HL Deb 20 May 1930 vol 77 cc936-40

Appointment of Conservators of River Thames.

(1) The Conservators shall be appointed as follows:—

By the Minister One
By the Board of Trade One
By the Councils of the Boroughs of Windsor, Kingston-upon-Thames, Henley-upon-Thames, Maidenhead, Abingdon and Wallingford, and of the Urban Districts of Eton, Marlow, Egham, Staines, Chertsey, Weybridge, Walton, Sunbury, East and West Molesey, Esher and the Dittons, Surbiton, Hampton, Hampton Wick, and Teddington ☦ Four

(2) The four conservators to be appointed jointly by the councils of the several boroughs and urban districts aforesaid shall be appointed in such manner as the Minister of Health may by regulations prescribe.

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in paragraph (1), after "By the Board of Trade," to leave out "one" and insert "two." The noble Viscount said: The Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association have a grievance which I propose to air in as few words as possible. Their case is that when the Port of London Act of 1908 was before Parliament the two societies named secured important Amendments, amongst which there was one which provided that two members of the Thames Conservancy Board appointed by the Board of Trade should be concerned in the use of the river as a place of recreation. For some unexplained reason the Land Drainage Bill proposes in the Sixth Schedule to take away one of those two members. It is a pity in these days when people want to preserve the countryside and its amenities that two members should not have been given in this instance. I understand that my noble friend Lord Desborough is one of the people who represent the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association.


I did not know that.


That shows still more that there ought to be two members. Evidently my noble friend does not go there. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 70, line 37, leave out ("one") and insert ("two").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


The point is that in order to make the members of the Thames Conservancy Board act as a catchment board it has been essential to make their constitution correspond as far as possible with the regulations laid down for the constitution of catchment boards. One of those conditions is that there should be a two-third representation of county councils, and it was found that the only way in which we could carry this out was for the Board of Trade to give up one of its representatives. The matter was discussed with the Board of Trade and gone into very fully with them, and they raised no objection whatsoever. I am afraid that in this reconstitution there are bound to be different bodies who are disappointed, but we must insist on the main principle of the two-thirds county council representation.


The noble Earl, if I may say so, has conducted the Bill so tactfully that I will not press my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

EARL DE LA WARR moved to insert "By the Corporation of the City of London—One". The noble Earl said: I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper.

Amendment moved— Page 71, after line 1 insert ("By the Corporation of the City of London—One").—(Earl De La Warr.)


This introduction of the Corporation of the City of London is, surely, in direct contradiction of the principle laid down by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill a moment ago. The Corporation of London cannot be said to be a county council. It is not going to pay one penny to land drainage under this Bill, and although it is, no doubt, desirable that the Corporation of London should on other grounds be a member of the Thames Conservancy Board, yet unless additional representation is given to the counties to compensate, the effect of this addition will be to leave the counties charged with the drainage rate and concerned with land drainage in a still less enviable position than they are in at present.


I understand that the constitution allows of this addition without upsetting the balance of the board. I would point out to the noble Lord that hitherto the Corporation of London has had two members and that we have reduced it under this Bill to one. They have a number of sanitary powers over the river and a number of interests in the river, and I think it is only fair that they should have a representative. I can assure the noble Lord that they do not in any way upset the balance of the board.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

EARL DE LA WARR moved, at the end of paragraph (1), to leave out "four" and insert "three." The noble Earl said: This Amendment is moved for the reason that I have already given to the noble Viscount, Lord Bertie, for refusing his Amendment. Some of the authorities who have to be reduced will, of course, very much regret their reduction. But the principle underlying this Bill does not admit of any local authority less than a county borough being represented upon a normal catchment board. Therefore, any representation at all of these particular bodies, who are the smaller local authorities, is on exceptional grounds. Hitherto they have had four representatives, but we find now, in order to adjust the balance of the board, that it is essential we should reduce the number to three. We do it with the greatest regret, but we cannot see that any other arrangement is possible.

Amendment moved— Page 71, line 19, leave out ("four") and insert ("three").—(Earl De La Warr.)


I must enter a protest which I had meant to make by moving to insert "seven" for "four." The noble Earl says they have reduced the numbers of these riparian local authorities from "four" to "three." What they complain of is that they were being reduced from "seven" to "four." The area affected comprises practically most of the Thames side from Abingdon down to Teddington. They have representation on the Thames Conservancy which, originally, was not a drainage authority at all, but was concerned with navigation and the general up-keep and amenities of the river, and they resent that representation being reduced. I suppose it is no good protesting further. I can understand the noble Earl's point that the representation has to be adapted, but if he could see his way to keep the representation at "four" instead of "three" I should be very glad.


I should like to meet the noble Earl on this point, but at the moment I do not see how it could possibly be done. It has been like a jigsaw puzzle apportioning this representation.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is consequential, in paragraph (2).

Amendment moved— Page 71, line 20, leave out ("four") and insert ("three ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DESBOROUGH had an Amendment down to move in paragraph (5) to leave out "in the year nineteen hundred and thirty-one" and to insert "next after the appointed day." The noble Lord said: I think this will come into the general arrangement.


Yes, I think we shall have to put something down on Report.

Sixth Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Seventh Schedule: