HC Deb 23 October 1973 vol 861 cc1124-6

Lords Amendment: No. 9, in page 5, line 17, at end insert: and the Authority may provide installations for facilitating the use of the channel.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I beg to move. That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Lords Amendment No. 10. I call the attention of the House to the fact that its privileges are involved in Amendment No. 10.

Mr. Griffiths

We are concerned here with the preservation of a navigable channel through Havengore Creek. This is possibly a small question compared with the magnitude of the matters which we have previously been discussing, but I think the House will be interested to learn that more time has been spent in discussing navigation through the Haven-gore Creek than on almost all of the other clauses in the Bill. What we me providing here is that there should be powers for the Maplin Development Authority to provide installations which will facilitate the use of the channel through Havengore Creek. These could include moorings or slipways to help those who can pass under the bridges in their navigation through this area.

Secondly, the new subsection (2B) gives the Secretary of State discretionary power to make grants towards the conversion of a boat, needing more than four metres clearance above water level.

I think that this goes a very long way to meeting some of the anxieties of the local yachting interests, but I would also say that we shall be having a series of discussions with the Royal Yachting Association and other yachting interests with a view to setting up a working party to deal with such remaining aspects of the Maplin project as are of particular concern to yachtsmen. I can assure the House that there is no danger of the yachting case, or that of small boatmen who are interested in Havengore Creek, being made to go by default.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

This is a matter upon which I have received representations from constituents in my area who use small boats. They approached me some time ago on this question of the effect of the Bill on their activities in Havengore Creek.

Could the Minister tell the House what cost is likely to fall upon public funds because of the special arrangements which are being made to preserve Haven-gore Creek for the use of private yachting? Indeed, it would be interesting to know what volume of traffic uses this creek. While I have every sympathy with the yachting and boating fraternity, especially those who reside in my own constituency, the House should be very careful to see that we do not incur the expenditure of substantial sums of public money for facilities for a limited number of people. I hope, therefore, that the Minister can say a word about this to enable us to pass the amendment without opposition.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The cost to public funds is likely to be comparatively small—indeed, very small.

Mr. Wellbeloved

How much?

Mr. Griffiths

It is quite impossible to judge what the likely cost may be in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Bill requires that anyone who can show that he has habitually been using Havengore Creek during the years immediately preceeding its being affected by the Maplin development will be able to say to the Secretary of State that he has incurred certain expenses, for example to step down his mast in order to go under the 4 metre high bridge. In that case the Secretary of State would have discretion to meet his reasonable expenses. At the same time, the Maplin Development Authority would be empowered to provide moorings at either side of the navigable channel.

The number of boats is of this order of magnitude: in 1970 there were 188 sailing craft—and I assure the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) that the vast majority of them are very small; they have to be relatively small to get up the creek in any case. There were, in addition, 182 motor craft, including 24 fishing boats, making a total in 1970 of 370. That number rose in 1972 to over 500, but it may be that in that count some boats have been counted more than once.

The amounts of money involved are comparatively small, but the House, in Select Committee and in Standing Committee, and another place showed real concern about taking away those facilities from people without their being given some form of compensation. The Select Committee so recommended. I am sure the other place was right to put forward an amendment on these lines, and I hope the House will agree with the Lords in this amendment

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment agreed to: No. 10, in page 5, line 30, at end insert: (2A) The Secretary of State may, out of moneys provided by Parliament, make such grants to the Maplin Development Authority towards the cost of providing the installations mentioned in subsection (1) above as he may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine. (2B) If it appears to the Secretary of State that, before the passing of this Act, the owner of a vessel requiring clearance above water level of more than four metres habitually navigated Havengore Creek in that vessel and—

  1. (a) that, without a reduction of the clearance so required, the channel maintained in accordance with this section would not allow or have allowed such access by it as is mentioned in subsection (2) above; but
  2. (b) that the clearance so required has been or could be sufficiently reduced by conversion of the vessel at reasonable expense;
he may, out of moneys provided by Parliament, make to the owner such grant for or towards the cost of the conversion as he may with the consent of the Treasury determine." —[Mr. Eldon Griffiths]. [Special Entry.]

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