HL Deb 30 May 1960 vol 224 cc9-29

2.50 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Balfour of Inchrye.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair]

Clause 1 [Extension of s. 7 of Act of 1951 to tidal waters]:

LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE moved, after subsection (4) to insert: ( ) Section fifteen of the River Boards Act, 1948 (which relates to the taking by a river board of samples of effluents passing into waters in their area) shall apply in relation to any controlled waters adjoining a river board area as if those waters were included in that area, whether or not those waters also adjoin any other such area".

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the first Amendment, which is one of those borderline Amendments—almost a drafting one, but not quite. So your Lordships are entitled to an explanation of its purpose. The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that in dealing with discharges into tidal waters river boards have the same powers as they at present enjoy in respect of non-tidal waters over which they have jurisdiction. It may well be that in tidal waters the discharge of effluent starts in a place which is within the area of a river board but finishes in an area of tidal water which belongs not to that particular river board but to another. This Amendment will enable the river board to have sampling powers at the discharge end of the effluent which is going into the tidal waters, even though the area in which that discharge takes place is not the particular area of the river board where the discharge originates but is the area of another river board. I beg to move—

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 17, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Balfour of Inchrye.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 18, leave out ("subsections (1) and (2)") and insert ("the foregoing provisions").—(Lord Balfour of Inchrye.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD AIREDALE moved, after subsection (5) to insert: ( ) Before granting their consent under the said section seven to the bringing into use of a new or altered outlet for the discharge of trade or sewage effluent or the making of a new discharge of trade or sewage effluent into controlled waters within the sea fisheries district of a local fisheries committee, the river board shall consult with the local fisheries committee and shall not grant their consent without the approval of the local fisheries committee or shall impose such conditions as the local fisheries committee may require: Provided that if within thirty days from the date of the rim consultation the river board and the local fisheries committee fail to agree as to whether consent should be granted or as to what, if any, conditions should be attached to the consent, the question shall be referred to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who, after considering any representations by the parties to the disagreement, shall determine whether or not the consent shall be granted and, if so, what conditions, if any, shall be attached thereto. ( ) In this section the expressions 'local fisheries committee' and 'sea fisheries district' mean respectively a local fisheries committee constituted, and a sea fisheries district created, in accordance with the provisions of the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act, 1888, as amended by the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1938. The noble Lord said: I must first say that the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, in whose name also this Amendment stands, is unavoidably prevented from feeing in his place this afternoon.

The reason for the Amendment arises in this way. The river boards, a comparatively young statutory body (they have been in existence, I think, only since 1948), are now to have their powers of control extended from non-tidal waters to include tidal waters. Tidal waters have, of course, been very much under the control of the sea fisheries committees, which are much older statutory bodies: they have been in existence since 1888. It seems wrong in principle that one statutory body should be given power to exercise control over a territory which is very much the province of another and very much older statutory body without being required at least to consult and to get the consent of the older statutory body for whatever it is that the newer body seeks to permit. For that reason it is sought by this Amendment to require the river boards to consult and to obtain the consent of the sea fisheries committees over any matter concerning effluents which may have been detrimental to the interests of the sea fisheries committees in the tidal parts of the rivers.

Furthermore, this Amendment would enable the sea fisheries committees in certain cases to stamp out and prevent the damage before it was done, instead of waiting—as at present they have to do—for damage to be done and then exercising their powers of prosecution. Thirdly, it is felt that even those powers of prosecution of the sea fisheries committees would be substantially reduced without an Amendment of this kind being carried, because it might well be that a skilful defendant, upon being prosecuted by the sea fisheries committees, would be able to play off one body against another by brandishing before the court, in mitigation of the offence for which he was prosecuted, the consent that he had obtained from the river board in question. It might well be that the courts would be impressed with his arguments and in the knowledge that he had obtained a river board's consent before proceeding would not give as much weight to, or treat as seriously, the offence for which he was being prosecuted by the sea fisheries committee. For those main reasons I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, at end insert the said subsections.—(Lord Airedale.)


In the absence of my noble friend Lord Latham, who would have supported this Amendment had he been present, I take upon myself partly at his request to support the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. I have little to add to what the noble Lord has said, except this: all that is being asked in this Amendment is that one body should not dominate the other body; that where action becomes necessary the two bodies will consult, and that if, by any chance, they cannot agree as a result of their consultation the matter shall be referred to the Minister in charge. I think that is a correct reading of this Amendment, which I beg to support.


I have been asked to say a word in support of this Amendment. I do not want to add very much to what has been said very ably from the other two sections of the House; but, speaking as somebody who has steadily and sadly watched during the course of his life the deterioration of our coastal fishing, I think there is a great deal to be said for this Amendment. Moreover, there is this point that I think is important: that if people are to have their livelihood interfered with it is reasonable to refer the matter to the Minister himself. That is going to the highest quarter to get a decision, and I think these committees should have the right to do that.


I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment, but I hope that by the time I have finished in a few moments the noble Lord, Lord Airedale may agree that it is neither correct in form nor necessary in effect. First, it seems to me that there are three objections to the Amendment in the way it is put on the Order Paper. The first is that it lays down statutory consultation, which it is not desirable to put in an Act of Parliament, for reasons which I think your Lordships well know; and it would certainly be a request duplicated, triplicated and quadruplicated by any and many other interests who considered themselves affected directly or indirectly by such proposals as are contained in this Bill and would of course, if those consultation had to take place, virtually clog the machinery for getting our rivers cleaner.

The second point is that the Amendment says that the approval of the Minister of Agriculture must be obtained before any consent is given by the river board; that the Minister of Agriculture shall have power to impose conditions as regards that consent, and that in the event of a difference between the river board and the sea fisheries committee it shall be the Minister of Agriculture who gives the final consent. I cannot help feeling that the Amendment has been drafted without regard to Section 7 of the 1951 Act, which confers on an applicant for a consent which is refused by the river board a right of appeal to the Minister of Housing and Local Government. The Amendment as drafted might well allow the sea fisheries committee to appeal to the Minister of Agriculture to direct the river board to refuse a consent, while the applicant would then appeal to the Minister of Housing and Local Government against such refusal. That is an absurd position.

But the Amendment, I think, is to be resisted not only on those particular grounds, but also upon general grounds. The noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said that the Amendment would allow the sea fisheries committee to prevent any damage occurring. This Bill does not permit any injury to sea fisheries which could not take place at the present time. All the Amendment does is to give an additional safeguard against damage to the sea fisheries. The sea fisheries' rights are all preserved. The only effect of the Bill is to add a safeguard against damage before it occurs—in fact, the Bill is going to do the very thing which the noble Lord wants done. It will, for the first time, enable the sea fisheries committee areas to be, as it were, restricted as regards pollution. At the present time the powers of the sea fishery committee are limited to prosecution after the event. If the Bill passes in its present form the sea fisheries committees will in future be safeguarded to a much greater extent than at present, in that there can be no pollution in their area unless the river board consent has been obtained.

I understand that there is not complete unanimity among sea fishery committees on the proposal put forward by the noble Lord in his Amendment; in fact, I am given to understand that the Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee, which includes the important town of Lowestoft, differ somewhat from the views expressed by my noble friend Lord Airedale. Equally, it seems to me to be rather "shadow boxing", if I may say so, for I understand that no sea fishery committee has entered any objection at any inquiry which has so far taken place—and there have been several inquiries, and five permits given—for the expansion of river board powers to tidal waters under the procedure of Section 6 of the 1951 Act. Why they did not object then but come forward now, it is somewhat difficult to understand.

If the sea fisheries committees feel that their interests need representation on river boards, then that is a different issue and not one for this Bill to-day. This Bill is to prevent more dirt and filth from going into our rivers and sea waters. If it is a question that sea fisheries committees feel that they should have a greater say, then that is a different issue and a matter of the constitution of the river boards, which no doubt will be considered by Her Majesty's Government, possibly when future legislation takes place as a result of the Armer and Bledisloe Committees' Reports. But I submit to your Lordships that this is not an issue to-day. This is not a Bill for the constitution of river boards, but a Bill for cleaner waters.

However, I always want to try to meet any case put forward, and I am sympathetic to the views expressed by the noble Lord. May I suggest that the noble Lord is not really on sound grounds when he says that, in the event of a prosecution by the sea fisheries committees, it would be a powerful defence if the body prosecuted were able to say, "We have a consent from the river board," because that does not happen in town planning. When town planning permission is given it does not override the local by-laws. But let us try to meet that point, and let us ask the Minister whether he will agree to request the river boards to inform any applicant for a discharge into tidal waters, when such application is granted, that the granting of the application in no way gives any immunity from prosecution by the sea fisheries committee. Give it in a red notice, if you like, or some such specific notice. I think that might meet that point.

The second suggestion I make to the noble Lord is that there should be from the Minister, if he would consider it, an administrative request to the river boards to keep the sea fisheries committees informed in respect of any consents they are giving. The third suggestion I make is one for which I have no power at all, but I put it forward to your Lordships, and no doubt Her Majesty's Government will take note of it. It is this: that as and when legislation is introduced to implement the Armer and Bledisloe Committees' Reports, inevitably the constitution of river boards must be reviewed, and that seems to me to be the appropriate time to consider whether sea fisheries committees should or should not have representation upon river boards.

I hope that the noble Lord will consider those three points which I have suggested: first, that we ask the Minister to request the river boards to give notice that grant of consent gives no immunity from prosecution; secondly, that he should issue a request that, administratively, the river boards and sea fisheries committees should work together, as in fact they do in many ways; and thirdly, that the noble Lord and I join in the hope that Her Majesty's Government will introduce legislation, and will consider, on its merits, the question of giving the sea fisheries committees representation on river boards. With those three hopes, I trust that the noble Lord will feel that I have gone some way to meet his point of view, even though I cannot accept his Amendment.


I should like to be allowed to say a word in support of the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye. These two bodies, the sea fisheries committee and the river board, are approaching the problem from the same point of view—namely, clean water. Therefore, inasmuch as they are in harmony, I should have thought that the suggestions made by the noble Lord who is in charge of the Bill amply cover the case. The objection to the Amendment is a strong one—namely, that it makes for delay. This is an extremely urgent question. I mentioned in a debate previously the increasing pressure of people to the riversides, which creates possible pollution. Therefore, I would hope that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye said, will see fit to withdraw his Amendment.


I am greatly obliged for the views that noble Lords have expressed, and I am considerably encouraged by the three ways in which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye is proposing to meet the difficulties that I have put forward. I cannot quite, I think, agree that an administrative request for consultation is quite so good as a compulsory consultation, although I concede that in certain cases it may lead to a friendlier and perhaps more profitable consultation. I am most grateful for the points the noble Lord made, and am delighted to hear that there is at least some likelihood that in due course sea fisheries committees, with their wealth of experience in tidal waters, may have representation upon the river boards when the river boards enter this, to them, new territory—what I might call "tidal water territory".

Finally, I am consoled over my fear of what I would call the "playing off" of one statutory body against another by the fact that it has been made abundantly clear by the noble Lord that, whenever permission is granted by a river board, it will be made quite clear to the person receiving permission that it is given without prejudice to the existing powers of the sea fisheries committees. I am grateful to the noble Lord for those three assurances and, in the light of them, I beg leave of the Committee to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.11 p.m.

VISCOUNT SIMON moved, after subsection (5) to insert: ( ) A river board shall upon receiving an application under the said section seven and before varying or revoking any conditions pursuant to subsection (5) of the said section seven send to any interested authority a notice containing all relevant particulars and before giving their consent or varying or revoking the conditions the river board shall take into account any representations made to them by an interested authority within twenty-eight days from the receipt by that authority of the relevant particulars. ( ) In this section:— 'interested authority' means a harbour or conservancy authority having jurisdiction over any harbour or tidal waters into which any outlet for trade or sewage effluent discharges or into which any such proposed outlet would discharge; 'harbour', 'harbour authority' and 'conservancy authority' have the meanings given to those expressions by section seven hundred and forty-two of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.

The noble Viscount said: I believe the intention of this Amendment is quite clear. It is to provide that when an application is made to a river board in connection with a discharge into tidal waters which form part of waters controlled by a port authority, the authority shall be informed of the application and given a little time—28 days—in which to make any objection they may wish to make. When I intervened on the Second Reading of this Bill, I wanted a good deal more than that—to bring the port authorities, who have a very real interest in this matter, into the decisions which have to be taken; but I do not think my advocacy was very successful. It did not move the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and I got the impression that it did not move the House generally.

I come now with a very modest request—one much more modest than that of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. I am merely asking that harbour authorities, who are deeply concerned with these matters, should be informed when an application is made; and I do not see that any difficulty can arise in complying with that request. When this Bill was being debated in another place it was said that it would depend wholly on co-operation between the authorities concerned; and Members of the Committee may remember that on Second Reading I quoted what was said by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. He was a little against the Bill and in fact argued that at that time it would be necessary to have consultation with port authorities in appropriate cases.

The honourable Member who brought the Bill into another place said the same thing: that it was desirable that there should be consultations with port authorities. But I am not asking in this Amendment for consultation; I am merely asking that notice should be given to port authorities in appropriate cases so that those authorities, if they have a point to raise (though I imagine that in cost cases they will have nothing to say), will have an opportunity of raising it, so that a decision will not be taken without their knowledge. I make so bold as to suggest at this stage that the fisheries committees, who have been unable to get the Amendment for which they asked, may like to support this Amendment, whereby notice of application would be given to interested parties, so that those parties may have an opportunity of commenting upon it if they wish. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, at end insert the said subsections.—(Viscount Simon.)


I sincerely trust that my noble friend, Lord Balfour of Inch-rye, will approach this Amendment in the same kindly, understanding, and, I believe, sympathetic spirit in which he approached the previous Amendment. We on this side, as well as the majority of noble Lords on the other side, being deeply concerned and interested that this Bill shall become law, would not do anything to hamper its progress. I know that the most strenuous efforts have been made to ensure that this Amendment should not weaken the Bill, and it was hoped that it would be acceptable to the noble Lord who has done so well in introducing the Bill to your Lordships' House.

As has been pointed out, the Amendment takes away from the river boards no authority whatsoever. As it is drafted, the final word must, and should, rest with the river boards. All that is asked is that before a decision is reached the appropriate authority that has powers at the present time should be notified and that the river board should consider anything which the appropriate authority, as defined, might think fit to submit to them. I would repeat that the final word will be with the river board. There is no provision for an appeal or anything of that kind, and I hope, therefore, that in the circumstances this Amendment may be acceptable.


Of course I approach this Amendment in as kindly a spirit as I would approach any other. Certainly the persuasive powers of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, were deployed to the full, but he did not say what was the real and true effect of this Amendment. I believe that the Amendment is unnecessary, because in any case river boards will consult, and obviously the right honourable gentleman the Minister will tell them that it is their duty so to do. But it is not appropriate to lay down by Statute that such consultation must take place, because that would at once put dock and harbour authorities in a privileged position, to harass the river boards, whose need is for rapid action.

Let me say, on the first point, that consultations will take place. If I may say so, it is very much "shadow boxing" to express the fear that there will be differences. At present there are many miles of non-tidal waters in this country under the dock and harbour boards as regards powers for navigation. I am informed by the Severn River Board that there are many miles in their area which are under the British Transport Commission; and as long ago as 1952 a friendly arrangement was reached between that particular dock and harbour authority and that river board whereby each authority undertook to tell any applicant that, the application needed two consents. There was also an agreement for an interchange of views. That has worked perfectly well, and I have not the slightest doubt that this will work perfectly well in the future.

I believe that this Amendment is unnecessary because if dock and harbour authorities have their own powers then, as the noble Viscount, Lord Simon admits, there is no need for the provision in the Bill; and if there is a dock and harbour authority with no powers, then this Bill is all gain to them. I submit that they can have no case for harassing river boards with advice. The noble Viscount said the period would be just 28 days, but I believe that the effect would be serious, because the Amendment would endanger what I would term the three-months period laid down in Section 7 of the main Act, which says that if the river board fail to notify an applicant of consent of their decision within three months then the unconditional assent of the river board is to be assumed.

The Amendment of my noble friend Lord Simon requires a river board to submit "all relevant particulars". That is very vague, but we must assume that it includes the particulars the river board have received from the applicant. These are usually received in a very unsatisfactory state: there is much toing and fro-ing before the proper information can be obtained from any applicant; and much time is involved there. Also, it would entail the conveying to the harbour authority of the provisional decision of the river board. Then, after all this, the river board would have to wait 28 days for the dock and harbour representations and reconsider the matter in the light of such representations. Meanwhile, dirt and filth are pouring out, and the whole purpose of the Bill is being lost.

Supposing that the sea fisheries committee (as my noble friend Lord Simon temptingly held out to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale) obtained similar rights; and supposing that various other interested bodies came along and said, "We also want a statutory requirement for consultation," nothing would be done. I would ask my noble friend Lord Simon to accept what has been past practice: it has worked well and will, I am sure, work equally well in the future. After all, this is a Bill for cleaner waters; it is not a Bill to put more dirt into the waters, and I am sure that in the vast majority of cases it is the wish of the dock and harbour authorities to see cleaner waters. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose, and so I would ask my noble friend Lord Simon to take a wide view of the position and not to press his Amendment.


It seems quite superfluous to add a word after the persuasive and forceful way in which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has put his case. But I would ask the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, this question: What harm comes from this effluence? I am told that it is supposed to corrode the ships. I do not know. But I cannot understand the direct powerful harm that could come to navigation and which would be avoided by his Amendment.


Perhaps, before my noble friend replies, it might be convenient for your Lordships to know that the arguments that have been so cogently put forward by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye are, in the view of the Government, ones which should bear weight with your Lordships. I do not think that this Bill would be improved at all, and delay would be occasioned in its operation, if this Amendment were accepted. I therefore hope that your Lordships may see fit to resist it.

3.24 p.m.


I am very disappointed with this reception. With great respect to my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I do not think he addressed himself quite to the Amendment I put on the Paper. He stressed several times that it was not desirable to lay down the need for consultation. There is no need for consultation laid down in this Amendment. It is perfectly possible, when an application has been made and it has been notified under this Amendment to the harbour authority, that the harbour authority may make some representations. The river board are under no obligation to listen to those representations if they do not want to. I did not seek to put that into the Amendment because I realised that that difficulty had been raised. The noble Lord says that this Amendment would cause delay. I do not know whether I should be within the Betting and Gaming Bill if I made an offer to the noble Lord that there are very few applications that will ever be dealt with in under 28 days. He suggested that the harbour authorities could not be informed until after the river board had made a provisional decision. The Amendment does not suggest anything of the kind. He said that the applications, when they come in, are in bad form. I suggest that the period stipulated runs from the time when the application is in good form. I do not believe there is any delay caused by this Amendment whatever.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, asked about the interest of the port authorities. It does happen from time to time that noxious effluence will cause damage to ships' paint and so on, but that is by no means the only thing. Not all effluence is fluid effluence. Solid matter may be brought into the river, or difficulties may be caused with regard to dredging and other matters; and it seems to be perfectly reasonable that harbour authorities should be informed of what is asked for and, in appropriate cases—I readily agree that they will be few—should be able to make their desires known.

My noble friend Lord Balfour of Inch-rye said on two occasions, I think, that the harbour authorities would be harassing the river board. I really cannot believe that there would be any harassment in this matter at all. The river board will want to consider any application, I am sure, from every aspect. The noble Lord himself said that they will be willing to consult. If they are, they will surely be willing to receive representations without consulting. It is very disappointing to feel in this matter that we are going to be faced with decisions having been taken without anybody in the port authority knowing what has been applied for. I cannot for the life of me see the objection to someone being told what is applied for. It has been suggested that once a decision had been taken the interested authorities should be informed. I think I am right in saying that that is a matter already of Statute, because when a consent has been given it is, in fact, available to the public, so there is not very much in that point, if I may say so. I wonder whether the noble Lord and Her Majesty's Government, who have expressed their view on this matter, would not think again and see whether something could not be done to enable applications as they come in, without any preliminary decision of the river board, merely to be notified to other parties who are closely interested in this matter.


The voice is the voice of my noble friend Lord Simon, but the words are the words of the Amendment, and there is a considerable difference between the two. My noble friend Lord Simon took me to task for using the word "consultation", but in fact his Amendment says that the river board shall take into account any representations. How could one take into account representations unless there had also been consultation? I think that taking into account representations as a statutory obligation entails far more dangers of delay than does the consultation by legislation, which certainly I would resist. My noble friend Lord Simon painted a gloomy picture of a lot of things that might happen, but in fact they do not happen in practice; they have not happened in the past, and there is no reason why they should in the future. I would suggest this concession, and I would ask the Minister whether Her Majesty's Government would agree. Would it satisfy my noble friend if it were arranged that the river boards sent to the navigational authority a copy of applications as originally submitted to the river boards? There would be no question then of the navigation authority's not having knowledge of what the river board was considering; and men of common sense and good will would then get together, without any need for statutory provisions, and see the matter ironed out in the future in a satisfactory way, as it has been in the case of the River Severn, which is only one instance I could mention where it has worked perfectly well.


Perhaps I should say, in connection with the suggested offer that my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye makes, that my right honourable friend would certainly take note of that suggestion which seems to me, speaking "off the cuff", perhaps to be a reasonable one. However, I should not like to give any absolute undertaking at this stage. I am sure my right honourable friend would sympathetically take note of that suggestion if it would help the position.

While I am on my feet, there is just one further thing that I should like to say. On this question of informing other people and of consultation with other people, that might be appropriate if these powers were being granted to an administrator or to a single person. But these powers are being granted to a board—a board with very wide membership, representing a large number of interests and with members appointed jointly by my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who select these members very carefully. They have a broad and statesmanlike attitude to the problems that they discuss; and if you first set up a widely-based board of that sort and then, in respect of everything they do, they have to go and seek out independent interests and consult them as well, it seems to me that that really is redundant. I hope that your Lordships will take that into consideration when you are considering this Amendment, which I do advise your Lordships to reject.


I am grateful for what has been suggested by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye, but may I say to the Minister that it would be very slow-moving machinery indeed if the applications had to wait, or the meetings of the river boards, and so on. I speak as one with a very great admiration for their work and I have some connection with them as one of the vice-presidents, of the River Boards Association. It is a step forward, I think, and might go a very long way indeed; because it would mean that the officers of the river board, before waiting for any meeting of the river board, would act in the manner suggested, and would have the knowledge of the people concerned. But, of course, the Amendment rests with my noble friend Lord Simon. It is his responsibility, and not mine.


I am glad the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, is resisting this Amendment, but I am afraid I must resist the suggestion made towards the end of his remarks. I am a member of a river board, and the proposals which have been put forward in this House, and which were also put forward in another place—that consultations should take place before consent is granted—would just make the business of the river boards unworkable, and we must resist attempts at delay of one kind and another. If river boards have to advise port and harbour authorities before they give a consent, I would ask: why only port and harbour authorities? Why not the local water authority? Why not the local county council? Before we know where we are, the work of the river boards and the great job they have to do to clean up pollution in our rivers would be destroyed. It would be unnecessary delay. For the life of me I cannot see why port and harbour authorities have, all of a sudden, this great interest in pollution. Some of the authorities of the greatest ports up and down this country, such as the Port of London Authority, are the pollution authority—and a splendid work they do; but, Generally speaking, the harbours round our coast have no prevention-of-pollution rights to-day. It is because of the fact that they have no rights to deal with pollution that this Bill is being promoted. I hope that this Amendment will be withdrawn. I was glad to hear the Minister say—


I am sorry to intervene again, but I must say one word on what my noble friend has said. The point is, first, that harbour authorities are not represented on river boards; and, secondly, that local authorities are represented on river boards, and in that way, of course, get to know what goes on.


My noble friend is quite wrong. The Minister himself paid tribute to the representative nature of the river boards. I am a member of a harbour board—the greatest one in the country—and I am also a member of a river board.


But not by virtue of your membership of a harbour board.


My noble friend is wrong again. I am appointed by the Port of London Authority to represent them on the Essex Rivers Board.


I have served eight years on one of these boards, so I know what goes on.


. The methods of copying are so efficient now, and it can be so easily done, that I think the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, does carry the matter forward. I do not see that there can be any real objection against carrying it into effect.


If the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, could be put into effect, it would go a long way towards meeting what I have put down in this Amendment. It would be the first half of it: that the harbour authorities would know what was asked for. I agree that there would then be no obligation on the river board to take into account anything that the harbour authority might say, but in practice I have no doubt, as has been said before, that there will be the closest co-operation between the bodies concerned, and that they will, in fact, take into account what is said. However, they could not do so if the harbour authorities were not informed what was being discussed; and if, through the good offices of the noble Earl, it were possible for that to be arranged, I think the Harbour Authorities Association, who have asked me to put this Amendment forward, would certainly be satisfied. On that basis, I should be prepared to withdraw this Amendment.


Before the noble Viscount withdraws his Amendment, I want to be quite clear on this. I will take the suggestion to my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, but I do not want to be taken as having given an undertaking, because I do not know what he will be able to do. I want therefore to make it quite clear, before the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, withdraws his Amendment, that I cannot go further than taking note—and he knows quite well what that means.


May I just reiterate that I have no power at all beyond the power of representation to Her Majesty's Government which is enjoyed by any noble Lord in this House? I have no authority at all, but my request would be that the navigation authorities should be given a copy of an application for a consent as originally submitted to the river board. To make that request is my right. It rests with Her Majesty's Government in the future as to whether they do or do not agree to it. I am sure the noble Viscount would acquit me of any wish to give him any sort of hope, or of accepting any sort of responsibility for that suggestion beyond that of a private Member of your Lordship's House putting forward a Bill and asking Her Majesty's Government to consider a particular point.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord and to the noble Earl for making their positions so clear. However, one point is not so clear to me, and I do not know whether it is to the Committee as a whole. I am not quite sure what the status of this offer is. Is the offer that, if the right honourable gentleman accepts this suggestion, he will put it into the Bill?




Then what will he do with it, if I may ask?


As I understand it, my right honourable friend would not put anything into the Bill—that proposal we are resisting strongly. But he would, by administrative circular and so on, bring the point to the notice of the interested parties. It is something which has often been done before; and I am sure that your Lordships know very well—and I think the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, knows quite well—what my right honourable friend would do with it.


I am much obliged to the noble Earl. I must not detain the Committee any longer. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Schedule [Seaward Limits of Controlled Waters]:

3.39 p.m.


With your Lordships' permission I should like to speak in general to all these remaining Amendments, and your Lordships are well entitled to have a few words of explanation from myself as to why I submit them The basic reason for it is that in another place those responsible for this Bill originally tried to define in terms what was tidal water and what was not. Later on, after consultation with the appropriate Departments, that attempt was abandoned, and the matter was, as it were, tackled from the other end: the whole of the coastline was reviewed, and each specific locality of tidal water was charted.

It should be within your Lordships' recollection that on Second Reading I informed your Lordships that would make arrangements to place in the Library a complete set of 95 maps of the coast of Britain with these tidal waters marked out, as decided by the cartographers. The preparation of the Schedule was a big job for the experts, for it included, as I say, a complete examination of the coastline. There was not much time between Second Reading and Committee stage in another place, and further scrutiny has shown the need for fifteen Amendments. They are merely small alterations to make the landmarks more durable and have all been introduced and submitted to your Lordships after consultation and co-operation with the local people. They entail no significant alteration, but make a better definition. If I may give your Lordships an example, in No. 13, Gypsey Race is not really a tidal river and in No. 28 perhaps the original definition could not be justified because it was too far out. I do not want to weary your Lordships by giving a detailed explanation of each individual Amendment, unless any noble Lord wants me to do so.


Subject entirely to the wishes of the Committee, it is my proposal to put all these Amendments in one Question, but if any Member of the Committee desires to speak on any one of them or to ask any question about any one of them, I will put that Amendment separately.


I beg to move Amendments Nos. 5 to 20.

Amendments moved—

Page 4, leave out line 33.

Page 4, line 37, leave out from ("Point") to end of line 38 and insert ("to Gore Point.").

Page 4, line 44, leave out from ("to") to end of line 45 and insert ("the northernmost point of Blakeney Point.").

Page 5, leave out lines 7 and 8, and insert—

("22. The mouth of the river Ore.").

Page 5, line 27, leave out from first ("the") to ("to") in line 28 and insert ("West Cliff Bandstand, Ramsgate, at TR37126415").

Page 5, line 35, after ("and") insert ("the east").

Page 5, leave out line 38, and insert—("33. A line drawn between the seaward ends of the jetties at Littlehampton.").

Page 5, leave out lines 48 and 49, and insert ("lighthouse at the seaward end of Hurst Castle Spit on the mainland at SZ31838987.").

Page 6, line 7, at end insert—

("40. Lines drawn across the North Ship Channel, East Ship Channel and South Ship Channel at Portland harbour between the ends of the breakwaters.").

line 13, leave out from ("to") to end of line 14 and insert ("the seaward end of the breakwater at Langstone Rock.").

Page 7, line 4, leave out ("SS41902905") and insert ("SS41432851").

Page 7,line 18, leave out from second ("Point") to end of line.

Page 7,line 18, leave out line 21, and insert—

("68. A line drawn across the entrance to Solfach harbour from SM80162355 to SM79992365.").

Page 7,line 18, leave out lines 36 and 37 and insert—

("77. The mouth of the river Artro.")

Page 8, line 16, leave out from ("to") to end of line 17 and insert ("SJ32259699.").

Page 8, line 20, leave out from first ("the") to ("to") in line 21 and insert ("seaward side of Marine Drive where it is crossed by Southport Pier at SD33021787").—(Lord Balloter of Inchrye.)


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for information? Suppose some amendment of this cartographical survey is required, how is it done? Does it mean another Act of Parliament?


I am told that once this Bill is passed the points of demarcation are durable, and if there is some alteration in the coastline, due to either encroachment of the sea or recession of the sea, these landmarks will still stand marked on the ordnance map.


In the noble Lord's illuminating explanation of the significant and immense amount of work done he said that it had been decided not to make a definition of "tidal waters". Is not the simple definition of tidal waters, "where the tide flows"?


That was the original hope of those who promoted the Bill in another place, but "where the tide flows" did not satisfy the precision required in an Act of Parliament, so it was turned over, as it were, and instead of a general definition we came to a series of specific definitions. That is why these Amendments have been put down.


I am sorry to learn that it is not a precise definition. These were the words used in setting up the Milford Haven Conservancy Board.


I am not defending or commenting on the Milford Haven Act. The decision not to attempt to make a general definition but to demarcate specific areas which are tidal was taken and could only be taken, after full consultation with and with the assistance of Her Majesty's Government and her experts.

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.