§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD STRATHOONA AND MOUNT ROYAL)
My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill I need not detain your Lordships long. This is a Bill to extend for a further period of two years the powers of the Department of Agriculture for Scotland to prepare and settle schemes under the Land Drainage (Scotland) Act, 1930. When that Act was under discussion in Parliament, it was explained that the major drainage schemes which it was contemplated would be carried out by the Department were limited in number, and accordingly the exercise of the Department's powers to prepare and settle schemes was restricted to the period of five years ending April 15, 1935, unless continued by Parliament. While the Department, by engineering surveys and other inspections and inquiries, have collected a considerable amount of information regarding conditions on various rivers causing flooding or other injury to lands, it was necessary, owing to the financial crisis, to reconsider expenditure under the Act, and so far only two schemes have been promoted: on the rivers Annan and Nith.
In deciding to ask Parliament to continue the 1930 Act the Government have been largely influenced by the fact that the Scottish Commissioner for the Special Areas urged them to do so. He represented that in the event of his carrying 659 out certain schemes for utilisation of land which he had in view, the drainage of rivers passing through this land would be almost essential to the success of the schemes. In the absence of any powers of his own such as the 1930 Act provides, he urged that the powers of the Department should be kept in being for a period, so that advantage might be taken of their experience and of the machinery for securing contributions from those permanently benefited by the improvement of the land. He also had in view that the drainage works themselves would give useful employment and would contribute to the permanent improvement of the area.
Your Lordships might like to know that the two areas on which he proposes to experiment are the river Kelvin and the river Clyde. In the case of the river Kelvin the total cost of the scheme, including compensation, will be £27,000, and it will provide employment for 115 men for twelve months. In the case of the river Clyde the total cost, including compensation, will be £10,000, and the scheme will give employment for 120 men for six months. The Government hope that this Bill will be approved and passed with as little delay as possible, so that the Department and the Commissioner may get rapidly to work. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.