§ 2.37 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Some weeks ago, when I was approached to move the Second Reading of the Bill, I thought it my duty to give the Manchester Corporation an opportunity of putting their proposals before Parliament. I did not then anticipate that the opponents of the waterworks clauses would circularise your Lordships by practically every post and flood the Press with propaganda, some of it inaccurate and most of it highly-coloured.
To give a few examples, in last week's New Statesman Mr. Paul Johnson, who is a very adroit journalist and who can turn his hand equally well to an article on the Royal Family or on Suez, stated that Manchester proposed to turn Ullswater into a reservoir. Now as I understand the waterworks clauses in this Bill, this is not at all the case. What is proposed is that water should be extracted from Ullswater and taken to Haweswater, which is already a reservoir. Then there was an article in yesterday's Daily Mail which stated that the scheme for Ullswater would raise the level by 3 feet. Where they got this figure from I do not know, but the Pro- 210 moters of the Bill contend that the effect of the weir will be to raise the average level of the lake by only a few inches. Then the National Trust sent out a circular stating that the Bill will give the Corporation powers to acquire compulsorily all the land in the vicinity of the lake. In fact, the only land in the vicinity of the lake which the Bill will give the Corporation powers to acquire is the specifically defined area of 28.9 acres near Gale Bay.
My Lords, wild statements of this kind have tended to make sensible appreciation of the waterworks clauses extremely difficult. I am sure that your Lordships who have taken part in this debate have read the statement issued on behalf of the Promoters, so I will only briefly summarise their proposals, which are, indeed, difficult to understand without the aid of maps.
At Bannisdale it is proposed to construct an impounding reservoir and intake weir at Huck's Bridge. The only land to be acquired is a small site for the weir. Also, a treatment works will he built to purify the water, and, as a result, there will be no need to impose any restrictions on the life and enjoyment of the Bannisdale Valley. Then, in order to take water from Ullswater, the Corporation are asking that they should he empowered to construct an intake below the surface of the lake, an underground pumping chamber beneath the land which abuts on Ullswater, and an underground aqueduct. The Corporation also wishes to construct a weir in the River Eamont, at Pooley Bridge.
The Parts of the Bill other than those dealing with waterworks are unopposed, and I think that when the Lord Chairman of Committees speaks he will confirm that they can safely be given a Second Reading. As your Lordships know, it is very unusual in this House not to give a Private Bill a Second Reading. I would refer your Lordships to some remarks on this subject made by the late Lord Drogheda, when he was Lord Chairman of Committees. It was during a Second Reading debate, and this is what he said: [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 201, col. 1115].It is, of course, very unusual not to give a Private Bill a Second Reading. Opinions on this Bill "—211 that was the Liverpool Corporation 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 ".This sensible advice should, I submit, be followed by the House to-day, and I feel confident that the present Lord Chairman will advise the House in the same way as his predecessor did on the Liverpool Corporation Bill.
Whatever criticisms may be levelled against the details of the waterworks proposals, I want to make it abundantly clear that it is essential for the Manchester Water Undertaking to get more water from somewhere. Manchester have to look after the water needs not only of the city population but of many local authorities and bulk suppliers, amounting in all to 47—and they include such sizable towns as Bolton, Macclesfield, Preston and Stockport. The total demand on the Manchester Water Undertaking during the year ended December 31, 1961, amounted to an average of 105 million gallons per day, about 50 per cent. of which went to industry. What is going to be the position in the future? The Federation of British Industries inform me—and they support this Bill—that the industrial demand is going to increase by 5 per cent. per annum, and they emphasise that by 1970 the situation for industry could well become critical. So the Corporation must look for large, additional supplies of water. By 1965, when the Wet Sleddale Reservoir is completed and brought into use, the available yield will be 126 million gallons a day, but by 1970 a further 40 or 50 million gallons a day will have to be provided, and I submit that the requisite powers for this must be granted without delay.
My Lords, I hope I have established the case that there is a real need for further large supplies of water. The opponents of the scheme suggest there may be alternatives to the Corporation's scheme, but they do not say what they 212 are. My information is that the underground sources of water are already being seriously depleted and supplies of surface water are already heavily committed, so the present proposals offer the only prospect of covering the future demand. The F.B.I. have also pointed out to me that in many sections of industry, such as chemicals and food preparation, a very high standard of purity is required, which precludes the use of secondary sources such as can be obtained from rivers and canals. Even if this were not so, the extraction of large quantities of river water would be unjustifiable since further heavy demands would reduce flows and concentrate pollution. I should like to point out that industry is already making substantial efforts to conserve supplies. Water required for cooling purposes is, where possible, drawn from secondary sources, and large quantities are re-circulated and re-used where possible.
Finally, there is the question of cost. Anything that could affect costs, and ultimately water charges, would have a serious effect on industry, and it is the contention of the Promoters that the scheme set out in this Bill is the most economical. But I have seen it seriously cited as an argument against the Corporation's proposals that it is the most economical—as if that were a sort of dirty word. The opponents of the Bill have made great play of the fact that Bannisdale and Ullswater are in the Lake District and a National Park, but it is nonsense to suggest seriously that, because this Bill seeks to authorise development in a National Park, it should automatically be rejected on Second Reading. I can give your Lordships many precedents where Parliament has authorised developments in National Parks, and in no case has either House of Parliament ever rejected a Private Bill on Second Reading just because the Bill sought to authorise development in a National Park.
Just to give a few instances, the North Wales, Hydro-Electric Power Act, 1952, authorised the construction of a generating station, a reservoir and an aqueduct for the extraction of water in the Snowdonia National Park; the Liverpool Corporation Act, to which I referred a little earlier, authorised substantial water works in the Snowdonia National Park; and the Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge 213 and Dukinfield (District) Waterworks Act, 1958, authorised the construction of an impounding reservoir in the Peak District. I could continue for quite a long time, but I hope that by now I have made my point clear.
It has also been said by some of the opponents of the Bill that there has not been sufficient consultation with the various interested parties. My Lords, let us look at the facts. The Town Clerk opened discussions early in July of last year with the Cumberland Water Board; in August there was a Press conference, giving full details of the proposals; and since then there has been a succession of meetings with the various interested bodies—county councils, district councils, the National Trust, the National Parks Commissioners, et cetera.
Another argument used against these proposals is that the City Council have "jumped the gun": that the matter must await the formulation of a national water policy. Your Lordships may have seen that during this last week there has been published the Final Report of the Central Advisory Water Committee. It remains to be seen whether Her Majesty's Government will eventually follow its recommendations, which were not unanimous. In any event, it is likely to be several years before legislation is introduced, and Manchester simply cannot wait. But I should like to point out that if Royal Assent is given to this Bill in July of this year, it will take the Corporation all the available time to carry out the work necessary to have the extra water needed by 1970.
My Lords, to sum up, the Manchester City Council fully appreciate that they would have to satisfy the Select Committee, first, that the increasing demand for water makes it necessary to secure other sources of supply; secondly, that there is no feasible alternative to the proposals in the Bill; thirdly, that the proposals relating to Bannisdale and the adjoining valleys will not militate against the enjoyment of those valleys by the public, or interfere with agriculture more than is absolutely necessary. Lastly, the City Council realise the importance of Ullswater as a place of beauty and recreation, and they desire, and have pledged themselves to ensure, that it shall remain so. Therefore, I trust that your Lordships will reject 214 Lord Birkett's Motion and allow the Select Committee, in due course, to get on with the work of considering the watercourses, and, having heard the evidence on behalf of the Promoters and Petitioners, to report back to your Lordships' House. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Jessel.)
§ 2.52 p.m.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (LORD MERTHYR)
My Lords, in this Bill there are 77 clauses and four Schedules. I should just like to point out to the House that these are divided onto eight Parts, of which it is, I suppose, only Part III that is really the subject of debate this afternoon. I mention that because it is important for us all to realise that there are a great many Parts to this Bill in addition to the very controversial one which we are now discussing. On the Order Paper your Lordships will see that there are two Motions for to-day. If the second of these Motions—that is, the one in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett—is carried. Part III will, in effect, be denied a Second Reading in this House. The whole Bill may have had a Second Reading if the first Motion is passed; but, as I say, in effect, if the second Motion is also passed, Part III will be denied a Second Reading.
My Lords, I concede that to refuse a Private Bill a Second Reading is constitutional. It has been done on a number of occasions, but not frequently; in fact, it is rare. It was last done in 1937, on the North Devon Electric Power Bill and the North Devon Water Bill. It has been done four times only in this century. To pass a mandatory instruction, such as that in the name of the noble and learned Lord, is also rare, though constitutionally quite possible. The last time this was done was also in 1937, on the Poole Corporation Bill; and it has been done seven times in this century. As I say, to Give a mandatory instruction to a Committee has the same effect as refusing a Second Reading.
I should like to emphasise here that in giving a Second Reading to a Private Bill the House is doing something quite different from what it is doing in giving a Second Reading to a Public Bill. When your Lordships agree to the Second 215 Reading of a Public Bill, you are approving the general purposes of the Bill. But when your Lordships give a Second Reading to a Private Bill, it amounts, in effect, merely to a decision to refer all the questions on the Bill to a Committee. The Committee deal not with details but with the whole policy of the Bill. So, if your Lordships reject the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, you will not be deciding to allow the waterworks which are the subject of Part III of this Bill; what you will be doing is merely to allow the case for the Promoters to be heard. On the other hand, if you pass the instruction in the name of the noble and learned Lord, you will, as I say, be denying to the Promoters the customary right to present their case to this House.
My Lords, may I here mention a little piece of history? I think it is not unimportant to remember that until the year 1820 (which in the history of this House is not a very long time ago) it was the universal practice, and the right of the Promoters of every Private Bill, to come and stand at the Bar of this House and present their case; and, so far as I know, that right was never denied them. Thereafter, for reasons which will be obvious to all of us, the custom had to he altered, and the machinery of the Select Committee was then invented, and has taken the place of the custom since that year. The Select Committee, of course, is a semi-judicial body. It hears evidence and decides upon the evidence, and only upon the evidence, just as does a court of law; and I venture to think that it is, on the whole, an effective way of dealing with these matters.
My Lords, this is an opposed Bill, as I think most of your Lordships will by this time be aware. It is opposed in the sense that there are Petitions deposited against it. There are, in all, eighteen Petitions against this Bill, of which seventeen are against Part III and one against some other Part of the Bill. Just as a matter of interest, I counted up the number of bodies and institutions which are numbered amongst the seventeen Petitioners, and they total no fewer than thirty-one. Many of them have joined together, most sensibly, in presenting a joint Petition. So, my Lords, you can be sure that, 216 if a Second Reading is given to this Bill, and if this mandatory instruction is not passed, there will be full discussion by the Committee upstairs. Of that we can all be sure. If, on the other hand, the mandatory instruction is carried, discussion will be wholly prevented on this part of the Bill, and the evidence would not be heard.
My Lords, I should like to ask the House this question. Is it right that we should refuse to hear the case for this Bill? I will leave your Lordships to answer that question for yourselves. I concede that it has been done before. No doubt we shall be told that; and it is true. And I concede, further more, that it would be right to do so if, but only if, no matter what the evidence to be presented, no matter what the arguments in support of the evidence, no matter what the local circumstances might be, it was in the national interest, or for some other equally good reason, to throw out this Bill on Second Reading, or to carry this instruction and prevent the case from being heard.
My Lords, can that be said to-day? I venture to think that it is at least premature to answer that question in the affirmative, and even if it can be said at all, can it be said at so early a point in the proceedings as we have reached this afternoon? If your Lordships are with me so far, you will gather that in the opinion of some of my predecessors, and of other Members of your Lordships' House, no doubt, this House traditionally does not like mandatory instructions to Committees. I think the reasons for that will be by this time fairly obvious.
The objectors also have a case, which I venture to think ought to be heard as well. I go so far as to say that, in the public interest, it would really be better to hear not only the Promoters but also the opponents of this Bill. I think that the whole country would be in a better position if both sides were allowed to present their cases to a Select Committee of your Lordships' House. I concede another thing, which is this. The opponents of Private Bills, in this case as in all others, are often in a difficulty. They are so often told on Second Reading—I have no doubt they will be told to-day—that they must give the Bill a 217 Second Reading in order that the argument may be heard upstairs and then, when the argument has been heard upstairs and the Bill comes back to your Lordships' House with the controversial part allowed to proceed, they are told that now that the Committee has had this Bill before them and heard the argument, really they must not upset the decision of the Committee.
I say that because I sympathise with the dilemma, as I call it, in which the opponents of all Private Bills which are controversial are often placed. I have tried to see what can be done to resolve this dilemma in the fairest possible way. I think that every fair-minded person—and I am sure that all your Lordships are that—would concede that there is this difficulty in which all the opponents of Private Bills are placed.
I have tried to think of the best course to adopt and in doing so my eye alighted on Standing Order No. 94 of the Standing Orders relative to Private Bills. In this connection, I should like here and now, without any reservation or ambiguity, to give your Lordships this undertaking: that, if two things happen, I will move a Resolution on the Floor of the House under Standing Order No. 94. The two things are these: that the mandatory instruction is not agreed to today, and that Part III is allowed to procede by the Committee upstairs. What I am saying now is totally ineffective unless those two things happen in the event. I am not making any conditions. I am not entering into any sort of bargain with any Member of the House. I want to make that perfectly plain, and also that I am doing this entirely on my own initiative and not as the result of any pressure from anybody. But if those two things in the even t happen, and, of course, they may not, I give an undertaking here and now that I will move in this House, That this Bill be recommitted after Report to a Committee of the Whole House.
That is an unusual procedure. It has not been done since 1882, but the Standing Order, after considerable revision, is still in the Book and for my part I do not see why this is not the very case when such a practice might be put into effect. In fact, I do not think that I can think of a situation in which it is more called for than now. That would take 218 place, if it did, after the Report stage, which in the case of a Private Bill is purely formal, and before the Third Reading. I cannot promise, of course, that my Resolution will be carried. I can promise only to urge your Lordships to carry it.
What are the pros and cons of this procedure? I have tried to think them out. I begin with the disadvantages, which I think are that a little more, though not very much, Parliamentary time would be taken up on this Bill. We might have to ask for another day to be taken from Public Business and devoted to Private Business. But the cost of the proceedings would be very small indeed. Another possible disadvantage would be that we might be told that it was wrong to upset the decision of a Select Committee, as we have been told in the past; and, of course, I admit that, as a result, it would be possible for the whole House to wish to reverse the decision of the Committee upstairs. That, I think, must be faced. Again, that would be perfectly constitutional, and no doubt may have been done before.
What are the advantages of this procedure? First and foremost, the Promoters would be given an opportunity and allowed to state their case before this House, and I put that very high in my list of advantages. So can the Petitioners. They also would be allowed and enabled to put their case before the House. Any Member of the House, whether he be on the Select Committee or not, could obtain a copy of the transcript of the shorthand note of everything that was said in Committee upstairs. That would entail a little extra cost in printing, but very little. So all your Lordships would be enabled to take a real interest in this Bill and discuss it after and not before the case had been put to the House in complete detail.
Furthermore, the Members of the Select Committee, whoever they may be—and, of course, it is not decided yet who they will be, if they are appointed at all—would be able to come down here and advise your Lordships, to speak in Committee of the Whole House, and help the House with their advice and the knowledge they had acquired in Committee upstairs. A more doubtful adantage, some may think, would be that every Member of the House could speak 219 as often as he wished in Committee of the House.
Of course, the procedure would be very simple. No doubt an Amendment would be put down, either by the noble and learned Lord or some other opponent of the Bill, to leave out Part III, and that would be treated exactly as any other Amendment is treated in Committee of the Whole House, and there could be any number of other Amendments put down by any Member of the House. I feel that in this way the House would be better equipped to decide this extremely important and very controversial issue, for I think that we must all agree that this matter has acquired an almost nation-wide importance because of the great interest taken in it up and down the country. For my part, I feel that this is the best way in which your Lordships' House will really be able to deal with it.
I may be told—I expect I shall—that a great deal of public money would be saved by finishing the discussion this afternoon and not allowing this Bill to go upstairs at all. That point is a valid one, but it could be made about every opposed Private Bill, and if it were made about every opposed Private Bill, then I submit that the Public Business in your Lordships' House would be so choked that the procedure and machinery would tend to break down altogether and the whole point of sending Bills upstairs in order to clear the decks and save time downstairs would be lost. So, although that is a point, I feel it is really of very little value, because it is one which is quite impracticable as a method of dealing with Private Bills which are opposed and controversial in this House.
Finally, I would ask your Lordships to believe me when I say that, in saying what I have, I am not taking sides on the merits of Part III of this Bill. I am not saying to your Lordships that the waterworks ought to be made or that they should not be made. I believe it is my duty—and I welcome it—to take no part whatever in that controversy. But I also believe it is my duty (I hope I am correct in this) to give some advice to the House on these procedural matters. It is my duty, as I conceive it, to provide smooth working machinery for the passage of Private Bills through 220 this House, if your Lordships desire them to be passed, and only in that event.
Therefore, if I may venture to do so, I would respectfully advise this House to-day to pass the first Motion on the Order Paper and not to pass the second Motion. Indeed, I very much hope—it may be a forlorn hope, and I rather think it will be—that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, may, after all, not press his Motion to a Division, if he can be assured, as I hope he will be, that he would have an opportunity of discussing the whole matter in Committee of the Whole House. I would most respectfully suggest to him that a Committee of this House would be a better battleground for taking a decision on this important controversial matter. I appreciate that the opponents of the Bill are anxious—and I cannot blame them—to have what I might call a "showdown". I would only say that I think a better time and place for a "showdown" would be provided by a Committee of the Whole House than is available to us this afternoon.
§ 3.13 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord who is to speak next addresses the House, I think it might be convenient if we agree about procedure. There is at the moment one Motion before the House, which is the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, has a Motion for a mandatory instruction in his name. What I would suggest to him and the House is that the general discussion should take place on the Motion at present before the House, and if at a later stage, after the matter has been fully debated, the noble and learned Lord wishes to move his Motion formally, then a Division could be taken on that at the appropriate time. I do not know if that is convenient both to the noble Lord and to the House.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords. I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, or the Lord Chairman of Committees who has made maters so clear to us, one thing on which I think the House would like to be clear. Supposing 221 the House were to decide to pass the mandatory instruction standing in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, which would cut out this particular Part of the Bill, would there be anything in our procedure which would prevent the Manchester Corporation, after fuller consultation with the different authorities, from the beginning of the next Session of this Parliament presenting either the same Bill over again or an amended Bill?
My Lords, there would he nothing to prevent the Manchester Corporation from presenting a similar Bill in the next Session of Parliament.
§ LORD MORRISON of LAMBETH
My Lords, I may have misunderstood the Lord Chairman of Committees in the clear speech he made, but I rather gathered (I hope I am wrong) that his case was that if the Select Committee were to leave Part III, then the House could debate it and do what it liked about it on Committee stage on the Floor, but, as I understood it, that if the Committee upstairs struck out Part III, the Committee of the Whole House would not, under his proposed Motion, have the opportunity of putting the clauses back. The Lord Chairman confirms that interpretation of what he said by a nod. But if we are to be fair, as we must, to the opponents of the Bill and give them a chance to strike this Part out on the Committee stage on the Floor, must we not equally give a chance to the Promoters of the Bill to propose to put the clauses back, if they so desire, on the Floor? Is it not the right of the House in Committee to decide the matter not only one way, but the other way, if it so desires?
My Lords, I must confess that I was not prepared for that eventuality, but I think it certainly would not be appropriate for Part III to be put back into the Bill by the procedure which I have outlined. I had thought that an Amendment might be moved at that stage to leave out Part III; but, as I say, I do not think it would be constitutional (I may be wrong about this) to carry out the reverse procedure.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, would it not be open to any Member of the 222 House, when the Bill comes back to us from the Committee, to move that the House go into Committee on the Bill—in other words, that it be recommitted? And when it is recommitted, would it not be open to any Member to move Amendments to reinsert these provisions?
My Lords, Standing Order 94 specifically says that "The Chairman of Committees may" move this Resolution. But I did inquire this morning how many times this had been done, and I was told that it had not been done since 1900. And, curiously enough, the last time it was attempted was by a Member of the House who was not the Chairman of Committees. His Resolution was defeated. All the other occasions when it has been done were in the last century, and the Resolutions were all moved by the Chairman of Committees. The last time it was done prior to 1900 was, I think, in 1882. It looks from that as if it is strictly possible for any Member so to move.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, in support of what has been said by the two noble Lords opposite, surely the analogy in this case is exactly what we have done before in this House when we have moved to recommit a Public Bill. If the House agrees to a Motion to recommit a Public Bill, then the whole Bill is open in Committee before the House in exactly the same way that it is on the ordinary Committee stage, and it is open to any Member to move any Amendment he may choose. With respect, I should have thought—it is difficult for the Lord Chairman, being taken by surprise over this—that the parallel must be exactly that we have a Motion to recommit and the procedure and powers of the House on recommittal must surely be the same, whether the Bill be Public or Private.
My Lords, with great respect to your Lordships, may I say one thing about that? The suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, is perfectly competent, but it assumes what I think would be quite impossible in your Lordships' House—namely, that on recommittal your Lordships' House would consent to insert in a Private Bill a large body of unconsidered legislation. It would be a 223 most difficult thing to do. I think it is 44 clauses, and I believe your Lordships' House would be slow to do that.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, there is one point that I should mention to my noble friend, although I do not claim any expertise in this matter. I think he should bear in mind that Standing Order 94 specifically says:
But no Private Bill re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House under this Standing Order shall by reason of such recommitment be allowed to proceed as a Public Bill.I think that, this, taken together with what my noble friend Lord Saltoun has said, does constitute a powerful argument the other way.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I do not want to prolong this discussion, but the Lord Chairman of Committees has put to us that if my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett will give way, he will put a Motion before the House. Surely, whether the Leader of the House is right or Lord Morrison of Lambeth and I are right in our construction of the position, before we take a vital decision we must know what is the procedure of this House, and to what we should be committing ourselves, or what we should be denying ourselves, if we agreed to the Motion which the Lord Chairman proposes to move.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, may I put this point, either to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, or to the Lord Chairman? I am not disposed to dispute with the Leader of the House that there is a distinction in Standing Orders between Public Bills and Private Bills. What I am worried about is that this is a House with a considerable reputation—a good reputation in the handling of Private Bills—and I do not want us to drift into a situation whereby it is apparent that we are not allocating or conferring natural justice on both parties to a dispute. It seems to me that it would be wrong and indefensible that one side should be able to move something in Committee in one direction, if the decision goes in a certain direction in Committee upstairs, but that the other side to the controversy should be denied that opportunity in Committee of the Whole House. 224 It is simply a question of natural justice, and I wish the Lord Chairman of Committees would undertake at any rate to give the matter further consideration in the light of the points that have been raised.
My Lords, I should certainly like to consider this point further, but I should like to add this. I hope I made it clear in my speech that this undertaking would operate only if Part III had been allowed to proceed by the Select Committee. The Bill would then come back to your Lordships' House as a whole, with Part III in, and there would then undoubtedly be an Amendment to leave out Part III. The question I am asked is: What about the reverse possibility? I hope I made it clear that, if Part III was not allowed to proceed upstairs, my undertaking would not operate and would not apply. The question I am asked, as I view it, is: Can any other Member of your Lordships' House—because I would not do it—move that the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House, and could any other Member then move in Committee that Part III be re-inserted in the Bill? The more I think of it, the more I feel that that is an unthinkable procedure.
The final question is: Would it be fair? We could have a Committee of the Whole House only if the Promoters had so far succeeded—that is, in keeping Part III. It would happen only in that event, so they could not be, I should think, distressed by the proceeding. If the Promoters had not succeeded, and if Part III had for any cause by that time disappeared, then surely the question would not arise. Your Lordships may say: Would somebody appear on behalf of Manchester and try to get it in again? I think that is almost unthinkable. It would be quite a misapplication of the whole procedure on Private Bills.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ LORD BIRKETT had given Notice of his intention to move, in the event of the Bill being read a second time, That it be an Instruction to the Select Committee to which the Bill may be committed to leave out Part II (Waterworks) of the Bill. The noble and learned 225 Lord said: My Lords, I have been waiting, I must say a little eagerly, for the moment when I could rise and say that I rose to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, and to make it quite plain that the opposition is confined to Part III, the waterworks clause. I hope that it will be seemly on my part to say to the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, that he is to be congratulated upon the fairness and moderation with which he stated his case in introducing the Bill. The only reply that I can make to him is to say that he will hear no highly coloured propaganda from me, and I hope that the rebukes which he has administered to other people will not fall upon deaf ears.
§ I am conscious that my task this afternoon has been made very much more difficult by the speech from the Lord Chairman of Committees to which we have listened. I must deal with it, but I should like to say at once that I am personally very much indebted to him during these last weeks and days for the personal help and advice he has given to me on matters of procedure. I hope to make, in the course of my observations this afternoon, a convincing reply to the various points which have been raised.
§ I should like to make it clear to the House, to show that there is no misunderstanding, that the course which I am about to suggest is the clear, definite course for to-day. I say nothing about the future. I am entirely of the opinion of the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, that the procedure to-day, so far as I am concerned, would be this. I shall oppose, and the friends associated with me will oppose (because I am not in isolation in this matter), the Second Reading. But we shall not divide upon it, which means that, if the House gives the Bill a Second Reading, the clauses with which the opposition is not concerned will be at the disposal of the Corporation of Manchester. But if the House does give a Second Reading to the Bill, I shall move the mandatory instruction which stands in my name upon the Order Paper and divide the House upon it. That, I think, is a clear statement of the procedure which is due from me, because of the statement made by the Lord Chairman of Committees, in fairness to all parties.226
§ The first thing I want to say is that this procedure which I am suggesting has been carefully considered by all who are opposed to this Bill. It is the means by which public opinion, as represented in this House, can best be made known. I should like, therefore, to say just one word about the procedure itself, because I am most anxious not to lose the support of anybody, in any quarter of this House, due to any belief that in some measure this procedure was in defiance of custom or offended against those traditions which it is the duty of all of us to maintain and to preserve. I was therefore grateful to the Lord Chairman for the concession, as he termed it, that this procedure, which I am suggesting is the right procedure, was perfectly constitutional and perfectly in order. If there is any doubt about that, there are many precedents which can be cited. My noble and learned friend Lord Chorley, who has looked most carefully into the precedents, will he able to deal with that matter if it should arise.
§ My Lords, I am going to suggest to the House that the course I suggest is the only reasonable, sane method by which this House can control its own affairs. If a Private Bill which was filled with obnoxious matter were to come before this House is it to be said: "You must give it a Second Reading and send it upstairs to the Committee"; and that this House is not to say, "No, our duty is to say Thus far and no further; we will destroy the obnoxious matter to-day'"? That is an extreme case. But, surely, a great deliberative assembly like the House of Lords must retain its final power to say upon a Second Reading: "We will not permit a Second Reading to the Bill," or, "We will support the mandatory instruction to remove some offending portion." It is consonant only with the dignity of this House that such procedure not only should be constitutional, but should be the accepted procedure of the House itself; and it always has been.
§ From 1925 to the year 1937 there were no fewer than ten mandatory instructions put upon the Paper such as the mandatory instruction which stands in my name. Eight of them were carried on a Division, or were agreed to without a Division. Therefore nobody in this House, I think, would object to the 227 procedure which I am suggesting, merely on the ground that it might offend some custom or some tradition, which it does not. As I say, I was grateful to the Lord Chairman for making the position abundantly plain. I will not detain the House long upon this aspect and I hope not very long upon the whole Bill, but it is important, and I would mention two matters on procedure.
§ In 1923 the Croydon Corporation had a Private Bill, and one of the clauses in the Bill permitted the Croydon Corporation to take, compulsorily, the Whitgift Hospital. The Lord Chairman of Committees of that day advised the House that the Bill ought to go to a Select Committee, as the Lord President has advised here to-day. But the Leader of the House on that occasion happened to be Lord Curzon, who said, "Oh no, this is clearly a matter for the good judgement of the Members of the House itself; and." said he, "I propose to vote for the mandatory instruction". The result was that the mandatory instruction was carried without a Division.
§ In the very following year (the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth will be interested in this matter, I am quite sure), the London County Council had a Private Bill before this House containing a clause which would have enabled them to run a tramway past the Royal Waterloo Hospital. A mandatory instruction was put down to remove the clause. It was put down by Lord Denman and the Lord Chairman of Committees and the Government, through the Leader of the House, both said, Let it go to a Committee; it is the procedure best to be followed ". But Lord Denman refused to do so; took it to a Division and carried it by a pretty large majority, supported by Lord Buck-master, seven Law Lords and some ex-Lord Chancellors; and the only two who voted against the instruction were Lord Haldane and Lord Parmoor, both members of the Government. So let every Member of this House be quite satisfied in his own mind that there is nothing in the procedure which I am suggesting on the part of the opposition which offends in the smallest degree against those customs and those traditions of this House, which it is the duty of every one of us to support to the very last.228
That is all I want to say upon the bare matter of procedure, but perhaps I might just reinforce it by one or two quotations; there will not be many. In the Guardian newspaper—which is of special interest in Manchester, if I may say so—the leading article headed "Storm over Ullswater" concluded with these words:
The final decision ought probably to be taken not so much on these as on larger issues.
they had been discussing the proposals of the Promoters—
Ullswater is in a National Park, and is indeed one of the most beautiful parts of that park. It must remain unspoiled. Manchester has gone a long way towards making sure that its scheme will do little damage—much farther than its critics acknowledge—but is any damage acceptable? Surely not. What is more, Manchester and the areas it supplies are only one group of water consumers, though an important one. For Manchester to obtain supplies from Ullswater is only a temporary solution of a single part of a growing national problem. Some of the outflow from Ullswater must eventually be taken from a point downstream, but the taking ought to be part of a national scheme.
That is my theme this afternoon, and I hope to make it convincing to the House.
Your Lordships will have seen in The Times of a few days ago the letter signed by four distinguished Members of this House, which concluded
But we wonder whether they have made "—
that is, Manchester—
any really serious attempt to search for alternative sources outside the National Park for the water which they reckon they need: and we hope that a decision may be taken even now that they should undertake this as a next step and that, until this water problem can be looked at as a whole, their present proposals, for which there would appear to be no imperative urgency, should not be proceeded with.
The last quotation I should like to make is from the very valuable letter, I thought, of the noble Earl. Lord Woolton, in The Times of this morning, and the passage on this point is as follows:
There is another aspect of this problem which closely concerns Parliament. Water is one of the essentials of our lives and the more we improve our standard of living—and particularly our sanitation—the greater will be the demand we make on water supply and the keener will be the competition for the easy sources of supply.
Are these issues to be left to the chance of who gets in first? If it is true that the Government proposes to introduce legislation
dealing with this subject, ought not Parliament to tell the public water authorities to wait until we get a comprehensive scheme, and is not this particularly the case where a National Park is involved, and where all the public authorities of the neighbourhood concerned are objectors?
Those very valuable words, I must say, reinforce the argument which I am putting to your Lordships' House, that the procedure I suggest is more consonant with the dignity of the House and is more consonant with the public welfare, looking at the matter as a whole, than the way which has been suggested this afternoon of sending the Bill to Committee and returning it to a Committee of the Whole House. My Lords, I will leave the matter there, though there is very much more that can be said, but I hope I have said enough to convince every noble Lord in every part of this House that, on the grounds of procedure, there ought to be no feeling in anybody's mind that the suggested mandatory instruction is in any way contrary either to constitutional practice, or to the usages with which this House is so concerned.
§ With regard to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, your Lordships will notice that from time to time he put in words to the effect that Manchester cannot wait; that this must be done without delay; and I was very grateful, if I may say so, to the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, who interposed with that most valuable intervention—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Noble Earl.
§ LORD BIRKETT
I stand to be corrected on every question of fact and procedure. I beg the noble Earl's pardon, but it does not detract from what I was about to say, of my gratitude to him for that intervention. It was perfectly timed and, so far as I am concerned, was most welcome. Is there anything to prevent the Manchester Corporation at a future date from coming back, after a suitable opportunity for consultation and reflection? I think that is a most important matter for the House to consider and I propose to say a word or two about it later.
Let me say this now. When the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, was saying "Without delay; this is a matter of urgency", I dare say that he had in mind paragraph 69 of the case for the Promoters which has been freely circulated. The noble 230 Lord spoke about the propaganda which had been circulated by one side, but in that document which they sent out there was, in paragraph 69, a piece of pleading to which I want to draw attention. It is said in paragraph 69, that No. 1, it is a matter of urgency; No. 2, that Parliament has imposed upon them burdens for supplying water; No. 3, that it is their desire to discharge those great responsibilities, and No. 4, that the Lake District is the only place to which they can look to fulfil all those conditions.
With very great respect, I would say that this is not an urgent matter, and I say it deliberately and advisedly. And to put as a matter of pleading to this House, "Let us go with this measure to a Committee upstairs at once" is quite misleading and quite wrong. The supplies of water from the Longdendale scheme, which was the first scheme Manchester undertook in the Peak District, with Thirlmere and with Haweswater—from all those sources—are 126 million gallons a day, available to the Manchester Corporation. The noble Lord said that when the works near Widderswater were completed it may very well be that the figure would be larger. But in the Promoters' own case there are available 126 million gallons a day.
It was stated at the Town's meeting in Manchester that 104 million gallons per day—it is given as 105 million gallons in the Promoters' case—are used by Manchester and the waterworks allied with Manchester. The rate of increase, which is purely an estimate and possibly may be larger or a little less, is 3 million gallons per day per year; and on that footing every additional drop of water which is sought by this Bill by the Manchester Corporation is not to be used at least until 1970. On their own case, they do not need any additional water until 1970. What is the use of coming to this House and pleading this as a matter "of urgency; there can be no delay; it is vital if we are to fulfil these obligations which Parliament has laid upon us"?
Of course Parliament laid upon them obligations. It was one of the terms by which they got their immense power. Parliament said, in effect, "We shall not let you take the water from Thirlmere unless you undertake to supply, as you can quite conveniently, people 231 en route". And now they put it as a kind of virtue, "It is urgent to look at what we have to do by way of responsibility", when it was a condition by which they had to do it. And they say, with pious hope, "We so earnestly desire to fulfil these needs". Of course they do; they must. And then they say, at the last, "In all these circumstances the Lake District is our only hope".
I have heard some specious pleading in my time, and made it, I freely acknowledge; but that has also given me the experience to recognise it when I see it. I suggest that paragraph 69 of the Promoters' case and the note of urgency imported into the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, is merely pleading. They do not need the water until 1970. If they get the 40 million or 50 million gallons under this Bill, and it begins to be expended in 1970, by 1985 or thereabouts they will want more water. Where are they going for that? Ullswater? The Chairman of the Waterworks has given an undertaking, I understand, that they will seek no more from Ullswater. It is like the extempore speech of which Lord Hewart used to speak; it is not worth the paper it is written on. The Manchester Corporation can no more bind its successors than anybody else can. I observe that even the Guardian the other day suggested there should be covenants written into the Bill. Of what use are they?
Let me say this by way of an aside. There is a volume, which is very difficult to obtain but I am sure it is in the archives of the Manchester Corporation, a book written about the history of Thirlmere. It was published in 1875. The Chairman of the Waterworks at that time, 1877,said: (it is all in the book; it is in an appendix):It is true that Ullswater was at first recommended to us, but it was found to be beset with difficulties not one of which exists at Thirlmere, At any rate, the imaginary possibility of some such application is the absurdest reason that can be conceived for not granting this "—at Thirlmere. In other words, "We shall not go to Ullswater again". And here we are to-day! There was a voice speaking in that appendix, that of Miss Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Society, greatly to be honoured. She spoke in a sustained satire which is perfectly delightful to read. The Chair- 232 man of the Waterworks said: "Thirlmere will not be damaged; it will improve the district", and her satire about Manchester Corporation being able to improve on nature is really worth reading. It is apposite to-day, because that is exactly what Manchester is saying now: "Give us the powers, let us do this, and the amenities of Lakeland and of Ullswater will be quite untouched and quite undiminished".
There was a phrase used by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, the other day in a debate in this House when his speech was so properly and so richly praised by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, a view with which I entirely concur. The phrase is a biblical phrase and very effective:By their fruits ye shall know them".We have only to look at Thirlmere as it is to-day; we have only to look at Haweswater as it is to-day. Both lovely lakes have been murdered. They are now dead water reservoirs: no human life; sterile shores; why! even the afforestation of the Manchester Corporation prevents proper access to the fell-side until intervention is made in that behalf.
And they come to this House with this Bill now and say, "We are only going to destroy a valley, if you can call it destruction; in Bannisdale, we are going to build a huge reservoir with a mighty dam; but it is a secluded valley, very few people go there "—as though seclusion and solitude was not one of the things people wanted! They say, "We are only going to take up our weir from Ullswater; we are not going to damage the amenities; you need have no fear." Whereas we know in truth and in fact that if you raise the level of the lake and hold it there fifteen days there may be a flood. I defy those Members of your Lordships' House who have read this Bill to understand Clause 24. But Clause 24 says that the discretion about holding the water at that level is in the hands of two people only: one the engineer to the Cumberland Water Board and one the engineer to the Corporation. Not a word is said about what is to happen if they disagree. Under this Bill it can be taken for a certainty—everybody with any experience of Lakeland knows it—that these lovely shores of Ullswater, where 233 people picnic, where the ponies come down, will be just sterile shores like one sees at Thirlmere.
What I am saying therefore about this matter is this. I fully agree that in the ordinary way it is wise and prudent and right for most Private Bills to go to a Select Committee. There they can be investigated and probed, as they can very well be upon the Floor of the House. I concede that most Private Bills are in that category. But there are some that are not, where the point of principle is so grave and so great that this House ought not to derogate from its power and say, "Let it go to a Committee". Everybody knows that we are not debating the merits this afternoon. It is implicit in most arguments that nobody is debating here this afternoon what effect the raising of the level of Ullswater three feet above Ordnance Datum will mean. We pretty well know what it will mean, but nobody is going to debate the merits here this afternoon. We are not debating here the merits of a scheme for Bannisdale or the raising of part of the River Eamont or the amount to be taken from Ullswater by the weir. No. If we were, it would be necessary to go into the matter in great detail. We are not.
May I suggest what is the question your Lordships will be asked to determine? It is a simple one. It is: at this moment, February, 1962, shall the Manchester Corporation be permitted to invade Lakeland for the third time, to impound its waters, to pour them into its aqueducts, or not? That is the question of principle about which your Lordships are asked to make up your minds. It will have been debated quite fully on both sides of this House. It is not a question of saying, "Ah, you are asking people to come to a decision without hearing the evidence". We are doing nothing of the kind. We are not debating merits this afternoon. It would be impossible that we should. What we are debating is principle; and the great overriding principle which never operated before in the case of Thirlmere or in the case of Haweswater arises now—namely, are we going to allow this in a National Park?
The noble Lord who moved this Second Reading was right to say, "Look at what has been done already in the 234 National Parks!" He recited it and said, "I could go on". I felt great shame too. The National Parks were set up so that the scenic beauty should be preserved and that the enjoyment of the parks should be for all people in all times. That is the principle which is before your Lordships here this afternoon. To say "There have been many invasions there. Here is one more", is a pitiful argument. Your Lordships could, I think—and before I sit down I shall make one plea that your Lordships will—assert that Parliament has said that these areas, few though they be, in our land shall be preserved inviolate; that they shall not be invaded by this or the other undertaking; that that principle shall be maintained in its fullness by the Members of this House.
I know perfectly well what people feel about it. We are unaccustomed to use words such asThis precious stone set in the silver sea ".We think it, but we rarely say it. I am greatly tempted when it conies to defending the beauty of the English Lakelands—so small, so lovely, so vulnerable upon that account—to call to aid the great Wordsworth, the great men who have lived there and who have had the power to set down upon the printed pad what scenic beauty can mean to the individual life and to the life of the nation. So far from saying in this House "It has been done many times. Let it be done once more", surely the argument should be, "It has been too many times already; do not let us add to it". That is the point of principle which is involved in the procedure which I am suggesting here this afternoon.
I am sorry to have taken so much time. I have not said a quarter of what I had intended to. But there are many speakers and I am anxious that nobody should say "Why, he took far too much time and people did not have a chance!" I do not want that to happen. But there are two things I do want to say before I sit down. I want to make it quite clear that the opposition here are not saying that Manchester shall not have the water. The opposition here say that Manchester must have the water. I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, will pardon my referring to a private conversation that I had with her the other day. Then she said, "You do 235 not mean that they can have the water and can go to Lakeland?" I said, "No, I do not quite mean that. They must have the water and I will go to this length: it may very well be that they will have to take some from Lakeland." May I be pardoned for one more quotation to sustain that particular argument?—it is again from the Guardian:Until there is a national water policy, no individual authority or group of authorities should be allowed to pre-empt Ullswater. A proper survey of resources in the north of England, as elsewhere, must be made first. Future demand must also be examined. Only then can it be judged who should draw on Ullswater—and even then, if anyone should, it must surely be done at a point below the outflow from the lake. Manchester has thought hard about how to preserve the peace, beauty and amenity of Ullswater; but a still wiser scheme … ought surely to begin not with an intake on the shore of Ullswater itself but with an intake downstream of Pooley Bridge. That would leave the lake entirely in its natural state.So I want to make it clear to every Member of the House that the opposition are not seeking to deprive Manchester of water which it will need in days to come, and which it must have in days to come. It may very well be that some will have to come from the North-West of England. But it ought not to come at the present time.
My noble friend Lord Buckinghamshire will, I think, deal with the point that there has been a lamentable lack of consultation in the past on a Bill of this kind, with all its complications, with all the machinery available through the county councils and planning boards—scarcely any consultation whatever—the Lake Planning Board, in particular, having special reason to feel a grievance. I think I am right in saying that the first public notice of this measure was given somewhere about October, 1961—and we are only in the following February now. There could have been, of course—I know not—long days spent in preparing the clauses of this Bill. That may be so; but, if that is the fact, we should have known about them. The other alternative is that the matter has been put forward with undue haste. If your Lordships will to-day accept the Motion which I have upon the Order Paper. that it be an instruction to the Committee to omit Part III, Manchester will then have to enter into those consultations which 236 it ought to have entered into long before this Bill was introduced.
Let me say just this. I should not like by any word of mine to alienate any possible sympathy in any quarter, but I think I may say that a Select Committee of this House (the Members of which, fortunately for my argument, have not yet been named, so I am free to speak) are not the kind of Committee which are at this moment required. What is needed is something on a much larger scale. We have had the White Paper, and it would appear that a Government scheme is certainly in contemplation. I think a central authority is envisaged, and certainly it is suggested that all the water supplies of this country should be surveyed and a national policy created.
Let me enumerate, very simply and without elaboration, one or two of them. We are not satisfied at all that Manchester has made any real effort to find alternative sources. If it has, then we ought to know about them. We do not know whether resources which are being utilised at the moment are being utilised fully. We do not know what steps are being taken to economise in the use of water. Is water being used a second time? Is there re-circulation? These are very important questions.
There is a further one which I think is even more important. What steps are to be taken in regard to the distillation of seawater, which may be something which is just around the corner? In October, 1961, the English Journal of the British Waterworks Society, in a very illuminating article, explained the processes of the American plant that is already at work distilling seawater and producing water for industrial and domestic purposes. Its purport was, quite shortly, that by that process water would be available as cheaply as is any natural source now in being. I am also told by that same article—beyond which my knowledge does not go—that the Channel Islands are already experimenting with a scheme for the distillation of seawater. All these things may be a little in the future, and that is why I emphasised as strongly as I could the fact that there is no note of urgency about this matter at all. If there is a note of urgency, it is that the Government should produce, at the earliest possible moment, that national survey 237 and that national policy about which everybody seems to be agreed.
My Lords, I suppose that to-day we have a House which is as full as any I have had the privilege of addressing, and I suppose this would be the moment for what I would call my peroration. I leave it on one side; I do not feel equal to a peroration on a theme like this at this moment, and will content myself by saying this. Your Lordships will have a great opportunity this evening when the Division is taken—it may be late I am afraid, but their devotion to this cause might persuade Members to undergo a little inconvenience in order to stay and vote—the first opportunity you will have had on this matter, to vindicate the right of the House to say on any measure such as this, "Thus far and no farther. Go away. Come again another day, if you will. But in the meantime, do that which ought to have been done before. Produce the hydrological data on which the House can come to a proper decision. Until that is done, you have no right whatever to invade the sanctity of a National Park". That principle will be invaluable if it is established by the House. And it involves this other principle, too. It will urge upon the Government the immediate necessity of producing that national scheme which, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, will give natural justice to every interest. My Lords, I beg to oppose the Second Reading.