HL Deb 07 March 1962 vol 237 cc1155-7

2.51 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Questions was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why and on what authority notwithstanding the deletion of Part III (Waterworks) of the Manchester Corporation Bill, 1962, by the decision of the House, the agents of the Corporation are still conducting surveys and borings in the valley of Bannisdale in Westmorland.]


My Lords, my right honourable friend is empowered by Section 8 of the Water Act, 1948, to authorise water undertakers to carry out experimental borings on land which they propose to acquire for the purpose of their undertaking and an authorisation under the section was given to Manchester Corporation on November 2 last. The authorisation expires on May 31. My right honourable friend has no power to withdraw it. It was for the Corporation to decide whether to continue boring after your Lordship's decision on their Bill. I understand they took the view that, as the greater part of of the work had been done, the balance of advantage lay in completing it.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for his Answer, may I take it that it means that if the Minister had power to withdraw this authorisation he would have withdrawn it, in the light of the very decisive vote which was given in your Lordships' House? And further, does he not consider, in view of the fact that this order was made in reply to an application by the Manchester Corporation which definitely referred to its need in connection with the Bill which they were proposing to promote in Parliament, that the decisive rejection of the relevant clauses of that Bill in effect has the result of voiding this order? In any event, does the noble Earl not think that the action of the Manchester Corporation in going on with this matter after this House had expressed its opinion about it so decisively is likely to result in the failure of the re-establishment of the amicable relations which were so much stressed by noble Lords during that debate? How can they expect to enter into good relations with the local authorities if they behave in this sort of way?


My Lords, in reply to the noble Lord's second supplementary question, I can only assure him that the legal position is as I have stated it. In reply to his first supplementary question, I can only say that it is a hypothetical question.


My Lords, would it not be a good thing if your Lordships' House began to do something to remedy the condition to which the Manchester Water Board has now been reduced, and do something to help them to get an adequate water supply?


My Lords, I have been asked by my right honourable friend to take the chair of a meeting to consider this particular question, at which authorities in the Lake District and Manchester will be represented.


My Lords, can my noble friend say whether the local farmers and landowners were consulted before the Manchester Corporation started these borings; if so, whether they gave their consent; and, if so, whether or not that consent was given under duress?


My Lords, I can assure the noble Duke that the local landowner—there are three tenant farmers and one landowner concerned—was consulted; that he did not give his consent, and that is why an order was necessary. There was no question, of course, of duress.


My Lords, in that case did the question of compensation arise for the landowner?


Yes, my Lords; the question of compensation does arise if there is damage or disturbance to the land by these borings. The boreholes are only three inches in diameter, but if there is damage or disturbance there is a valid claim for compensation.

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