HL Deb 18 May 1896 vol 40 cc1531-3

(1.) The first appointment of members of the Water Board shall be made before the expiration of one month after the passing of this Act.

(2.) The first meeting of the Water Board shall be convened as soon as practicable by the Local Government Board, and the clerks of the several councils and authorities appointing members of the board shall send to the Local Government Board written notice of the names and addresses of the persons elected to represent those councils and authorities respectively; and the board shall be deemed duly convened if notice is sent to the persons of whose names the Local Government Board has so received notice at the address specified in the notice; and the board shall be deemed duly constituted notwithstanding any vacancy in their body or the entire non-representation of any council or authority.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

*EARL COWPER moved to insert, after Clause 8, the following clause:— Nothing in this Act shall affect the right of any metropolitan county to be heard against the proposals of any Bill promoted by the Water Board, by its counsel, agents, and witnesses, before any Committee to which such Bill shall be referred in accordance with Section 4 (2) of this Act. In proposing this clause he had the interests of Hertfordshire specially in mind. There were only a very few parishes in Hertfordshire which were supplied with water by any of the eight water companies. In the south of the county a few houses in some parishes were supplied by them, accidentally, as it were. But the inhabitants of Hertfordshire were greatly interested in the question of the water supply of London, as a very large part of that supply was drawn from the soil of the county. In the opinion of many people the wells and springs of Hertfordshire were being slowly but surely exhausted, and its streams had greatly diminished in volume. The county supplied 71,000,000 gallons a day to London, which were pumped out of the ground by enormous steam pumps, and there was no doubt that in the immediate neighbourhood of these operations the wells were getting visibly lower year by year. It was the opinion of many scientific men that the saturation of the chalk soil was being exhausted to a greater extent than could be made good by any average rainfall. If that was correct the whole basin of the Lea and other rivers, on the banks of which these great pumps were worked, would be gradually drained dry—in other words the whole of Hertfordshire. There were Bills before Parliament at the present time which would have the effect of increasing the evil. He held, therefore, that the people of Hertfordshire ought to preserve their right to appear by counsel before Committees, in case any aggravation of the evil should be threatened. If the new Board were to introduce a Bill proposing that more water should be taken from Hertfordshire, it would probably be said that, as the county was represented on the Board, it would place itself in a false position by attempting to oppose the Bill. A declaration in the Bill of the right of the county to oppose, was, therefore, desirable.


said that the Government would accept the clause if the words "in pursuance of this Act" were substituted for the words "in accordance with Section 4 (2) of this Act."

Clause as amended, in accordance with the suggestion of LORD JAMES of HEREFORD, agreed to.

Clause 91:—

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