§ Mr. Churchill
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the continuing threat to public health in the North-West, where 1 million people are without a filtered and chemically treated water supply.The Home Secretary has today made a statement. I fear that it will be regarded by the 1 million consumers as grossly inadequate. It was a statement of supine complacency and was directly in line with the Government's attempts to play down the gravity of the threat to vital supplies existing in so many aspects of our national life. In the course of his statement, the Home Secretary said that the North-West water authority is maintaining piped water supplies to the vast majority—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) must not make the speech that he would make if his application were granted. He must seek to make out the case for it to be granted.
§ Mr. Churchill
I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I shall make a different speech should the debate be granted. I was merely seeking to point out that the statement made to the House today by the Home Secretary in no way meets the point that is being made by hundreds of thousands of people who have been for a whole week now without any properly filtered and purified water supply.
The Home Secretary said that they still had water. That is true; but it is what is officially termed dirty water. It is not clean or purified water. The Minister of State, Department of the Environment is shaking his head. Perhaps he wishes to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, so that he may put a different point of view 2001 on this, but I am assured by the North-West water authority officials that the present position constitutes a serious hazard to the health of up to 1 million of our citizens. From this point of view there is no question but that this is a specific and important matter, for so long as the present position persists—and the Home Secretary has made clear that no action is to be taken by the Government to resolve the problem—there is the serious possibility of an epidemic breaking out, or of children or others consuming unpurified water.
That it has become a matter of urgency is also clear in that today there are many Labour Members, as well as the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), who are very anxious that the matter should be debated in the House so that they may represent their constituents' anxieties.
As a matter of added urgency, there is the fact that several hospitals in the North-West of England are now having to close down as a result of the other industrial actions taking place. In the constituency represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) and in my own constituency, no fewer than four hospitals have closed today because of the failure of surgical supplies to get through.
In the light of this position, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the question of a debate has become one of urgent necessity.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) gave me notice this morning before 12 o'clock that he would seek to raise this matter today. The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 so that the House may discussthe continuing threat to public health in the North-West where 1 million people are without a filtered and chemically treated water supply.The hon. Member has undoubtedly raised a very important matter. I have given the same consideration to his application as I did to two further applications that are to come before the House, and I have applied the same criteria to this application as I did to the earlier one and as I shall apply to the two succeeding applications. I am quite prepared to look at it with great seriousness 2002 and urgency on Monday to see whether it is necessary to have a debate at seven o'clock on Monday night.