§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
My Lords, if we may now resume the debate on the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I take it that this is no Party matter, and that if it went to a Division I should have to go in the direction which my conscience described as correct. I have no links with either party to the matter under discussion. I have no links with the Welsh, though I admire them for their character, with its great variety, more than some others; and I love their country, and when I can get a holiday I go in that direction. In regard to the 1092 great city of Liverpool, whose great representative has introduced this Bill to-day, anybody must feel that if due regard is to be paid to the interests and long-term future of that powerful conurbation we could not do otherwise than to have a sixty-year programme. But it does not seem to me that there is here due regard for other people's possible requirements. I therefore take advantage of the noble Lord's Amendment to say a few words, though for a different reason.
I do not feel that the present rather laissez faire attitude towards the ever-diminishing water resources in this country should go on. We have come to the culminating point when something should be done. To use the old phrase, somebody must "pull up his socks." By means of the Private Bill procedure, with which I understand Parliament would be unwilling to dispense in objects such as these, a system is sought to be perpetuated which seems to have become inequitable: that the first corner shall be the one who is first served, despite the possibility that a better allocation of water rights might be arrived at if an overall, national view were taken. A kind empire over the northern Welsh valleys has gradually come about, spread by three or four of the most powerful cities, an empire over one of the very few resources of the Welsh—perhaps their most important and potential resource.
Moreover, during the half-century in which that has happened what have those people gained? No increase in employment, no development of road or rail facilities, no capital or large industry attracted. What do the Northern Welsh get?—some diminution of their rate vote, as a result of payments from the promoting city. But may they not also have gained some slight sense of injustice? Else, why this crudescence of national assertion, this emphasis on a Council for Wales and a Minister for Wales? May all this not arise partly from a feeling that they themselves are rather being left behind in contrast with the South, who receive benefits showered on them, as compared with their own meagre lot, rather featureless were it not for their ever-present resource in their history and the songs and poetry of their past?
Finally, I think this Bill asks, like the Dutch, for too much. We are giving 1093 too little in exchange for the benefits received. I do not like the sixty-year period, and I certainly do not like tapping the river watershed of an altogether different river board such as is proposed to be done, tapping the Conway and Serw rivers (though in fact I do not know whether they are rivers or streams) which are already under consideration for producing a much-needed local water scheme. Therefore, I beg to support the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ LORD MOYNE
My Lords, if I may briefly express the point of view of a Member on the Back Benches, which provide the Select Committees who sit on Bills of this kind, I should like to say how very uncomfortable I should feel, if I were serving on the Committee on this proposed Bill, to know that Her Majesty's Government considered It necessary to have a special Commission of Inquiry into the whole subject of water supplies from Wales and yet not; to have the findings of that Committee to assist me in considering the proposals of the Liverpool Corporation. It seems to me quite illogical to have such an inquiry after, and not before, the Bill.
§ 3.59 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to support what my noble friend Lord Albemarle has said. If this matter goes to a Division it is certainly not going to be a Party decision, and we should go exactly where we believe is right. In the second place, I should like to say that, while I have listened with a very great deal of sympathy to what he said, I do not think that the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, has adduced are sufficent to influence your Lordships to delay sending this Bill to the Select Committee. I will tell your Lordships why, and I think I can do it best by giving an example. Not many years ago, the Government then in power passed a Water Act. That Water Act laid down certain procedure for public bodies who wished to acquire sources of water. After that Act had been the law of the land for a certain time, a great city jumped into the ring—under the present procedure which the City of Liverpool is now adopting—and tried to acquire a source of water in advance of all other local authorities who were interested in that supply.
1094 That Bill went before a Select Committee, who heard evidence not only from the city which was seeking the source of water but from all other authorities who had only half completed the procedure necessary to acquire a new source of water. The Committee finally decided the case and decided that the Bill should not proceed. They did so partly on one public ground that it was riot right for a city to jump into the ring like that, and try to acquire the only remaining easy source of water ahead of all others when the Act of Parliament had already laid down the proper procedure. Further, on grounds of public policy they felt that it was very doubtful whether the city authority ought to impound the last small spring of unpolluted water in an area of hundreds of square miles.
I put that example before noble Lords opposite. The point is that the Select Committee are in a very different position from that of your Lordships' House at the Committee stage of a Public Bill. The Select Committee can perfectly well consider large questions of public policy and decide upon them, in so far as they may recommend to your Lordships what their finding has been—for, of course, your Lordships have the last word in any case. Therefore, it seems to me that perhaps the noble Lord opposite is not quite wise in trying to stop this Bill at the present moment. The City of Liverpool must run the risk of having taken up this matter at this time when a general inquiry into the water resources of Wales is coming on. I am sure the opposition to the Bill will make a strong point of that, in exactly the same way as the opposition of other local authorities under the recent Act was made known to the Select Committee in the case I have mentioned. The Select Committee will take that sort of thing into consideration.
I should like to add one word especially to Lord Ogmore, in view of his Motion on this matter. I think your Lordships' House is very slow to give instructions to a Select Committee. The Select Committee will shortly read, and will undoubtedly take note of, what has been said in this debate to-day, and will give it their consideration, along with other matters which will come before them. They have full powers in that respect, and they do not need any special directions or any special blinkers.
1095 Next, I would add a word on the general question which has been raised by the noble Earl, Lord Albemarle. I listened with great attention to the eloquent speech made by the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, and it seemed to me that he felt that, if he proved the need, he had only to reach out his hand and take the water he needed. I have often thought that we can look ahead and see the day, in a quite measurable and not far distant time, when the great populations of London, the Midlands and Lancashire can demand and acquire and use—and perhaps to some extent waste—all the water which this not particularly dry island can supply. And I have long been of opinion that local authorities, in looking to the needs of their populations for water, must also educate them in the economical use of water. I think that this is a most important subject and one which cannot be taken up too early. Some twenty years ago I recommended to your Lordships' House and to a great Ministry that they should endeavour to induce people to introduce shower baths into their homes, as being far more economical in the use of water than the ordinary type of bath. I was decisively turned down. Your Lordships' House did not sympathise very much with the idea. At any rate, noble Lords opposite poured scorn on it, and the Ministry, so far as I could make out, took the line that shower baths were not genteel while ordinary baths were. Beyond that I could not get. I mention that matter just to show your Lordships that I have long been interested in the subject, and I do not think I need make any apology for pressing it once more upon your Lordships' attention.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I hope that I may be permitted to make a few observations, for I have been looking into this matter very carefully. I have read in detail the report of the Liverpool Corporation in connection with the Bill, and I have done my best to weigh up one side with the other. I believe that we are here dealing with an extremely important matter. I was much grieved to hear my noble friend who sits in front of me so fiercely reprobating the English in Wales. I was staggered by the expressions which he used. As a boy, and later as a young man, I spent 1096 a large part of my time in North Wales, at a place near Llandudno. My father had a house there and we all used to go there frequently. Far from there being any sign of feeling such as is now alleged against the English, we were all extremely friendly with the Welsh people, and never before until tonight in this House have I heard such expressions as those used by the noble Lord in front of me when he was describing his own feelings in this matter. I was simply astonished.
Frankly, I do not believe that these feelings are in any way general. I am in constant touch with North Wales at the present time and I know the situation. I have had a great deal of experience of South Wales and I know the situation there, too. I have never heard a dispute raised on any occasion as to the rights of an Englishman to stand up against a Welshman or the rights of a Welshman to go for the same job as an Englishman. I have never heard any evidence of what seem to me to be utterly futile disputes of that kind. I believe that if we proceed on those lines we shall arrive at a deadlock. But I also believe that it may be possible during the course of the debate to arrive at some reasonable proposals as to what we should do to get relations—if they are indeed tortured, as my noble friend seems to suggest—smoothed over and made more humanly normal.
The views which the noble Lord expressed were not very attractive to people like myself who like to live in Wales, as I have done and as I still often do. I think we should feel and believe that we are all brothers living together on these Islands. If we realise and accept that and talk straight to each other, then I am sure we shall get on a great deal better than we have been doing. That is why I am talking now. We have a population of 1,100,000 in Liverpool and a very large number of people in the surrounding area who are going to be given water by this scheme, and I can see nothing but good in that, unless it actually deprives the people living on the land of water which is essential to their own existence. I cannot conceive for one moment that any responsible British Government authority would dream of allowing such an arrangement to exist and continue. We need good feeling in this matter, and my own experience over a long period of 1097 years, both in England and in Wales, is that we always have had this good feeling. I am sorry indeed to hear from my noble friend that there is bad feeling to the extent which he has expressed so eloquently.
When we are considering this matter, I think it is highly desirable that we should have a complete survey of the water resources of Great Britain as a whole, because I believe that larger populations and greater industrial activity are going to come in the next few years, as we are only at the beginning of the application of radium energy to industrial production. I think that we shall have deal with such a matter as water supply on a national basis and make plans with regard to its use, as we have done with regard to other natural resources. But we shall get into great difficulties unless we can work together in a friendly and straightforward way and view these questions with common sense.
The memorandum on the Liverpool water supply, a copy of which was sent to me by the Liverpool authority, indicates the great importance of the work they wish to undertake with regard to the supply of water to Liverpool. I believe that it would be desirable to go further than the period of thirty years contemplated in the Liverpool scheme, and not only have a survey of our water supply on a national scale, but also look ahead for a very long time and plan for something on an even more permanent basis. I hope that we shall get down to business and not indulge in quarrelling and abusing one another. We need to stand together in this matter and I am grieved to know that there is such bitter feeling in some quarters. One of my sisters lives in North Wales and she has never sent an S.O.S. to me for help in arty difficulty of that kind. I just do not believe that there is such a bitter feeling in many places. It may exist in some places, but, thank God! the number of those places is limited.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Haden-Guest has said that this debate raises an important matter, and I entirely agree with him and with the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, on the opposite Benches, who took the same point of view. It seems to me that the proper use of the water resources of these 1098 Islands is one of the vital matters with which we shall have to deal as a community within the next few years. The fact that the present Bill to provide for the requirements of the great city of Liverpool and other important county boroughs and corporations in that neighbourhood is before your Lordships' House is good evidence of the importance of this question. I am sure that all noble Lords who know Liverpool will agree with the n able Earl, Lord Woolton, in what he said about the wonderful housing schemes which have been constructed in Liverpool during the period since the First World War, under that great architect, Sir Lancelot Keay. It is a delight for everybody interested in housing to see what has been done there.
In supporting my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, I should not like it to be thought that I do not appreciate the difficulties of the Merseyside people and the importance of meeting their requirements. Surely, all we are asking here is that this matter should be viewed in a wider conspectus; that all the requirements, not only of Merseyside, but also of other areas, should be taken into account as against the resources of Wales, which have not been studied as a whole. I think it is a good thing that at this time the Minister has decided to set up an inquiry. I hope that its work will not be confined to Wales but that other parts of England, and Scotland, too, will be brought in, because this matter has to be looked at in the light of the requirements of the whole country. I would not go so far as my noble friend in emphasising the Welsh interest in this question. I agree with him that Welsh susceptibilities and the actual requirements of the Welsh people are important factors, but they cannot be 100 per cent. After all, Wales is just one part of these Islands.
I think this matter ought to be postponed because I consider that Liverpool is "jumping; the pistol" with this Bill. My noble friend is obviously right in saying that if this catchment area is removed from examination in the survey which is being set up, it will take the largest and most important catchment area in Wales away from the inquiry and substantially destroy its value. The noble Earl, Lord Woolton, said that there were only 800 acres in question. While no doubt that is true in regard to the actual 1099 size of the reservoir which is going to be established, the catchment area in question extends for thousands of acres. It spills right over into the head waters of the Conway Valley. I first looked at this matter as a member of the committee of the National Trust. Some of the most beautiful and valuable lands, from the scenic point of view, were in the head waters of the Conway Valley. This scheme, the reservoirs in regard to which are miles away from the Conway Valley, has been so designed over its long period of thirty years as to bring in the Conway. Those of your Lordships who know the Conway—and most of your Lordships must know it—will know that it is one of the loveliest of all the wonderful rivers we have in the British Isles. When this scheme is put into operation—if it goes through as it stands—it will take so much from the waters of the Conway River that that lovely river will undoubtedly be seriously damaged.
The National Trust are one of the petitioners against this Bill, and certainly they would not be unless they were greatly disturbed so far as this part of the scheme is concerned with the Conway Valley. That is why I emphasise the fact that the whole subject should be looked at. It is not a question only of providing water for the people of Liverpool and Merseyside, but one involving the economic interests as well as the amenity interests of the people of these Islands. It should not be carried on in this way, but should wait until after this investigation, which, if it is pushed on, will not take more than a few months, so that the whole thing can be looked at in the interests of the Islands as a whole, rather than in the interests only of Merseyside.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I am completely impartial on this question, in the sense that am not a denizen of Liverpool, although I was one once, like my noble friend Lord Woolton, and I hold a doctorate of Liverpool University. However, that does not prejudice me one way or the other. I have had some experience of these reservoirs and of their value, and of how great towns suffer from not having them. There are in my own home two large reservoirs, one serving Leeds and the other serving Harrogate. Over and over again I have heard these appeals to put schemes off. 1100 In the last drought I was able to see for myself the damage caused by delay in giving proper water supplies to great towns. Cities like Leeds, which had the benefit of these reservoirs, were all right. But there was Wakefield, which had not got an adequate reservoir because it had been held up, where the people had to draw their water week by week, and, I believe, month by month, from standpipes; then they froze and there was every risk of the most serious epidemics in the town.
As everybody who has been in Government since the war knows, a great many of these things have had to be held up. First of all, developments which would normally have taken place were held up in the war; and then further developments were held up on the grounds of finance. I knew, when I was Minister of Materials, how difficult it was to allocate the materials as between the different plans, and constantly one was appealed to by great cities and by the Ministry of Health asking for more steel, otherwise particular water projects could not be conducted. All these things I have heard canvassed before—remarks similar to those of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, about the Conway River. After all, the Committee before which this proposal will come is quite as competent as a Royal Commission to go into these matters. There must be a little consistency.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Earl will agree with me that looking at the whole of Wales is a different matter from looking at this small area.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I do not think so. Your Lordships are quite competent people and able to look at the whole of Wales. If you have a Select Committee of this House or another place to look at it, they can very well look at the whole of Wales. We are quite accustomed to looking at the whole world, for that matter. I do not agree in the least. I think it was Walt Whitman who once said—and he was quoted by a noble Lord the other day—"If I am inconsistent, I am consistent." There is a proposal for a Royal Commission, and immediately that is turned down by noble Lords. Then the next day they ask for a Royal Commission. Personally, I am not concerned with Royal Commissions. I think that a Select—Committee after all, 1101 a rose by any other name will smell as sweet—is perfectly competent to go into this question. My sympathy is entirely with the great corporation which wants to give these people a chance of keeping clean and having some water. I think we certainly ought not to oppose this Bill, but let the ordinary process of a Select Committee sift any objections that there may be.
§ LORD MOYNE
Would the noble Earl agree that there is a certain duplication of effort in having this other special committee doing the same work? I agree that perhaps the Select Committee of this House would do it equally well, but there seems to be a duplication of effort contemplated.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE had given notice of his intension, in the event of the Bill being read a second time, to move, That it be an instruct ion to the Committee to whom the Bill may be referred that before authorising the powers sought by the Bill they should satisfy themselves that due consideration has been given to:—
- (a) the strong national feeling which exists in Wales against the provisions of the Bill;
- (b) the adverse effect which the passage of the Bill will have upon agriculture in and around the Tryweryn Valley;
- (c) the probable adverse effect of large projects of the kind proposed in the Bill on water supplies in Wales generally; and
- (d) the danger that the passage of the Bill will prevent the creation of a comprehensive development plan for upland Wales.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps it would be convenient if I speak now, rather than on my Motion for an instruction, because the situation has changed. materially since February 7, when the Minister in another place made the statement about the inquiry he was going to have made into the water situation in Wales, and especially in the particular area with which we are concerned. Yesterday the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor appeared on the Paper for the first time, and in view of this new situation it may be desirable that I should speak upon what has become the main debate, rather than what might be a subsidiary debate.1102
§ I do riot agree with the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, that a Select Committee is the best machinery for dealing with matters of this kind. In my view, this procedure is an anachronism; it is a hangover from the mid-19th century. We are now in the mid-20th century, and this procedure of Select Committees, it seems to me, bears no relation whatsoever to modern needs. I feel that the dwindling resources of Wales, in common with the United Kingdom as a whole, should be the subject of a comprehensive review, survey and planning. It should not be a case of "smash and grab"; of the first authority that thinks of a particular region going in and obtaining a Private Bill and then obtaining the resources of that particular area.
As my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor has rightly said, this must obviously be the view of the Government, otherwise, after this Bill had already been introduced in this House and was on the Table, they would never have made this statement in another place, to which my noble friend has referred. If they did not take this view, if the matter was going to be considered by a Select Committee, then, as has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, what was the point of having an entirely separate inquiry into water resources in the area? Evidently Her Majesty's Government consider that the time has come when these vital resources—not only of Wales, because the same consideration, in my view, applies to other parts of the United Kingdom—should be looked at as a whole, instead of piecemeal and from the point of view of one particular local authority. Strangely enough, the
Liverpool Daily Post (here I should like to pay great tribute to this paper, because I think their handling of this Tryweryn Valley affair has been in accordance with the highest standards of journalism; they have not been in any way other than purely objective, whereas one might have expected them to weigh in on the side of Liverpool), in a leading article on February 11, said this:
In face of these important developments
that is, the appointment of the Committee by the Minister—
how can Live pool possibly proceed with a Tryweryn scheme until we have had the reports of the Committee and of the Government specialists on Welsh needs? Or do Liverpool
intend to make a grab before they can be stopped? If Liverpool proceed now, it will be tantamount to saying that the needs of Liverpool come before the needs of Wales in the matter of using purely Welsh resources. Could anything be more grotesque?
That is from a Liverpool paper.
§ LORD OGMORE
I know that the Liverpool Daily Post has a wide circulation, and I presume that a paper with the name of the Liverpool Daily Post does not circulate only in Wales. Surely, it must sell the odd copy in Liverpool.
My second request is that the Select Committee, and the House itself before the Bill gets to Committee (which I hope it will not), should have referred to them the wider aspects of this problem. That is an added reason for the course proposed by my noble friend. He has already said that considerable offence was given in Wales by the way in which this matter had been dealt with by Liverpool. He has instanced the fact that the people of the area were not consulted by Liverpool. Even at a later stage, when the Liverpool Council dealt with this matter, they dealt with it in an extraordinary way. According to the Liverpool Daily Post and their excellent reports, it appears that the only way in which the Bill, or the proposals to have a Bill, were passed through the town meeting was by "rigging" the meeting—that is to say, by giving the officials of the local authority an afternoon off, in consideration of their going to the meeting, and also adjourning the committees of the council to give the members and staff an afternoon off for the same purpose. In fact, the Liverpool Daily Post says that, without the council staff and members of the council, this proposal would never have been passed. I must mention that the language of the leader of the council, in referring to the people of Wales as he did (there is no need for me to take up your Lordships' time with the actual language), was offensive, and was much resented in Wales.
There are alternative schemes for Liverpool, including one known as the East Lancashire Scheme prepared by Mr. J. F. Pownall and, as we have heard to-day from my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, there is the possibility of obtaining water from the 1104 Mersey. But we are not really concerned with those problems. We are concerned mainly with the effect upon the area from which they want to draw their water. This is not a question of Party politics at all, as your Lordships will have seen. There is already the improbable, and even startling, combination in support of this Bill of the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, and Mrs. Bessie Braddock. One would have been rather surprised at anything which could have drawn those two together, but there they are.
§ LORD OGMORE
One can call it anything. Large numbers of eminent people are opposed to this measure, and not only large numbers of individuals but a large number of local authorities in Wales, from South and North Wales, and from East to West, but particularly Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. A large number of trade union branches, including the South Wales Area of the National Union of Mineworkers, religious and cultural organisations, and many others, also oppose it. So my noble friend was quite right in saying that, possibly for the first time since Disestablishment, there has been a great feeling of unanimity in Wales on this particular question. We were once called by the late Lord Lloyd-George of Dwyfor a "nation of quarrelsome nightingales." We may still be nightingales, but on this issue we are not quarrelsome.
One noble Lord opposite has asked what would be the effect of passing the Bill, and that is really why I rose to speak. It is no exaggeration to say that the Welsh people, both at home and abroad, are anxiously waiting for your Lordships' decision—a decision which, if wrongly taken, could have fatal consequences in the days ahead. The first consequence is the submersion of the village of Capel Celyn. The village is to be drowned, together with the chapel, two cemeteries, the post office, the school, houses, and farms. Moreover, roads are to be diverted and a railway line removed—and possibly not replaced. As its name denotes, the village and is life centre around the chapel; and the homes, as it were, cluster round the tabernacle. It may be necessary, in the march of progress, to destroy a community. We on 1105 this side do not say that it is not; but a very strong case must first be made out by those who seek to destroy it. In my view, no such case has been made out by Liverpool.
The second consequence is the effect on agriculture. According to some of the best agricultural experts, and particularly Mr. Moses Griffith, who is a distinguished agriculturist, the consequence would be—I quote from his Report:It would disorganise and destroy the economic value of farms which have some of their land on the slopes adjoining the valley, and their best land in the valley from which they produce the bulk of their winter fodder; both corn and hay. Some of the farmers have spent a lot of capital and labour in rehabilitating their farms under the Hill Farming Act, and 4o take away their bottom land would make many of these farms of very little value and uneconomic as farming units … When examining the quality of the soil in the valley, Dr. R. I. Davies, chief soil chemist of Bangor University, and myself, were surprised at the quality of the soil even between 3 ft. and 4 ft. deep—first-class alluvial soil, capable of growing first-class crops and pastures if properly farmed under normal rotations.Then he says:The value of even small areas of land of first-class quality in the valley, can make or mar the value of hill farms. A modicum of such land to produce winter fodder for cattle and good grazing, even for short periods in winter and spring for lambing ewes, is of great value and can make a very great difference to the productivity of such farms.The effect on the water supplies of the whole region may, of course, be devastating. Water is to be collected not only from the valley and its neighbouring mountains, but also by means of tunnels and leats from waters beyond in Caernarvonshire and Denbighshire. The effect this is likely to have on agriculture, fishing, and so forth, in three, if not four counties, is profound and most disquieting.
Then there is the effect on development. The House will perhaps remember that I had a Motion on forestry which was debated on July l8, 1956. In it, I recounted to the House the serious situation in the reference area of the Welsh Sub-Commission of the Agricultural Land Commission. The area that I mention is south of Tryweryn, and the land is not as good as that in the valley. But, broadly speaking, the conditions and the problems to which I referred in that debate are those of Tryweryn and its neighbourhood. Indeed, whilst the situation is most acute in the upland areas of Mid and North 1106 Wales, the Lowland areas, too, are having a difficult time. The Report of Government Action in Wales and Monmouth shire for the year ending June 30, 1956, says, in paragraph 26:The highest rate of unemployment continues to be in North West Wales where, in the counties of Caernarvon, Merioneth and Anglesey, the numbers unemployed, particularly in the winter months, remain well above the average for Wales as a whole.The position would be very bad indeed, so far as unemployment is concerned, if it were not for constant emigration from Mid- and North Wales to South Wales, to England or overseas.
Whilst there is a need for a comprehensive development plan for upland Wales and its coastal fringe, including a plan for the utilisation of the water resources of the region in the best interests of the region, we cannot regard this Bill as other than a serious blow to such a development plan. The Implementation of such a plan would, of course, depend upon a considerable and adequate supply of water. To lay waste a valley in the heart of Merioneth and to drain off water from a wide region is to make it impossible to develop the economy of the region. I may say that industrial development is a distinct possibility here. All we have heard up to date is of industrial development in Liverpool, a city which has had a great history. We hope it will have a grant future, but one must remember that it has beer against Government policy and, one would have thought, common sense to increase the size of these industrial areas.
In the atomic age this point is of particular importance. We have heard the word "dispersal" mentioned constantly, and, of course, it has a commonsense basis. Now, we come into the atomic age with a "horse and buggy" system—for that is what this system of proceeding is. We have come into the age of nuclear fission. The Central Electricity Authority has surveyed a number of sites on the West Coast of Wales and there is a distinct likelihood that on the coast of Merioneth, the county in which Tryweryn is situate, an atomic power station will be built in the quite near future; and, in addition, at a later date, it is quite possible that there may also be an atomic research station built on the coast of Merioneth to supplement Harwell. All these developments and the 1107 other developments to which they will give rise—other industrial projects which will be fed by these atomic stations—will need abundant water and if this water is removed by Liverpool, then there can be no possibility of development on the lines which I have indicated.
Finally, there is the consequence to Welsh culture. This, I presume, was what the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, was referring to when he talked about sentiment. On the word "sentiment", may I say that there is no reason why people should be so scornful of sentiment. I confess that I am sentimental towards my own country and towards many other things—towards my school, for instance which is an English school. I am sentimental about many other things, and so are many of your Lordships. There is nothing shameful about being sentimental. "Sentimentalism" can be another word for patriotism. If it is somebody you do not like or somebody who is using an emotion which you do not particularly want, you call it "sentimentalism." If it is some emotion of which you approve, you call it "patriotism." It is just a question of nomenclature. In this case, I confess that many of us feel sentimental. Another way of expressing it may be "regard for the culture of Wales." Whatever you like to call it, I admit that we feel that way.
When I was considering this matter, as I myself am not an expert agriculturist I went to one of the foremost English experts, a chartered surveyor, whose firm handles possibly more land than almost any other in England, but not in Wales. I asked him to look at the agricultural position and Mr. Moses Griffith's report on it and to give me his views, which he did, and he confirmed broadly Mr. Moses Griffith's report. After discussing the agricultural position, my English friend said to me: "You are going to be able to explain the agricultural, water and development situations. But how are you going to explain the cultural position to the English people? How are you going to explain the intangibles, the effect on Welsh culture and the Welsh language of this flooding of a part of Wales which has always been at the root of Welsh culture and the Welsh language?"
I do not know how to explain it except to assure your Lordships that the consequence to the Welsh people of the loss 1108 of their culture in this vital part of their country is of the utmost importance to them and is of quite as great importance as the agricultural, water or development considerations which I have mentioned. We come of an ancient race, we speak an ancient tongue. Our traditions are very dear to us, our culture is very near to our hearts. We want to continue to cherish our traditions, to husband our resources and to develop our culture.
§ 4.46 p.m.
My Lords, I hesitated much before intervening in the debate to-day and I felt that in many ways it would be better if I did not, but I feel that it would be right if it were made plain that not all of your Lordships who live in Wales are in agreement with the noble Lords opposite who have put the case against this Bill. I thought, as I say, that perhaps it would be better if I were not here this afternoon. When I said that to a noble Lord next to whom I was sitting at lunch, and asked him, because he is a distinguished physician, whether he could give me some pill to remove myself for six hours this afternoon, he remarked—and your Lordships, having heard me, will no doubt agree with him—"Why limit it to six hours?" Many points have been raised this afternoon. I should like to say at the outset that, frankly, I deplore the whole of this procedure. It is customary, we all know, for Private Bills to be referred to Select Committees. I agree at once that what has been done to-day is perfectly permissible—of course it is—but it is not customary, and it may be that we are justified in asking why there is this departure from custom. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, indeed was very scornful about Select Committees. He said they were an anachronism.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am not scornful about Select Committees as a whole. I do not know why the noble Lord should use the word "scornful." I think the time has passed when Select Committees should have to deal with Private Bills on these matters. It is the Private Bills to which I object on these particular matters which, in my view, are matters for the Government and for the people as a whole, not for Private Bills.
I fully understand. I wish the noble Lord had been sitting 1109 with me on a Select Committee last year on another Water Bill, which sat in this House for twenty-three full working days, I ask him what would happen if the whole of that business was transferred to the Floor of this House, with every Private Bill that came before the House.
§ LORD OGMORE
No; the noble Lord has not got my meaning. I do not think there should be Private Bills at all on this question. I think that the Private Bill procedure is an anachronism; that there should not be such a thing. There should be a national water scheme which would embrace these water matters as a whole in the national interest and not piecemeal. That is what I mean.
As I say, many subjects have been touched upon: proof of need of the water for Liverpool; alternative sources from which Liverpool could get water; the damage, which nobody denies, to the agriculture of the valley. Those are three examples, to my mind, which are essentially matters for a small body and not for a large one—I would suggest a Select Committee, not even a Royal Commission. There are many other matters that, in my view, should not be raised now. If a debate is necessary on these issues—and they are important and interesting—I would suggest that it should be rather on Third Reading than on Second Reading, because by then we should know the Select Committee's verdict upon the Bill. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, who asked—and I entirely agree with him, though I may be on a slightly different point—how can your Lordships expect Members to give up their time, day after day, hearing evidence on Select Committees, when all these matters are going to be threshed out on the Floor of the House as well? I think it is a matter for consideration.
It is no good mincing words about this question. After the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor and Lord Ogmore, there is no doubt that the proper consideration of these matters is altogether confused—let me put it quite frankly—by Welsh nationalism. If I may respectfully say so, I have a great personal admiration for the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, and that, I am afraid, makes it all the more difficult for me to say that I do not agree with what he said this afternoon. He 1110 talked about emotion, and so forth. There is no question at all but that if your Lordships had lived, as I have lived, in Wales, all my life, and read the press of Wales you would agree with me that this is a wave of emotion, fanned by the local press, which I do not hesitate to say has done a great deal of harm to Wales. My Lords, if Liverpool and Tryweryn were either both in England or both in Wales, none of us would be here discussing this subject this afternoon.
Much has been said about exploitation. I have read the "Case against this Bill" and, curiously enough, I have not read or heard one single word of the Liverpool case. They say that Wales wants this water. Why have they not taken it? They say that they want it for industry. For what industry? This place, Tryweryn, is either just in or just out of the National Park. Suppose an industry is set up in this region, or anywhere on the coast of Merioneth, which is all in the National Park, what would be said? Would there not be the most violent opposition to the desecration of the beautiful countryside? The National Parks Commission, the National Trust, everybody, would be here to oppose it, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley leading the front rank.
§ LORD CHORLEY
There are lots of areas which I have mentioned in my speech, and the National Trust is, in fact, one of the opponents of this Bill.
Exactly, and it would be against the setting up in this area of any industrial works, or any factory or anything of the kind.
The same people would be here opposing the setting up of anything like an atomic power station in this area as are here opposing this Bill this afternoon. It is said that this area is industrially underdeveloped. Quite so. Thank goodness, there are still areas in this country that are! Now we are told that of all, the areas in Britain these counties have the highest percentage of unemployment. I accept that. But why is there unemployment? It is natural that an area which has but few minerals (the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor will hasten to correct me over that if I am wrong) but which has 1111 wonderful scenery, should not be an industrial area. I am afraid I must again be candid and say, I think truthfully, that when people are asked to transfer large industries and factories to this area they will take into account the reasons against doing so as well as the reasons for. Let us be candid about it. One of the reasons against their doing so is bilingualism—the fact that the children of all the workers will have to learn two languages, not one, and be taught in Welsh and not in English. I know that is a dangerous subject but it is just as well to face it.
I come to finance. Curiously enough, little has been said this afternoon on the financial aspect of this matter, but in the "Case against the Bill" which has been sent out to a number of people much is said about it. Is this water going to be paid for properly? We can base the answer to that on the question, is the water already taken by Liverpool and by Birmingham from Wales paid for reasonably? I take these figures from the "Case against the Bill," so I presume they are right. Lake Vyrnwy already supplies Liverpool, and one-half of the rateable value of the rural district of Llanfyllin and one-sixth of the rateable value of the county of Montgomery come from Lake Vyrnwy—that was before the recent revaluation.
Take the case of Radnor, which is even more strong. Radnor supplies the whole of Birmingham with water. I have studied the rateable values per head of population of every county in Wales. With one exception, the highest, that of Flint, is £6 0s. 1d., if I have worked it out rightly. The exception is the county of Radnor, the smallest county in Wales, where it is £10 1s. 9d. Why? Let us break it down a little. In the rural district of Rhayader, in Radnor, before revaluation, 90 per cent. of the rateable value of the whole rural district came from the Birmingham water works, and 53 per cent. of the whole of the rateable value of the county of Radnor came from the Birmingham water works. If the Welsh nationalists had succeeded, as they tried to do, in blowing up the pipeline to Birmingham it would have been a financial disaster for the county of Radnor.
May I just trouble your Lordships with a few examples of the opponents' arguments? 1112 Wales should sell water in bulk, so it is said. Why not? I have no objection to that. Why do they not do it? They say that Liverpool can get water from a nearer source. But they say also, a few lines further down, that it "is poorer quality and more costly." Then why should Liverpool take the poorer and more expensive water instead of the better and cheaper water? The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has touched upon agriculture. He quoted the fact that the pasture is, as everybody admits, inferior, but it is easy to improve. This is what the "Case against the Bill" says:It is capable of growing first-class crops if properly farmed.I repeat "if properly farmed." Why should it not be properly farmed? Why has it not been properly farmed?
This is a quotation. As it seems to me, these things are never thought of in these areas until somebody comes along to take the land; then they are all thought of. I am sorry, but I am bound to say that I think the opposition to this Bill—although I admit straight away that there is a case against the Bill; of course there is, and I hope the Select Committee will hear it—is in the nature of the old story, of the dog in the manger: "We will not let you have this water, but we are not going to do anything with it ourselves." It is true that there have been a few last-minute ideas about an atomic power station on the coast. I may be wrong about this, but I thought that atomic stations were put on the coast because they use sea-water.
My Lords, if there is one thing which, to my own mind, emerges from this debate—I know it is a dangerous thing to say—if there is one thing it is obvious to me (and I speak in an entirely non-political way) should be done, it is that water should be nationalised for the whole of Britain—not for Wales only, not for England only, but for the whole of Britain. It seems to me to be crying out aloud at the top of any Party's list of things to be nationalised.
My Lords, I say that with some feeling, as one who has sat on Select Committees on quite a 1113 number of Water Bills. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said that Liverpool were "jumping the gun". Maybe they are, but does that not apply to every other Promoter of every other Water Bill that has ever been before this House? The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, said that this matter has been left in the hands of Liverpool Corporation. With great respect to the noble Lord, it has not; it has been left in the hands of Parliament. And in my view that is the right place, and where it should be, for it is the Parliament, not of England, as so many Welsh Nationalists keep asserting, but of the United Kingdom.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, I do not want to quibble over words, but I think it was quite obvious that I had in mind the comparison between Tryweryn and Liverpool. It was Liverpool who took the matter into their own hands without any consultation at all with anybody in the area.
My Lords, I am sorry but I must join issue with the noble Lord. He said a moment ago that Liverpool had decided the issue, but it is Parliament which decides the issue.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
Ultimately, of course, it is Parliament which decides, but I meant up till now.
The noble Lord says that Wales was not told. I can only assert that that is the common experience of all landowners. They are never told; they are always the last to hear. The noble Lord said that action had been taken without the voice of Wales being heard. With great respect, the voice of Wales can and will be heard in Parliament, which is the Parliament of Wales, as well as of England.
I believe that I have covered most of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. He mentioned the valley of Tryweryn. I have the greatest sympathy with those who live in that valley. I do not happen to know it, or them, but it is the same picture as we have seen so often before, of valleys being submerged in England, Wales and every other country. It is done for the public good. In my humble opinion, it may be 1114 that, after proper consultation, it would be the right thing to do it this time, for the public good. On the other hand, it may not be, and that is a question which I hope the Select Committee will determine. I apologise to the House for saying these things at this hour of the day, but I felt it right that it should not go abroad that everyone in Wales was of one mind on this issue.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, may I say a brief word on the controversy raging in this House at the moment? I am concerned about how I am going to be able to vote on these three propositions—Second Reading, the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor and the Motion of my noble friend Lord Ogmore. I do not want to be responsible for delay in supplying a great city like Liverpool with an adequate supply of water; therefore I am inclined to support the idea of giving a Second Reading to the Bill that is before the House. But I think the points which my noble friend Lord Ogmore sets out in his Motion are so important that they deserve to be emphasised by this House, to the Select Committee to whom the Bill will go; and if I have the opportunity I shall not e for the noble Lord's Motion.
§ 5.6 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF DROGHEDA)
My Lords, I intervene briefly, not on the merits but on procedure. First, I that this is a Bill in seven the Amendment of the noble Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, to, then, of course, the whole fall.
THE EARL OF DROGHEDA
My Lords, in effect, it would be finished for this Session. The noble Lord, in his Amendment, is concerned only with Parts II and III. It may be that it would not be worth the Promoters' while to go on with the Bill without those Parts; but I do suggest that they might well be given a chance to do so. They must hold public meetings before they come to Parliament with a Bill, and it is quite expensive to do so. They have had to do that once, and 1115 would have to do it all over again. I suggest that that is a consideration which might be borne in mind. The noble Lord could put his Amendment in the form of an instruction, without going against the Second Reading of the Bill. I am not going to be disingenuous enough to say that I feel I should be able to support that Motion, but that is something which could be done without killing the whole Bill.
It is, of course, very unusual not to give a Private Bill a Second Reading. Opinions on this Bill are very strong and very divided, and it is extraordinarily difficult to deal, on the Floor of the House, with matters that may be discussed for days and days in a Select Committee, with evidence before them. What we generally wish to do, I believe, is to let the Bill go forward to a Select Committee. There is nothing final in what we do to-day. We can discuss it all again on Third Reading, in the light of the Report of the Select Committee—if the matter is allowed to go to a Select Committee.
On Lord Ogmore's Motion that instructions be given to the Committee, I would point out that most of the matters dealt with are matters that will in any event come before the Select Committee—if it sits—by means of Petitions which are brought against the Bill; and there they will be very much considered. It is possible, though not usual, for this House to give instructions to Select Committees. I should hope that this debate would have brought before any Select Committee all the points about Wales which can possibly be raised, and also that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, would perhaps submit a report showing the possible effect of the proposals on agricultural production. Those will be matters before the Select Committee. I hope that the Bill will be allowed to have a Second Reading.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, the House has had a long discussion on this important Bill, and it seems to me appropriate that at this stage I should endeavour to give the House, as briefly as possible, the views which Her Majesty's Government hold on the Amendment moved this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of 1116 Gwaenysgor. I have been informed that it is normal for a Private Bill to receive a Second Reading at the hands of your Lordships, and Her Majesty's Government see no reason whatever why, on the present occasion, the House should depart from this practice. We believe that the Bill should be examined by a Select Committee, according to the procedure which has been followed for many years, at which, we know full well, all parties can be heard. Now, the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, suggests that further consideration of the Bill should be postponed until the Committee to be appointed by my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has reported to him on the use of water resources in Wales.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
In this area. Well, I think the argument would be the same. The survey which is to be undertaken is one that is bound to occupy a considerable time. The Report will then be presented and will be considered by an Advisory Committee which, as noble Lords know, is also to be set up, as was announced at the same time by my right honourable friend. Surely, it is obvious that if the House agreed to this Amendment the Bill would not be able to proceed further this Session—and there is considerable doubt whether, in fact, it could proceed next Session either.
Having considered all the points which can be brought up in favour of postponement, we feel that it would be wrong to postpone the Bill now without the Promoters having had a chance to argue their case in detail. I feel very strongly that if your Lordships should accept the Amendment on the Order Paper, then surely you would be accused—and, I believe, rightly accused—of having prejudged the issue without having heard any of the detailed arguments for or against the Bill. And from what we have heard this afternoon, there must be some considerable arguments put up to the Select Committee, because feelings certainly seemed at one moment to be running fairly high. Noble Lords who have served on these Select Committees will be well aware that counsel for the Promoters and the opponents of the Bill 1117 will be able to appear, and I have no doubt that the questions raised by the noble Lord's Amendment will be taken into consideration.
I would support the observations which were made to the House by the noble Earl, Lord Drogheda, a few minutes ago. I should also like to remind the House that further discussions can take place, if necessary, on the Third Reading of this Bill, when your Lordships will have had the benefit of seeing the Select Committee's Report. In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government and my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government believe that the Bill should now be given a Second Reading, and I would sincerely ask the House to agree with the course which we are anxious to follow.
§ 5.14 p.m.
THE EARL OF WOOLTON
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Earl who has just spoken. In commending this Bill, I was speaking as an individual, without having had any consultation with the Government as to what they wanted to do. I have commended the Bill to your Lordships on its merits and on the grounds of its urgency. I should much regret if any lack of advocacy on my part were to cause you to be led, as I think, astray by the great eloquence which you have heard from the other side of the House. But I would suggest to your Lordships that Lord Ogmore made the best case that could be made for sending this Bill to a Select Committee, because he brought forward all those technical arguments, supported by a small amount of evidence. But your Lordships did not have—as the Select Committee will have—the opportunity of hearing the arguments or, the other side. Surely we have been wise in the past to let these highly controversial matters he discussed in controversial places, when examination and cross-examination can take place, and when learned counsel can put forward the various cases. I hope your Lordships will see that this Bill has that opportunity.
There is one thing I should like to say in regard to what the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, said. He raised the question of consultation. When do you begin to consult? Before you know what you are going to do, or want to do, or afterwards? That was the issue which the noble Lord raised. He was not 1118 attempting, I know, to mislead your Lordships, because he carefully made the point that people went and looked at this place without consulting the people in the neighbourhood. Do you not do that? Is not that the way in which these matters do proceed? Do you not go and look to see what sort of a place it is and what sort of conditions exist, before you go any further and ascertain whether it would be agreeable to the people there to allow you to proceed? But the Liverpool City Council, according to my brief, having done all that, then consulted ten local authorities, twenty-three rural district councils and other corporations, and authorities, Is there really a case to be made out for delaying this Bill because there was inadequate consultation?
May I not submit to your Lordships that you should look at the Bill for the work which it is going to do? It is a Bill to bring much-needed water to over 1 million people, and to provide that that water shall be put into reservoirs, shall be canalised and used for the people in the neighbourhood, if the people in the neighbourhood subsequently want it. There is nothing but gain to be obtained as the result of this project. I hope that your Lordships will just take note of one final figure. At present, this huge population of North Merseyside has a supply of water of 61 million gallons a day, at the maximum. A supply of 65 million gallons a day is called for. Can you think that the Liverpool Corporation are wrong in taking steps now to see where they can get sufficient water from and at as early a date as possible? As for the question that they are "jumping the gun," I will only say that while I myself have always been in favour of a spirit of adventure, they will not get very far in "jumping" with a Select Committee of your Lordships' House. So I beg your Lordships to give this Bill a Second Reading, and to trust the Select Committee to do the analysis that is proper for them to do, and, subsequently, to report their judgment to us, in order that e may come to a final decision on the matter.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, with your permission. I should like to say a few further words. First, on the consultation aspect. Since I last spoke, I have received 1119 —and it has been unsolicited—a note on behalf of the Merioneth County Council. The note states:The Liverpool surveyors went into the valley for survey without applying even for planning permission from the County Council, which, under planning regulations, they are supposed to do. Application was not made by Liverpool until we found them there after a month's operation.If that is called the right method of consultation on an issue like this, then I am amazed. I am told by the Lord Chairman of Committees that the procedure we suggest to-day is very unusual. But we are in a very unusual position in regard to this matter. While this Bill was before this House, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who is also the Minister for Welsh Affairs, made an announcement in another place that he was setting up a Committee to go into the question of the conservation and use of water in Wales. The catchment area concerned is the biggest in Wales, but it is to be excluded from this investigation.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, I think the noble Lord is wrong. I think it is to be excluded from consideration by the Select Committee, but it certainly will not be excluded from the Minister's Report on the investigation of water supply in Wales. It will be taken into consideration, and no doubt the argument that the noble Lord has employed will be used by the opponents of the Bill, if the Bill goes to a Select Committee.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
What does that mean? All the water now going from Wales to Birmingham and other cities, and all the dams in Wales, will be considered but the main intention is to consider the water not allocated anywhere at the moment. That is why we on this side are concerned about the exclusion from the survey of this tremendous quantity of water. We have been told that a lot of money is being spent. That is the trouble. Liverpool have gone on and on, like a giant, insisting and believing that they will have their way later on. I should not have considered putting down this Amendment but for the fact that a Committee is being set up. We are told that we cannot have their Report this year as regards this specific area, and I ask for a postponement of the Second Reading—I do not 1120 ask for the rejection of the Bill. We are told that if it were postponed, it could not come forward this Session. That may be; but in justice to those concerned and in fair play to Welsh water resources, we think that this Bill ought to be postponed until after the Committee have reported on this particular area.
§ LORD DYNEVOR
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, a question? Did I understand him to say that if Liverpool builds this reservoir, water will still be available for this locality in Wales?
§ On Question, Amendment negatived:
§ Bill read 2a.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, as I indicated to your Lordships in the debate on my noble friend's Amendment, I then said most of what I wanted to say and I do not propose to go at length into any further argument. I understand that an instruction is a proper Parliamentary procedure. Whether it is advisable or not is a matter of opinion. If one strongly objects to anything, then all proper Parliamentary procedures are advisable for those who take advantage of them. As I have already said, I do not think that this sort of Bill should go to a Select Committee at all. I do not think that this matter should be the subject of a Private Bill. I have the greatest confidence in the Select Committees of this House—no Member of your Lordships' House has greater confidence in them than I have—but, for the reasons which I have given, I do not believe that this procedure should be followed in these days. The noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, has stated that he is a believer in the nationalisation of our water resources and that the proper way of dealing with this question is by a comprehensive national scheme. That is exactly what I said and what I say now, and it is because of the desirability of a comprehensive plan for the water resources of Wales that I have put down this instruction.
Your Lordships have heard what I said on my noble friend's Amendment and have read the four paragraphs of the instruction which I have put down on the Order Paper. The Lord Chairman 1121 of Committees suggested to my noble friend that he should have put his Amendment in the form of an instruction; there fore, I presume that in his mind this is a reasonable, logical and proper method of dealing with questions on Private Bills. The Lord Chairman of Committees also said that good had been done by this debate, because all these questions had been ventilated and brought to the attention of the Committee, who no doubt would take notice of them, and that the. Minister of Agriculture might well submit a report on the agricultural aspects of this scheme. We feel that we have done much good in bringing this matter before Parliament. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, will not feel that we on this side in any way wish to derogate from the power and responsibility of Parliament. We think that Parliament should have the last word, and as Parliamentarians we have felt it our duty to bring before Parliament certain considerations we wish the Committee to have in mind in their assessment of the important matters affected by this scheme. I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
§ Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill may be referred that before authorising the powers sought by the Bill they should satisfy themselves that due consideration has been given to:—
- (a) the strong national feeling which exists in Wales against the provisions of the Bill;
- (b) the adverse effect which the passage of the Bill will have upon agriculture in and around the Tryweryn Valley;
- (c) the probable adverse effect of large projects of the kind proposed in the Bill on water supplies in Wales generally; and
- (d) the danger that the passage of the Bill will prevent the creation of a comprehensive development plan for upland Wales.—(Lord Ogmore.)
My Lords, I rise merely to ask the noble Lord one question. He agrees about what we call the nationalisation of water, though I should prefer the word "unification"; but would he agree that it should be on the basis of the whole of this Island and not for Wales alone?
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, certainly I would agree entirely on that. I think that it should be done in the same way as it has peen done in the case of coal, electricity and gas. But it is equally important, I think, that schemes like the Tryweryn scheme should not go forward in view of the fact that we need a nationalisation plan for the country as a whole.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I have always thought that there is everything to be said for being a Scotsman, and I think that the debate this afternoon has confirmed that in my mind. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has moved a Motion instructing the Select Committee in certain respects, and I rise, not on the merits of the Bill, but purely on the question of procedure. This House has a well-known and well-tried procedure for dealing with Bills of this kind. A Select Committee is set up which is composed of noble Lords of unquestioned ability, before whom every aspect of a case can be argued and before whom counsel on either side can argue the case if necessary. In such cases as this, I think your Lordships' house would naturally be very reluctant to instruct the Committee to take into account matters which they would take into account as a matter of course in their proceedings.
I think that the Government's advice must be that in this case instructions would be undesirable and unnecessary on the matters raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press his Motion for instructions to the Select Committee. Your Lordships have been able to pronounce upon the Bill on Second Reading and we shall have an opportunity again on Third Reading of discussing the merits of the case. The Select Committee will be competent and qualified, and all questions can be thoroughly considered by them. After the full debate we have had on the merits of the case, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will not press his Motion.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, in view of what the noble Earl has said, I will not press it on this occasion. We have had a full debate on the matter, and my noble friend Lord Macdonald of 1123 Gwaenysgor and I are grateful to all noble Lords in all parts of the House for the patient consideration they have given to it.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill referred to a Select Committee.