§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, it would be difficult at the best of times to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, in the kind of speech which he from time to time makes in this House; but with the intervention for over twenty minutes of a subject which is quite alien to the one we are discussing, my task is even greater. It is added to also by 245 the fact that my speech happens to commence at a time when, by tradition, this House tends to empty itself for refreshment. Nevertheless, I feel, for a number of reasons, that I have a duty to say what I have to say to this House.
The first reason is that I, like many other noble Lords in this House, have an interest in the Lake District. I have not the same kind of interest as the noble and learned Lord, or as a number of others who have come here to-day specially to listen to or take part in the debate; that they reside there or have property there, or something of that kind. But the Lake District is a National Park, and (though I do not wish to be invidious) one of the most popular of our National Parks. I imagine that more people—more holidaymakers, more tourists—visit the Lake District on holiday than visit any other of the National Parks. All my feelings and all my instincts, therefore, are to avoid doing anything that would injure the public enjoyment of that park, or spoil its beauty or amenity.
My Lords, I cannot speak with the eloquence and the persuasiveness of the noble and learned Lord. I am accustomed to putting my case, such as it is, in a simple and plain way, without any of the arts of advocacy of which the noble and learned Lord is so great an exponent. I suppose he could be regarded as one of the leading advocates in this country of the last generation, and this House has had the treat of hearing him, with all the arts of advocacy of which he is capable, in putting his case. But I would ask the House not to be led away by emotion, or by the kind of advocacy which we might have if we were serving on a jury, but to look at this case objectively and impartially.
With a good deal of what the noble and learned Lord said we must be in complete agreement. Of course it is wrong that the water of this country should be the subject of grab, of "first come, first served"; that there should be no co-ordination of the availability of supplies at all, and so on. I agree with him that it is high time that there was a national water policy. Indeed, I have a Motion on the Order Paper directing attention to this matter and, but for the intervention of the Report of the Committee 246 which has just been published, I might well have anticipated this debate by having a discussion on water policy. So I am sure he is, so far as I am concerned, preaching to the converted in saying that there ought to be a national water policy.
But, having said that, we cannot dismiss from our minds altogether the fact that Manchester has a duty to provide water for itself, for its citizens and for its industry, and a duty to provide water for a number of other local authorities. It is all very well for the noble and learned Lord to say that they asked for this duty to be imposed upon them as a result of something, but I do not think we are concerned with that. The people of Preston, the people of Oldham, and the people of all the other areas who have to be supplied with water, look to Manchester to provide the necessary water to-day; and Manchester, being in the position in which they are, could do no other than come to the House with provisions for securing their water in what they thought was good time.
Now, this House has to judge whether the application they are making is a timely one or not. We have been offered a tremendous amount of advice on this problem from many quarters. I have it here in front of me. I have tried to read some of it, but I am sure that no noble Lord in this House could possibly digest all the material that is available to enable him to form a judgment on the many controversial issues which the noble and learned Lord has himself raised to-day. Nor do I think that at the end of to-day's debate we shall be in a better position to form a judgment than when we began. I would say that we all ought to start off with a bias against interference with a National Park. But that does not mean to say that in no circumstances can a National Park be used for the provision of water. The Manchester Corporation, in one of their memoranda, have paid me the honour of quoting something that I said on the Second Reading of the National Parks Bill. I am not going to repeat that, but broadly what I said was that these National Parks were not to be regarded as museum pieces; that they constituted part of the life of the country; that in total area they represent about 10 per cent. of the whole country, 247 and we could not afford to sterilise 10 per cent. of the country and prevent any kind of development from taking place within that area. So we have to accept the fact that, in certain circumstances, though we may not like it, though all our feelings and all our instincts are against it, nevertheless some portion of a National Park may have to be used to provide the means of living for the people of this country.
Now may I just deal with some of the points which the noble and learned Lord has made? First, he rather challenged Manchester and its area's needs for water, at any rate at the present time. On Manchester's case, they may not need this water till 1970. I think that the question whether Manchester really needs water, or will need it in 1970, is a matter which a Committee ought to consider. I think this House ought to be advised on this matter. I do not think we ought to take it for granted that 1970, or any other date, is the right date; or that there is a growing demand amounting to 5 per cent. per annum for additional water. This is the kind of matter which ought to go to a Committee, and we ought to be advised on it. It may turn out that these estimates are completely false and that Manchester does not need any more water, or that it can carry on until the year 2000. But I should not like to form a judgment on that point, certainly not on the statement presented by Manchester, nor on the statement made by the opposition.
When do they need this water? There, again, 1970 has been the date that has been stated. It would appear, if that date is correct, that there is ample time, and that there is no need for this House to rush in and give them the necessary powers. But how long does it take, after powers have been granted to them, for them to make the necessary preparations? My Lords, I do not know. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord—
§ LORD BIRKETT
My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me? In the statement of the Promoters, that period is given as five years. But, of course, Manchester, with the facilities already existing in the Lake District, could make it very much less.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I would say that if they got their powers towards the end of this year, and they thought they might do it in five years, they were cutting it pretty fine, and that there was very little time to spare. If, by any chance, their estimates were false, we might find that they were becoming short of water. But, of course, what the noble and learned Lord is asking is that we should wait until the Government have digested the Report of the Committee, which, as he says, is not a unanimous one. The Government have to make up their minds which of the various views expressed in that Report, if any, they will adopt, and what action they are going to take on them. Then they have to take action, probably by legislation. And even when they have the legislation, they then have to set up various bodies and machinery to implement that legislation.
At the very best, I should be most surprised—and judging from experience I am sure I am right—if it were not five years before that machinery could be set in motion. If that is so, surely it is not premature for the Manchester Corporation to be seeking their powers today in order to ensure that, when the time comes, the water supply will be available. I am not advocating that case; I am merely putting one side of it in order to put to the House the view that this is a matter which ought to be looked into by a Committee. I may be quite wrong. It may be that Manchester has ample time. I doubt it, as any other noble Lord may doubt it or take a different view; but surely this is one of the things which only a Committee, after hearing evidence, and after hearing evidence perhaps from Her Majesty's Government as well as from experts in the supply of the necessary facilities for providing water, can provide the answer.
Are there any alternative sources of supply? I do not know, but is not this a matter which ought to be threshed out? Suppose it turns out that there are no alternative supplies. If it were so, would the noble and learned Lord then be prepared to say that Ullswater should be used? Suppose that we were faced with the position that Manchester, having their need established, either had to go without the necessary water, or had to go to Ullswater. If that were possible, as I understand it is from the 249 noble and learned Lord's speech, Manchester would simply have to do without. But ought we not to find out if there is an alternative source of supply available? Are there any means by which water can be conserved or economies secured in the consumption of water, which would make it unnecessary to proceed with this Bill? Only a Committee can answer that question. None of us here, I imagine, can give an answer to-day.
It might well turn out that some of the experts can come forward and make suggestions about how sufficient water can be conserved, at any rate to make it unnecessary for this Bill to be proceeded with for the time being. On the other hand, they may not come forward. And the advantage of the Committee procedure is that all this evidence can be tested. There is no need to rely on statements of the noble and learned Lord or on my statements or anybody else's statements. Expert witnesses can make their statements and be examined and cross-examined by the Committee, which is an experienced body. I am sorry that the noble and learned Lord appeared to have little confidence in them. But we have a very experienced body of noble Lords and, I hope, of noble Ladies sitting on these Committees, who are accustomed to hearing evidence, weighing it up and coming forward with most valuable recommendations. I think that that is the right way of doing things.
The noble and learned Lord made a great point of the fact that if this Bill goes through, damage will be done to the amenities of the Lake District; that in due course the public will be excluded, certainly from the borders of the lakes, and that, whatever undertakings may be given by the present Council, they will not be observed, judging by past experience, and, in any event, these undertakings are not binding on future Councils. But is it not possible to provide built-in assurances in the Bill itself? May I make one suggestion which might possibly meet the noble and learned Lord's difficulty? Supposing it were provided in the Bill that there should be no interference with the right of access of the public except with the consent of, say, the National Parks Commission and that, in the event of any dispute, that dispute should be 250 settled by the Minister. Would that not be an effective way of ensuring that the public were not deprived of the right of access to this lake? At any rate, something of this kind could be provided for in the Bill itself to make sure that nothing in future was ever done merely by the ipse dixit of the Manchester Corporation itself.
I have dealt with merely some of the points, but I hope that I have sufficiently impressed upon your Lordships that this is not a matter which can be dealt with just in the course of a few hours' debate on statements of noble Lords, and particularly on statements of noble Lords who admittedly have a love for the Lake District and an interest in it, but who are not prepared to give the matter the consideration which I think an important subject of this kind ought to receive. I do not dispute the fact that the procedure of the noble and learned Lord is perfectly regular and that it has been adopted in the past. He is not offending against the custom of the House. But I think that to accept this instruction, while not offending against the custom of the House, would be offending against the sense of fair play and justice which everyone expects from this House. It would be judging a cause before the facts had been established. This House would be making a decision—and I hope that I do not say this at all offensively—largely on the advocacy of the noble and learned Lord, and everybody knows that that is very powerful, indeed.
I feel that before we finally take a decision, we ought to have as many of the facts as it is possible to elicit before us. The suggestion of the Chairman of Committees, Lord Merthyr, will give us that opportunity. If the House is so minded, after it has all the facts, it can take exactly the course that we are being asked to take to-day. If, in spite of all the facts that are brought out, the House feels that we ought not to allow Manchester the right to take the water from Ullswater, then there is no reason at all why noble Lords who come from the Lake District should not make another journey to the House and speak their minds on that occassion.
In conclusion, may I say that I read with great interest the letter of the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, in The Times?—and I agree with a great deal of it. I thought that he made a complete case 251 for what I am urging now—namely, that there are a great many matters that require investigation. I think that the best way and the fairest way to carry out this inquiry is to allow this Bill to have its Second Reading, let it go to the Select Committee, and then let it come back to the House with the Report of the Committee and with the right of the House, if it so desires, to strike out the objectionable Part.
§ 4.48 p.m.
My Lords, the case in opposition to the Part of this Bill which seeks authority to utilise certain parts of the Lake District for the increase of the water supply to the City of Manchester has been most eloquently put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and will doubtless gain force from many of your Lordships who are yet to speak. I think that it is obvious that there are no Party loyalties or affiliations involved here: all of us: as I do for one, speak entirely for ourselves and not for our Parties. In addition to the advocacy still to be heard in this Chamber to-day, there is, I think your Lordships will agree, a truly formidable array of public and private bodies who are lined up in most deeply sincere opposition to Part III of this Bill. No doubt many of your Lordships have received literature from a number of these bodies, asking for your support in their deeply felt antagonism to Part III, and who, like myself, have found it quite impossible not to he impressed by the weight of authority which the bodies carry.
Among the eighteen organisations mentioned by the Lord Chairman who are united in their objection and apprehension it is very striking that no fewer than ten of what I would call the senior and representative ones, including both of the county councils involved, those of Cumberland and Westmorland, the National Trust, the Water Boards and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, have decided to petition against the Bill in Parliament and to he represented by counsel, as they say, "at all stages, whatever the expense involved". That is taking a very strong stand.
Even a comparatively minor organisation, if I may so call it, an organisation of local people called the Ullswater Preservation Society, has, in that sparsely 252 populated area, collected well over half a million signatures to their petition of protest. I think that any of your Lordships who was trying to raise a petition in his own part of the country for anything would realise that to get 500,000 names means something pretty big. And there must be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people like myself who know and love the Lake District, particularly those parts of it which have so far escaped excessive exploitation, who are not officially concerned and yet feel most strongly that this proposed scheme must not go forward.
On the other side of the picture, the Manchester Corporation have put forward a very reasoned case for the need to increase their water supply for the future; and I have personally received clear and courteous explanations and amplifications from the Town Clerk of the City of Manchester. But, apart from the merits and demerits of the Manchester project, which to many of us seem very much out of balance with each other, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion, looking at the timetable of events up to now, that the impossibly short time given to the opponents of this scheme before presentation of the Bill to-day to your Lordships for Second Reading can have been engineered only with a view to rushing the matter through before public opinion could be properly formulated on this proposed use of a National Park area, contrary to the very conception of the National Parks Act; or, perhaps, that the long-awaited coordination by the Government of a national water plan was threatening to materialise and, in materialising, would or could involve Manchester in a much more costly and much less convenient solution of its problem than is suggested in Part III of the Bill.
In either case there is one colloquial phrase which I think sums up both conclusions (I think it was mentioned by the noble and learned Lord in introducing the Bill), and it is "trying to beat the pistol". I hope that I am not being unfair in giving that interpretation. We who feel that we have a direct or a moral responsibility for preserving certain places of great beauty against the thin end of any wedge of industrial exploitation take grave exception to "beating the pistol"; and we ask your Lordships not to allow this to be done.
253 Clause 37 of the Bill does indeed seek to give reassurance about the preservation of scenery and amenities in the National Park area—and that is the area with which we are particularly concerned; but I suggest that there are three good reasons for finding that clause inadequate and, indeed, unacceptable. In the first place, while it may be comparatively easy to tabulate certain damages and spoliations which it is proposed to avoid, it is quite impossible to tabulate consequent or related or possible future damage which may arise from known or unknown loopholes in that particular clause. Indeed, I have little doubt that, even as it stands, there could be found ways and means of driving a coach-and-four through Clause 37.
Secondly, the clause does not protect (because it cannot protect) the desecration of certain beauties which have been our heritage for century upon century, for the simple reason that every other clause in Part III has as its object change from natural to unnatural configuration; and we know from the irreparable ugly damage done to Thirlmere and Hawes-water by this same water authority, and also from the proposal to extinguish and submerge for pure expediency the lovely and treasured little valley of Bannisdale, that little or no comfort or confidence can be drawn from the soothing noises which are unconvincingly thrown into Clause 37 of the Bill.
My third reason for discounting the value of Clause 37—it has been touched on by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett—is that no person, no body, no authority, can bind its successors: once the foot is in the door the open breach is established, and there can be nothing to stop this same water authority from coming back to Parliament in the future with another Bill to revoke and nullify some or all of the safeguards or reassurances which might he thought to exist in the present Clause 37. We are promised that they will never come back again for further powers of what I call exploitation—and I make no charge of bad faith. But the Manchester City Council are in the same position as your Lordships are personally in being quite unable to say whether a grandson or great grandson will be a bad lot or a good lot or just a different lot. Anything may happen.
254 My Lords, I am not going to recite or analyse in detail the many objections which we have to Part III of this Bill. But although many of us are not experts on water conservation and water supply, we remain totally unconvinced that alternative schemes have been adequately explored; and we shall remain unconvinced until the present absence of any detailed or argued case has been remedied, preferably, I would suggest, through a disinterested organisation such as a new National Water Authority might be.
The rivers and underground water supplies which, as a result of scientific study, are coming into increased use by water authorities throughout the world would seem in this Manchester problem to have been given so little constructive attention that we are not at all convinced that Manchester's difficulty is unique and that it can be solved only in one way. I have no doubt that this Bill may provide for Manchester the cheapest and most convenient solution, for we understand that over the years Manchester has, with foresight, had plans by which their existing Lake District water supply could comparatively easily be increased by the introduction of such a Bill as this. But I doubt profoundly whether it is the case that no other scheme, leaving out our Lake District, is practicable.
In addition to the under-employed waters which lie on or under the earth, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, mentioned, there has been developed, particularly in the United States, and, I am told, on a full commercial scale, a process by which seawater can cheaply be turned into serviceable fresh water. Surely it would be infinitely better that the North Sea or the Irish Channel, rather than the limited and vulnerable Lakes of Cumberland and Westmorland, should supply this industrial city with its 170 million gallons a day, or whatever the figure is—and I think that is about the top figure. This utilisation of seawater is not a fantasy, my Lords: it is, I understand, a developing and practical business, which presumably will have extremely far-reaching results all over the world, chiefly perhaps on land-based users of water in large quantity, but also, of course, and perhaps more dramatically, on ships and seafarers, to whom the supply of fresh 255 water has been a vital problem from time immemorial. If we are coming to such a solution of water problems in general—that is, using the seas—surely the vast water requirements of industry should be the first to be brought into the picture of unlimited supplies of fresh water drawn from the vast oceans of the world, whose area, as your Lord-shins know, exceeds by threefold the land area.
So far, my Lords, I have spoken of the past. For thousands or millions of years our limited demand upon natural water resources has fallen far short of what bountiful Nature has made easily accessible. It is only since the last century that a new and thirsty consumer has come upon the scene. That new and demanding consumer can still be considered to be in its infancy, for the industrial world is progressing rapidly from invention to new invention. Already the smoke and the grime and the slag-heaps and the hideousness of the coal age and the iron age and the steel age are coming under control, because modern efficiency repudiates wastage. And since all ugliness is wastage, and all wastage is ugliness, we are indeed approaching—however slowly—a new era where labour and beauty are no longer sworn enemies.
With the rapid advance of scientific achievement, I conceive it to be well within the realms of possibility that fairly soon we shall be able to extract from the atmosphere, laden as it is with humidity in vast areas, all the water that mankind needs for all its requirements. If we can do this, we shall not need any longer to ravage the remaining beauties of nature to satisfy the early and clumsy and adolescent needs of a mechanical age. The needs of the mechanical age are still new and out of focus. The needs for natural beauty and solitude and repose are age-old, and absolutely essential to human life; and yet it is more and more difficult to find places of peace unexploited by man. I therefore urge most strongly that we should not lay the hand of man, for the sake of a possible few decades of experimental industrialisation, upon one of the few remaining oases of unspoilt natural beauty. If we cannot immediately find an assuagement for this enormous demand of Manchester for water consumption in the years to come 256 —and we must remember that the problem, as has been pointed out, is not an immediate problem; it is in the future—should we not look to the ingenuity of our geologists and our scientists in the greatest detail before abandoning for ever thousands of years of natural loveliness in favour of a fairly recent industrial era, which may already be changing its pattern and ending the old consistency of Victorian impact?
There is, I think, one aspect of this matter which is much broader than the detail before us in this debate. It is the attitude of tension and of haste and impatience which has spread a sort of evil mantle over the whole world since the war, and doubtless because of the war. The long view and wise deliberation are to-day at a discount, because the pace of modern competition is so fierce. We see nations, particularly the newer ones, as well as individuals, who are unwilling to exercise restraint and self-discipline in the interests of ultimate greater benefit in the future. They must grab and consume now in immediate self-indulgence, with, perhaps, a subconscious feeling that there may be no to-morrow. It is surely a philosophy of cynicism and despair if planning for the future is to be increasingly sacrificed to a passing clamour for immediate gratification.
But it is not only in political connotations that we see this tendency. It is apparent in the race to get rich quickly, with no constructive ideal and greatly diminished consideration for those who may suffer as a result of that process. It is apparent in to-day's lowered sexual morality of young people who, we are told, are physically two years older and mentally two years younger than their counterparts of two generations ago, and who refuse to wait for the mental and spiritual maturity which, I think, can alone guarantee deep happiness in marriage. It is apparent in today's popular music, where an undisciplined reversion to primitve jungle rhythms and jungle stridency gives an immediate physical thrill, bypassing the mental and æsthetic depth of acquired and educated appreciation. It can even be seen—if I may Quote a very different sort of case—in the plans to plant a new monster Colonial Office building slap on the doorstep of Westminster Abbey, discounting or ignoring 257 both the past and the future meaning of that great national treasure.
All these impatient manifestations are without the justification either of history or of tradition. They have developed only with civilisation's recession to material opportunism in the industrialisation of the last century or so. I would ask whether we really intend to encourage this attitude of, "Eat, drink, and be merry; for to-morrow we die". And I suggest that within the Bill before us to-day there is, on these same lines, a rather ugly element of aesthetic irresponsibility.
I have only one more point to make. The Lord Chairman, with his habitual clarity and courtesy, has put before us the dilemma of this House if, on Second Reading, it refuses to put Part III to the Committee. I confess that that aspect of the matter has given me some anxiety, as I am sure it has given other of your Lordships some anxiety. But the proposal that we should again debate in general Committee the controversial Part III after it has been accepted or, presumably, amended by the Select Committee, seems to me to involve no less discourtesy to the Select Committee to whom it should have been submitted. I am convinced, after thought, that the course proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, to instruct the Select Committee to leave out Part III, is the correct one. In the first place, this proposed course is, as we have heard, supported by precedent in a good many instances, and we shall be interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, tell us more about those.
Now I am reluctant, as I am sure most of your Lordships would be, to allow any recent absence of the use of a legitimate procedure to lead to a rule of veto on one of the traditional rights and established procedures of our Chamber here. Secondly, and I think more importantly, this Bill, the Manchester Corporation Bill, seems to me to be a good Bill, worthy of acceptance, except that it contains this unacceptable Part III, totally unrelated to the rest of the Bill and so much a separate part, a separate conception and a separate aim, that this section, this Part III, should, in my opinion, stand on its own feet as a completely different Bill, separately introduced to Parliament for consideration on its own merits. Part III is a 258 matter of national principle, and as such I suggest that it cannot possibly be wrapped around with local Manchester matters and smuggled through in their Bill as if it, too, were purely of domestic Manchester civic interest, because it is not.
I therefore strongly support the Motion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, but I would say to your Lordships that if you think that Part III of this Bill—which, of course, concerns every one of us and all our descendants—cannot be excised from the Bill in the manner suggested by the noble and learned Lord, and if you think his Motion is likely to be defeated, then I suggest, with regret, that we ought to consider rejecting the whole of the Second Reading here and now, so that The Promoters may take it hack, break it down into its two unrelated objectives, and then return to Parliament with two separate Bills to be separately considered on their separate merits.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ LORD MACANDREW
My Lords, in addressing your Lordships for the first time, I respectfully crave your indulgence and apologise in advance lest anything which I say may be considered to be too controversial for a maiden speech. My excuse for addressing your Lordships is that in another place some 300 Private Bills were put under my care and supervision, and I am therefore not altogether without experience of the questions now under consideration. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, has made it perfectly clear to your Lordships that there is no constitutional or procedural reason why his mandatory instruction, which I for one support, should not be agreed to. There has been a certain amount of misunderstanding about that, but I think it has been made perfectly clear that we are quite within our rights to support it.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government have been examining the problems of water conservation at a national level for a great many years, and I sincerely hope that the Government will introduce a Public Bill next Session to deal with the conservation and supply of water. A Memorandum by the Ministry, of April, 1961, states:There is, of course, a large overall surplus of water in England and Wales for nearly 90 per cent. of the rainfall is never used at all.259 The final report of the Central Advisory Water Committee's sub-committee on The Growing Demand for Water, published the other day, among its principal conclusions and recommendations says, in paragraph 136:…it should no longer be left to independent initiatives to develop the country's water resources according to their separate needs …".Again, in paragraph 148 it says:We consider that a separate central authority, accountable to the Minister, should be set up to promote an active policy for the conservation and proper use of the country's water resources.My own feeling is that a Public Bill, dealing with the supply of water, is in every respect preferable to Private Bills dealing with water in a haphazard way.
If the mandatory instruction is defeated, I hope the Government will not think it is an excuse to delay further what is a definite matter of urgency from a national point of view. The Manchester Corporation admit that water consumption will not exceed the present consumption until after 1970, so from their point of view there is really no urgency for the passing of Part III. The water provisions in Part III of this miscellaneous powers Bill are so far reaching that they involve a question of principle. It must be conceded that the Ullswater proposal involves a question of principle and goes far beyond what might be classed as a Committee point.
Your Lordships have been supplied with a great deal of evidence by local authorities and others vitally interested in this Bill. It is not sworn evidence, but the local authorities who submitted it and praying to be heard were well aware that if the water clauses are referred to an Opposed Bill Committee they will be called upon to confirm their evidence on oath. I therefore feel confident that it is reliable evidence. Another small point is this. If these water clauses are referred to a Committee the seventeen bodies who are petitioning against them will be involved in great expense, which will, of course, not arise if the mandatory instruction is carried. I think it is untrue to say that your Lordships' House, which has been thoroughly briefed, is less qualified to decide what is a matter of principle than are the five Members, not yet 260 appointed, who will serve on the Committee upstairs.
I do not imagine that ever before, certainly not in the North of England, have so many people been interested in and felt so strongly about a Private Bill and wondered what your Lordships are going to decide. At Parliamentary election meetings I was often asked questions which were critical of your Lordships' House, such as "What is the use of the House of Lords?" I sincerely hope that to-morrow many thousands of people, not only in the Lake District but all over the country, will see no reason to ask that question, but instead will say, "Thank God for the House of Lords!"
§ 5.12 p.m.
THE EARL OF WOOLTON
My Lords, the honour befalls me of expressing congratulations to the noble Lord who has just delivered a maiden speech, which I am sure all of us enjoyed and at the conclusion of which we applauded vigorously. He showed great discretion, after all the experience he has had in another place, in coming here to-night to make a maiden speech on an issue which is—perhaps I ought to speak only for myself—full of confusion and full of contention. The only satisfaction one can get from it is that at any rate there are no political Party issues involved; and that, of course, was doubtless the reason why the noble Lord chose this subject as the occasion of his maiden speech. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that we are grateful to have his expertise in this House as well as his vast experience of other things.
I almost apologise for speaking. I have not ventured to address your Lordships for over two years. You had quite a surfeit of me in earlier days. On that last occasion I broke into something approaching eloquence, I believe, on the subject of the Liverpool Water Bill. On that occasion there was an extraordinary outburst of "nationalism" and fervour such as I never expected to find anywhere about water, and your Lordships were good enough, in spite of much eloquence that was heard from Benches on the other side, to give Liverpool the water that it so badly needed. Stimulated, doubtless, by some reference to that occasion, the Town Clerk of Manchester wrote to me 261 and asked me whether I would try to do for Manchester the same sort of thing that had happened on a previous occasion. I wrote back and told him that he was exaggerating any influence I might have on your Lordships, because you are a very practical body of people, and that I was sure you would be much more influenced by facts and by knowing what was the purpose of this Bill and why it was necessary that its contentious clauses should be in this particular form.
It is quite an extraordinary thing that a Bill about water should have caused so much wrath and emotion as this Bill has, with half a million people signing forms about it. That indicates that there is very deep feeling involved, and I must say I am very glad about it. I have the same deep feeling, the same emotion and the same general feeling in that I wish they would leave the Lake District alone. I have lived there for a long time; my family have been brought up there, and I am proud to say that I own just a little part of it, but a lone, long way from Ullswater, and therefore I am not speaking with any financial interest. It is a place of such beauty and, as perhaps your Lordships know, it is a place that makes you feel when you get older, as I unhappily have done, and think about all the beauty you have seen when in your youth you walked or cycled (or, if you were prosperous enough, motored) over it, that it is right to ask the question, "Need Manchester attempt to do this to the Lake District? "
And when you talk to the people, as I have done during this last week—because they have been ringing me up on the telephone and telling me to do my duty—you wonder whether there is anything behind it. I found a strange resentment against Manchester authorities. I greatly regret this, because the Town Clerk of Manchester is one of the ablest public officials that I have had the pleasure of working with and meeting. But there is a feeling that, somehow or other, the Manchester Council feel they own the place, and that, when they want more water, that is what God made the Lake District for. And it is not true—there are other reasons. And when one reads—I must not use the word "propaganda"; so let me say explanations, that have been put for- 262 ward on behalf of this Bill, what a singular gaffe it was to talk about Bannisdale as a remote and secluded valley, seldom visited! Why! this is the very first thing that those who live in the Lake District were looking for all the time. We wanted the places that were seldom visited, rather than the motor highways.
Then there is Ullswater—I can see it before my eyes now, in all its beauty on an autumn night; "Queen of the Lakes" it was called—a National Park. What do we mean by "park"? To me a National Park means a place which has freedom of access, a place to which people can go, a place in which they can walk, somewhere where they can enjoy without restriction all the beauty of the place. We shall not get that if Manchester Corporation takes over Ullswater, because almost inevitably—at least, one fears almost inevitably—they will do with Ullswater what they have done with Thirlmere. They have made it into a sort of little picture. There is the lake; you can look at it from a distance, framed as it is with trees. I beg your Lordships' pardon if you are responsible for it, but if you are you ought to be ashamed. It is framed with trees in order to help to attract more water to the place. But it is no longer a park.
I am not for one moment going to say that that will necessarily happen with Ullswater; but having looked at Thirlmere—and, let us face it, Manchester Corporation are very proud of their handiwork there—I think it is reasonable that we should ask: "Are Thirlmere and Haweswater good examples of what will happen to the rest of the Lake District which the Corporation now propose to take in?" if so, it is a great pity. They say that they are not going to do that. That is some consolation. But, my Lords, there is no binding clause that will prevent them from doing it. I do not know how anybody is going to wander, as I have done with great pleasure, along the shores of the Lake of Ullswater when once it comes under the control of these engineers.
I find the problem extremely difficult because, passionately interested as I am in the Lake District, I also have obligations and interests in the City of Manchester. I cannot agree with noble 263 Lords, including my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett, when they condemn Manchester rather for the fact that they looked forward so long ahead. It is very important that local authorities with great responsibilities should look forward and know where they are going to. Is it all that far off? It is only about five years since, during a drought, Manchester found it very difficult to supply its population with the water they needed.
Here we must face a problem which is perhaps as near to the hearts of most of us as the problem of beauty in the Lake District, and that is the problem of the housing of the people of this country. One of the great social advances that has been made during the last quarter of a century has been in housing of people; and that housing has been associated all the time with increased water supplies. I remember years ago saying to the late King, when I was Minister of Reconstruction, that I looked forward to the time when we should have a tap in every home. I remember so well seeing him shake his head. He said, "You had better get a plug in every home". The difference between a tap and a plug, when it comes to the question of the consumption of water, is very considerable indeed.
There is the problem with which Manchester is faced. The extensive demands for housing, rehousing, accommodation, impose a great strain on the Corporation's resources, and I find myself in considerable difficulty in trying to face unemotionally this question of the struggle between sanitation and the housing of the people, on the one hand, and the preservation of the beauty of Ullswater, on the other. I was carried away of course, as I always am, by my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett. I went out and had a cup of tea afterwards, just to get over being carried away by his oratory.
But, my Lords, there remains the problem that this is a matter of urgency. I do not think we can just satisfy ourselves by saying, "Thank God, we can put this off for another five years or so, because Manchester does not require it urgently". I know that there is also the commercial side of water, though I am more interested in the domestic side. 264 I think that we might ask the Manchester Corporation, not by vote but by expression of opinion in this House, whether they could not think again.
It is a great pity that this city, which is quite famous for its technological science, does not produce any of the new ideas mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. Is it impossible for them to get water from the sea? What are they doing to preserve their own magnificent rainfall, which is famous all over the country? Are they just wasting that? Is it not possible they might somehow collect it? I should have thought that it would provide a great many taps and a very large number of plugs. When I was Minister of Reconstruction I was told that there were vast underground sources of water in this country. The Minister for Science may perhaps be able to tell me why it is that Manchester cannot get at those sources. The Town Clerk told me, in correspondence, that these underground sources were drying up, and that commercially they were not so good as they used to be because of increased salinity. But there is no difficulty about separating salt and water. It has been done for many decades in this Lancashire area, and I wonder whether it is, in fact, true that it is impossible to use underground sources of water for commercial purposes.
I have tried to indicate that there is something more that we in this House ought to be thinking about than just a problem of our emotions about beauty in the Lake District: we have an obligation to think about the health and sanitation of the people in Manchester for whom, so rightly, the Corporation produce a Bill. Your Lordships ask me what I think we ought to do. I personally am very grateful to the noble Lord the Lord Chairman of Committees for the advice that he gave us. I hope that the Government, who cannot escape from this question of delay (and perhaps I may address the question personally to the Minister for Science), will give us some guidance as to when they propose to tackle this problem of water on a national scale, instead of leaving it free to the person who gets in first. That requires statesmanship and a real water policy. But it is not a White Paper that we want; it is action. This problem has been discussed for 265 70 years by Governments, but little action has been forthcoming.
For my part, my Lords, I am sorry to say that I shall not find myself in the Lobby with my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett. As he went on I almost tried to convince myself that it was the right thing to do, because I was carried away, not for the first time, by his eloquence. But the problem of the city of Manchester is one of urgency; the problem of water there is one which we ought not to try to shelve to-day. For my part, therefore, I shall find myself voting for passing this Bill, and I hope that the city of Manchester will remember all the unpleasant things that have been said about it in the House to-day and that those concerned will mend their point of view.
§ 5.31 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (EARL JELLICOE)
My Lords, I feel it might be helpful if at this stage of the debate I were to give your Lordships some indication of the Government's views on this important and, it would appear, somewhat contentious Private Bill. Before doing so I should like—I do it with diffidence as rather a new boy to an older boy from another place—to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord MacAndrew, on his maiden speech.
I assume that it is Part III of the Bill—that part of it which concerns waterworks—which has had this magnetic attraction to-day for so many of your Lordships. The Bill as a whole, of course, concerns my Department. We shall be reporting our views on it to a Select Committee of the House if, as we hope, the Bill is given its Second Reading unemasculated to-day. But on one point I feel I should put your Lordships' minds at rest straight away. I do not think we shall be offering any great objection to Clause 61 of the Bill. This, as your Lordships well know, provides that from now onwards the Superannuation Fund of Manchester Corporation shall be known as the "Pension Fund".
From the placid calm of Clause 61 I now step, rather more gingerly, into the rougher waters of Part III. May I say, without further ado, that this afternoon I will not come down either way, for or against, the proposals embodied in this 266 most important part of the Bill. The Government fully recognise the strength of the arguments deployed against these proposals—so ably and attractively deployed, if I may say so, by the noble and learned advocate Lord Birkett. As I understand them, these arguments may be summarised as follows. Manchester's proposals may do grave damage to a National Park. The National Parks tdeserve special protection from alien intrusions, and in this National Park, and indeed in this country, Ullswater is something uniquely beautiful. Moreover, even if the present proposals might not do grave damage, they merely represent the thin end of Manchester's wedge.
Again it is argued that there may well be alternative possibilities, that there has been inadequate time to consider these, and that there has been, on the part of Manchester, quite inadequate consultation with all the local interests involved. Finally, it is suggested that, with proposals for a more comprehensive national water policy in the offing, Manchester's proposals are in any event premature—that Manchester has been "jumping the gun," as was said this afternoon. These views, and their many variants, are undoubtedly held with great conviction and total sincerity. We have naturally not failed to observe the remarkable intensity and extent of opposition which this Part of the Bill has attracted.
On the other hand, my Lords, the arguments of the Promoters of this Bill—the arguments which my noble friend Lord Jessel has deployed—appear no less weighty and no less substantial. It is argued that Manchester and the area it supplies stand in urgent need of the assurance of further water supplies. Manchester, as I would remind your Lordships, is the second largest water undertaking in this country and the largest bulk supplier. Not only does the Corporation provide water for the citizens of Manchester and the industry on which Manchester depends but it also provides water for a large area outside the city's boundaries, spreading, indeed, over much of Lancashire and into Cheshire, Derbyshire and Westmorland.
It is claimed on behalf of the Promoters of the Bill that in fact these proposals will do little, if any, damage to the beauties of the Lake District and 267 that if at some future date Manchester requires further water, then Manchester will have to come back into Parliament to ask for it. It is pointed out that there are no alternative supplies of sufficient magnitude and that there is, in Manchester's view, no economic alternative to the present scheme. The existing network of aqueducts has a potential surplus capacity and it is argued that it would be absurd not to take full advantage of space capacity.
These, broadly speaking, as I understand, are the arguments for and against. I would at this stage only wish to repeat and re-emphasise that on their substantial merit, one way or the other, the Government are at present totally uncommitted. Before coming to a final conclusion on those contentious and complicated issues we should wish to weigh very carefully the views expressed both inside and outside your Lordships' House and to pay close attention to such detailed evidence as may, we hope, be submitted to, and weighed by, Parliament.
My Lords, if you give this Bill a Second Reading this evening, and if the Bill as a whole—and by that I mean unemasculated by the noble and learned Lord—goes to Select Committee, it will fall upon my Department to report in writing to the Select Committee on the Bill. Our report will naturally cover Part III of the Bill, and I think it will be reasonable in the circumstances to expect that on this Part of the Bill we shall offer detailed views. I think it might possibly be helpful to your Lordships—again without wishing to sway you either way on the merits of this Part of the Bill—if I were to give you an indication, in preview as it were, of the line our report will take on two or three of the more important factors involved.
The first concerns need. We have naturally sought the best advice available to us on this. I can confirm that the advice which we have received completely confirms the estimate that more water resources will be required by Manchester, and by the areas which Manchester Corporation serves, by 1970. I understand that the need for the additional water asked for in the Bill is based on the experience of the con- 268 sumption in the areas supplied by Manchester. My advice is that these estimates of future consumption have been made on a normal and accepted basis, that they are justified by the general rate of increase in water consumption throughout the country, and that it would be unwise for us to question them. Indeed, I am advised that by 1970 the demand for water in the region would be pressing, or is likely to be pressing, right up against the ceiling of availability. It is even possible, given a run of exceptionally dry years, that this position could be reached in 1969.
The second factor concerns alternatives, which will be covered, as it were, in our report to the Select Committee, if a Select Committee is charged with considering this Bill, or this Part of the Bill, in detail. Broadly speaking, I am advised that there are no reasonable alternative sources to those envisaged in the present proposals, which would produce the quantities of water required in these areas. There have been a number of long-term submissions put to your Lordships' House this afternoon. The distillation of seawater has been suggested. On that subject, since the Report of the Sub-Committee on The Growing Demand for Water has been mentioned a great deal this afternoon, I should just like to read to your Lordships a sentence from paragraph 42 of that Report. It reads:This method"—and this is referring to water from the sea—may find some application in coastal areas of low rainfall, but, in general, it is likely to be more economical to transfer water from other catchments to the extent to which it is available.I know that Manchester is relatively low-lying. I am not aware, however, that it is an area of low rainfall. I think that our information on these matters is that in the long term this method may be suitable in the Texases or Kuwaits of the world, but that it would need to be a long time ahead before it would be applicable to the Manchesters of this world.
The third factor concerns the amount needed. Again, my Lords, we have sought, and received, expert advice on this matter. As I have just said, we accept the fact that beyond 1970 Manchester must be assured of further water 269 resources. The proposals contained in Part III of this Bill would bring in an additional 40 to 45 million gallons a day. I think that a question underlying part of your Lordships' debate this afternoon has been whether sanction for all of this is really required in this Session of Parliament. Our expert assessment does not provide a complete affirmative to that question. We believe that if Manchester could this year be assured by Parliament of a further supply of, say, 15 to 20 million gallons a day by 1970, this would deal with the problem of immediate urgency. That, of course, is the sort of amount which the Bannisdale scheme would produce; and I understand that, in any event, it is proposed that, for technical reasons, the Bannisdale scheme would come in first.
Our assessment, in brief, is that the problem of immediate urgency could be dealt with if the Bannisdale scheme were sanctioned by Parliament this year, and in fact the Bannisdale and Ullswater schemes are separable technically. This would permit further consideration to be given, after full consultation with all concerned, to the proposals for Ullswater. But I would stress, my Lords, that this estimate is merely our estimate. It ought to be tested in our view, as all the other estimates should be tested, by the Select Committee. I should also add that the question whether there is any need to defer the Ullswater scheme for further consideration ought itself to be tested by that Committee.
The fourth factor concerns uncertainty. There are two special issues on which my Department is quite frankly unclear at this stage. First, there are the possible effects of the proposals on the appearance of Ullswater's shore line and on the vegetation which surrounds it. As all your Lordships who know this lake will know, this does much to lend this lovely lake its peculiar charm and beauty. I should myself be inclined to agree with an article that appeared in last week's Country Life, which stated that this isthe most important effect upon Ullswater which would follow the passing of the Bill.But what we do not yet know is what would be the precise effect of the scheme in this particular respect.
The second point about which we are not at all clear is what the effect of the 270 Ullswater proposals would be on the pasturelands surrounding the lake. Would the proposed weir lead to a rise in the lakeside water-table, and would that put the useful in-by land, as I think it is called, out of commission? We are studying these two issues with all the expert advice available to us, and would hope to include in our report to your Select Committee an expert assessment of these two not unimportant points, as well as the other much more important points upon which I touched a moment ago. I wish now to leave the merits of the issue, again emphasising that the Government's attitude on this is one of, if I may use the term, positive neutrality.
I come now to the question of procedure: how best your Lordships' House should handle this difficult matter. You have had the benefit of the advice of the Lord Chairman of Committees on this subject; you have also had the benefit of the advice of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett. No doubt you will have the benefit of much more advice on it, and perhaps my noble and learned Leader will also be able to advise your Lordships on this aspect of the matter. As a layman in these delicate matters of constitutional nicety, I would merely say that it is my understanding that the precedent is that your Lordships would not normally reject a Private Bill on Second Reading, or indeed emasculate it, unless it was felt that the Bill, or part of it, was so objectionable in principle, and so clearly seen to be so, that no considerations which might be adduced to a Select Committee could in any way override the fundamental objections. It is also my clear understanding, which has been confirmed by what the Lord Chairman of Committees said, that with Private Bills approval on Second Reading by your Lordships in no way implies approval of the principles of the Bill itself.
I understand that some of the opponents of the measure now before your Lordships' House would claim precisely this: that there are at least two fundamental questions of principle which demand the rejection of this Bill or the removal of these vital water clauses, here and now. I think it is the theory of "obnoxious matter" touched upon by the noble and learned Lord. In the first place, it is claimed that the water 271 clauses of this Bill will do irretrievable damage to a National Park. My Lords, I would straight away make it perfectly clear that the Government have taken the view that they would be quite wrong to allow any substantial intrusion on a National Park, unless there were some overriding national reason which made this unavoidable. So much is clear. But what is not clear is whether these precise proposals would do real damage to a National Park. The opponents of the measure say, with great sincerity, that they would. The proponents of the measure claim the precise contrary. Surely there is a question of fact here as well as a question of principle. The facts need to be established, and surely that is precisely what your Select Committee is there to do.
It is also claimed that there is another point of fundamental principle involved: that is, that the mandatory instruction should be accepted because we require a national water policy, and that meanwhile and in default of such a policy it would be quite wrong for Parliament to give their blessing to the desires of water undertakings to obtain further access to distant sources of water. It is argued that this principle has been highlighted by the recent Report of my right honourable friend's Central Advisory Water Committee. That Report has called for a more comprehensive policy for the conservation and distribution of the nation's water resources. My Lords, this Report is indeed an important one. It will receive the Government's close attention. Indeed, it is clear from a Memorandum which my right honourable friend, the Chief Secretary, circulated last year (and which leaked out, incidentally, in the Guardian) that the Government are in agreement with many of the recommendations embodied in the Report. We agree that at present there is no adequate machinery to enable my right honourable friend to discharge all the responsibilities laid upon him by the 1945 Water Act. We would agree that wider and stronger water authorities are required. We would agree on the importance of conservation measures, and we would also agree on the urgent need for increased hydrological research in this country. Indeed, a number of detailed hydrological surveys have 272 already been completed under the auspices of my Department.
I would not disguise the fact that it is our hope to lay before Parliament, in the not too distant future, legislation embodying these principles. We are not delaying this matter. I would merely remind your Lordships that it was Mr. Henry Brooke himself who set up a Committee which has now reported. But, my Lords—and this brings me to a point touched on by the noble Lord. Lord Silkin—even if we were able to secure legislation to this end in the next Session of Parliament, it would in our estimate be at least four or five years from now before these new and strengthened water authorities could be in a position to formulate a considered policy. I completely agree with the estimate of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, on that point. I hope it will be clear from what I have said earlier, that the Government feel we really dare not hold off for as long as this before authorising Manchester to get at least some additional water.
Another argument has also been used in your Lordships' House this afternoon in support of the view that there is no urgency here. It has been claimed that a decision can be held off until 1964 or 1965. That is a comfortable and a comforting argument, my Lords, but I feel that it needs a moment's examination. I have already stated that we believe that Manchester requires more water resources by 1970, or just possibly even earlier. What does this mean in terms of the real time factor? What are the facts, the facts about which my noble friend Lord Woolton asked?
Take the Bannisdale scheme. That scheme is a big one, with a dam 140 feet high. But it does not comprise only a clam; it also includes ancillary works, like the aqueduct, the intake tower and the treatment works. Careful preparation for a major engineering undertaking of this sort will obviously be needed. I am advised that, if and when the Parliamentary powers now sought are granted, the site investigations would nave to be completed before the line of the dam was finally determined. Specifications would have to be prepared. Pressing ahead with all speed, we estimate that it would be at least one year before the necessary tenders could be advertised.
273 My Lords, how long would the work of construction itself take? Again I am advised—and we have sought expert engineering advice—that five years for construction would be the barest minimum. As those of your Lordships who know the Lakeland are aware, in an area such as Bannisdale weather conditions may be expected to delay building works. We also know from past experience that, once orders are placed for equipment and pipes—which have to be specially made—delivery may take anything between six and twelve months. These are not theoretical figures, plucked out of a hat; they are estimates based on practical experience.
To summarise: so far as we can see it this would be the position. If, for the sake of argument, powers for the Bannisdale scheme alone were granted in July or early August of this year, tenders could not be advertised until August or September next year, at the very earliest. This would mean that the contractor could not "get cracking" until the winter of 1963–64—not a very good season to start work in the Lake District. Progress would therefore necessarily be slow until the spring of 1964; and all experience shows that on work like this allowance must be made for inescapable and unforeseeable delays. Even if all went well, and if everything were pushed forward with the utmost rapidity, on the advice I have received the Bannisdale scheme could not be completed until the middle or the end of 1969, if authorised in this Session of Parliament. Therefore, the argument that we can delay with impunity would lead to an exercise in "brinkmanship" in which I wonder whether your Lordships really wish to indulge. These are not theoretical and remote issues, my Lords. I would merely remind your Lordships that, in the drought of 1959, five local authorities neighbouring Manchester applied for emergency orders for the use of standpipes.
Having said that, I would stress that we have taken the best advice available to us. Certainly I do not claim infallibility for myself; nor do I claim infallibility for those who advised me. But I do say that the time margins appear so narrow that this is surely yet another matter which should be examined in detail in Select Committee. I would 274 stress this, too. I am not even going to say to your Lordships that the Bannisdale scheme ought to be approved. I hope I have made it quite clear that at this stage the Government have a completely open mind on the water clauses. But what I am absolutely clear about is that the Bannisdale scheme ought to be examined this Session, and in detail, by Parliament. Indeed, I myself believe that both schemes ought to be so examined. I suggest, deliberately and advisedly—to use the words used by the noble and learned Lord—that there is, whether we like it or not, a real element of urgency here.
Those, my Lords, are the reasons why I urge upon your Lordships that there are really solid grounds why this House should not accept the noble and learned Lord's mandatory instruction. Indeed, I would, even now, express the hope to the noble Lord that, having heard these arguments, which I have endeavoured to put forward as objectively as I can (and to do anything else would have been quite wrong), and in view of the fact that on the substance of the proposals I do not wish to commit myself or the Government either way, he may perhaps see his way to not pressing his instruction. Perhaps I might just add this further comment? Why, indeed, is it necessary far the noble Lord to press this intruction, in view of the assurance he has received from the Lord Chairman of Committees, that if the Select Committee report out Part III of this Bill substantially unamended, the Chairman will move, under Standing Order 94, that the Bill should be referred to a Committee of the Whole House?
I remember, my Lords, an evening a year ago when I found myself for the first time speaking from this position. It was on the issue of whether or not we should accept a Private Bill promoted by Plymouth Corporation, to establish an aerodrome at Harrowbeer, within the Dartmoor National Park. I was there urging on your Lordships precisely the same argument as I am urging now: that whatever your Lordships felt about the merits of the Bill you should follow our normal procedure—and I do not doubt that there is another less normal procedure for which there are precedents—and allow the Bill to go to Committee. I would merely remind the noble and 275 learned Lord, Lord Birkett, of what happened on that occasion. Your Lordships followed your normal precedent, and Plymouth Corporation's Bill, after thorough examination, was rejected by the Select Committee.
It will be equally open to the Select Committee, my Lords, to reject Part III of this Bill, or indeed any part of it, after careful examination. But if they do not, your Lordships will have a perfect right in Committee of the Whole House, or again on Third Reading, to debate this Bill and, if necessary, to amend or reject it. But in that event the position will surely be rather different from what it is now; then, my Lords, you will be taking a decision in the light of all the facts.
I do not deny for a moment that the principles underlying, this debate are very great. But surely it is better that your Lordships should decide these great issues and, if necessary, amend or reject the Bill, a Private Bill, in the light of the facts, rather than reject the Petition of a great city out of hand, as it were. I feel there is an element of natural justice and a sense of fair play in that proposition.
My Lords, a speaker in the debate on the Harrowbeer aerodrome proposal (and I quote from Volume 228, column 792, of Hansard of February 14, 1961) said this:For all these reasons, I would venture to submit to the House that, whatever decision your Lordships may take—whether or not you will say, 'We will not grant this Bill a Second Reading', which I think would be a difficult decision to make in view of the quotation from Erskine May and in view of the desire of the Corporation to have its case heard fully—I hope it will be felt that the House is quite free at any stage to mark its displeasure, even on Third Reading, by rejecting the Bill.Those words, spoken by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, only last year, seem to me to contain eminently sensible advice.
I know that strong feelings have been aroused by these proposals. I know that quite contrary opinions on them are entertained with equal sincerity. But we have normal precedents, based, as it were, on natural justice and our sense of fair play, to guide us. Surely we should follow those precedents in foul days as well as in fair; surely we should 276 be guided by them, not only on the simple issues, when no great passions are aroused, but also on big and complicated issues like this, which quite clearly arouse deep and sincere emotion.
§ 6.3 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CARLISLE
My Lords, the whole of the Lake District lies within my diocese, and during the last fifteen years I have had ample opportunity of appreciating and enjoying its beauty and wonder, and the friendly, reasonable and even generous spirit of its people. I want to emphasise that in the past two months great anxiety, sorrow, great feeling and rising anger have possessed the hearts of those people because of what they regard as the demands and the dangers in the Bill which is before this House to-day. I think I ought to make it clear that I have avoided any personal involvement in organised opposition to Part III of the Bill, and I represent here to-day only myself, though I believe that in what I have to say I reflect the mind of the Church of England and probably that of all sections of the Christian Church in the area.
It took me a considerable time to decide to speak here to-day, for my reaction to this whole problem was that, if I have to choose between providing for human need and preserving amenities, I must choose the former and provide for human need. I believe that the Promoters of the Bill have tried hard to devise a scheme both to secure the water their people need and, at the same time, to preserve the beauty and amenities of Ullswater. I want to give them full credit for a genuine desire to achieve both ends. I say that after having, carefully studied their statement; but I have come firmly to the conclusion that, genuine as is their effort, they have failed.
My Lords, in my submission, this scheme could be justified only if it could be convincingly shown that it is the only way by which an adequate supply of water can be secured for the people of Manchester. If it were shown convincingly that it was the only way, I could not oppose it. But I submit that at the present time no one is in a position to say that this is the only way. I personally do not believe it to be the only way, but the point I would emphasise 277 is that nobody really knows. There have been hints of inquiries about other sources, but no mention of where and with what thoroughness they have been investigated.
The statement issued by the North Regional Council of the Federation of British Industries, which noble Lords may have received, is interesting and throws some light, I think, on the subject. I should like to correct, if it is necessary, the impression given by the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, that this statement is by the Federation of British Industries. It is a statement by the North Regional Council of the Federation of British Industries: there is no indication that it has the support of the Federation as a whole.
This is what the statement says, in the third paragraph:The present proposals offer the only prospect of covering the growth of demand which amounts on the industrial side to some 5 per cent. per annum.It is said that this is the only way. That is a strong statement. I ask: who investigated all the sources of supply in the district? Has any authoritative, impartial inquiry been made into all the resources in the North-West region? And has any inquiry been made into the needs of the whole region? This statement does not answer that point, but it gives a hint of an answer to the question of why it says that this is the only way. I invite your Lordships to look at paragraph 6, where I think we may find enlightenment—and I quote:Any alternative would increase costs and ultimately water charges.Is that why alternatives must be ruled out, and not even investigated?
My Lords, we all appreciate the importance of industry for the welfare of our people. We are also aware that industry is facing great competition, which compels careful examination of costs of all kinds. But many people are a little apprehensive—indeed, a little suspicious—of statements of this kind put forth by industry, for in the past industry has left many ugly spots on the face of this land just because industry found it cheaper to make black spots than to preserve beauty spots. That may not be a popular statement, but if anyone were to say that it is not true I could not agree with him.
278 But, if industry is concerned, what about one of the industries of growing importance, which brings so much to this country every year—tourism? I should say that, as I go to and fro in the district during the spring, summer and autumn, I see hundreds of thousands of people. Only a short time ago, in the summer, I stood by a great company of Americans who were looking at Ullswater towards Patterdale. I joined them, for they are a friendly people, easy to converse with; and I could not help hearing one of them say, "Well, George, if we had this outside New York, it would sure be worth some dollars". Tourism is a very important industry. Have reliable inquiries been made as to whether or not there is wastage of water in Manchester, either in industrial or domestic use? I know reference has been made, and it intrigued me, to the article in the Guardian of yesterday. I should like to quote a passage for the benefit of Members of your Lordships' House. It asked:Domestically, must Manchester sanitation experts insist on water closets which use 2½ gallons every time the plug is pulled. when other areas manage with 2 gallons or 1½?I do not want to know why the cisterns are larger there than elsewhere, but it does prompt one to ask: is there any curtailment at all on the use of water in Manchester? Inquiry as to wastage is as relevant to the problem as inquiry into the sources of supply.
My Lords, there is one other aspect of this Bill which greatly disturbs me, and that is the haste with which it has been presented, without due notice to, and consultation with, responsible statutory and other bodies, both local and national. I am informed, and reliably informed, that the first the County Councils of Cumberland and Westmorland knew about this scheme was from a statement in the Press on September 1, 1961. The two County Councils and the Lake District Planning Board immediately asked for a meeting with the Promoters, which was held on October 18 last. Five weeks after the meeting, on November 27, all the plans and all the books of reference were deposited in the County Council offices—everything cut and dried. Scarcely could you call it consultation at all. The plans must have been in course of preparation for several years, and yet no notice was 279 given, and no consultation was offered or asked for. My Lords, nothing has hurt local feeling more than this inconsiderate procedure. I could enlarge upon it, but when I think of the content of this Bill, and some of the consequences of it, I must regret that my office has put restraint upon my tongue.
I believe that a grave error in judgment has been made. The Scheme is disliked because of its dangers, but the procedure by which it was prepared is disliked intensely. Manchester is a powerful and great Corporation. She is drawing from the Lake District at this moment 100 million gallons of water a day. She wants another 40 to 50 million a day. Why did she not consult with responsible bodies? I must confess that I think the Lake District authorities have been treated with, putting it very mildly, scant consideration. Manchester is, as I say, a powerful Corporation. The others are weaker, much weaker; and though it was never intended by Manchester, I am quite sure, it looks as if Manchester believed that she could ignore these lesser folk and grab what she wanted. That is the local feeling. It is that which has so deeply wounded the people of the Lake District.
Now, my Lords, if, as I believe, a grievous mistake has been made, it would be far better to admit it and to start again. I hope I am not being presumptuous—I do not mean to be—but I venture, even at this late hour, to make an appeal to the Promoters (if it is in order and procedure allows) to withdraw this Part of the Bill. I believe that nothing would do more to clear the air, relieve tension, and heal wounds, than for Manchester to withdraw this Part of the Bill, and give everybody the chance of starting again. It would give time for the objective inquiry which is essential. It would enable the whole thing to be considered regionally or nationally, and it would give statutory and other bodies the chance of being in at a very early stage, if not at the beginning. If the Promoters cannot, or will not, take this course which I believe wisdom indicates, then I must declare that it is with regret, but with strong conviction that I am doing the right thing, that I must vote for the 280 Motion proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett.
I know it can be said that this will all be done if it is referred to a Select Committee, that they will be a responsible and a judicial body. As the Lord Chairman of Committees said, the Committee will sift evidence. My trouble is that I believe the evidence is not there to sift. The information which is needed is information which the scientific and technical people can discover only after a considerable period of investigation. We want to know, what are all the resources of water in the region; what are all the needs for water in the region? Is there waste anywhere? What about its relationship to the whole nation? Your Lordships might say that a Select Committee could ask all these questions. I know they could. But I should like these inquiries to be made by a broad-based Committee, or several Committees, who would be seeking answers to these questions without any relation to this Bill, which is merely to meet Manchester's needs. Then this Committee, or these Committees, could provide impartially, objectively, the evidence required to form a judgment, and then a Select Committee, which acts judicially, could pass judgment upon it. But I feel that the only way in which that can be done is by Manchester's withdrawing this Bill, or else by our voting for the Motion proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett.
The people of the Lake District recognise that Manchester needs water. They are not threatening this hope by wanting to wreck the Bill itself. They recognise that these needs should be met. I venture to make that suggestion to Manchester, because I want to make a positive contribution to the healing of this breach, which has gone deep, between Manchester and her northern neighbours. I dislike intensely seeing sections of the people of England separated and fighting one another. Of course, that is due to my unbringing in Ireland.
I believe that, if Manchester could only act generously and say that, in the light of what has been said, she will withdraw Part III, get all the information required, and then work with others in a reasonable way, she would get full co-operation from the people of 281 Ullswater, who recognise her need. Ullswater is an integral part of the National Park; Ullswater is one of the glories of Britain; Ullswater is one of the treasures of nature. We regard ourselves as guardians of this lovely place. Let me say simply, but very sincerely, for God the Creator's sake and for the reputation of man, who does not live by bread alone, or even by bread and water, help us to guard it well!
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES
My Lords, it is with great regret that I find myself on the opposite side to Manchester. Manchester is very near my old home, and very near my heart, and I have had the closest and happiest dealings with the city for the better part of my life. I feel that Manchester has made a great mistake. I feel that it is wrong in its proposal and I am certain that it is wrong in the way that it has presented its proposal and handled the matter. I cannot help feeling that the suggestion which has just been made is a very wise one: that Manchester might be well advised to withdraw Part III of its Bill in order to give time for feelings to calm down and for consideration of the innumerable points which we have not had time or been able to study. The possibility of this seems to me all the more reasonable in view of what we have been told by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that apparently the Bannisdale and Ullswater parts of the Bill are in a sense separable and that the Bannisdale one is the more urgent of the two. If Manchester would consider this I feel it would be acting with great wisdom.
I rise also to associate the National Trust with what has been said by my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett and by my noble friend Lord Rea, and others. As many of your Lordships know, we are a private body of 100,000 private subscribers, of whom no fewer than 120 are Members of your Lordships' House, but we have a statutory obligation to hold and preserve intact for the public and for all time the most beautiful parts of the countryside. Therefore, it is very natural that we should have our greatest concentration of properties in the district which we are now discussing, because I suppose that that dis- 282 trict is incomparably the most beautiful, the most varied and the most vulnerable area in England—I think, as a Scotsman, I might even dare say, in the British Isles.
This unique quality is recognised locally by the people who live in the district, by the landlords who, in order to preserve it, have made great and heavy sacrifices of their own personal interests, by the joint planning boards of the three county councils, who take a very special view of their duties, and by Government hoards, such as the Electricity Board and the Forestry Commission, who, I might add, in recent years have begun to look upon this as an area to which they must pay special attention by not planting in an unseemly way and by putting their electricity wires underground.
It is also recognised from the national point of view because Parliament, as we have heard and as your Lordships will remember, created this as a National Park. It is recognised as of special quality by the public, who in vast and ever-increasing numbers come from such towns as Manchester and Liverpool for their holidays and for refreshment and recreation in beautiful surroundings. Not least do they come to Ullswater because it is perhaps, of the larger lakes, the least touched by the heavy hand of man, and perhaps because access is very easy. They come in such numbers that the shores of Ullswater are overcrowded and in holiday times the National Trust are faced with a very serious problem.
This obligation to preserve our properties—and in the Lake District we own or are responsible for something like 130,000 acres—is one which we accept, but it is also one which we try to discharge with sense and flexibility. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, talked about museums and sterilisation. Of course, what he referred to is the last thing the National Trust or the National Parks do or wish to do. I might add that while we are opposing this business of Ullswater, we are at the same time entering into negotiation in order to allow water to be taken from another take only a mile or two away at Ennerdale. We are in no way rigid and inflexible and I hope in no way insensible about these matters, but we believe the case of Ullswater to be quite different and therefore we oppose it.
283 We do not accept the dictum of the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, that the alternatives are either no water for Manchester or the destruction of the beauty of Ullswater. That, I think, with all due deference to the noble Earl, is a completely misleading idea. What we think is that other alternatives, which may be more expensive, should be considered in the first place. As it is, we oppose this Part of the Bill not only because we believe it would injure the beauty of the five miles of shore and 2,500 acres which we own, and the views from them, but because it would injure our interests; and our interests are disinterested and they are national. We believe it is wrong that wild country should be tamed; that another lake should become a reservoir, and what to-day is natural should become artificial, unless it is proved, and proved up to the hilt, that it is absolutely necessary.
We do not really know what will happen. A mysterious floating dam or weir is to be erected at Pooley Bridge. We do not know whether that is a practical engineering proposition. We have not had time, nor has anyone, to make inquiries. We do not know what effect this proposal will have on drainage. We do not know what will happen when the water is held high at a time of natural flood. That is not our ignorance alone, because no one knows; and Manchester does not know either. But we do know that this dam will raise and control the level of the lake, and that the dam itself will be raised and controlled by the magic wand of two officials. We know that elsewhere the effect of holding water at an unnaturally high level for too long a time is quite devastating to the shores of these lakes; and the Department of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, which he says is ignorant of the effect, would be well advised to go with any member of the National Trust or anyone who knows the Lake District to see for themselves precisely what it means. It means that trees and vegetation die; it means a scummy, muddy bank; it means the spoliation and destruction of these shores which are the most popular places for picnic and enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of people every year.
284 These things, if not known now, can easily be found out.
We have had assurances from Manchester that Ullswater will not be nearly as bad as Haweswater or Thirlmere. Well, I can believe that. It means that Manchester will not deny access to the Fells; that they will not, as at Thirlmere, spatter the place with "Keep out" notices, with locked gates, hedges and fences. It means that at Ullswater access will still be possible and it will not become a magnificent municipal park. We have had assurances from them, too, that they will need no more water from Ullswater. But they make it clear that elsewhere in the Lake District their territorial ambitions have not yet been satisfied; and I hope that this is the last we may ever hear of the argument, so well criticised just now, that because a valley is remote and far from a bus route no one cares what happens to it. If it is remote and unused, so much the better in a country like ours where these things are rapidly disappearing.
I believe, because I respect and admire the Manchester Corporation, that these assurances are given in complete sincerity. But any sincere assurance on these points must surely be coupled with another sentence: "But we speak only for ourselves and not for our successors, and in other Acts of Parliament there are already the powers for us to do the things that we say we are not going to do". We have had assurances also that water has been sought elsewhere. But I cannot take it from Manchester, or indeed from the Front Bench, that every proper source has been sought, because neither Manchester nor any Department in this country can give the answer to that. We do not know that water has been sought everywhere; we do not even know that it has been sought in the right place. What we do know is that it has been sought in the place where it will least inconvenience Manchester. These questions no one can answer before the comprehensive survey which has been referred to by several noble Lords has been undertaken.
I detected from the Front Bench no sense of urgency about going ahead with this survey; yet I think we should all be well advised to look upon this as a matter of considerable urgency. Does it 285 make sense that great depredations such as are now proposed should happen before, rather than after, the facts are known? A similar position has arisen recently in Scotland where damming and hydro-electric work are, of course, on a vastly larger scale than in this country. The Hydro-electric Board has the duty of providing cheap electricity for Scotland, and far many years it has done its work very well, taking also into account its obligation to preserve, as far as possible, what are called by that horrible word the "amenities".
But recently some anxiety has been expressed, and this anxiety came to a head when it was announced that a public inquiry was to be held in order to dam Glen Nevis. Representations were made to the Secretary of State for Scotland pointing out that piecemeal development of this kind was unwise and that it was improvident; that it was wiser to see the whole picture before destroying part of it when it might well be proved later on that that destruction was unnecessary; and therefore that there should be a review of the whole picture on a national basis about the needs and resources of water and electricity in Scotland. That has been accepted by the Secretary of State. The public inquiry has been postponed and the inquiry into the whole of these resources is being looked into. I think I have stated those facts correctly, although in detail I may be wrong. In other words, in Scotland the decisions will be taken when the facts are known. Is there not really some good sense in this? Is it not a case where England might follow Scotland?
I do not believe there is urgency about this matter; I cannot believe it. If there were urgency, why has Manchester not proposed these schemes a year ago? I cannot accept that this matter cannot be delayed, because it seems to me to stand contrary to reason that the matter must go through now. I have one last word and it has been said in almost every speech. It is that this lake lies in the heart of a National Park—the great British National Park. These Parks are increasing in importance with the growing use made of them by the increasingly urbanised population. They are being whittled away, and in whittling them away the will of Parliament 286 is also being whittled away. I feel that only an overwhelmingly strong case can justify a sectional interest, however important, in overriding a national interest. Hitherto that case has not been made and is, moreover, premature. What is cheap for Manchester in this case, I think is too high a price to pay for the rest of the country.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, I would congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on a very powerful and well-delivered speech. His impartiality was the kind of impartiality which on this occasion I much respect and admire. He put the case very well, and I do not think it is easy to answer the arguments which he has put before the House. It is with great regret that on this occasion I disagree with my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett, whom I have known for many years. He was a Member of the House of Commons when I was. I have noticed his brilliant advocacy in the courts, and his great work as a Judge. He was also a great help to me when I was Home Secretary in handling some of the problems where I had enormous powers which could be a danger to civil liberty but which danger we tried to avoid. Therefore, if I disagree with the noble and learned Lord it is not with pleasure but with regret. He certainly made a great speech. It was a very able speech of persuasive argument. In fact, during the first half I found myself half way into the other Lobby. In the second half, I got back again into the first Lobby; but it was a very fine speech which I greatly respected.
The noble and learned Lord said that we ought not now to consider the Bill in too much detail. With that I agree, and that is a good reason for its going to a Committee upstairs where it is their primary duty to consider it, certainly on principle, to see whether the Preamble is proved, and then in considerable detail when they will hear a great deal from counsel and expert witnesses, and then come to their conclusions. I think the question before the House is not merely a question of detail. The noble and learned Lord said that we should judge it on principle and not on detail, and there is something in that. He also said that Manchester must have water. I 287 think the problem before the House is: Is this such a bad Bill? Is Part III so clearly and obviously bad that the Promoters should be denied the opportunity of putting their case to a Committee upstairs—and, indeed, that their opponents should be denied their opportunity of putting their case upstairs as well? I admit that if a Bill is so bad in principle that you hate it from the first page to the last—that the whole thing is bad and evil—Parliament has a right to reject it on Second Reading, or to carry an instruction that vital things shall be removed from it. But if there is an element of doubt about that big issue; if in fact in the course of debate we are driven to consider details and particular things, then I think the case for Parliament's wrecking the Bill in these respects on Second Reading is weakened.
I sought to get the rejection in another place of some Bills called the London Traffic Co-ordination Bills, which would have handed the London County Council tramways over to the traffic combine. There was a legitimate case to throw those Bills out on Second Reading. Indeed, ultimately I succeeded, but I had become Minister of Transport by then and was in a better position. That was a fair case. On the other hand, there are cases where it is not fair. Sometimes it is right. When a Bill is regarded by its critics as fundamentally bad and evil, they have a right to move the rejection on Second Reading.
There is no particular reason why I should come to the rescue of the great city of Manchester, which I have often visited and for which I have a respect, if, as I strongly suspect, the Manchester City Council representatives supported the Association of Municipal Corporations when that great organisation went forth to support the County of London Conservative Party in their plot against the London County Council because the people of London had dared to elect the wrong majority. I suspect that Manchester went wrong about that point. But I have a Christian spirit tonight, and I will not try to be revenged on that great city of the North, which has been very kind to me. One of the things I have sympathised with is that it is an admitted fact that Manchester must have water. Do not let us under-estimate the point that it is a vastly greater area than 288 the city of Manchester itself with which we are concerned. It goes long distances. There are many municipalities who receive water from the Manchester supply and, indeed, I believe there are statutory rights among local authorities on the road the water takes to the city of Manchester; I believe they have a statutory right to demand a supply and get it. Therefore we are dealing with a considerable area which could almost be called a region, and they must have water. They need water to drink and they need water for industrial purposes.
What has been conspicuous in the debate and in the agitation (if I may so call it with every respect, if it is not an improper word) is that I have not noticed any proposals as to the alternative sources of supply which Manchester could use. I have not heard it in this debate, and I submit that if it is argued that Manchester could find water somewhere else, then there is an onus upon the critics to put up ideas whereby the water can be found somewhere else. We have had an idea about sea water. I think it would be a great thing if we could get the salt out of the sea water and make pure water of it, and maybe some day we shall. But it is no good dealing with a Bill of this character on the basis that pure water from sea water is just around the corner, because it is not, so far as we know. It would not be fair to the Promoters of the Bill to say, "We reject your Bill because we have a vague idea and theory that pure water may be extracted from sea water." Let us hope it can be, but there is no evidence at this point that it can.
Moreover, if it is argued that there are other soirees of supply, then it will be competent for the opponents of the Bill, in the Committee upstairs, to say where those alternative sources of supply are, and, if they can show it, that will be evidence. But if they cannot show it, then to that extent their case is weakened. I do not know what the facts are about Manchester's not consulting the county councils and other authorities in the Lake District, or perhaps the folk who are legitimately interested in the amenities of the Lake District. If they did not do so as soon as it was practicable and thereby try to get either agreement or at any rate understanding—this is disputed of course—then I think Manchester was 289 wrong. Consultation does not hurt; it helps, even if you disagree. But I am told by the Chairman of the Manchester Water Committee that they did in fact—it may be argued it was not as early as it ought to have been; I do not know—go North to meet the local authorities and others. There was apparently some difficulty between the county councils and the county district councils meeting together, which is very sad but not unknown in our local council history, and the meeting of the enthusiasts became something like a Donnybrook. That is a pity, because I should have thought that the right thing for Manchester to do—because they can do things in style, these great municipal corporations of the North—would be for the Lord Mayor to invite these local authorities and representative boards to a nice lunch at the Town Hall, give them a real slap-up lunch, and when the Lord Mayor got to the cigar and liqueurs stage—
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
—water for those of the Lakes enthusiasts who wanted it—then let him start the discussion. By that time there would be a pleasant atmosphere and the probabilities of agreement would be good, Mind you, some people would call it corruption; but they do these things in the North, to some extent. The London County Council would not dare to do a thing like that and would not have thought of doing it. I think that might have been a good thing, because they are not unused to these pleasantries of life. I have received much kindness and hospitality from Provincial municipalities and also in other parts of the Kingdom. Consultation does not hurt on a big issue, especially When it is as clear as daylight that a row is going to emerge directly a Bill is introduced into Parliament.
Now it may be possible that while the Committee is deliberating upstairs, or at some stage, they will be able to say to the parties that they have reached a certain point, and now cannot the parties go away and see whether they can agree in the light of the argument which has taken place? I do not know. That may not be possible, but it is worth thinking about.
One aspect of this subject to be con- 290 sidered is that of amenities. I have been in a number of fights about amenities. I think I have won every one of them. I do not say that boastfully but simply to show I have no grievances. I never regretted it when I was criticised by enthusiasts on behalf of public amenities. When trying to do something which may be held to threaten public amenities, it is a good thing to have these enthusiasts and to have a first-class row about it and have them oppose you. I have never resented it and I hope Manchester will not resent the argument which is taking place on this subject.
I have experienced Bills with instructions something like this one, whereby something was to be struck out. I think the thing is known in another place as "The Committee has power to strike out so-and-so", which means the same thing. We had the Waterloo Bridge matter, when there was a Conservative County Council, and a Conservative Parliament, I think, cut it out of the Bill once or twice. Then they made a mistake and cut it out of a Labour County Council Bill and we found a way round it perfectly consistent with the Constitution and the Law. We had a number of rows, and they were interesting and useful. It would be quite wrong on the part of any public authority to resent agitation and argument arising about an amenities case. It is a good job that there may be someone there ready to raise it.
It has been alleged that Manchester has been too speedy. On the other hand, the noble Earl who spoke last and has a family tradition of interest in amenity matters of great value, said to Manchester: "Why did you not come last year instead of this year?" So poor Manchester has its work cut out to please everybody. It is both too soon and too late.
§ THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES
My Lords, I was suggesting that Manchester could not have it both ways.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
I am suggesting that the noble Earl and his friends cannot have it both ways either. On that principle, I think we are agreed.
I want to join with others in asking that the Government should expeditiously prepare legislation on the whole of this water problem. It really is silly 291 that we should be here arguing to-day without knowing too much about what we are talking, because we cannot be technical experts upon this matter. What I want the Government to do, and to do this Session, with a Bill—it will not be a very troublesome Bill; some of the other legislation the Government are talking about is much more troublesome—is to set up a National Water Authority to give technical advice about matters like this; to be constantly studying the problem; an Authority which should acquire the bulk water supply. I do not want it to distribute the water to the consumer; that can quite as well be done, and probably be better done, by local authorities such as counties and county boroughs. It may be that these arrangements need not be like those between Manchester and the other local authorities. However, we ought to have a national authority which should be well served technically, able to advise on matters of this sort and responsible for getting hold of the bulk water supplies and handing them over, in bulk, to the local authorities, who would be, so to speak, retail distributors.
The Government should do this obvious thing, which in one way or another has been urged from all quarters of the House to-day. They should get on with the Sub-Committee's Report—it will apparently take some time—and produce some national water policy. In the meantime, Manchester, it may be urged, had better wait. But that is a risk which Manchester would find it very difficult to take, and I think the Government should—and I beg the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to consider this sympathetically, as it is not really a Party political matter—consider whether something could not be done with regard to national water legislation. This Bill could come back—the undertaking has been given by the Lord Chairman of Committees—and be recommitted. I still have doubts about the natural justice of giving free rein to the opponents of Manchester and not free rein to Manchester. However, no doubt the matter will be looked into. You know, at the end of the day we are a little short of absolutely solid and reliable facts—it is not lack of literature; we have had plenty of literature, which, frankly, I have not been able to read 292 except for one from each side as the only way to preserve my open mind—and that is why I want this water authority.
That being so, and there being real doubts in the minds of many noble Lords, surely it would be right not to pass this instruction to strike out Part III, but to pass the Bill without instruction. The matters can then be argued by all the interests concerned through learned counsel, expert witnesses and so on. Then let the Committee report to this House; and the Lord Chairman of Committees has undertaken, if necessary, in appropriate circumstances, that the Bill will be recommitted.
This House has a considerable reputation for fairness and impartiality in Private Bill legislation. I cannot of my own knowledge assert that this has always been so; but I would say that, in discharging other functions outside, I was often advised, "This is a tricky Bill, and the best place to start it is the House of Lords, because it is then assured of a reasonable, judicial consideration." The House of Commons is very good too, but there is a little risk of strong feelings or politics coming into it in that place—I say that in no way wishing to denigrate the House of Commons, which has a good reputation. My noble friend reminds me of 1924, but his reference is to Public Business when this place was not as impartial as it might have been; but it was better next time. But it has a good reputation, and I think if this Bill were thrown out or if the Instruction were carried it would not be fair to the city of Manchester or to the opponents of the Bill.
I would therefore urge upon the House, and I would urge upon my noble and learned friend—but I do not think he would accept this—not to press his Instruction. However, I expect he will, and it is a free country and he has a right to do so. But I rather think that the duty of the House is to give a Second Reading to the Bill—the Committee can take note of the debate; we can take note of the Committee—and thereby not deny to Manchester what I think morally is its right to appear before a Committee of your Lordships' House.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I rise with some diffidence after the weighty and experienced speakers who 293 have gone before me. As your Lordships will have gathered from all that has been said, it as a debate of unparalleled importance in many respects and of very great interest, and unparalleled as regards the post-war practice in your Lordships' House. We have not had a Motion such as the Motion of my noble and learned friend before us since before the war. I feel that it is an occasion, it is an issue, which perhaps comes only once in twenty years, once in two decades, where your Lordships' House should give very serious consideration to supporting my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett, as I do with deep conviction.
Lord Birkett and I are both lakelanders born and bred. We have in our bones a feeling in this matter which does not perhaps apply elsewhere in the House. We have in our bones a love for the Lake District, for its mountains and all that it stands for. We have in our bones, as all the 360,000 inhabitants of Cumberland and Westmorland have, a love for our own land—not a preemptive right to own it, to call it our own, to keep it selfishly and jealously, but a love for our homeland, and that we must defend. If it could be shown to our satisfaction, the satisfaction of all lakelanders, that Manchester had looked at this properly, carefully and seriously, none of us, no local authority, none of the dozens and dozens of organisations, would have uttered the expressions of horror that there have been. This Bill has been put before your Lordships in what can only be termed as an utterly obnoxious fashion. I think that if it should go to the Committee the Committee would feel it needed to look into this.
It was, I believe, not until quite late on during the last year or two that Manchester really got down to detailed planning of this matter. I believe they have only in the last few months drawn up their plans for Ullswater, and it was because of that that they were unable to consult; they did not have time to prepare. It was not until the end of November that the details and the plans were put before the local authorities, not, I venture to suggest, because of any design but purely and simply because they were not ready as they had been so hastily prepared. Had they been prepared further in advance proper con- 294 sultations could have taken place with all the responsible authorities. All the bodies interested inside and outside the Lake District, in its amenities, would have been able to make constructive criticism, constructive suggestions, prepare constructive opposition. But all the opposition of all the Petitioners is of necessity destructive because they have not had time to find details.
We have heard of this great Corporation, this second greatest water undertaking in the country, with all the resources of a huge water department, dozens of water engineers and immense rate income. They have knowledge; they can make plans; they can find out facts which the little authorities with small incomes in the North-West cannot do. Had there been time many of the local authorities would have pooled their resources and conducted their own independent survey of the alternatives available. They have said so. There is not time.
I have asked in private whether, if these water clauses go to Committee, there is any opportunity for the Committee stage to be delayed some time so that three, four, perhaps six months could be given to the Petitioners to find facts by their own survey. But your Lordships have heard and you know—your experience is greater than mine—that there are set dates when the Committee stages of a Bill have to be taken, and that the set date for the Committee stage of this Bill is quite soon, a month away. In that month the Petitioners cannot hope to collect sufficient facts and suggest proper alternative sources.
I have some suggestions which I will put to your Lordships, from which I hope you will decide there is adequate time available, if these water clauses are postponed until another Session. But they cannot he Manchester's wishes. The Government feel that Manchester shall have these powers granted to them in this Session. The concession of the Government is very welcome in one respect and in one respect only: the concession that Ullswater and Bannisdale could be looked at separately, that if Manchester can have Bannisdale now they will be content to think about Ullswater later. Hitler said—did he not?—"If I can have Austria now that will be the last demand." Hitler went to Czechoslovakia. That was the last.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, I hope the noble Earl is not accusing Manchester of being a Hitler.
§ THE EARL OF LONSDALE
I would not accuse, and have not accused, Manchester of being a Hitler. I was just saying that the Government perhaps, in giving room for a division of this issue, are merely begging the question and to some extent postponing the day when Manchester again have to think in terms of Ullswater.
I should like to say a word or two about the Petitioners. They are both the county councils who cover the area, the Lake District National Park Authority, and three of the four urban district councils of the area concerned. We shall find only two on the Petition, but much work was done by a third, whose preliminary work has been absorbed by the Lakes Water Board which came into being only on February 1. The preliminary work on it had been done for an organisation which had no statutory power until February 1. The Petitioners also in, elude the South Westmorland Rural District Council and the Kendal Borough Council within this new Lakes Water Board, both river boards which cover the area, the river board in the south and the river board in the north. Those are the main Petitioners.
Then, of course, there are the four important national organisations which one would always expect to meet on these occasions—the National Farmers' Union, the Landowners' Association, the National Trust and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. Under the umbrella of the latter there are no fewer than ten outdoor organisations, ranging from the Workers' Holiday Travel Association to that remarkable organisation which has done so much in Lakeland, the Friends of the Lake District. Quite apart from the actual Petitioners, there must be over twenty—in fact, I have counted 26— separate organisations, of varying stature, ranging from the British Federation of University Women, through the National Federation of Women's Institutes, to the Westmorland Liberal Association, to the British Sub-Aqua Club, and so on, which have come to my notice as having written letters to one Petitioner or another asking for help or assistance. The Carlisle City Council, who looked at this 296 scheme most carefully, also wished to petition but were advised that they had no locus standi. Their reason for wishing to petition is that they feel so concerned about the amenities of Ullswater which are enjoyed by so many of their inhabitants.
As the venerable Member, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, nobody as yet has truly tried to answer the question: what other alternatives are available for Manchester? We in Cumberland and Westmorland feel that alternatives are, or may be, available. In a statement at their town meeting Manchester has said that alternatives are available. They have looked at other alternatives, but the Lake District is the cheapest, the cleanest and the easiest to get. That is the essence of it.
But let us have a look to see what we can find for them. If this Bill goes to a Select Committee everybody will hear a lot about the Vail Report. I know it, because I was a member of a Select Committee of your Lordships' House in 1954 which studied the then current Manchester Corporation Bill. I was interested to hear the Lord Chairman of Committees say that any Member of your Lordships' House could have the Report of any of these Select Committees. Since 1954 they have been gathering dust in my office—though neither they nor the Vail Report have been gathering much dust this last month.
The Vail Report was commissioned by the Minister of Health, who was then responsible for water supplies, and also, at that time, responsible for implementing the 1945 Act, in 1948. It states that along the Pennines numerous narrow valleys at high altitudes offer sites for impounding reservoirs and gravity supplies. The Report says, in regard to Lancashire and Cheshire, that 56 million gallons might be obtained from this source. It would be expensive. The Lake District water is cheaper. Amenity costs nothing to rob. Mr. Vail again suggests that in Lancashire and Cheshire there is virtually no prevention of wastage. Let us hope that since Mr. Vail published his Report in 1950 the Corporation have done something to set up a service on lines operating in many other parts of the world. One of your Lordships told me yesterday that this applies quite extensively in Scotland. The Vail Report said—
My Lords, I wonder if I may interrupt my noble friend for a second. Mr. Vail told me only this morning that the arrangements which the Manchester Corporation make in order to prevent wastage are on the whole now extremely good.
§ THE EARL OF LONSDALE
I thank my noble friend. I am most grateful to him for rising to say that, because I said that I hoped matters would have improved since Mr. Vail made his Report in 1948. Anyhow, that is not a source to which we can look. The prevention of needless waste is perhaps not such a source; but in the right reverend Prelate's half a gallon per pull of the lavatory chain there might be something.
Is it impossible that bulk storage could not be provided in a much more extensive way? Mr. Vail again suggested in his famous Report (he is, I gather, very much with us; indeed, I know he is, because he is now a member of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government) that there was a shortage, and sometimes a complete lack, of storage provided by some authorities in Lancashire and round Manchester. Mr. Vail said that there was a shortage or a complete lack of storage by authorities who were dependent on bulk supplies and major acqueducts. This fact would appear before the Select Committee if your Lordships allow this Bill to go to such a Committee; but I am saying that there is no necessity to let it do so, because time is available to Manchester.
We have heard that about 1970 Manchester will need more water. I do not deny nor doubt that that is so. But under the 1879 Act they have existing powers over Thirlmere, and under the 1919 Act existing powers over Hawes-water. They have existing powers to construct further works in those areas which they already own in the Lake District, which will be sufficient to give them a few more years' breathing space. They can obtain an extra 4 million gallons from Thirlmere and 6 million gallons more from the Haweswater area if they construct at Swindale the dam which they shelved originally, and which they still presumably intend to do, as is shown in the statement put before the bulk water suppliers on January 12 of this year. That would give them another 6 million gallons. That is the difference between the 1954 Bill and all 298 the figures then quoted and the figures quoted now. That would give them another three or four years. This time is available to them. They have the power. They need not go anywhere or ask anybody, except to seek advice on how and where they should site their works. That would give them four years to 1975. Surely during the next five years (if it takes five years for the National Water Conservation Authority to be established) some plans could be made for Manchester's needs beyond 1975.
My Lords, there is another curious, fact. I am glad to hear, and can understand, the noble and gallant Earl's suggestion that the Ullswater and Bannisdale schemes might be separated. At this same meeting that I have mentioned the Corporation talked to their bulk water suppliers and put this statement before them. They stated that they do not intend to complete their works on the first phase at Ullswater (that is the creation of the pumping installations) until 1979 or 1980. They do not even give a date beyond that for the second phase of the Ullswater works, the construction of the weir. If this Bill goes through, Cumberland and Wesmorland are going to have to live for the next fifteen or twenty years with the knowledge that Manchester, at any time the whim takes them, can come and start on these constructional works. My Lords, quite apart from the 10 million gallons that would give them leeway, why could they not also use the considerable amount of wastage from the existing catchment areas? I live above, beside, on, in, and around the River Lowther, which flows from their headworks.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, my noble friend says he lives there. In fairness to him I think that, quite accidentally, he did not inform the House of his interest.
§ THE EARL OF LONSDALE
I thank the noble Lord for that intervention, and I apologise to your Lordships. I have written down pages of interests to disclose to the House. I am, of course, deeply involved, as a Lakelander; and, having connections with many aspects of public life, I have a responsibility towards the public bodies with which I am associated. But, in a personal 299 capacity, let me make it perfectly clear that by taking the stand that I have, I have probably done so to my own detriment.
Clause 39 refers specifically to my estates and it provides for a better regulation of the compensation water down the River Lowther. Experience of the last twenty years has shown that the way in which this is provided under the terms of the 1919 Act is not entirely satisfactory. The clause provides for the Cumberland River Board and my estates to agree with the Manchester Corporation a new plan. In fact, it would improve the fishing in my river, so that in opposing Part III I am opposing my own personal interest. Quite apart from that, there are so many conceivable ways in which it could be construed that I have an interest. I have thought about this Manchester Bill for some months, and have searched my conscience to see whether there was any way in which my own personal interest might be involved in this opposition. I can assure you, my Lords, from the depths of my heart, that I have a clear conscience on this matter, and that I am representing public feeling and my own personal feeling as a Lakelander.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships for very long, but, when I was interrupted, I was developing the point that the existing, catchment areas could be used more fully. It is a magnificent, wonderful sight to go to Haweswater during the wet season (and the Lake District can be wet), and see there a veritable Niagara. It is also a wonderful sight to see my own river charging down in spate, many feet high. Indeed, during these last few months I have stood on the terrace of my house, looked down at the river and thought to myself, "There go many millions of gallons of water that Manchester could be using. Why cannot they take that, instead of going elsewhere?" Is it beyond possibility for them to heighten the dam, or for them to build a new one to hold more? They raised Haweswater 95 feet—the level varies only 20 feet or so in any year.
There have been three dry years out of the last twenty—in 1941, 1949 and 1959—when the level dropped further. 300 Incidentally, it was only then that people went to Haweswater out of curiosity or sentiment, to see what the waters might uncover. Otherwise, it is normally a dead place, and nobody goes there. There is a Corporation hotel there, which I think is visited by Corporation councillors, but by hardly anyone else; and rarely is it full. The valley of Haweswater is a sad and sterile place. My feeling is that millions of gallons are going to waste over the spillways of these dams on frequent occasions during wet weather. If your Lordships follow the history of the Thirlmere Act, to which my noble and learned friend referred in his brilliant opening speech, the like of which I am sure you have not heard for many years, you will see that the history of Hawes-water, written by the Chairman of the Waterworks Committee, includes in it all the negotiations, all the correspondence, all the Petitions against the Bill, as well as all the speeches made in both Houses.
My Lords, it also includes a report by a water engineer employed to advise Manchester, which says that the Thirlmere dam could be taken to any height as the rocks on both sides are of an impermeable nature, but that for Manchester's needs it is only necessary to make a dam 50 feet high. As your Lordships know, to-day, some 80 years later, 36 million gallons per day are taken from Thirlmere. Why not raise the dam a further 20 feet? The water engineer suggested that if it were made 10 feet higher it would give another 10 million gallons a day.
However, while these are all possibilities, they are not really pertinent to much that has been discussed, though they are, in my opinion, very pertinent to my noble and learned friend's Motion. His Motion is that Part III of the Bill be sent back; that Manchester should examine this matter and think again, and that the Government should perhaps have a fresh Vail Report on the whole North-West of England, including in it an amenity aspect. When Mr. Vail reported the first time there was of course no National Park in existence. My Lords, with deep sincerity and deep conviction, having listened to the advice which has been given to your Lordships' 301 House, I, for one, support my noble and learned friend, as I hope, indeed, do your Lordships as a whole.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just addressed us is the hereditary admiral of the coasts of Westmorland and Cumberland. His ancestors did great work, not only in defending the coasts from invaders, but also in defending those border counties against marauding Scots. I am not sure whether my noble friend Lord Crawford and Balcarres was leading them on that occasion. It is a new phenomenon, in a way, that the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale, should be turning towards the south to defend his native land against marauding Mancunians, as he is on this occasion. I have no doubt my own ancestors from time to time enlisted under the Lowthers in that distant past and fought under his banner, and it gives me very great pleasure to be once more in that position to-day.
I should like to say that the noble Earl has undoubtedly earned the respect and affection of all the people in the Lake District during these last weeks and months, when it has become known to everybody that he has been a great stalwart on the side of Ullswater, and indeed of the National Park of the Lake District as a whole. I do not want to follow much that he said in his excellent speech, the sincerity of which I am sure appealed to everybody, but he referred to 1780 or thereabouts. I think the point was made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, that even if Manchester gets the whole of this water it will last them only into the 1980's, which is not very far away. This is a sort of hand-to-mouth business which, obviously, is no long-term solution to this problem of Manchester's water, which everybody admits is a real problem. It seems to me that it is quite typical of the whole business which we have had before us this afternoon that, suddenly and without proper thought or consideration, they have come along with this Bill and asked us to give it a Second Reading, without their seeing to it that long-term plans and proposals were made.
I was very interested in what the noble and learned Lord said about a book written by the Chairman of the Man- 302 chester Waterworks Committee at the time of the Thirlmere Bill. It is a very honest and fair book, if I may say so, and it puts the case made against Manchester in a very fair way. Although I do not want to spend much time on it, it is very interesting, and I think we can draw a lesson from it. The problem of preserving the beauty of Thirlmere was very much before the country, and before the Houses of Parliament, at that time; so much so, that it was decided to have a Joint Select Committee of both Houses to hear the evidence and to go into the whole problem. It is very interesting to see that, in spite of the obvious keenness which the Members of that Joint Select Committee displayed in their job, they failed almost completely, notwithstanding all the assurances that Manchester gave at that time, to preserve Thirlmere as a place of beauty.
The noble Lord said that the water is dead, and I am sure that anybody who has been there in the last few years must agree with him. The interesting thing is that the Select Committee were—I will not say they were taken in, but they obviously failed to provide the necessary safeguards. For instance, they said that a Mr. Broderick Thomas, who gave evidence on behalf of Manchester, and who had much experience as a landscape gardener (this is in the book, and I have also looked at the evidence on this in the Victoria Tower) expressed the opinion that the enlarged lake would enhance the beauty of the scenery; and the Select Committee accepted that view. I hope that all of your Lordships who have been into the Long Gallery have seen the picture of Thirlmere, with its ghastly shingle bank which emerges every time there are two or three weeks of dry weather. If only the ghost of Mr. Broderick Thomas could be brought back to see how completely his prognostications have been falsified by the event, I am sure that if a ghost could blush his ghost would be blushing all over.
It was also argued that the new road which the Manchester Corporation agreed to build and which, in fact, they did build, would enable the scenery to be opened up for the enjoyment of a much larger number of the general public. Well, of course, they no sooner 303 built the road, than they planted on both sides of it a thick screen of conifer trees which nobody who goes along that road can see through. I defy anybody to say that by that road the beauties of the scenery, such as have been left, are open to the general public at all.
There had been this question of the shore line which would be left, and the Committee went on to say that they were satisfied that the level would never fall more than 8 or 9 feet below the new level which the reservoir would have when it was made. They said that even that would be very exceptional, and would occur only in times of exceptional droughts of continued severity. So far as their 8 or 9 feet are concerned, I was there a few years ago and after a time of very considerable drought I estimate that the fall was more than twice that amount.
If your Lordships care to look at the photographs which the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale, has provided for us to see in the Royal Gallery, you will see a sight which is familiar to anybody who has been along the side of Thirlmere at any time after there have been two or three weeks of fine weather; and we do from time to time in the Lake District get periods of two to three weeks of fine weather. That shows that the confident expectations and, indeed, the promises of the Select Committee were falsified by the event.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett has kindly referred to the research which I have carried out into the subject of refusing Second Readings of Bills of this kind and the passing of mandatory instructions. As this debate has gone on, that matter has not developed the seriousness which at one time it appeared to be doing. I feel a little resentful that, shall I say, people in the establishment should have spent the last week or two trying to get us to agree not to go on with this sort of Motion, on the ground that it was contrary to the traditions of this House. The noble and learned Lord, the noble Earl, and others, including myself, have a very considerable feeling for the traditions of this House, and it worried us a great deal. It was not until I went into these cases and saw what had happened, that I realised that in fact there 304 was no tradition of this kind at all. I am sorry that I feel very resentful about this, and I think it is rather typical of the way in which the Government have been dealing with this matter on the basis of the so-called neutrality to which the noble Earl has previously referred, but of which I could not find a trace in his speech, which seemed to me to be a speech very strongly on the side of the Manchester Corporation and their Bill.
I do not now want to go into all these cases in the way that I had proposed to do, but some of them throw a great deal of light on the sort of attitude which this House has taken in the past, and which I submit it should take again whenever the occasion calls for it on a Bill of this kind. It is true that we have not normally rejected any of these Bills on the Second Reading, but there are two or three cases where this has happened and I want to refer to them, because in my submission they will help us in coming to a decision to-day.
There was the Stoke-on-Trent Extension Bill in 1931, which came to your Lordships' House twice. That contained a proposal to extend the boundaries. On the face of it, it appeared to be an ordinary extension Bill such as comes here all the time; but what in fact it proposed to do was to take in a very ancient borough, the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Practically everybody in Newcastle-under-Lyme was opposed to this, and they made their views about it known to a substantial number of Members of your Lordships' House, so that a rejection on the Second Reading was proposed and very strongly supported at the time. The reason was that it was quite clear that this was contrary to the wishes of practically everybody in the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. That is exactly the situation which exists in the Lake District at the present time, with Manchester coming in from outside and, in effect, "collaring" a large section of the Lake District.
A correspondent of The Times who wend up there specially for two or three days to see what was the local feeling, says in his article, which I am sure your Lordships have read:The men and women of Westmorland and Cumberland and their neighbours in north Lancashire and across the Pennines in 305 Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire are hard-headed, and fair-minded folk, not quickly given to declaring that an attempt is being made to put a fast one over on them. But that is what they are now saying with remarkable unanimity".That is exactly the reaction shown by the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme when Stoke came in and tried to make them part of that county borough. The interesting fact is that the proposal was decisively defeated on Second Reading of the Bill—indeed, twice.
Another case during the same decade before the war was that of the North Devon Water and Electric Bill, which in my submission is even more significant, because the rejection of that Bill was moved on the specific ground that the scheme, which was a reservoir scheme combined with an electricity scheme, and which was to have been built on the edge of Dartmoor (now itself, of course, one of our most important National Parks), was likely to injure the natural beauty of that lovely piece of country. That was the substance of the case against the Bill. That argument, in which the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, whom I see sitting on the Cross-Benches, took an important part, was accepted by a substantial majority of the House, and the Bill was refused a Second Reading. That refusal was based on the grounds of the destruction of the beauties of northern Dartmoor.
My Lords, is it not interesting that vast subterranean reservoirs of water have now been discovered under the headwaters of the Tor, which I understand it is thought are exploitable and which will provide that water which, on the basis of the scheme which your Lordships' House rejected, could have been found only by damaging, if not destroying, the beauties of Dartmoor? So those of us who are concerned over these matters do good in this way. It may well be that, if this Manchester Bill is postponed as we have suggested, an altertive method will be found. I want to say a little more in a few minutes on this question of time, because I am absolutely certain that the noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl are right in what they have said—and, indeed, in what was said by Lord Strang (whom I see now sitting on the Woolsack), as Chairman of the National Parks Commission, in a letter to The Times only 306 the other day. But I will come back to that in a minute.
I agree entirely with everything that has been said about its being right, in the ordinary way, to send these Bills upstairs—when it is a question of evidence and argument by learned counsel, and that sort of thing. But in these cases in which mandatory instructions have been given (the noble and learned Lord has referred to the Croydon case and to the London County Council case, and I do not want to say a great deal about most of the others) the interesting thing is that in practically every one of them the Lord Chairman of the day has advised your Lordships' House not to accept the mandatory instruction. In fact, I think there is only one case when he did not do that. So the advice is not peculiar to the noble and learned Lord whom we admire so much and who occupies the Chair to-day. My Lords, if there is a tradition in this sort of case, it is that the Chairman of Committees should advise your Lordships to send the Bill upstairs and not to send a mandatory instruction with it; and if there is another tradition it is that we have almost always not accepted his advice—though, very often, as it has been this afternoon, his advice has been supported by the Government, too.
Now, my Lords, there are several more of these interesting cases. There was one in the House of Commons on amenities, when it was proposed to build a bridge across Poole Harbour which would have destroyed the beauty of that lovely area of water and made it exceedingly difficult for yachts and boats to get in and out, and, indeed, would have upset the whole place. That Bill was rejected in another place on exactly the same grounds. It was rejected on no other ground whatever but that it would have destroyed the amenities. It was not given a Second Reading there; so they do it and we do it.
I should also like to refer to the Poole Bill of 1937, which is another of these cases. I think that was a case in which the Lord Chairman agreed that it would be all right. The interesting thing about the Poole Bill was that at the time it was coming up there was an outbreak of typhoid in those parts, and the local authority felt that it would be very useful if they could get a statutory 307 authority to insist on the pasteurisation of all the milk. They therefore included that in the Bill. I think that the Lord Chairman said that that Bill might go upstairs: that it was rather an experiment which it would be quite useful to have carried out in that way. This was before pasteurisation was considered natural. However, the Government themselves said that a Select Committee of the House was not the sort of Committee that was best adapted to deal with the question of the pasteurisation of milk, which the Government regarded as a national problem which ought to be dealt with by a properly constituted Government Committee, selected on the basis of expert knowledge, and that sort of thing.
I would again submit that there is a very distinct similarity here, because the kind of considerations involved in the question of making water available on a national scale and in making it available from different sources are the same considerations as have been under consideration by an expert Committee. It is obviously very much more within the competence of a Committee like this to handle such considerations than it is for five Peers who are selected in the way we know. They do their work in a very conscientious and a very able way, in so far as it is a question of dealing with proposals in regard to local matters and private interests, but, as with compulsory pasteurisation of milk or the provision of large quantities of water, they are not adequately equipped for handling a problem of that kind. So I do suggest that the case has been completely made out by the noble and learned Lord in regard to this particular aspect of the matter.
My Lords, I said that I should like to add a few words on the question of time, on which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, took a very strong line on behalf of the Promoters of this Bill, the Manchester Corporation. Indeed, he took a much stronger line than they themselves have taken in their own case, which they have so very candidly circulated to us—because it is a fair document and one which gives a great deal of useful material in a comparatively small compass. I would certainly congratulate the Town Clerk of 308 Manchester on the admirable way in which that document is framed.
But the question really is how urgent this matter is. We have heard that Manchester themselves say that the demand will overtake supply in 1970. This estimate, as the noble and learned Lord pointed out, is based on a rise in the use of water of 2 per cent. per annum. My Lords, they take as a datum line the consumption in 1961, which they give as 105 million gallons per day, and they say that the total available is 126 million gallons. Now that takes them really beyond 1970. It takes them, in my submission, as a mere matter of arithmetic, pretty well to 1971. So, instead of to the beginning of 1970, in my submission we have already got to the end of 1971.
In the past, Manchester have always pitched their case very much too high. When the Haweswater Scheme was before the Select Committee in 1919, their engineer stated that their need for this Bill was absolutely urgent, and that they were on the point of being short of water. Indeed, if there were three dry seasons, he said they would be short. A great point was made of that statement, when the Bill was before the Select Committee, in order to enable them to get their Bill; and the Promoters got their Bill in 1919. I have here an interesting document which was prepared by the Water Committee of the Manchester City Council for a visit of the City Councillors to Haweswater in 1958. This is interesting because it says that it was not until 1925, which was nearly six years after they got this Bill, which they told your Lordships' Select Committee was so urgent that they must have it at once, that they began to make detailed surveys for the Haweswater reservoir. They go on to say that the first instalment of works was completed in October of 1941. That is no less than 22 years after the time when their engineers had given sworn evidence to the Select Committee of your Lordships' House that they must have this Bill urgently. I submit that that is typical of the sort of way in which they have conducted this business, and it shows that you really cannot accept au pied de la lettre everything that they say in regard to this sort of matter.
I find it very worrying when the representatives of the Government come here 309 and, in effect, say that unless they start carrying out construction of this scheme by the end of 1964 they will not be ready by 1970, when the Manchester Corporation themselves, in the document they have circulated to us all, say that 1965 is the date by which they have to carry out their construction. Surely, that is a very pessimistic estimate of the time in which to do work of this kind. The great Jhelum Darn, now being constructed in Pakistan, which involves the construction of a darn very nearly two miles long and making one of the greatest reservoirs in the world, has an estimated period of construction of just over five years. The great Kariba Dam on the Zambesi River was constructed, if my recollection is not at fault, in a period of five years. Yet the Minister conies here and tells us that they must have five years to build this compartively small darn across the comparatively narrow exit of a small valley in the Western Lake District. I must say, when I hear that sort of thing, that it really makes me wonder how seriously the Minister rates the intelligence of the Members of the House.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think this is a little unfortunate, if I may say so. My noble friend, who is not here at this moment, tried to put before the House a résumé of the information obtained by his Department. He did it as a courtesy to the House. He has no bias in this matter at all. I think the House would have felt properly affronted if the Minister had refused to disclose the information in the possession of his Department; and to suggest that, in doing so, he was under-rating the intelligence of the House, or acting on behalf of the Promoters of the Bill, is the exact contrary of of the truth. Of course, it is for the House to attach what importance it likes to the information in my noble friend's possession, but I think that this kind of statement really is not up to standard. I feel that it is an unworthy attack on my noble friend and ought not to be made. Of course, what the Minister says is not sacrosanct; but to suggest that he is biased in some way, or desires to under-estimate the intelligence of the House, seems to me to be quite wrong.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Earl is not here, because I should have liked him to hear 310 what I said and reply to it. It is most unlikely, in my submission to your Lordships' House, that the Manchester people have not allowed themselves enough time. I will read to your Lordships what they say in a statement which they issued. I am quoting the exact words:The Corporation should put in hand further constructional works in 1965 …It is within the recollection of your Lordships that the noble Earl said that they must be put in hand by 1964. In other words, he wants to give them a year more than Manchester themselves are asking for. It seems to me that that is typical of the attitude which the Government have taken. I would much rather they came out and said, "We want Manchester to have this Bill", and be honest about it.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, this is really rather too bad. There is no question whatever of the Government's wanting or not wanting Manchester to have the Bill; my noble friend made that abundantly plain. The addition which the noble Lord has now made only suggests that the Government are not being honest about this matter. We have sought, in every way at our disposal, to give the information in our possession. The Government as such have no view about it, apart from the fact that it will be their duty to supply the Select Committee, if it goes so far, with information in their possession. I really must ask that the noble Lord should not impute motives of dishonesty to members of the Government. I do not think he advances his own case by doing so, because I am sure that if the House were asked to decide the question whether the Government were acting honestly or dishonestly in a matter of this kind, it would decide that they were acting honestly. I really must ask the noble Lord to moderate his language in some way, and not to make accusations of this kind. It seems to me to be wholly out of keeping with the nature of the discussion upon which we are embarked.
My Lords, may interrupt my noble Leader for one moment? I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, really said that the Department was wrong, and that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in trusting to his Department, was in error. As a matter of fact, the Government may be 311 wrong, and I can give the noble Viscount a concrete example, on paper, in black and white, of a Government Department's assuring the House of one thing, and then, when the very same people were put on oath before a Commission, they said the opposite. That does happen. It may be very wrong, but it is a thing that the Government may be caught out by.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, if all that the noble Lord meant to say was that the Government might be mistaken, and from time to time Departments err, I should be the first to accept that evidence, although I should also think that the true moral of what my noble friend said was that Select Committees were very good organs for finding that out. But what the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said was that the Government were not being honest about it. That I objected to, and I think I am entitled to object to that.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Earl, of course, was just putting forward the report which had been received from the Department. That is his job. He cannot be an expert himself, and obviously he will not be putting forward his own views. He puts forward views prepared in the Department. But I do suggest that you really cannot accept them, when Manchester are really going to give themselves all the latitude they can. If you find the Government Department saying that Manchester need a year more than they themselves have asked for, surely it makes the whole thing look quite "phoney".
My Lords, I should like to finish. I am sorry this speech has gone on so long; it is largely because I have been interrupted so much. In this memorandum for the visiting Councillors at Haweswater, it is pointed out that in 1948 the Waterworks Committee decided to increase the size of the tunnels included in the second instalment of the works from 7 ft. 7 in. to 8 ft. 6 in. That is the aqueduct to Manchester. At the same time, they increased the capacity of Haweswater Reservoir by 50 million gallons per day. Is it not perfectly clear that, by going well beyond the amount of water which they claimed in 1919, about this time they began to say, "We are going to make ready now to 312 take water from Ullswater"? They built this aqueduct and now one of the strongest arguments they have in favour of the Bill is that it is going to be a tremendous saver of money; they are ready to take this water and they ought to be allowed to use it. That is what The Times calls, "jumping the gun." That is why the people of the Lake District think that "a fast one" is being put across them.
It might be said that it is now 1962 and that is a long period, but why did it not happen before? That is a question which the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, asked. I submit that when, in April of this year, the Ministry circulated to local authorities what in effect was an advance appreciation of the Report of this Committee which has just come out, drawing to their attention the fact that in future these matters would have to be dealt with on a national basis, it was at that point that the Manchester people said, "Obviously we have to get this scheme through at once". That is why they went ahead in this rather hurried and muddled way, without proper consultation with the interests concerned and without any real attempt to put things on a proper basis. That is what we call "jumping, the pistol". What happens when competitors in a race jump the pistol is that it is the starter's duty to bring them back and start them off again. I suggest to your Lordships that in this case we are the starters and that it is our duty to see that Manchester Corporation are not allowed to jump the gun in this way but are brought back so that they can start fairly. If it is a question of fairness and natural justice, we should make sure that it is done in this case by voting for the Motion so eloquently put before the House by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett.
§ 8.4 p.m.
My Lords, it is getting rather late and I do not wish to waste the time of the House. The only reason for my addressing your Lordships is that I have been asked by the National Trust to do so. My noble friend Lord Crawford and Balcarres has put the case for the National Trust exceedingly well, as everyone would expect him to do. I should like to emphasise one or two points which he may or may 313 not have mentioned. One is that I cannot quite understand why the Corporation did not suggest taking the water from Ullswater downstream from Pooley Bridge so as to leave the shores of the Lake untouched, and thus meet an argument against this measure.
The other point I should like to make is one which many speakers have mentioned: the fact that alternative supplies of water have not been suggested or, if they have been suggested, have not been sufficiently emphasised. For instance, it has been suggested that the River Lune, the Ribble and possibly the Irwell, with proper safeguards for decontamination, might be used for both industrial and human purposes. I read that a few years ago the Cumberland County Council drew attention to the fact that, as everybody knows who has travelled there during the wet season, there was a large amount of water available in the county which runs to waste largely through an inefficient system of conserving it.
We have also read in the Corporation's own Memorandum that they make certain promises for the future. It has been already suggested, and I repeat, that they cannot bind their successors, and, if I may say so, their reputation has not been enhanced by Thirlmere, which has been inundated by a 90-foot high dam, habitations dislodged and sheep farms largely replaced by commercial afforestation. In one case of afforestation complaint was made and it was suggested that there should be some ornamental trees planted, but the forestry people put in exotic trees, which made the place look even worse. Haweswater has been transformed by a dam nearly 100 feet high and the village of Mardale Green has been destroyed. In both these cases—I hope the noble Viscount will correct me if I am wrong—the public has been denied access to the shores in spite of the Corporation's legal obligation to the contrary. I should be pleased if the Government could deny that, because it is a very important matter. Wet Sleddale is being flooded by a 70-foot high dam, and Swindale is likely to be flooded by a 130-foot high dam, in spite of the Minister of Housing and Local Government's hope that an alternative reservoir might be found.
We have all listened to a debate which 314 I think has been exceptionally interesting, started by an absolutely brilliant speech by the proposer of the Motion, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, in favour of the protection of our national amenities. I hope that his speech will be widely reported and widely read, because we have already gone too far downhill in destroying our amenities, in particular the National Parks, which we created by law in 1951. It is all wrong. We should go in reverse now. And I hope that this debate will bring the attention of the country to the urgent necessity of insisting on the National Parks and the land in the hands of the National Trust being preserved for posterity and not only for ourselves. In destroying them, we are destroying the very object for which they were created, the amenity of the working and other classes in the big industrial centres. To destroy them strikes me as lunacy, and it should be stopped. This is a case where such a strong body of opinion, particularly local opinion, has rejected this proposal that I, for one, will certainly vote for the Motion of my noble and learned friend.
§ 8.18 p.m.
My Lords. I find myself in a somewhat unusual position, because I could be expected, I suppose, to have a foot in both camps. I have spent much of my life in industrial Lancashire. All my working life I have been associated with industry in Lancashire, and still am with the wool industry, the cotton industry and the chemical industry. Therefore, I am acutely conscious of the tremendous importance of water to industry. Not only must it be cheap water and in adequate supply, but it must also be clean and of a fairly constant analysis. I will not develop that problem now. It has been extremely well put in paragraphs 127 and 134 of the report of the Supervisory Water Committee, which has been referred to on a number of occasions this afternoon. Therefore, with this background, I hope your Lordships will agree that it is not unnatural when I say that I am in difficulty over this question of water supply.
It is not only Manchester itself that wants water, but also many of the local authorities on the way there, and a great proportion of that water—my noble 315 friend Lord Jessel said something in the order of 50 per cent.—is industrial. Therefore my natural instinct, based on my own practical experience, would be to feel a definite degree of understanding and sympathy for the efforts that are now being made by the Manchester Corporation to safeguard its ability to provide adequate supplies of water in the future. For that reason, also, I do not quibble with the fact that the North Western region of the Federation of British Industries has taken a line in this. It is doing the right thing to see that its members' interests are properly put before the public. That is one side of the picture.
But I can see the position from the other side, too, because I happen to be one of the few Members of your Lordships' House who live in the Lake District, and I am also Vice-Chairman of the Lake District Committee of the National Trust. Therefore, I am in a rather exceptional position to see the matter from both sides. Here, lest there be any misunderstanding, I may say that I have no interest whatever to declare in relation to the particular clauses of the Bill we are now discussing.
I do not question for one moment that Manchester has a real problem in regard to the provision of water; of course it has. I do not question that by 1970, and increasingly so from then on, this problem will be even greater; and it will be necessary in good time to see that steps are taken so that water may be available in adequate quantities when it is required. The two questions, however, that arise in my mind from that background are these. First, is the problem being approached in the right way? And, secondly, what are the alternatives? As regards the approach (and I am not referring to Parliamentary procedure) I feel completely out of sympathy with the idea that once Parliament has decided—which it did with, I think it may be said, the unanimous approval of all Parties—that there should be National Parks the conception of National Parks should be undermined (or further undermined, because we have already been told that there are cases where undermining has already started) by a Private Bill. That seems to me to be entirely wrong.
It may be that in the course of time it will be necessary for National Parks 316 to develop as sources of water for the great industrial areas of the country. That, I suppose, is a possibility one cannot entirely rule out of one's mind for all time, however regrettable it may be. But surely a decision of that nature should be taken only after a most searching inquiry, as a matter of general policy, to be settled by Parliament in a Public Bill, with the Government lending a lead, bearing in mind that every time the National Park is breached there is no going back. At least there is no going back in this century, although in centuries to come it may become natural again.
I recognise, also, that it may be argued that National Parks are a luxury; it may be said that we are a small country, none too wealthy these days, and it may be in time to come we shall not be able to afford that luxury. I sincerely hope not, and certainly that position has not arrived yet. But, in my view, the important thing is that we should have a decision on general policy before we take any decisions on the particular. Listening to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, I found myself in complete agreement with him in this point.
It seems to me that there are two questions of general policy that have to be settled. The first is aimed at making it quite clear to everyone that the National Parks are, as one noble Lord described it earlier, being whittled away, and Parliament wants to pronounce on whether that whittling has gone far enough and should be held—I doubt that it could he easily reversed. That is the first matter of general policy I want to see decided. The second matter of general policy, which has been mentioned by a number of your Lordships, that I want to see is a general national water policy. As this was also referred to by the noble Earl speaking from the Front Bench, I am encouraged to think that some thought is being given to it. When we have these two general principles settled, then they can be used as a background against which a Select Committee can have the pros and cons of these particular water clauses argued in front of them. But until we get the general principle as the background, I think we are merely wasting time by committing this section of the Bill to a Select Committee.
317 That leads me to my second question: What are the alternatives? So much has already been said about this that I can be quite brief in what I have to say. However, I was surprised that one or two noble Lords stated that the alternatives should be suggested by the opponents. I should have thought that the alternatives should come from the Promoters, and then we can see what the case for them is. But there are no alternatives of any substance, so far. I think your Lordships have a right to be told to what extent alternative solutions really have been gone into thoroughly. I find it hard to believe that there are no possible alternatives for providing, if not the whole, at any rate part of the water. The fact that we have not been told of alternatives leads me to feel that there has been a quite immodest degree of haste and lack of consultation, which, coming from the Lake District, I feel I must repeat—I know that other noble Lords have said it—has created a most astonishing degree of indignation. I regret having to say that.
I have a statutory position in the cotton industry; I have an office in Manchester; I have many friends in Manchester and I have a great affection for Manchester. But I must say, although I have found many of my business friends in Manchester very much opposed to the water clauses in the Bill—which is, I think, of interest—that it seems to me that Manchester has done itself less than justice in creating the impression that it has. I say that because I take very much the point that the right reverend Prelate made on the importance of trying to get a degree of harmony back into the situation. Sooner or later Manchester will need to get more water supplies, and it will inevitably have to co-operate with other authorities; and the fact that it is thought in Westmorland and Cumberland that they have acted in a cavalier way cannot help the co-operative work that will be necessary if some new schemes are to be worked out.
The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, made a suggestion that the Lord Mayor of Manchester should invite the local authorities from Cumberland and Westmorland to a magnificent banquet in the town hall. With the utmost respect, I would suggest that 318 psychologically it would be much more telling if the Lord Mayor of Manchester would be willing to eat a degree of humble pie and propose to visit the Lake District.
I am not going to say anything about the technical details of the scheme because, as was said earlier, this is not the time for that to be discussed. But I want to say that I accept entirely the assurances which Manchester has given with regard to the access and enjoyment as assurances given in the utmost good faith. I am sure that that is so, but, as other noble Lords have said, no assurances they give can bind their successors. It may be that in a year or so there will be another drought such as we had in 1959. With every year that passes a drought is bound to be greater in effect because more water is needed. If there is a drought and, the thin end of the wedge, these schemes we are now considering have been started, obviously the Manchester Corporation will seek emergency powers under the 1958 Water Act to get further emergency supplies, and I have no doubt whatever that they would be granted those emergency supplies.
I have one other point I should like to make. I am quite sure that there may be some people, not necessarily your Lordships, who would say, "Those of you who live in the Lake District are very fortunate, and you should not complain if the district is spoilt a little here and there". Indeed, we are extremely fortunate, and we recognise it. But I think it would be entirely wrong for people to go away and think that living in the Lake District is entirely "jam". If you are an owner—I am not talking about a great landowner—of a bungalow, a cottage or a little plot of land which you want to develop, by living in a National Park under stricter planning control you may have to spend much more money in doing what you want than would be the case if you were outside a National Park. Again, if you happen to be a farmer, living a rather rugged existence in one of the remoter parts of the Lake District, it may well be that you will be denied for a long time some of the usual amenities of life. I have in mind electricity, and I could think of many villages to which electricity has been denied for decades, simply because 319 it was thought, and reasonably so, that pylons would spoil the beauties of the National Park which had to be preserved.
For whom is the National Park being preserved? It is being preserved for the nation. In other words, to a large extent it is being preserved for the city dwellers. Surely it is rather hard on people who are made to spend extra money or to forgo amenities, when they see the city authorities coming along trying to set aside safeguards which have been placed on the Parks in order that city dwellers can benefit and enjoy them. Is it any wonder that there has been a marked degree of embittered feeling? The last thing I want to do is to add to that. But I think your Lordships who do not live in that part of the world have a right to realise how intense that feeling is, and anything we can do to mitigate it should be done. In the light of that, I am now perfectly clear in my mind as to the line I want to take. The line I would take would be to ask the Government to proceed with the utmost expedition with regard to National Parks to see whether they are being whittled away without Parliament realising that the effect of what they have said is being gradually reduced.
I want also to see a national water policy. I do not think that need take too long. Surely, the Department has a host of information put on one side that it could work on. When those two points have been settled, let Manchester, Liverpool or London come back for water and see how their requirements fit into the national policy. For those reasons, I shall feel no hesitation whatever in supporting the Motion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, we have had a long and interesting debate on this subject, relatively free from acrimony, in spite of occasion when heart and emotion have been in conflict with logic. During the course of the debate many questions have been posed. Indeed, I would suggest that there have been more questions posed than positive statements supported by technical information. Thinking of that caused me to realise, as I looked around the House, that at this moment it is de- 320 cidedly "thinner" now than it was an hour or two ago. That serves to indicate that there must have been many speeches made which some Members of this House, including myself, have not heard. But I am quite sure that when the time for a Division comes along, everyone in this House will vote, indicating a fundamental difference between our handling of this case and that which would be given by a Select Committee. I am quite sure that the members of the Select Committee would sit through all the evidence, hear all the statements that are made, and perhaps be in a far better position to adjudicate, calmly and dispassionately, upon this subject than, with all due deference, I think we are.
I shall endeavour (I know your Lordships will be pleased to hear this) not to repeat any of the arguments that have already been advanced this afternoon and tonight, or at least those arguments which I heard. But there is one fundamental issue—and it is the only one, so far as I can see; and that is, whether or not this case will be heard by a Select Committee. I know that a love of the Lakeland (and my love of the Lakeland is as deep as that of anyone else) causes one to feel a justifiable desire to keep out any possible activity that may encroach upon those amenities. I know there is that aspect. At the same time, there must be a recognition of the rights of a community as vast as that, not only of Manchester, but of the tremendous area which the Manchester Corporation supply. Manchester is "carrying the can"—in this particular case the water can—but in fact it is operating on behalf of a very wide area.
I cannot for the life of me see why those who are so strenuous in their opposition to the case put up by the Manchester Corporation, if they have confidence in their own beliefs, are not prepared to argue the case impartially, or have it heard before an impartial tribunal. There is at least one statement which received a fairly high degree of unanimity, and that was on the recognition of the vital need for more water. I am not going to argue whether the need will arise in twelve months, or whatever it may be. There is no doubt—and this has been recognised by opponents of the scheme—that Manchester will in the near future be in need of 321 more water; water that is essential not only to the health of the community but also to the industrial development of that area. And that aspect is important.
We can all recognise the necessity for preserving the amenities of Lakeland, which is a national heritage, and it becomes our responsibility, not only in this House but outside, to do all in our power to preserve such national assets. But it is also our responsibility to make sure that all our national assets are used to the widest possible extent and to the best advantage of the community. The principle has not been advanced by anyone, so far as I have heard, that in no circumstances whatever must the Lakes be touched. Nor is there any challenge to the principle that there is a right, in given circumstances, to employ national assets in the best interests of the people. I know that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, in his powerful and eloquent spech, sustained by his deep love of Lakeland, posed a number of questions and made one or two statements. He said that it was not an urgent matter, as regards the supply of water, but I would suggest, again with all due deference, that we had better have this matter settled by the presentation of facts rather than by the expression of eloquent speeches.
Questions have been addressed to this House as to whether there are alternative sources of supply. There may or may not be. In all honesty I cannot answer that question. But I should like to know the answer; and I know that I should have a better chance of receiving that answer if the scheme in the Bill went before a Select Committee. That would be, I believe, in the interests of both parties. I should have welcomed the opportunity of dealing in great detail with the Manchester case, but that has already been done. However, as I have said, I want to emphasise my own simple faith in the Select Committee. I believe that there will be opportunities far greater than this House can employ to consider all the aspects. I recognise that decisions relating to progress naturally depend upon a balance of conflicting claims, and they cannot be decided in an atmosphere that is charged with some small measure of emotion.
322 I would say, in conclusion, that it is indeed a strange justice to prevent a plaintiff having his case heard in an impartial court. And that, in my opinion, is the only thing we have under discussion this evening. I hope that your Lordships will recognise, in the interests of fair hearing, the necessity for the scheme in Part III to go before a Select Committee.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, has been outside just recently, but if he were to go to the Dining Room he would find there a large number of Peers having dinner. He remarked that the House was thin and that is my answer to him. I think he will find that a large number of those noble Lords will come back when the noble Viscount the Leader of the House gives us his answer.
My Lords, I am not blaming their Lordships for being absent; I am merely indicating that, for one reason or another, they have not heard all the speeches. In the case of a Select Committee I would assume they would be present during the period when the evidence was being presented.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
I accept the noble Lord's point hut I still make my remark. Again, if I may refer to Lord Peddie's speech, I do not know whether he was present when the noble Lord who leads the Liberal Party referred to this Bill and made the suggestion that the Bill—I think I am right in saying this but I have forgotten his exact words—should not be read a second time, or that these water clauses should be withdrawn and that the Bill should be divided into two and a completely separate Bill be introduced into the House for the water itself. My Lords, I, for one, have pleasure—while I fully respect Lord Jessel's point in drawing Lord Lonsdale's attention to the fact that he had not declared his interest—in saying that I have no personal interest or connection whatsoever with the Lake District. I speak as a complete outsider.
In his most admirable speech, which I think is one of the best we have ever heard in this House, the noble Lord, 323 Lord Birkett, referred to the article in the Guardian of January 25. I, too, should like to do the same, but I should like to take one or two different points from those with which he dealt. I have that leading article in my hand, and it starts off by saying that there is no easing of the storm over Ullswater. In fact, there have been more articles since, but I am dealing only with this particular article, which adds:Manchester's opponents may well deserve to win on the merits of their case, but they are not publicising it well.I feel that the opponents have put their case very well this afternoon, and, for my part, I hope to refute that very statement with a few words. The amount of literature we have had on the subject has been referred to by a number of noble Lords, and I would just say this: that the main theme running through this literature is, first, that the Bill was announced only on September 1, and, second, that there has not been enough time—I emphasise the words "enough time "—for consultation with the other authorities concerned. I understand that consultations of a sort have gone on since October, but more time should be allowed in this case for that consultation. The Bill itself was not published much before Christmas—I think about a fortnight or three weeks; I am not certain of my dates, but I think that is correct.
Much reference has been made to the question of a new national water policy. I was going to say something further about that, but I will only say this[...] that I am one of those who feel that Manchester is, I was going to say, trying to get ahead of such possible new legislation; other stronger terms have been used. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, referred to the assurances the Corporation have given that there would be no interference with the amenities of Ullswater or its shores or on the land surrounding it. The Guardian in that same article says:To continue the argument without reference to them …"—to those assurances—… only weakens the case.I am referring to them now and would say, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and others have said, that such 324 assurances cannot be binding on its successors. The Chairman of the Manchester Waterworks Committee at a public town meeting some time ago said:Do not let us delude ourselves. In order to provide for the shortage of water resources and the rising demand over the next 25 years there will have to be many waterworks constructed in National Parks.I understand that Manchester could have powers under the 1945 Act, if they so wished, to restrict access by means of viaducts. They can do this under Section 18 (l) of the Water Act, 1945. I was going to quote it, but the hour is late and I will not do so. It so happens that two days after the Guardian printed its article on January 25 the Economist printed an article supporting the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and it seemed to me a complete answer to the Guardian article. I wonder whether the editor of the Guardian has read it.
May I turn for a moment to the question of Bannisdale, which has been referred to so much to-day? If the building of the Bannisdale dam takes place, two farms there will be submerged. Is this necessary when so much agricultural land in this country for one reason or another is disappearing? I have here a Petition of a private landowner in the Lake District who is petitioning against this particular point, and I have been asked to make the observation. This is that where you have ten acres of hill farming, sheep, you need one acre of meadowland to feed them on. If this particular action takes place in Bannisdale this will disappear. These farms are hill farms and have been receiving hill farming grants. It seems to me that one Ministry is opposing the other. I regret that I did not give notice of this particular point I am making, but I received it only this afternoon.
Many of your Lordships have stated that you recognise that Manchester needs the water—starting; if I may say so again, with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and many others of your Lordships have said so too. Many references have been made to Petitions and protests that have been made. I have here one resolution that I should like to refer to, and in this particular 325 case it was made by the Cumberland (North and East) Boy Scouts Association. It reads as follows:Provided all other possible sources of supply have been frankly explored without financial cost being the main consideration.Provided the reasonable needs have been proved We recognise the paramount necessity for controlled water abstraction subject to conditions—The pith of that resolution is in the first proviso (the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale, referred to this point): provided all other possible sources of supply have been frankly explored without financial cost being the main consideration. May I conclude by saying that a very large number of your Lordships obviously agree with the noble and learned Lord who is to move the instruction?—and I shall have very much pleasure in supporting him in the Division Lobby.
- (a) Free access to all gathering grounds of lakes and reservoirs,
- (b) Free access to all lakes and reservoirs of a capacity of (say) 300 million gallons and upwards,
- (c) Payment of a royalty for every million gallons of water abstracted from all in paragraph (b) to provide such a sum as shall be ample for the administration of an adequate warden's service to preserve the condition of every lake and reservoir."
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, at this late hour I shall be very brief, and all I wish to do is to register my support of certain views. When I was connected with the Ministry of Agriculture what always struck me was the tremendous demand for land in this country. Land is one of the things which is getting shorter and shorter; good agricultural land is very hard to keep from depredators; beautiful land such as the Lake District is even scarcer. I should like to call to the attention of your Lordships the fundamental fact in this debate, which is that you have here a question of principle. It is not only facts balancing facts but there is a big principle involved, and I think the principle is this. In this very small and possibly over-populated island we have very little beautiful natural ground for people to employ their leisure, to go on holidays to enjoy themselves in—people from these big industrial cities of the North. We have very little land, and the Lake District is, as everybody would agree, one of the great places that we have for recreation. For that reason it has 326 been made a National Park, and it seems to me that the principle behind the whole thing is this: are you really going to preserve your National Parks or is the making of a National Park just a mockery, an empty gesture? Because unless we preserve them it is no use our making them. Having preserved them, are we going to keep them in their natural state of beauty?
I do not want to pursue what has been said many times this afternoon, but certainly Ullswater is the most unspoiled and beautiful of our lakes in one of the most lovely districts in England, and I should have thought it would be terrible if this House allowed the principle of the National Parks to be invalidated in this way without far more research into it. I think the whole thing has been pushed through very quickly, and it would be a terrible loss to the nation if we began to take away from the beauties of this district. There are two arguments. There are those who say that this scheme will not spoil the Lake District at all; that you can alter the level of the water of this huge lake, you can build dams, you can flood a valley, you can enclose all the land round, which you have to do when you have flooded the valley so that the water is pure, for you cannot let people or sheep go near; that you can have pumping houses and cables across the countryside—and all this is supposed not to spoil the natural beauty and amenity of Ullswater and the district around it. I think that is, with due respect, nonsense.
Let us face the thing as it is honestly, for the only real argument, and it is a powerful one, is that we are asked to sacrifice this Park to the needs for water of a big city, or not so much the need for the water as to save the expense of getting the water from other sources, the cost of which might be so high that we should feel we ought to sacrifice the principle of the National Park. That seems to me the great point. That is the true reason. I think our whole policy in regard to water should be a national one. It is no good trying to nibble at it in pieces; we must get a whole national scale plan for this. I believe it would be absolutely deplorable if we allowed this scheme to go ahead under the present conditions and really neutralised the great conception of the National Parks for the people of this country.
§ 8.50 p.m.
THE EARL OF HADDINGTON
My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Huntingdon, I intend to be extremely brief. The pros and cons of this matter have been so exhaustively debated that there is little left for the nineteenth speaker in the debate to say. But one overriding consideration makes me align myself with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, who has moved the rejection of this Bill. I strongly feel that at some time, which must be soon, we must call a halt to this continual encroachment on the beauty spots of our country. There are not a great number of them, and in this crowded island there is little room for manœuvre. We must remember that the scale of scenery in Great Britain is much smaller than that on the continents of Europe, America and Africa, and therefore it is so much more easily damaged.
What will Parliament be doing if it allows this Bill to pass in its present form? True enough, with one hand it will be giving water to the industrial areas, but with the other hand it will be taking away the means whereby the population of those areas can go out in their leisure hours and enjoy themselves in the fresh air of the country. It is no use pretending that the scenery will remain unspoiled. We know perfectly well that there is nothing compatible between a reservoir and a natural lake, except that they both contain water. In Scotland, many of our finest lochs have been dammed. Years ago we fought the battle against the hydro-electric scheme. We thought that it would spoil the scenery. I cannot say that it has improved the scenery; but, at any rate, in the urgent public interest these lochs were dammed up to provide electricity; and it was not until every avenue had been explored to look for alternative sources of power that the National Trust and the amenity societies withdrew their objection. I think that is perfectly true.
I have heard this called the thin end of the wedge. But the thin end of the wedge was driven into the Lake District years ago when these two fair valleys and farmlands were submerged. Now it is proposed to flood another one. We are getting to the thicker end of the wedge, which is being driven in harder. It seems to me that logically such exploitation can have only one end: 328 eventually the whole of the Lake District will be one vast waterworks. My Lords, I have nothing more to say. I am a little too young to remember what Mr. Gladstone said in the 1880's; but I often wonder what Mr. Wordsworth would say if he were living in 1962.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, I intervene at this late hour with mixed feelings. Like many of your Lordships, I am a member of several of the organisations which are united in opposing this Bill. Although I cannot claim an intimate knowledge of the Lake District, I know it well enough to be as concerned as are most people that nothing avoidable shall be done to mar its outstanding beauty or to impair the public enjoyment of that National Park.
I must declare an interest. I am chairman of a statutory water undertaking which operates in the West Country. I do not consider that that interest is necessarily inconsistent with the concern that I have referred to, for in these days water undertakings can, and do, consistently with the interests they serve, reduce to small degrees the marring of the beauty of the countryside; and they even on occasion add to its beauty. Although the Mendips are a long way from the Lake District, and I do not seek to establish a connection or a comparison, there can well be raised, as there have been occasionally in this debate, questions of principle or practice affecting statutory water undertakings. It is for that reason that I feel it proper to declare that interest.
I have listened to, and been profoundly moved by, the eloquence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett and of many others who have supported him. But on the simple issue of whether or not these proposals should be excluded from examination by a Select Committee, I have no mixed feelings and no doubts. I think they should be thoroughly and critically examined by a Select Committee. I confess that that was my feeling before I came to this House this afternoon. Having heard the debate, I am confirmed in that feeling.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, at one point in his speech, if I heard him aright (I tried to take it down at the time), said that the real issue 329 was whether Manchester was now to be permitted to invade Lakeland. But the assurance which we have had from the Lord Chairman surely means that, if the matter is referred to a Select Committee, thereafter the Whole House will be able to consider the purpose of the Bill. Moreover, as the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has said, it will be able to express its views on the basis of a great deal more information about the facts than we have to-night.
Like many others who heard him, I was greatly impressed by the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale, whose local knowledge is so great. He made one point of which I hope note may be taken: that conceivably, as things stand, local interests and local authorities might not have sufficient time in which to prepare the information required by the Select Committee. Surely a Select Committee will make allowance for that and see that reasonable time is given.
I should like to confirm and reinforce the point which Lord Lonsdale made. As has been clearly pointed out, the opposition to the proposals of the corporation are under three headings: first, the non-acceptance of the Corporation's claim of urgency; secondly, the non-acceptance of the Corporation's statement that there is no alternative, and thirdly, the possible prejudice to what are called amenities and the further invasion of a National Park. I do not pretend to know all the relevant facts. I have attempted to obtain information on many of them, but the hour is late and I feel that, in the interests of the common good, I must scrap a certain amount of my speech.
But I will very briefly summarise by saying that, on such knowledge as I have, the claim of urgency is not ill-founded. I would agree with the summary given by the noble and gallant Earl of the evidence collected by his Department. The years 1963 to 1969, if the Corporation are to be in a position to do what is necessary in 1970, are not too long off for, according to my own experience, the plans, the invitations to tender, the ordering of specialised equipment, much of which is of long delivery, and the actual construction of some of the major works, such as the Bannisdale Dam, would take up a very large part of that six years. Therefore, I would, 330 agree with the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, on that.
As regards the Corporation's estimate of consumption, I can only say that, from our experience, current consumption is rising annually at a rate appreciably higher than the 2 per cent. which Manchester have taken. The figure of 2.4 has been the national average, and they have worked on a basis of 2 per cent. Averages are dangerous things. Nature has an uncomfortable way of not understanding averages, and sometimes even departs from what experience has suggested might be her traditional form. Therefore, although Manchester may be covered as regards the peak demand, I do not think they are over-insuring so far as the steady growth of consumption is concerned.
As regards the amenities, my Lords, I do not have sufficient knowledge, but, from what I have heard and seen of the actual proposals of Manchester, at least there is a case that they have to put to a Select Committee to establish facts. As regards Ullswater, there really is nothing to be seen as a result of their works, except perhaps one small building on the 120 foot frontage, and it is only in respect of that frontage that the public are, so to speak, denied access to the actual border of the Lake. The pumping station will be underground, covered by grass; it will look like a low grass mound. The little building I mentioned could be made to look like another boathouse, and would certainly not mar substantially the amenities.
On this point of alternative sources, surely this is a question which is ideally suited for detailed examination by a Select Committee. The Manchester Corporation will be able to explain exactly what examinations they have made as a result of the Vail Report, and it will be for the Select Committee to judge. As regards their waiting until there should be a national water policy, I agree with what the noble and gallant Earl said about the timetable in that respect, too. If, by some very fortunate chance, we could get legislation this Session, if it is to be realistic it would still be two or three years before the bodies which were set up under that legislation were working in a way which would make any contribution to the solution of the problem which we are discussing tonight.
331 Therefore, my Lords, with all the sympathy in the world for those who are fearful of the results of this scheme, I still feel that it would be unwise, as well as perhaps a reflection on the traditional fair-mindedness of your Lordships' House, if proposals that so greatly affect the public interest in a variety of ways were not examined with the utmost care. Therefore, I, for my part, would urge with all the emphasis I can command that they be thoroughly examined by a Select Committee upstairs and that an informed judgment be arrived at which can be debated in due course by your Lordships in this House on a basis of fuller information.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, since a great deal of this debate has been necessarily controversial, and since, undoubtedly, many of my remarks will also be controversial, I should like at the outset to do what I know will command the universal assent of the House; and that is to congratulate most warmly my noble friend, Lord MacAndrew, on his maiden speech. Many of us knew him for years as a great Parliamentarian in another place. We realise to-day how much he will enrich our debates in this House.
My Lords, I have been continuously in my place here since half-past two this afternoon and I have been very much struck, as we have all, by the strength and sincerity of conviction of noble Lords who take opposite views on what should immediately be done to-night. I wondered how most usefully I could sum up the debate (if that is the right term), from the point of view of those who support my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett. I thought that the most useful thing I could do would be simply to state quite clearly, and I hope reasonably briefly, the considerations which in fact convince me that we ought to support my noble and learned friend in the Division Lobby tonight. Of course we shall all assent to the first Motion before the House, that the Bill shall have a Second Reading. I think we all agreed with the original proposal of my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House, that the convenient course was to discuss both Motions together, so that the subsequent 332 Division could take place after the Motion for an instruction had been formally moved by my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett.
Now let me start with the first proposition that I think important. It is that, unless Part III of this Bill is deleted, an irreparable injury will be done to one of the glories of England. Let me give two examples which I think are not seriously disputed. The first is the shore of Ullswater itself. I believe that anybody who knows the Lakes and loves them, and who has eyes that can see, recognises that the great beauty of Ullswater is the immediate shore of the lake, and the way in which flowers, and the sites so much loved by the public, go down to the very shore of the lake itself. I would thank the Press—in particular, Country Life, The Times and the Daily Telegraph—for the admirable photographs they have published. Perhaps the best, not surprisingly, are those which appeared in the article in Country Life last week.
I ask any noble Lord to look at the shore of Ullswater as it now is, and then to consider it as it will be if the level of this lake is raised over appreciable periods. I am not going to labour this point, because I am glad to say that my noble friend Lord Jellicoe himself expressed agreement with the point which I am now putting. I am not quoting his exact words, but he said that the Government were deeply concerned about Ullswater.
Now let me come to the other unquestionable injury to the Lake District—what is proposed in Bannisdale. One or two noble Lords opposite have spoken as though what happened at Bannisdale was not going to injure the public in any way. But after all, if you submerge a few farms and flood a most beautiful valley, you are interfering with things a little. I ask noble Lords to look at the picture of Bannisdale in Country Life of last week, and see what it is that is going to be submerged.
Then—and I do beg to draw this to the attention of the House—let us see the importance which the Manchester Corporation attach to this proposal. It has been quoted by many speakers in this debate, but I am going to quote it again. Unfortunately, for the last few I weeks I have been incapacitated by 333 illness, but that gave me a better opportunity to read all the documents that were sent to us, and a great many newspaper cuttings and the like which my noble friend Lord Lonsdale was good enough to send to me.
My Lords, this particular defence of what the Manchester Corporation propose to do to this exquisite valley is one with which they are so pleased and delighted that they have stated it in numerous speeches. The representative of the Waterworks, no matter whether he is speaking in Manchester or at a meeting elsewhere in the Lake District, repeats it. So pleased with it are they that the Promoters set it out verbatim in paragraph 40 of their case. Let me read verbatim the delighted remark of the Promoters of this Bill. Paragraph 40 says:At present Bannisdale is a remote and secluded valley which is seldom visited.That is the importance which they attach to the destruction which they are proposing. When they say that it is "a remote and secluded valley which is seldom visited", what they mean is how different it is from the centre of Manchester! My Lords, that is the first of my propositions: that the Part of the Bill which we propose to delete will do irreparable and admitted injury to one of the glories of this country.
I now come to my second point. On the admission of the Manchester Corporation themselves, if they got everything for which they are asking in this Bill, it would do the trick, from their point of view, for fifteen years and no more. On their own estimate of the rate of increase of demand, fifteen years is the only relief that it will give, and then something else will have to be done.
Again, I am going to quote verbatim from the Chairman of the Waterworks Committee, Councillor T. Lomas, and I must express my gratitude to him for the constant way in which he blurts out the truth. This is what he says:Do not let us delude ourselves. In order to provide for the shortage of water resources and the rising demand over the next 25 years, there will have to be many waterworks constructed in National Parks and after that we shall probably have to use seawater after removing the salt.I am glad that he is going to remove the salt, and I am glad that he has learnt what is fairly well-known in other coun- 334 tries, and what is known on board every liner, that you can extract salt from seawater and make it drinkable. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, pooh-poohed the idea of seeking to use seawater. But this is not a thing suddenly proposed by the opponents of the measure; it is a thing mentioned by the Chairman of the Waterworks Committee as something that will be necessary in any event.
The real difference between my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett—and those of us who follow him in this matter—and the Manchester Corporation is that they think that the Lake District is the first place to which they should go in seeking an increased water supply, and we think that it is the last. It is as simple as that. We say, "Let them go there if absolutely necessary". They say, "We will consider alternatives only when we have finished with the Lake District". That is the perfectly simple issue that we have to consider.
Noble Lords know that I have concerned myself with amenities over the years, in a good many places. This particular thing reminds me of a procedure with which 'we have become sadly familiar. When there is intolerable traffic congestion through the middle of some ancient and lovely town, the sort of town that was described by G. K. Chesterton as one of the Crown jewels of England, they say, "The first thing to do is to destroy the High Street. Broaden the High Street, destroy the eighteenth-century houses, and then go through the middle rather fast." Of course, that is completely futile, because they have in the end to have a by-pass. I suggest that 'the by-pass should come before you destroy the centre of the town. In exactly the same way, in the case of water from the Lake District, instead of exhausting the Lake District and then going elsewhere, as the Manchester Corporation have publicly stated they will have to do, I say let them examine the alternative courses first, before they demand the right to ruin the Lake District.
Now, my Lords, my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, for whom I felt some sympathy this afternoon, because I know that his heart is in the right place, and how much he cares for the beauty of town and country, said (and I agree with him) that 335 what Manchester was proposing might be the most economic or the cheapest way of doing it. Yes, my Lords. But cheap for whom? Cheap for Manchester, or cheap for England? There is a difference. If Manchester gets its cheap water supply by destroying or doing irreparable damage to the greatest of our National Parks, it will not be cheap for England: it will be most expensive, and disastrous.
I wonder whether I may interrupt my noble friend just for a moment to get this quite clear. In that respect, I was merely repeating, or echoing, the arguments of the proponents of the Bill. Just immediately before I had set out, as I understood them, the arguments against the Bill, and I was then rehearsing the arguments in favour of it. I was not endorsing them.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I think that is an absolutely fair comment, and, in so far as I even temporarily implied anything to the contrary, I should like to withdraw and apologise. I have no complaint at all of anything that the Minister said in his speech. On the contrary, knowing the enormous difficulty of setting out controversial arguments on both sides, I thought he had very considerable success. I am sorry; I was carried away for the moment. I was talking rather of the arguments, and wrongly ascribing them to my noble friend.
Now, my Lords, I come to the next point. I have spoken of the irreparable damage, and I have pointed out that it will give only the most temporary relief even if they get everything for which they are asking. I now come to a point which I do not think is at all unimportant. It was made by my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett and, I think, by my noble friend Lord Buckinghamshire. In this case, there has been absolutely no consultation of any kind with the other local authorities principally affected, or with the interests that are so deeply concerned. Why should Cumberland County Council and Westmorland County Council be thought unworthy of consultation? I wonder what the citizens of Manchester would say if the Cumberland and Westmorland County Councils promoted a Private Bill in Parliament in order to take over and submerge the 336 centre of Manchester. My Lords, it would bring about a much greater improvement to the amenities; but I wonder whether we should then be told by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House—"Send it to a Committee". Of course not. Everybody knows that a proposal can be so contrary to the public interest and so nonsensical that this House would intervene to stop its going to a Committee, and so save the time of the Committee. If I support my noble friend Lord Birkett, as I shall in the Division Lobby, and as I hope the majority of this House will, it is not because we fear what the Committee would do if they had to consider the matter. I think they would do their duty, after having put a great number of not very rich authorities to a great deal of expense.
My Lords, I come now to my last question: What ought this House to do? Now it is universally admitted—in fact, it is not a thing that can be disputed—that at some point this House must be entitled to pronounce on this matter as a matter of principle. It must be for this House to say: is this tolerable or is it not? At what point should this House say that?—and here, I agree, there is an argument for various courses. One piece of advice has been given us by my noble friend the Chairman of Committees, who always advises us so admirably and so clearly, and in a way for which the House is always grateful. He has suggested one way. The other method, of course, is that we should support a long-established practice, not for every case but for a certain number of cases such as this, of passing a mandatory instruction to the Committee.
As between those two courses—the mandatory instruction to the Committee, which my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett suggests and which I support, and the possible alternative method suggested by the Lord Chairman—I agree differing views may be taken as to which is the better. But of this I am quite confident: if we follow my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett, as I suggest we should, we shall be taking a course for which we have more precedent than we shall have if we follow the advice given us by the Lord Chairman of Committees this afternoon. I agree that both are possible courses, 337 but I say that the one which I believe to be more in accordance with frequent precedent of the House is to pass this mandatory instruction.
My Lords, in conclusion, may I say that this is the twenty-fifth year in which I have had the honour of serving on the Executive Committee of the National Trust. Of all the matters that have come before the Committee of the National Trust in those 25 years of which I have had experience, I do not think that there has been one which has caused us more concern than the proposals in Part III of this Bill. My Lords, my noble friend Lord Crawford and Balcarres has this afternoon stated, and admirably stated, the case for the National Trust. I remember, in the early years of my membership of another place, that the first time the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, and I were associated in debate was in defence of the Lake District, on that occasion against some afforestation programme.
I wonder whether I might, in conclusion, repeat a truth which, over the years, I have tried to bring home to both Houses, and to numerous meetings in all parts of the country. This is a very crowded island. We have not a great deal of land to spare, yet we have a variety and richness of scenery of quite incomparable beauty. But that beauty is uniquely vulnerable. You can indulge in the wildest folly in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, and what is done by man will be on such a tiny scale that, though it may be foolish, it will do no permanent harm. But that is not the case with such lovely things as the Sussex Downs, or with such lovely things as the Lake District.
My Lords, it is customary for all political Parties, indeed for all politicians, often to talk of improving the standard of living. All good luck to them! We all wish to do so. But the standard of living is not measured entirely by figures of the cost of living, or figures of wages, or even statistics of housing. It can be affected by the amenities of our surroundings. Over the years since I have been in political life, I have seen great improvements in many aspects of the standard of living, but a fairly steady deterioration in our surroundings, in what we have been doing to the dignity of our towns, the loveliness of our villages, and the peace, beauty and 338 serenity of our countryside. My Lords, I believe that to-night, if we carry the mandatory instruction of my noble and learned friend, we shall be striking a blow in a noble and splendid cause, and I beg to support it.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I rise at "the beginning of the end", as it were, of this debate, before the Leader of the House replies. I think it is rather a pity that we have been treated to such a kind of speech as the last speech which was made, because during most of the debate, as the speaker himself said, good nature has been expressed and displayed. I did not feel at all happy about the references which sought to get cheap laughs at the city of Manchester or the leader of the Manchester Water Board; I did not like that at all. The sneers at the city of Manchester which were made in that speech did not cheer me up a bit. I will tell your Lordships why. It certainly was not the great working class of this country who were responsible for making Manchester. I should like to find how many more examples there are, in the industrial areas of this country of ours. Of places whose ugliness, whose bad housing, whose lack of opportunity to their workers to go out into the open spaces, would have to be attributed to capitalist practice and capitalist ideas. So I wish the noble Lord could have spared the great city of Manchester, which has meant so much to the trade and commerce and exports of this country, jeers of that kind.
Secondly, I should like to say that I was, of course, very impressed by the oratorical performance of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, who spoke to us with such power this afternoon. But did not hear any argument from him as to how the water required for this water undertaking, and for those other water requirement areas which they are bound to supply, and which he emphasised they were bound to supply under contract, was to be provided by means of an efficient alternative. I have heard arguments from many people, who were no doubt moved by great emotion, concerning the preservation of the beauty of this particular part of the many beauty spots in our English countryside. I understood the emotion. But I also 339 know that both our industry and our household population will require continuously increasing supplies of water. And I also know perfectly well that up till now, 1962, there has never yet come before the country a proposal, such as we have discussed in Labour circles and put into a programme, to have a real national water supply scheme. We have never had it; and what we have heard in our debate to-day certainly proved the necessity for that.
The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, who has just spoken, made a very nice appeal at the end of his speech, but he did not make any suggestions as to exactly how this could be done. What I, as an ordinary Member of this House of Parliament, want to know is, what is there to fear, in this highly technical matter, in sending this Bill to be properly examined, in the usual course of procedure with Select Committees which handle Private Bills, so that every one of these technical questions can be decided upon in the Committee and reported to your Lordships for further discussion, and where each of the technical points, which will be covered not only by the views of the Promoters but by every one of the Petitioners and their Counsel, under cross-examination individually, can be fully investigated? If that were done, then when we came to the later stages of the Bill in this House it would enable your Lordships to make up your minds on proper information, and to be able to do the right thing.
The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, quoted two precedents of the power of your Lordships to deal with such matters as this right off on our own. He quoted the year 1923, and I think that he said that the last precedent for throwing out a Bill, in effect, by this procedure of passing an instruction to the Committee was in 1924. There may have been some other major ones, but I will deal with the ones the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, mentioned.
§ LORD BIRKETT
My Lords, I do not want to delay the House at all, but what I did cite was 1923 and 1924. But I said that it continued up till 1927.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
The year 1924 stands out in my memory; I was an Under-Secretary to the Board of Trade in the Gov- 340 ernment. There was a Labour Government in office, and there were fewer than 200 Members in the House of Commons; a tiny minority in your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, said to your Lordships to-day that only two Ministers were to be found in the Lobby to vote against the instruction which killed that Bill at first instance. What the noble Lord wanted to-day was that your Lordships should show your power to kill in this House any Bill of this kind; that is what he asked us to do. It is not exactly the right introduction for your Lordships to make to the new discussions on the constitution of the House of Lords and its future powers. It is not the spirit in which to arrive at such a matter. I felt as I listened—I took no notes—that he made my heart burn within me.
This Bill is supposed to be proceeding along the ordinary path of examination under Select Committee procedure. Neither I nor any of my colleagues, who vary much in their views, wants to be committed on the final stages of the Bill. I want all these points which are so deeply felt matched against the economic circumstances and the physical requirements of the population; and, after being properly examined, I want the Bill to be finally decided upon in this House, and then in another place. I resent the idea that we should proceed to try to kill it in this unrepresentative House. I say: put it to the Committee; let it be brought here. Bring up all the counsel, perhaps as distinguished and experienced as the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, himself, and have the matter fought out on that basis; and I shall be content to take the judgment of the House when, properly informed, we—all of us, not just a few who have been able to read this mass of stuff which is full of technicalities—have been able to debate what the result should be. I shall certainly support the people who take the view that we should send this Bill to Committee first, and have them report back to us.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I confess at once that I have very great doubts, and still entertain some doubts, as to what my own duty is in this debate. To begin with, the Government are impartial on the merits of the Bill. My noble friend stated that it was his 341 duty to give what help he could to the House in matters of information, which he did without bias and, it seemed to me, in an extremely able speech. I had arranged for him to do so precisely because it is customary on these occasions, as I understand it, for the Government to give, if possible through the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department concerned, help of that kind. Believe me, the Government truly are impartial upon this matter, and if it had stayed there I should have had no doubt at all that it would have been my duty to stand aside from this debate. But I felt, and I feel more strongly now that I have heard the debate, that if I did so I should simply be shirking my duty as Leader of the House. If I speak now, it is as Leader of the House, and not as Minister.
And I ask the House to believe, whether your Lordships accept my views or whether you reject them, which of course you are fully entitled to do, that I have one consideration and one consideration only in my mind, and that is the question: which of two alternative courses, both of which are perfectly open to the House to adopt if it thinks fit, is best for the reputation of the House?
If I should declare, and I do declare, that upon the merits of this controversial measure I am impartial, as an individual as well as a member of the Government, I hope that it will not be suspected that it is because I am indifferent to the Lake District. I have not visited it so much in recent years, but the mountains of this Island and of the Alps have been one of the great sources of inspiration and comfort to me throughout my life.
I am a member of the English Alpine Club, which I think is the oldest of the Alpine societies; and year after year before the War I climbed on Scafell, the Gable, the Pillar Rock and in Langdale, and I think that I know the Lake District—not so well, indeed, as many noble Lords who have spoken, but as well as most of the inhabitants of this Island. Only last Easter it was my pleasure to bring my two young sons to some of the scrambles in the Lake District which I love best in the area near Wasdale. Therefore, it is not with indifference to these scenes that I speak, because it is a matter very close to my heart. But I must ask myself and the 342 House which of two alternative courses is really more in our interest, from the point of view of our reputation for fair dealing.
There is one point that I must put, albeit I hope delicately. My noble friend Lord Crawford and Balcarres, in a speech to which I listened with great feeling and admiration, reminded your Lordships that no fewer than 120 noble Lords are members of the National Trust. This says a great deal for the interest of your Lordships' House in matters of the preservation of our Island. It does them nothing but credit. But I doubt whether 120 Members of your Lordships' House are members of the Manchester Corporation and if, in that situation, we are trying the case without hearing the evidence, what are people going to think about us?
My Lords, there are two alternatives before us. One is to pursue the course suggested by my noble friend, Lord Merthyr, the Chairman of Committees, who presented his course with his customary fairness and clearness, and, I thought, without any attempt at the trappings of advocacy, in accordance with his duty as Chairman of Committees. It is perfectly true, of course, that the House has often gone against the advice of its Chairman of Committees. On one occasion, to which the noble and learned Lord on the Cross-Benches drew the attention of the House, and particularly my attention, it did so on the advice of the Leader of the House, Lord Curzon. But it is a serious thing to do. The Chairman of Committees is not a person who is the partisan of causes and his advice is conceived on a basis of long experience of Parliamentary procedure and of the experience of this House.
The second course is that proposed by the noble and learned Lord on the Cross-Benches. His deeply felt and highly eloquent speech is still fresh in our minds. One who has known him, as I, though a much younger man, have known him, for more than 30 years now, at the Bar and on the Bench, cannot speak of his powers without deep feeling. At the Bar, he was one of the greatest of English advocates. One of my earliest and most dramatic memories is of hearing him in one of those great cases which secure a verdict that one had almost thought to be impossible. On the Bench, if he will allow me to say so, I felt for 343 him not only admiration but the kind of gratitude which only counsel can feel for a learned Judge who not only makes it a pleasure to appear before him but also, by numerous acts of personal kindness, has completely won one's heart. If I differ from him in this matter, it ought not to be thought, nor even suspected, that I desire in any way to diminish the immense reputation which he nationally enjoys.
Of these two courses, there is no doubt, as the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition has said, that the first, that proposed by my noble friend the Chairman of Committees, is the more normal course. It is true, as my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford reminded us, that there are cases where the House has actually rejected a Bill after it had been through the Select Committee but that there are probably fewer examples in recent history than those the noble and learned Lord on the Cross-Benches was able to adduce as precedents for passing a mandatory instruction. I venture to suggest that this is because the Select Committee is, in fact, a very good filter of Bills which are rightly open to objection, and if that were not the case, there would be something very wrong with the Select Committee procedure.
As the Chairman of Committees reminded us, this procedure is of relatively recent introduction in the history of your Lordships' House. The Private Bill procedure, which is one of the great rights of the subject, stems from the right of the subject, jealously guarded, to be heard by Parliament. The old procedure was for the Promoters of a Bill to appear personally or by counsel at the Bar of your Lordships' House, and to call the evidence in the presence of your Lordships. When the Private Bill procedure by way of Select Committee was introduced, it was done not in order to deprive the subject of a remedy, but to give him a greater leisure to deploy his arguments than he had before an overburdened deliberative Assembly. I think that it would be a serious thing if, as a frequent procedure, even as a normal one, this House were to refuse that right to Promoters, provided they come in good faith and seriously with a measure which deserves further attention.
344 This has been represented on both sides of the debate as a choice between a Select Committee and a decision by this House. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, suggested that the Select Committee was not really a suitable body to hear arguments of that kind. But this is not in fact the true choice. This matter is, as more than one noble Lord has insisted, one to be decided by this House. But what concerns me is the effect upon the reputation of this House of deciding it now, rather than after it had in its possession the Report of a Select Committee and the printed Minutes of Evidence. This seems to me to be the choice which the House has to make.
I ask myself this question, which seems to me really conclusive of the matter: which of the arguments deployed by noble Lords who feel so strongly on this matter could not be made as forcibly, or indeed could not be made even with greater force, when the facts have been sifted and reported upon than they can now when much must be left to conjecture? I have a rooted objection to trying cases before you have heard the evidence; and until to-day I had supposed that the noble and learned Lord on the Cross Benches shared my prejudice. I am wondering whether he was not more the advocate than the judge on this occasion. Small shame to him if he was, because this is a matter about which he feels so sincerely and deeply.
But we are told that this is a matter of principle which does not require any evidence to enable us to decide and adjudicate upon it. I was a little doubtful as I listened, first to the noble and learned Lord and then to his supporters, as to what the principle was. At first, I thought I had discerned it quite clearly. The noble and learned Lord at first appeared to be arguing—although I turned out to be wrong, because he was not—that the principle was that this was an attack upon a National Park, which must remain, according to his word, inviolate. And, of course, it would be true that if it were to be claimed that no change of any kind in a National Park was to be tolerated in any circumstances whatever, that would be a principle—although it is not, as a matter of fact, one which I could personally find myself able to endorse. But this is a principle which has been explicitly disowned, first by the noble and learned 345 Lord himself, then by the right reverend Prelate, and then successively by every noble Lord, almost without exception, who has spoken on that side of the debate. They have all conceded that the case could be made by evidence, by the establishment of necessity, facts, urgency and public need, to justify not only some changes in a National Park but even the particular change which was proposed. I found myself wondering, as I listened to these arguments, all so cogent, whether noble Lords really realised that the effect of what they were doing was to prevent the Promoters of this Bill from ever having a hope of establishing a case in the way in which Parliament had decided such cases should be established.
As the noble and learned Lord went on, I found myself wondering a little more about the principle. It is easy to support without evidence the principle that you should leave a National Park inviolate. It is less easy to suggest that one supports without evidence the suggestion that Manchester Corporation should take its water below Pooley Bridge, which was one of his arguments; or, to take one of the right reverend Prelate's points, that it might be a little more convenient if it reduced the size of its cisterns and water closets. This is not a great principle for which we can fight without evidence. On the contrary, it is just the sort of thing Select Committees were designed to deal with after hearing evidence examined and cross-examined. I should be the last to deny that matters of principle are involved in a case of this kind. The very fact of this debate and the feeling which has been evinced proves that matters of principle are involved. But I should have thought that one of the facts which your Lordships would take into account in coming to a conclusion about this choice between destroying the Bill at this stage and giving it a chance before a Select Committee, before finally pronouncing one way or the other, would be that noble Lords with the experience, for instance, of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, should have given reasons, which may or may not be sufficient, for coming to the conclusion that there was, at any rate, 346 enough to argue on the other side to allow the witnesses to be deployed.
I know that my noble friend Lord Jessel proposed his Motion with very great skill; but I should have said—and I think without any chance of wounding—that he would be the last to claim that Manchester Corporation had deployed their ease fully through his lips. They would want to be heard by counsel and to call evidence, expert and otherwise. What is proposed is that they should be denied that right. We are not prejudicing our right to decide the matter on a question of principle if we accept the course suggested by the Lord Chairman of Committees. He has undertaken—and the House will accept his undertaking—that should the matter emerge from a Select Committee, despite the formidable arguments which have been presented against it by those who know their case very well, the House will have it again to decide on this question of principle. But I could not. as I heard the various arguments deployed, resist the conclusion that in this, as in so many other cases in this life, questions of principle and questions of fact are very closely intertwined with one another, and that it is a remarkably difficult thing to decide questions of principle until you first know what the facts are.
My noble and learned friend Lord Conesford, who spoke with deep emotion—although I share some of the misgivings, but not all, about his references to the city of Manchester expressed also by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition—put as his reason for the rejection of this Bill that irreparable damage would be done to some of the glories of England. Well, he may say that with the same force, and perhaps even greater force than beforehand, when he knows what the evidence is. I, for my part, should like to know to what extent it was true; to what extent the damage could be mitigated, and against what degree of public need this damage was to be measured. Knowing that, I might well decide in his favour. But to decide it in his favour before hearing the evidence would make me feel in my conscience that I was an unjust judge.
Again, it is said, of course, that the urgency is something which is largely 347 fanciful in the minds of the city of Manchester. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe gave the information of the Government Department concerned, in which he had to say that, according to the opinion of that Department, there was a degree of urgency. The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Cross Benches could well be right; and we all know that Government Departments can be, and very often are, quite wrong. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford of Balcarres, said that he was not going to take it from the city of Manchester or, he added politely, from the Government that there was any urgency and that there were no alternative supplies. But nobody is asking him to take it from the Government or from the city of Manchester. All that is being asked is that the case should be tried; that the degree of urgency should be known and ascertained and reported upon; that witnesses should be called and cross-examined, and Members of your Lordships' House, chosen for their impartiality, should be allowed to pronounce some kind of provisional opinion. The same must apply to alternative sources of supply.
It is said, of course, that the Corporation had made insufficient investigations. I cannot say whether this is true or incorrect. I know that there is available to most people in that part of the world a very extensive survey of what are the supplies in the North-West of England. I have no doubt whatever that the Select Committee would have an opportunity of studying it. It was said, I think, by the noble Earl, Lord Lonsdale, that the local bodies and others who wished to oppose the Corporation have not had time to prepare their case. But I thought the answer to that or, at any rate, a satisfactory answer, was provided by my noble friend Lord Rochdale, who was himself among the supporters of the noble and learned Lord on the Cross Benches.
The trouble is that the whole Select Committee procedure depends upon the proposition that it is for the Promoters of the Bill to establish their case. Competent counsel, properly instructed as to the inadequacy of procedure or consultation in the matter, could very quickly elicit these facts in cross-examination. The noble Lord will not 348 be able to brief the noble and learned Lord on the Cross Benches, who would be the best possible counsel to employ, but he will be able to find many competent and honourable members of the Bar. I can assure him from 25 years' experience that this is not the kind of cross-examination which is easily muffed if there is anything in the point which you are instructed to put.
Then, again, I should be sorry if in ten or twelve years' time the city of Manchester turned out to be short of water to drink because your Lordships had run away with the idea that there was a reasonable prospect of getting 40 million or 50 million gallons of water by the distillation of the sea (which was the noble and learned Lord's solution of the problem) or even from the air (which was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, on behalf of the Liberal Party). As Minister for Science, I am all for new technology, but I do not wish to encourage wild-cat speculation, and I should have thought that a Select Committee, with a properly deployed number of witnesses, could have investigated exactly how reasonable these suggestions were. But when I see an advocate of the ability of the noble and learned Lord solemnly putting forward the distillation of sea water, and Pooley Bridge, and distillation from the air, as great issues of principle which would enable us to strike a gigantic blow for the glories of England, without hearing a word of evidence, then I am bound to say I thought I was listening to the advocate rather than the judge.
I can say only this. The Government Whips will not be on in this Division. I did not think it proper to suggest that that they should. But it would not be right for me to shirk my duties as Leader of the House simply because I thought that this was not a proper matter for putting the Government Whips upon the issue. My advice is that the House, in its own interests and in the interests of its reputation for fair play, should pass the Second Reading of this Bill, and ought not to give the mandatory instruction which the noble and learned Lord put forward. I may be wrong. I shall not be the first Leader to be disregarded on matters of this kind. But at least I ask the House to believe that I have considered the question from the only 349 point of view which to me is relevant, and that is the reputation of the House of Lords.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, may I ask him for guidance on one point? We are all worried about this Bill, and we want it to be properly investigated. We do not want to be discourteous to a great city like Manchester. But there are points like the distillation of sea water, the underground storage of fresh water, a larger area, and so forth, which are rather outside the clauses of this Bill. That would require examination by civil engineers which would be an expensive process, and also visits to the spot. Could a Select Committee of this House examine these alternative suggestions which are outside this Bill? Would it not be better for some other commission, with wider terms of reference, to make an equally impartial examination? I am asking for guidance because we want this thing to be examined in its fullest connotation, which I cannot help feeling that a Select Committee which is merely examining these particular proposals might, by its terms of reference and inadequacy of funds and so forth, be not able to do adequately.
§ 10.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not think there is any difficulty about the terms of reference or the inadequacy of funds at all. On the contrary, of all the procedures that I know for investigating the facts, the Select Committee is least bound by terms of reference. Probably objectors, representing the kinds of bodies who have spoken and the kinds of bodies who have issued these seventeen different Petitions—31 bodies in all—are not likely to be hampered by lack of funds. Whether the Select Committee does consider it depends upon two factors. One is whether the objectors think there is enough in the point to be worthy of investigation. If they do, and support it by cross-examination and examination of witnesses—if they can get an expert witness to support these things seriously—then the Select Committee would be bound to consider this. Moreover, members of the Select Committee would be perfectly free to investigate the matter from the experts called on behalf of the Promoters—of course, 350 if there is enough in these things for conscientious counsel to put them forward at all. All I can say is that it is open for them to do so if their instructions allow them to, and if they think there is anything whatever in the case to put forward.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Select Committee.
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ LORD BIRKETT
My Lords, it had been my intention to move the instruction which appears in my name on the Order Paper formally, without any further word; and that is still my desire and my purpose. I must say, having listened to the whole of this debate since half past two this afternoon, that the closing stages have been the warmest of the whole time. One of the tragedies of my own life has been that, when I have espoused a cause in court, opposing counsel was accustomed to depreciate it by saying that it was pure advocacy. I never expected it in this House. But I must say with all affection—I hope I may use that term of the noble Leader—when he talks to me about advocacy (the House anticipates me by its laughter), "Physician heal thyself." It was the extreme charm and kindliness of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, which has placed me in a great difficulty. I do not propose to re-argue the matter. I hope the House will support me in this: that when I made my speech this afternoon I tried to make it clearly; I tried to make it forcibly, and I restrained myself from saying anything unkind about Manchester.
I had intended to say some very kind words about Manchester, because I am proud to be a Lancastrian, and Manchester, in my view, has been a great city and a great leader in many matters with which I myself am deeply concerned. I have for the great city of Manchester nothing but admiration, and I hope that that will be taken to my credit here to-day. When the noble Viscount said, "You should not decide a case until you have heard the evidence", I would reply (although I dislike the character of the man who used the words) "All these things have I observed from my youth up." And the last thing that I need telling is that you should hear both sides before making 351 your decision. I was at pains to say that at some length. We were not debating the merits of this matter here in this House this evening. What I suggested was that the point of principle was within the procedure of the House, the constitutional procedure of the House, and that it was right and proper in these circumstances that where a great corporation had not had the requisite consultation with the authorities, where it was seeking to do something in a National Park which Parliament had said ought not to be violated but ought to be preserved for the enjoyment of all generations—when these matters were propounded by sponsors of the Bill, I ventured to say this was one of the occasions on which this House might very well rely upon its great power and say it will not permit it.
My last word about it is this. I should be very sorry indeed to think that any act of mine had contributed in the slightest degree to any loss of prestige of this House, and I was rather grieved to hear the noble Viscount the Leader of the House say that the issue had now become an issue of what was the most dignified and proper thing for the House to do. I still say—and I hope the noble Viscount will permit me to say, with all respect and admiration for him and will all gratitude to him for the very kind things he said—that, for the House, the right and proper and the dignified thing to do is to support the instruction which I now venture to move.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask, before the noble and learned Lord finally moves it, what he is really afraid of in
§ sending this to be examined with full evidence by a Committee? What is he afraid of?
§ LORD BIRKETT
My answer is there is nothing to be afraid of at all. The supplementary question which was asked by the noble Lord on this side of the House was very pertinent, and if I must say a word about it I will. In my submission to the House, the Select Committee procedure, in the facts of this case, is wholly inappropriate. The investigation which is required in this matter will be extremely lengthy and extremely expensive, and it ought not to have been in that position and would not have been in that position if there had been the proper consultation. That is the reason, my Lords. I am afraid of nothing. I dare say that if the Bill went to the Select Committee they would say, "Take it away". I have every confidence they would. But what I am submitting to the House is that it is a much more dignified procedure that you should use the great power which you have, which will not derogate from any prestige which the House enjoys, and that you should support the instruction, the mandatory instruction, which I now formally beg to move as it stands in my name upon the Order Paper.
§ Moved, That it be an instruction to the Select Committee to which the Bill may be committed to leave out Part III (Waterworks) of the Bill.—(Lord Birkett.)
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided:—
§ Contents, 70; Not-Contents, 36.353
|Addison, V.||Colwyn, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Conesford, L.||Huntingdon, E.|
|Amulree, L.||Cornwallis, L.||Iddesleigh, E.|
|Amwell, L.||Craigmyle, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Astor, V.||Crawford, E.||Lawson, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Croft, L.||Long, V.|
|Bathurst, E.||Cross, V.||Lonsdale, E. [Teller.]|
|Birkenhead, E.||Darwen, L.||MacAndrew, L.|
|Birkett, L. [Teller.]||De Ramsey, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.|
|Bossom, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Methuen, L.|
|Brocket, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Molson, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Fisher, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Camrose, V.||Forster of Harraby, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Carlisle, L. Bp.||Gosford, E.||Mottistone, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Grantchester, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Chichester, L. Bp.||Haddington, E.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Horsbrugh, B.||Netherthorpe, L.|
|Newall, L.||Rockley, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Saltoun, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Portal of Hungerford, V.||Sempill, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Radnor, E.||Somers, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Rea, L.||Strathcarron, L.||Wrenbury, L.|
|Robins, L.||Swinton, E.||Yarborough, E.|
|Ailsa, M.||Devonshire, D.||Morrison of Lambeth, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Dundee, E.||Newton, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Grenfell, L.||Ormonde, M.|
|Ampthill, L.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Peddie, L. [Teller.]|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Henderson, L.||Perth, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Ingleby, V.||Robertson of Oakridge, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Jellicoe, E.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Burden, L.||Jessel, L. [Teller.]||Silkin, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Lansdowne, M.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Leconfield, L.||Walston, L.|
|Denham, L.||Lucan, E.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative; Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.354
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past ten o'clock.