HL Deb 04 June 1878 vol 240 cc1162-4

said, he had, at the beginning of the Session, put a Question to Her Majesty's Government in reference to the Report, on the subject of the prevention of floods, of a Select Committee of that House which sat to consider that question last year, to which the noble Duke opposite had given a reply that was not altogether satisfactory. The noble Duke was then able to hold out very little hope that Her Majesty's Government intended to act upon that Report; but he did say that some provision for the improvement of Conservancy Boards which would enable them to deal more effectually with the matter might possibly be introduced into a Bill which Her Majesty's Government intended to bring in in the other House of Parliament. A measure, to which he believed the noble Duke had referred—the County Government Bill—had been introduced into the other House in the course of the present Session, but its provisions appeared to him to be by no means satisfactory, and he learnt to-day from the ordinary sources of information that it was not likely that even that measure would be proceeded further with this Session. In these circumstances, he wished to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether they intended to take any steps to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee on Conservancy Boards to prevent the recurrence of the disastrous floods of 1877? He hoped the Government would hold out some hope that they would endeavour to deal with this question in the course of next year, and also to deal with it as a separate matter, instead of mixing it up with the subject of County Government, which involved much wider considerations, within which political questions were connected.


hoped the Government would not wait until next year to deal with the question, which, taken by itself, was really one of great simplicity.


also hoped the Government would deal with the subject, which was much too large to be satisfactorily dealt with in isolated Private Bills.


admitted that the noble Marquess was well within his right in bringing this question before the House, and the more so in that he had taken a considerable part in the inquiries that had been made on the subject, and had experience of floods in the part of the country with which he was personally acquainted. He must confess to the feeling of surprise with which he heard his noble Friend and Kinsman (the Earl of Sandwich) express an opinion that the subject was one of no great difficulty. He should have thought that the noble Earl knew sufficient of the subject to be aware of the difficulties and intricacies which beset it. There were conflicting interests of all kinds—upper owners and lower owners, mill-owners, various authorities through whose jurisdiction the rivers flowed, and other persons interested in various ways. The question, therefore, was by no means easy to deal with; and if any attempt was made at all, the subject must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner, so that the question might be set at rest, to the satisfaction of those whose interests were affected. The Government, with a strong hope of being able to settle the question, included it in the County Boards Bill—a measure which they certainly hoped to have been able to pass in the course of the present Session, but concerning which their hopes had, unfortunately, been disappointed. He could only say that the Government were honest and decided in their desire to deal with the subject if, on full consideration of all its bearings, they found it possible to do so.


said, he was quite sure that the Lord President of the Council, with the knowledge that had been already acquired, could, and he believed would, bring in a Bill which would be satisfactory to all parties concerned.

House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, half past Ten o'clock.