§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
EARL ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to signify to the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Land Drainage Bill, 144 has consented to place Her Majesty's interest so far as it is concerned on behalf of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of this Bill.
My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill I do not think it necessary or desirable to make a long speech. The reason I say that is not in any way to detract from the importance of this Bill, but because it has been subjected to a most rigorous and intensive scrutiny by extremely expert and well-briefed opinion, both in your Lordships' House and elsewhere; and, as a result, the Bill has been improved. All I want to say now is that I am most grateful to noble Lords in all parts of the House for their help, and for their very constructive approach to this Bill. Any differences we may have had have been almost entirely confined—I think I could say entirely confined—to points of detail, and not points of principle; and that is why I do not think any speech going over all the points of the Bill is called for now. My Lords, land drainage is one of the fundamental prerequisites of good farming, and floods are an evil from which everyone seeks protection. I commend this Bill to your Lordships as a measure which takes us another big step forward on both these fronts. I beg to move that this Bill be read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Earl Waldegrave.)
§ LORD WILLIAMS of BARNBURGH
My Lords, I do not intend to detain your Lordships for more than half a minute or so. On Second Reading I welcomed the Bill; I thought it was a good Bill—perhaps far better when it arrived in your Lordships' House than when it went to another place. Your Lordships will all know as well as I do, and perhaps much better, that we have all too few agricultural acres. If, therefore, by means of this Bill, or by any Bill, we can extend the value of the acres we possess, then we should not hesitate to welcome it. There were two points on which I was disappointed with the noble 145 Earl on Committee stage, in Clause 23 and Clause 30, but I am such a forgiving fellow that I am almost prepared to for-give him for his sin of omission in those respects. However, my Lords, I think it is a good Bill. I hope that the river boards will make the fullest possible use of it; and I am sure that in a few years' time we shall be grateful that this Bill was introduced.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.