environmental Protection Bill. We are leaving the definition of "inland and coastal waters" so far as it refers to fisheries within the Bill. That extends six miles out from the coast. If we introduce something of that kind in the Environmental Protection Bill, which I hope will be before the House early next session, we may have to amend this legislation in the course of that Bill. I give that warning. I do not think that we should do it in this Bill. I suggest that we stick to the definition of "inland waters" here and see how it works out in the Environmental Protection Bill.

I turn to Amendment No. 4. In Committee the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) pressed for "amenity" and the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing), with great diligence throughout the whole of the Committee proceedings, pressed for "navigation" to be added to the list of matters in the paragraphs of subsection (2).

I quibbled over the expression, use of inland water for amenity", in the same sense that one uses it for recreation, but I agreed that "amenity" should be referred to at this point in the Bill. I hope that the way with which it has now been dealt, the enhancement and preservation of amenity in connection with inland water", is the right way to use that phrase. The use of the word "navigation" is now justified in the way in which it is introduced in the new paragraph (f), referring to the use of inland water for navigation". I do not believe that any difficulties will be created elsewhere in the Bill by general terms like that. Amendment No. 59 is an amendment to Clause 21, which will now contain words similar to those in Amendment No. 4— in the enhancement and preservation of the amenities.

These are drafting amendments, but they concern matters that gave us some trouble in Committee. I hope that I have been able to dispel the difficulties that hon. Members on both sides found then.

Mr. Denis Howell

I thank the Minister for his consideration of the matter.

We were confronted time and again with the fact that it was right that the waterways should be used for recreational and navigational purposes. I am glad that the Minister has met the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) on that. In particular, we wanted to distinguish between recreational use and amenity. It must be right for people to have water just to look at, to sit and observe the passing scene, as distinct from using it for purely recreational purposes. I am glad that the Minister has written that into the Bill, and I thank him on behalf of the Opposition.

Mr. Spearing

I add my thanks to the Minister for adding the excellent new subsection 4(f), which covers the points on which I had to spend some time. I thank him for a handsome and full recognition of the point.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 3, in page 2, line 2, leave out ' and coastal waters' and insert ' water '.

No. 4, in line 3 at end insert— '(e) the enhancement and preservation of amenity in connection with inland water; and (f) the use of inland water for navigation'.— [Mr. Graham Page.]

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