HC Deb 02 May 1973 vol 855 cc1316-37

Amendments made: No. 144, in page 87, line 33, column 3, leave out 'second' and insert 'first'.

No. 145, in page 87, leave out line 35.

No. 146, in page 87, leave out line 37. —[Mr. Gibson-Watt.]

No. 147, in page 88, line 18, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 90(1) the definition of sewerage authority'.— [Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 150, in page 89, column 3, leave out line 4, and insert:

'In section 38, in subsection (1) the words from "whether" to "enactment" and subsections (6) and (7)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It will be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 149.

Mr. Page

I have many times told the story about the town clerk who, in a Private Bill before the House, introduced in paragraph (viii) of subsection (10) of Clause 333, a provision that the town clerk's marriage should be dissolved. These amendments are a similar case.

The amendments correct an error in the final stages of the Committee debates, when, because of a misprint on the Order Paper, an amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) to repeal the whole of Section 38 of the Water Act 1945, and almost to destroy the whole structure of water organisation, was passed under the mistaken impression that it was a Government amendment. Had the amendment been correctly ascribed, it would not have been moved, but it got into the statute, and we have to put the matter right.

So I move "That the town clerk's marriage be not annulled", and hope that the House will accept this correction.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 149, in page 89, leave out line 5.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 152, in page 90, line 36, column 3, at end insert:

'Section 19(2).
In section 25, subsection (4) and in paragraph (a) of subsection (7), the words "and the Water Resources Board".
In section 32(5) the words from "or is" to "1936", the words "sold or leased" and the words "and in the case of a lease, for the period of the lease".
Section 33(3).
In section 48(1) the words "and of section 103 thereof".'

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understand that this amendment is to be taken together with Amendments Nos. 153–160.

Mr. Page

This large number of amendments arises consequentially on the abolition of the Water Resources Board, the repeal of the Public Health Act Code for water supply, the change of duties of the statutory water undertakers, the repeal of charging, abolition of joint sewerage boards and other consequential matters.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 153, in page 90, line 38, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 63(1) the words from "either" to "authority", in the first place where that word occurs'.

No. 154, in page 90 column 3, leave out line 39 and insert:

'In section 64, subsection (1) and in subsection (2) the words from the beginning to "subsection".'

No. 155, in page 90, line 41, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 81(2), the words "and after prior consultation with the Water Resources Board".'

No. 156, in page 90, line 56, column 3, leave out '(1)' and insert ', in subsection (1)'.

No. 157, in page 90, line 58, column 3, at end insert:

'and in subsection (4) the words" to the Water Resources Board or".'

No. 158, in page 91, line 11, column 3, at end insert:

'Section 129'.

No. 159, in page 91, line 18, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 135, in subsection (1) the definitions of additional members, charging scheme, constituent council, first appointed day, functions, second appointed day and stautory water undertakers, and subsection (3)(b)'.

No. 160, in page 91, line 19, column 3, at end insert:

'In Schedule 7, paragraph 14'. —[Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 161, in page 91, line 23, at end insert:

' 1965 c. 4.
The Science and Technology Act 1965.
In Schedule 2, the entry relating to the Water Resources Act 1963'.
This amendment repeals the provision in the Science and Technology Act 1965 which substituted references to the Natural Environment Research Council for the references in Section 102 of the Water Resources Act 1963 to the Nature Conservancy. When the current Nature Conservancy Council Bill is enacted, there will have to be a further substitution in Clause 23, with the references to the Natural Environment Research Council becoming references to the Nature Conservancy Council. This substitution will be done later, either in the Nature Conservancy Council Bill or, if there is time, in a later stage of this Bill. But this amendment is correct now.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 162, in page 91, line 23, at end insert:

'1967 c. 78.
The Water (Scotland) Act 1967.
In section 36(2) the words "(except paragraph 16 of Schedule 2)".
In Schedule 2, paragraph 16'. —[Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 163, in page 91. line 28, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 49(2), the definitions of river authority and stautory undertakers'.
Perhaps it would be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 165.

These are amendments to definitions which arise out of previous provisions in the Bill and put right certain matters which needed correction.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 164, in page 91, line 42, at end insert:

'1972 c. 37. The Salmonand Freshwater Fisheries Act 1972. Section 11(3). In section 15(3), the words from "and", in the second place where it occurs, to the end.'
—[Mr. Gibson-Watt.]

No. 165, in page 91. line 42, column 3, at end insert:

'1972 c. 21.
The Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972.
In section 7 the words from "and any" to the end of the section'.

No. 166, in page 91, line 45, column 3, at end insert:

'In section 262(13), the word 'water'.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Denis Howell

In moving this Third Reading—[Laughter.]

6.29 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page

If the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) desires to move the Third Reading, he is welcome to do so.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Before saying anything about the merits of the Bill, I should like to thank the hon. Member for Small Heath and his colleagues for the way in which they have constructively dealt with it throughout. I thank them and my hon. Friends for their co-operation on Report and in Committee. I appreciate the Opposition's dislike of many parts of the Bill. That has been made clear in our debates. I appreciate, too, that some of my hon. Friends are not enamoured of some provisions, or would like it to go further or less far, as the case may be. That makes me appreciate all the more the constructive criticism we have had throughout of the terms of the Bill. I hope that eventually, when it receives its Third Reading in this House and goes through another place, it will receive the same sort of co-operation from those who have to deal with it in the country, even those who perhaps feel that they would have liked a very different form of legislation.

In terms of water services reorganisation the Bill is merely the tip of the iceberg. Once it is on the statute book a great deal of work will have to be done in setting up the regional water authorities and all that goes with them. What we have tried to do in the Bill is to produce strong regional water authorities covering large areas, commanding great resources and in constitution a partner-sihp between democratic representatives and business expertise. As I have said previously in debates, it does not go as far as nationalising water services and sewerage and sewage disposal, and there is no intention of building a structure of a central authority and regional authorities under that central authority. The relationship will be direct between the Secretary of State and the regional water authorities, but the Secretary of State will act upon the advice of the National Water Council.

If one reads the Bill and the schedules carefully one will see that the National Water Council will have considerable powers, but not powers of command, over the regional water authorities. Some hon. and right hon. Members will remember that during the passage of the Local Government Bill—now the Local Government Act 1972—through this House I frequently referred to the functions of the different authorities as spheres of authority—functions in different spheres rather than different tiers. The same applies to the structure which we have set up in this Bill, of the strong regional water authorities having, as it were, complete government within their own spheres, a National Water Council, again with its own sphere of functioning, and to back it up the three units for advice in planning, research and data collection.

When we read the prophecies of gloom about the dry winter and the difficulties we are going to have over the next few months in terms of water supply and conservation, it may be thought that we shall get the Bill on the statute book only just in time. I believe that in the past—I am sure this is recognised by everybody who has debated this subject —we have not managed our water resources to the best advantage. If we set up a structure which can manage those resources so that there is a proper conservation and a proper supply of water we may be able to minimise the sort of difficulties which we see ahead, in terms of the shortage of water in the next few months, which will arise unless we have a very wet summer.

I do not know what to wish. As responsible, indirectly perhaps, for the water conservation and supply of this country, I would wish for a very wet summer, but as an ordinary individual that is the last thing I would wish. That is the sort of dilemma in which we are put through not having managed our water resources to the best advantage in the past. I hope we can do so in the future. Of course, it has been impossible to separate sewerage and sewage disposal from water services, because in this country sewage is 99.9 per cent. water-borne. So in the Bill we have endeavoured to set up that structure.

There are two particular points which I want to mention. The first is the ques- tion of staff. To those who are concerned in this matter we have set the tremendous task of eventually getting the authorities operative. The people who will have the most severe job are those who are employed in this kind of service at the moment—water services and sewerage—and who will have to decide what is best for their future career in terms of where to work and if they choose to go into the regional water authorities, will have the task of setting up these authorities. I hope we have made adequate provision in the Bill to deal fairly with all staff, whether they wish to transfer or to take advantage of the opportunity of resigning from their jobs, depending on their age, and so on. Certainly we wish to avoid all hardship in a changeover of organisation in this way.

The second point is one which I know was troubling Opposition Members as much as it was hon. Members on this side, particularly myself. It was whether by setting up these regional water authorities we would be depriving many people of the ability to offer service in local government. I am not dealing with something which is outside a Bill of this kind, although there was a new clause which was not called. However, in fact it was not necessary because I have now been advised—and I am delighted to advise the House—that the relevant provision of the Local Government Act 1972 —Section 80—provides, broadly speaking, that a person is disqualified from being elected or being a member of a local authority if he holds any paid office or employment, and appointment to that office or employment is dependent upon the decision of that local authority or the decision of a joint board or joint committee on which the authority is represented.

The fear of hon. Gentlemen opposite —and, indeed, my own fear—was that the regional water authorities were joint boards. I am now advised that this is not so, and that they do not count as joint boards or joint committees. So the effect of the Bill will be just the opposite of what we feared. It will be to make eligible for membership of local authorities a large number of existing employees of local authorities or joint boards who, by virtue of the Bill, will be transferred to regional water authorities. So in fact we are releasing many more people to serve on local authorities than could serve previously. I hope that 90 per cent. of those at present employed in these services within local authorities will be transferring to regional water authorities. By doing that they will become able to stand for local authority membership. I am delighted to be able to report that. I had a great fear that we were reducing the number of people who could so stand, but in fact the Bill will do just the opposite.

I will not detain the House any longer. I thank again all those who have been concerned in the progress of the Bill for the constructive way in which they have dealt with it.

6.40 p.m.

Mr. Denis Howell

I first express appreciation to the Minister for his kind remarks about the constructive approach of the Opposition and Members on his own side in Committee and at other stages. On their behalf, and I am sure on behalf of everyone present, I should like to reciprocate with similar kind remarks to the right hon. Gentleman and his whole ministerial team. They have treated us with great courtesy, even when we have been irate with each other about heads of agreement, missing documents and so on, which we have sorted out satisfactorily in the end.

The Minister and his colleagues gave us great help in Committee on a most difficult matter by supplying all the documents and maps we needed to understand fully what we were acceding to. I thank the Minister. It is typical of his helpful attitude—which we all expect of him, having known him for many years in the House—that at the very last he has still been extremely helpful on one of the points that we consider to be very important, the eligibility of people within the water industry to serve on local authorities. The matter has exercised us not only in connection with water but with many other industries. Far too many people have been disqualified from giving public service, and our public service cannot afford to disqualify able men and women.

We had tabled a specific amendment on the point, but were unable to discuss it because of the shortage of time. We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for clearing up the matter. It is not the least of the things for which we want to express our appreciation to him.

Notwithstanding the Minister's cooperation, I must say at the end, as I did at the beginning of the Bill's saga, that the Opposition find the Bill wholly unsatisfactory and unacceptable. As far as I can discover, it does not have a friend in the whole of elected local government. I meet many councillors of all political persuasions and none, and nobody I have met in the whole of democratically elected government believes that it is right to take local government water resources away from local government and reorganise them in the way that the Government propose.

It is an extremely sad business, but it is absolutely in line with the Government's developing philosophy for all their governmental reform. The reorganisation of water cannot be taken in isolation from last year's massive local government reform and the proposals still before the House for the reorganisation of the health services. All the time the Government seem to go for larger units for managerial efficiency, and all the time what is sacrificed is the accountability of the service to the public and the relationship, which should be close and intimate in all those public services, between the operation of the service and the people running it.

Under the present Government, Whitehall Man reigns supreme. He knows what is best for the rest of us, what is best for the country, what is best for local government.

I am tempted, but the hour is late, to quote against these developments in local government, water, the health service and so on everything that the Conservatives said in their election manifesto in 1970, when they were going to give more power to local authorities, to help local authorities to take their own decisions and be masters in their own house, and to get off the backs of local government. We were told that Whitehall would be out of the way. When we examine that philosophy in the light of the measures I have mentioned, and especially the present Bill, we see what nonsense it is.

The Bill not only almost totally removes the direct accountability of the water industry and those who control it to the public but undermines our democratic processes. No elected representatives will now appear on any of the regional water authorities or the National Water Council. The Under-Secretary of State and others from time to time have told us that there will be a majority of elected councillors. There will not. There will be a majority of elected councillors selected and appointed by Ministers and answerable to Ministers. That is totally different from local authorities electing their own representatives, responsible direct to the local authority and the constituencies they represent. It is a fundamental departure from our concept of local government.

Mr. Arthur Jones

I heard the hon. Gentleman talk in those terms yesterday. Is not it true that the representatives on the regional water authority from the counties are nomineees of the county authorities, so that they are not appointed by the Minister?

Mr. Howell

That is absolutely true. If I did not get it quite right in the mind of the House I am anxious to get it right now. But the fact is that the power will lie with the nominees and appointees of the Minister, particularly the chairmen of the authorities. The essence of the matter is that time and again under the Bill the local authority representatives have a majority of one, which is totally inadequate if water is to be regarded as a local government service.

When the Minister sees the chairman as a manager, it is a matter of the gravest concern to us all. The managerial concept of the members of the authority is something that most of us on both sides found objectionable. When we discussed the matter at a late hour last night, very few hon. Members believed it right that the members and the chairman, the policy makers, should be regarded as managers. That has never been the concept of local government in this country, and it should not be now. Indeed, it should not be the case too often in industry either.

A board of directors in industry or an authority dealing with water policy should be removed and divorced from the immediate day-to-day responsibility for management. It should be a body representing the public interest. That is one of the reasons why, though we support the Government's attempt to achieve greater efficiency within the water industry and to tie it in with the hydrological cycle, we have the greatest difficulties.

The very size of the organisations that we are setting up causes us the greatest heart-searching. A glance at Schedule 1 shows us the size of the authorities. In Anglia one authority with 20 people on it has to represent East Suffolk and Norfolk, Essex, Great Ouse, Lincolnshire and Welland and Nene … except the part of the area of the Essex River Authority which is included in the area of the Thames Water Authority. It is a monumental task for any body democratically to represent the public in an organisation of that sort. How on earth will the public have any relationship with the 20 people, not all of whom are local authority people, who represent them on that body? It will be impossible.

So it is with the Southern Water authority, the Wessex Water Authority, the South West Water Authority and the Severn-Trent Water Authority, which I know. The Severn-Trent authority area will start in Wales and spread right across the Midlands into Lincolnshire. It will go from Lincoln in the north to Gloucester in the south. It is an abortion of an authority. Nobody can say that it is a local government authority.

The hydrological cycle, for all its value, was here before man. The rivers were flowing before man was on this planet. Although we should take account of the hydrological cycle, should we not also so order our domestic arrangements that they are sensible and meaningful in terms of local government and population considerations.

I am glad that the Minister has made it possible for people in the industry to serve on local authorities, but I return to the point I made last night, that some of those serving on the water authorities will need to take two days off work, for example, to attend a sub-committee meeting, to travel from mid-Wales to Birmingham or Nottingham. The man from Mid-Wales or the border counties cannot abdicate his responsibility for what his authority is doing in Lincolnshire. In law all the members of the authority have a total responsibility for every part of the area. A member cannot say '"I will interest myself only in the area in which I live." A county council will appoint someone to the authority, but that person will not be there specifically to deal with the affairs of the county council which has appointed him.

We on this side contend that water should be a publicly-owned service. We find it objectionable in principle that the private companies are left out of the Bill. Whatever future arrangements are needed, there is adequate water. The whole problem is collecting it, transporting it, and disposing of it thereafter. That problem can be best dealt with by a national plan, which can be based only on national ownership. We therefore want a strong national organisation—which the Bill does not provide—with responsibility for research, planning, and transportation of water and for its disposal up to levels of purification which the national authority finds acceptable.

There must be some degree of regionalism, if only because of the river authority system and responsibility for rivers. On the whole, we see the regional authority acting as a wholesaler—getting water from the national organisation and selling it to the local authority.

We would give local authorities a much more important place in the water industry than the Government are doing. The Government are depriving local authorities of responsibility for water. There is no reason why local authorities should not retain responsibility for water and be responsible to public pressure. The proper place for people to express their concern about charging is through elected local authority representatives. Let us have proper argument on a local authority basis as to the best way of charging for water.

For all these reasons, although we agree with the Government so far that we need more water, that it must be made more readily available, and that it is in the national interests to do that efficiently and economically, we cannot agree that the Bill provides a means by which to do so. The new Labour Government must take steps to amend the Bill. For the time being I recommend the House to divide against Third Reading.

6.53 p.m.

Mr. Simeons

I welcome the Bill basically because of the large regional water authorities which it will establish and which have been hailed by many onlookers outside. Because of this, it has nothing to do with local government. The fact that there has been an attempt by Opposition Members to introduce that question has created problems.

In view of the benefits which will accrue under the Bill, the areas will have the resources to determine and to anticipate what is going on in the cycle. The one sphere which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) missed, but which I believe to be the great key to the Bill, is the purification of water.

By itself this can be only an administrative measure. It must be taken with the comprehensive Bill which will deal with means of pollution control and also disposal by incineration.

Another basic and excellent feature about the Bill is that it will provide a career structure in water management, bringing together technical expertise which has not been possible hitherto.

6.54 p.m.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

There are a number of points on which I oppose the Third Reading of the Bill, but I shall concentrate on one which amounts to a fundamental error in and which greatly affects the Principality. This matter has already been referred to, though not in express terms, by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell).

The Government show particular political insensitivity in including the final control and management of the Upper Severn Basin in the Severn-Trent Water Authority. That authority will cover a large land mass and will control sewage disposal, water resources and amenities in the Mid-Wales area and the Upper Severn, which is almost entirely in my constituency. When one imagines a journey from Montgomeryshire to wherever the headquarters of the authority will be one can appreciate the tremendous remoteness involved.

The Severn is a particularly difficult river, in one sense. It rises in Wales, and flows out to the sea in Wales, but for much of its course it flows in England. It is therefore accepted that there must be a degree of compromise in the control of the Upper Severn.

The Government have made a great and fundamental error in putting that control in the hands of the Severn-Trent Water Authority. The safeguards outlined by the Minister of State yesterday are not sufficient. The Government will pay dearly for this unnecessary mistake, I say "unnecessary" because it is accepted by all reasonable people that there had to be a degree of compromise in control, but it should have been clearly spelled out in the Bill that the final control is in the hands of the Welsh National Water Development Authority, because if it is not it is completely unacceptable.

Over the last 10 years Wales has had more political trouble over water than over any other subject. Yet, after all their experience in this matter, the Government are sufficiently stupid to make this fundamental error. The Secretary of State for Wales has done some very good things with regard to water, particularly the acceptance of his inspector's report on the Dulas Valley inquiry. But by putting his name to the Bill today he is sacrificing the good will that he won in that matter.

It can be argued on common sense, dispassionate grounds, that it will be easy to have consultation and that nothing will be done to upset the Welsh. But ordinary life and political life are not like that. This action will be seen in many quarters in Wales as the Government's deliberately taking out a section of Mid-Wales and putting it under the control of the Severn-Trent Water Authority.

Mid-Wales depends for much of its developing livelihood and prosperity on tourism. The Welsh Tourist Board and the Mid-Wales New Town Development Corporation are anxious to encourage tourism in the area. The greatest source of water in the whole of Wales is in the Upper Severn area, which will be controlled from outside.

Though the compromise spelled out in the Bill goes a little way towards meeting the objections, it by no means satisfies the Welsh people. It is unnecessary. All that the Government needed to do was to show a greater degree of political sensitivity and appreciate the psychological aspects of the matter.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. David Gibson-Watt)

I want to put the hon. and learned Gentleman right on one point. This was made very clear in Committee. The recreational plan for Wales will be made by the Welsh National Water Development Authority, in consultation with the Severn-Trent Water Authority. It must have the final approval of the Welsh National Water Development Authority and the Secretary of State for Wales.

Mr. Hooson

The execution is entirely in the hands of the Severn-Trent Water Authority. It should be the other way round. The Welsh National Water Development Authority should have the final say in planning and controlling its execution.

The Government clearly will not give way, but they will pay dearly for this unnecessary error. In the atmosphere of the House it is difficult to appreciate the repercussions that this will have in Wales For me, that is a sufficient reason in itself for voting against Third Reading.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

It may seem strange that some of us who were active during what was a long and interesting Committee stage should have been relatively silent on Report. I maintain that the reason for this is primarily that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have been very forthcoming in meeting the points that were raised in Committee. Many of the amendments that we debated were accepted in good faith, and for that reason many of us have found relatively little to say in the past two days.

I want to place on record my appreciation of the consideration which my hon. and right hon. Friends have given to those who have tried to contribute constructively to the proceedings on the Bill in Committee and the pleasant manner in which they dealt with amendments. I am particularly grateful for the amount of work in depth which was undertaken in investigating the various points raised. Although some things in the Bill leave me a little unhappy, such as public accountability in Parliament, the large area of the Severn-Trent Authority, and the question of democracy as opposed to patronage, these matters have been adequately debated. However, I still feel a little apprehensive about them.

The main advantage of the Bill is that it will result in improved facilities for environmental control, conservation, leisure and recreation. Our water resources will now be organised on a larger and more efficient scale. That should make it possible to prevent the sort of environmental pollution that areas such as Derbyshire have had to put up with for far too long. Beautiful areas of country have been flooded. If the conservation and provision of water resources can be organised on this larger scale we should be able to find more sensible and practical solutions to our problems. The Government have been courageous and forward-looking in pressing ahead with this important legislation.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Rowlands

This Bill shares the same administrative philosophy, and will produce the same monolithic empires, as is evident in the Government's legislation dealing with local government and health. More power will be taken away from local people. Because we fought this philosophy so violently, because we feel that public services should be local and that there should be an identity of local interest, we oppose this Bill as we have opposed the others.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. W. E. Garrett (Wallsend)

I know that some hon. Members are getting restless and want to move on to other business. I know that others are getting restless for their dinners, or want to participate in other activities. This Bill has highlighted one of the main necessities of life. At the moment, people are dying in India because of a lack of water. The number of people who have died probably equals the number of casualties suffered in the Bangladesh fighting.

We started this Bill in January. People did not take much notice of it on Second Reading. As it progressed in Committee, because of the controversies it raised it became evident that here was an important public issue. Never before have I been inundated with so much material, from all sorts of organisations, when serving on a Committee. What have we done through this Bill? We have shown that water is no longer a cheap commodity, which can be wasted. It is not a luxury. It is no longer something that industry can take for granted.

The Bill seeks to ensure that we use water correctly. It does not go as far as I would like but it is the best we can get in the circumstances. I will vote against it for a variety of reasons, but I want to add my word in praise of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues for the humane way in which they have tried to meet all the points that were raised. I say to my colleagues that they have done a damned good job in highlighting important issues.

7.6 p.m.

Mr. John E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)

I have taken no part in these proceedings since speaking on Second Reading. I acknowledge the helpful attitude of the Minister in Committee in dealing with many of the points that I mentioned, particularly with regard to land drainage. If I still remain rather dubious about the sheer size of the Anglian Water Authority I can say that the Bill will be more acceptable to Norfolk Members if during the remaining stages an effective means of local control can be found for the Norfolk Broads.

I know that this has been difficult. The consortium has been in disagreement because there are competing and conflicting interests. I am happy to say that at a meeting yesterday it agreed in principle upon a type of structure that almost comes within the exact limits set out in the Bill. With some modification it should solve the problem. I know that the Under-Secretary is going to Norwich to meet these authorities on Monday. I hope he will consider the proposals put forward and, if possible, bring them within the scope of the Bill in another place. I wish him well.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I hope that the House will acquit me of any discourtesy if I bring our proceedings to a close in about two minutes. This Bill is the product of a great deal of consultation. It was carefully prepared, and thoroughly discussed in Committee. It has been improved in Committee with the help of Opposition Members and my hon. Friends.

I summarise its advantages. It brings the water, sewerage and river management functions together, and in so doing helps safeguard our future supplies. It creates strong new regional authorities, able to handle large schemes for the transfer of water and the development of new resources. It introduces stronger management. At the same time, it seeks to balance the compelling needs of technology and management with those of the locally elected members. It provides better arrangements for research and planning. It supplies a stronger base for finance, and for the first time it will require that all of our water space shall —not "may "—be developed for recreation and amenity.

I believe that the Bill is the envy of many European nations. The Belgian Minister of the Environment told me the other day that Belgium is creating three regional water authorities patterned on the Bill. When implemented, this legislation

may well produce the best-managed water system in the world, and it is very much to the credit of my right hon. Friend that having put through local government reorganisation he has now brought through the House a comprehensive and necessary reorganisation of our water services.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time: —

The House divided: Ayes 224, Noes 209.

Division No. 117.] AYES [7.10 p.m.
Adley, Robert Fookes, Miss Janet McAdden, Sir Stephen
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fortescue, Tim MacArthur, Ian
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fowler, Norman McCrindle, R. A.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Fox, Marcus McLaren, Martin
Atkins, Humphrey Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) McNair-Wilson, Michael
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fry, Peter Maddan, Martin
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)] Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Madel, David
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Gardner, Edward Maginnis, John E.
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gibson-Watt, David Marten, Nell
Batsford, Brian Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mather, Carol
Maude, Angus
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Mawby, Ray
Bell, Ronald Glyn, Dr. Alan Maxell Hyslop, R. J.
Benyon, W. Goodhart, Philip Meyer sir Anthony
Berry, Hn. Anthony Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Biffen, John Gower, Raymond Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Biggs-Davison, John Gray, Hamish Miscampbell, Norman
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Green, Alan Mitchell, David (Basinastoke)
Bossom, Sir Clive Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Money, Ernie
Bowden Andrew Grylls, Micheal Monks, Mrs. Connie
Bray, Ronald Gummer, J. Selwyn Monro, Hector
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gurden, Harold Montgomery, Fergus
Hall, Miss Joan (keighley) More, Jasper
Brown sir Edward (Bath) Hall, John (Wycombe) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mudd, David
Buck, Antony Hannam, John (Exeter) Murton, Oscar
Burden, F.A. Harrison, Col-sir Harwood (Eye) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Butter, Adam (Bosworth) Haselhurst, Alan Noble, Rt. Hn. Micheal
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray&Nairn
Chapman, Sydney Havers, Micheal Nott, John
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hayhoe, Barney Onslow, Cranley
Churchill, W.S. Hicks, Robert Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Clerk, William (Surrey, E.) Higgins, Terence L. Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Clegg, Walter Hiley, Joseph Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Cockeram, Eric Hill, John E. B. (Norford, S.) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Parkinson, Cecll
Cooke, Robert Holland, Phillip Percival, Ian
Coombs, Derek Holt, Miss Mary Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Cooper, A. E. Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia pink, R. Bonner
Cordle, John Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) powell Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Hunt, John Price, David (Eastleigh)
Costain, A. P. Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Crouch, David Iremonger, T. L. Proudfoot Wilfred
Crowder, F. P. James, David Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Quennell, Miss J. M.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jessel, Toby Ralson, Timothy
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen.Jack Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Jopling, Michael Redmond, Robert
Dixon, Piers Kaberry, Sir Donald Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Drayson, G. B. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rees, Peter (Dover)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Dykes, Hugh King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Elliot, Capt, Walter (Carshalton) Kinsey, J. R. Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.) Kitson, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Emery, Peter Knox, David Rost, Peter
Eyre, Reginald Lamont, Norman Russell, Sir Ronald
Farr, John Lane, David St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fell, Anthony Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shelton, William (Clapham)
Fidler, Michael Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Shersby, Michael
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Loveridge, John Simeons, Charles
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Luce, R. N. Sinclair, Sir George
Skeet, T. H. H. Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Weatherlll, Bernard
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Tebbit, Norman Wiggin, Jerry
Soref, Harold Temple, John M. Wilkinson, John
Speed, Keith Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) Winterton, Nicholas
Spence, John Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Sproat, lain Tilney, John Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Stanbrook, Ivor Trafford, Dr. Anthony Woodnutt, Mark
Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Trew, Peter Worsley, Marcus
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Tugendhat, Christopher Wylle, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Stokes, John Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Younger, Hn. George
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Vickers, Dame Joan
Sutcliffe, John Waddington, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Tapsell, Peter Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) Mr. Paul Hawkins and
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Walters, Dennis Mr. Kenneth Clarke.
Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Ward, Dame Irene
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Warren, Kenneth
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Forrester, John Mallalleu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Freeson, Reginald Marks, Kenneth
Armstrong, Ernest Galpern, Sir Myer Marsden, F.
Ashton, Joe Garrett, W. E. Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Atkinson, Norman Gilbert, Dr. John Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Barnes, Michael Golding, John Mayhew, Christopher
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Gourlay, Harry Meacher, Michael
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Grant, George (Morpeth) Mendelson, John
Baxter, William Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mikardo, Ian
Beaney, Alan Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Miller, Dr. M. S.
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Milne, Edward
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hamling, William Mitchell, R. C. (S' hampton, Itchen)
Bidwell, Sydney Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Morris, Alfred (WYthenshawe)
Bishop, E. S. Hardy, Peter Murray, Ronald King
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harper, Joseph Oakes, Gordon
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Ogden, Eric
Booth, Albert Hattersley, Roy O'Halloran, Michael
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Heffer, Eric S. O'Malley, Brian
Bradley, Tom Hooson, Emlyn Orbach, Maurice
Broughton, Sir Alfred Horam, John Orme, Stanley
Brown, Hugh D. (G gow, Provan) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oswald, Thomas
Buchan, Norman Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Huckfield, Leslie Padley, Walter
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Pardoe, John
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pendry, Tom
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Hunter, Adam Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Prescott, John
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Janner, Greville Price, William (Rugby)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Radice, Giles
Concannon, J. D. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Conlan, Bernard Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Corbel, Mrs. Freda John, Brynmor Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cox, Thomas (Wardsworth, C.) Johnson, Carol (Lewlsham, S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n&R'dnor)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davidson, Arthur Kaufman, Gerald Rose, Paul B.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Kelley, Richard Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Kerr, Russelll Rowlands, Ted
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kinnock, Neil Sandelson, Neville
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lambie, David Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Ceakins, Eric Lamborn, Harry Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lamond, James Short,Rt.Kn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dempsey, James Latham, Arthur Silkin. Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Doig, Peter Leadbitter, Ted Sillars, James
Dormand, J. D. Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Silverman, Julius
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Leonard, Dick Skinner, Dennis
Driberg, Tom Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Small, William
Duffy, A. E. P. Lomas, Kenneth Spearing, Nigel
Dunn, James A Loughlin, Charles Spriggs, Leslie
Dunnett, Jack Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Stallard, A. W.
Edelman, Maurice Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Steel, David
Edwards, Robert (Bllston) McBride, Neil Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McCartney, Hugh Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Ellis, Tom McElhone, Frank Strang, Gavin
Ewing, Harry McGuire, Michael Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Mackie, John Swain, Thomas
Fisher,Mrs.Doris(B'ham,Ladywood) Mackintosh, John P. Taverne, Dick
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Maclennan, Robert Thomas, Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Foot, Michael McNamara, J. Kevin Tuck, Raphael
Ford, Ben Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Urwin, T. W.
Varley, Eric G. White, James (Glasgow, Pollok) Woof, Robert
Wainwright, Edwin Whitehead, Phillip
Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Whitlock, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Wallace, George Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.) Mr. Ernest G. Perry and
Watkins, David Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) Mr. James Hamilton.
Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.