HL Deb 30 July 1964 vol 260 cc1312-4

7.50 p.m.


My Lords, this is a rather more complicated matter, but again the two Orders can more conveniently be taken together, and, in fact, the first one on the Paper, dealing with the London Excluded Area, is dependent on the approval of the second. If I may deal with that one first, may I say that the Thames Catchment Area Order has two purposes: to confer on the Conservators of the River Thames the new water resources functions of a river authority by applying to the Thames Catchment Area—that is, to the present area of the Conservancy—the provisions of the Water Resources Act, 1963, subject to appropriate exceptions, adaptations and modifications; and to alter the constitution of the Conservancy to take account of the extended range of functions which it will exercise. The London Excluded Area Order makes new provision for the control of abstractions of water from, and the discharge of effluents to, underground strata in the London Excluded Area by conferring certain functions of a river authority on the Thames Conservancy in that area.

The future of the Thames Catchment Area Order which has attracted most attention, I think, is its effect upon the constitution of the Thames Conservancy. Its general effect is that the Thames Conservancy will become analogous to a river authority with additional navigation functions. Ministers have thought it right in considering the necessary adaptation of the Conservancy, in order to fit it for the discharge of its new and extended range of functions, to have close regard to what Parliament has prescribed in Sections 6 and 7 of the Water Resources Act for river authorities generally. Inevitably, if there is to be room for members from the backgrounds listed in Section 6(3) of the Act dealing with Ministerial appointments, agriculture, industry, et cetera, without the Conservancy becoming larger than is desirable in the interests of efficient working, some diminution and alteration of existing representation on the Conservancy is required.

The present 41 Conservators will be reduced by the Order to 37; of these 19 (a bare majority as laid down in the Act) will be appointed by the county, county borough and London borough councils in the Thames Catchment, 17 by Ministers and one by the Port of London Authority. I do not think I need go into the details, as they appear in the Order itself.

I think I should just give a warning of one matter relevant to the timing of this Order. It is rather urgent, because, with the financial year of the Conservancy beginning on January 1, they have to make their estimates and a precept has to be levied upon county and county borough councils concerned, in the period from October to December. Therefore, they wish to know just how they stand, and it is for that reason that these two Orders conferring the new functions upon the Conservancy are brought before the House for approval before the Recess.

I should warn noble Lords, however, that all the Ministers concerned, the Ministers for Housing and Local Government, for Agriculture, and for Transport, are proposing to bring forward a very simple Amendment before the second appointed day, because it has been considered, after special representations, that the Greater London Council should appoint a member to continue the representation of the L.C.C., because in the London Excluded Area, responsibility for which has been given to the new Thames Conservancy, there will be a division between responsibility for supply of water, on the one hand, and, on the other, prevention of pollution which will be the responsibility of the G.L.C. Therefore, on reconsideration, we propose to bring forward in due course this very simple Amendment that the G.L.C. should have a member after all. If there are any questions noble Lords wish to ask I shall be glad to answer them. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Thames Conservancy (New Functions of River Authorities in London Excluded Area) Order, 1964, be approved.—(Lord Hastings.)


My Lords, I rise merely to ask one question. The noble Lord spoke of an Amendment that would be introduced in due course. Does that mean that the Government intend to move it in this Session, or is it possible that the matter will be delayed until a new Parliament? Perhaps the noble Lord could give us some information on that matter.


My Lords, I think the intention is that it should be delayed until a new Parliament. We feel that this arrangement should continue and that the G.L.C. should appoint a member to serve after the second appointed day. I think that clears up the noble Lord's point.

On Question, Motion agreed to.