§ 4.39 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, I beg to move that the Manchester (Ullswater and Windermere) Water Order 1966, a copy of which was laid before the House on October 18 last, be annulled. Under our procedure in this House it is possible to raise a debate upon an Order of this kind only by putting down a Motion for annulment. I have already indicated to the Government that I have no intention of pushing the matter to a Division—indeed, in a number of matters I have been appreciative of the attitude which the former Minister of Housing and Local Government adopted—but I think it is most desirable that your Lordships should have an opportunity of expressing your views upon this Order. It was, after all, a predecessor of mine as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and 155 National Parks, Lord Birkett, who in his last public speech in1962 persuaded your Lordships to throw out on Second Reading a Private Bill promoted by Manchester Corporation in order to enable them to draw large quantities of water from the Lake District. I think when I have explained the changes that have taken place since then, your Lordships will feel that you were abundantly justified in the action that you took on that occasion.
I also feel that it is extremely desirable that my noble friend Lord Inglewood, a resident in the Lake District and one who for many years represented one of the Lake constituencies in another place, should have an opportunity of putting forward the constructive proposals which, owing to the rules of procedure of this House and of another place, he was debarred from doing by presenting a Petition to the Select Committee. It is, therefore, my desire that we should have an opportunity in this debate of surveying the matter as it has developed since 1962, when the Manchester Bill was defeated.
I am sure that we all agree with the words of the Friends of the Lake District, when they say in their Annual Report:The decision is to be regretted, in that once again the Corporation has been enabled to enlarge its grasp upon the Lake District and to add two more lakes, and those the best of all, to its water network.After the defeat of the Manchester Private Bill there was a conference on water supplies in the North West, over which my noble friend Lord Jellicoe presided. The Draft Order which was presented by Manchester was considerably influenced by the conclusions of that conference. It is important to realise that the Draft Order was much less objectionable than the Private Bill of 1962—the proposals were substantially different. In the first place, the quantity of water to be taken from Ullswater was much smaller—25 million gallons a day instead of 37 million gallons a day.
Secondly, the proposal to build a weir across the River Eamont just above Pooley Bridge had been omitted. The Jellicoe report had said:Such a weir would seriously damage one of the best known of all views of Ullswater.Thirdly, the proposal for an impounding reservoir in Bannisdale, which the 156 Jellicoe conference had found unacceptable on amenity grounds, had been dropped. Even so, when the Order had been put forward the amenity societies with which I am associated, and the National Parks Commission and local authorities, all joined in opposing the proposals at a public inquiry. Let me say, in passing, how much pleasure it gives me to see in your Lordships' House today both the former Chairman of the National Parks Commission and the new Chairman of that body.
When the inspector had completed his inquiries he made four recommendations for substantial modifications of the Order. One was regarding the level below which no water should be pumped from Ullswater. In the draft Order it had been proposed that in exceptional circumstances water might be drawn if the level were down to 475.4 feet. The lowest recorded level of Ullswater is 475 feet. It was proposed in the Order that normally there should be no abstraction when the level fell below 4756 feet. It was a valuable recommendation of the inspector that there should be no abstraction, even in exceptional cases, when the level fell below 4756 feet. Secondly, in order to reinforce the prohibition which was to be included in the Order, he recommended physical measures which would really make over-pumping practically impossible. That proposal was for a weir to be fitted in the intake pipe. Thirdly, he emphasised the great importance of the natural beauty at the north-east end of Ullswater near Pooley Bridge. He came to the conclusion that no significant or harmful intrusion into the landscape was necessary, provided that sufficient care was taken to plan the buildings appropriately.
All of these were valuable proposals of the inspector, but much the most important was his fourth proposal, which was that there should be no duplication of the water main in Longsleddale. The petitioners against the Order never concealed that, objectionable as they regarded the Order, they regarded as far more serious the danger that Manchester might come at some later date, and say:With these large pipes that have already been installed it is possible for us to transport to a pump large additional quantities of water to relieve our new and urgent needs"—and once again Parliament would find itself in the embarrassing position of 157 having to decide whether to refuse to allow Manchester to make full use of the mains which already existed. It is for that reason that the inspector recommended, and the Minister has accepted, that there should be no duplication of the water main in Longsleddale.
The Minister goes on (and I deal with this matter at this point because it arises so logically out of our fears for the future) to say what I can never remember seeing, even in a mild form, in any previous ministerial Letter of Decision. At paragraph 30 he says:The Minister would readily include in the Order provisions debarring Manchester from applying for power to increase the amount to be taken, either permanently or temporarily in time of drought, and debarring himself"—that is, debarring the Minister—and his successors from entertaining any such application. But he is advised that as a matter of law this course is not open to him. Nevertheless the physical barrier to be provided by the weir…will effectively prevent a significantly greater quantity of water being taken than the Order allows.Then he goes on to say, in the same connection:There will he no excuse for 'coming back for more' on the plea of an urgent need.The acceptance by the Minister of the modifications recommended by the inspector are extremely valuable. Although that expression of opinion cannot be binding upon the Minister's successors, an expression of opinion of that kind will, I am sure, carry very great weight.
The Minister went on to add five more conditions of his own. He said:To ensure that the closest attention is given to design and landscaping and similar matters, a number of steps will be taken. Manchester will be required, by conditions in the planning permission, to obtain the approval of the local planning authority…to the design and external appearance of all buildings and structures.Secondly:Over and above this they will be placed under a series of stringent obligations. They will be obliged to appoint a landscape consultant and to inform the local planning authority of his recommendations…and to consult"—and this I regard as most important—the National Parks Commission on a further range of matters.Not content with this, the Minister says, in the following paragraph: 158The Minister thinks it necessary to strengthen these provisions in three respects—He then goes on to make some very valuable proposals regarding public access. My Lords, Manchester, for reasons which may have been justified at times in the past, has been much stricter than many other water undertakings, such as Birmingham, in the exclusion of people and animals from their gathering grounds; and I am very glad that the Minister is taking this opportunity of ensuring that public access shall be allowed so far as is consistent with public health. I repeat that the amenity societies for which I speak still regret that this order sanctions one more raid by thirsty urban communities on the natural water supplies which do so much to enhance the charm and beauty of rural areas. My noble friend Lord Inglewood will deal in greater detail with the proposals that he would have wished to make to the Committee upon that matter.
- "(a) the obligation to comply with the local planning authority's requirements, which in the draft order applies only to works in the Lake District National Park, will be extended to cover works outside the National Park;
- "(b) in order to keep the phasing and conduct of the work as closely as possible under the Minister's control, he has decided to remove from the order the clause empowering Manchester to borrow money without the consent of any sanctioning authority. The effect will be to oblige Manchester to apply to him for loan sanction from time to time, and he will make that an occasion for examining the way in which the proposals are being carried out;
- "(c) he will require Manchester to submit to him a detailed programme of construction for the works at the north-eastern end of Ullswater with the object of limiting to the shortest possible time the disturbance resulting from construction."
We in the amenity movement try to be entirely fair and reasonable in these matters. We recognise the need of Manchester, of other urban communities and of industry, for water. We feel that the opposition of ourselves and our allies has been very well worth while in securing these substantial modifications of the draft Order. It has involved us in an expenditure before the public inquiry of over £11,000; and the fact that that money has already been raised is a clear indication of how strongly the people of this country feel about the need for preserving their amenities. We admire the fair and courageous report of the inspector; 159 and we are grateful to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for the enlightened view, under the late Minister, which they have taken with regard to this matter, and for the conditions which Mr. Crossman laid down. We are confident that what was well begun under him will be continued under the present Minister. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Manchester (Ullswater and Windermere) Water Order 1966, a copy of which was laid before the House on October 18 last, be annulled.—(Lord Molson.)
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
My Lords, may I first say a brief word of congratulation to my noble friend Lord Molson on the lucid and moderate manner in which he put this very important matter before your Lordships. I was certainly glad to hear that it was not his intention to divide the House on this matter; that the Order as it now stands is something which he is prepared to accept. I feel that that is right. Goodness knows! these water proposals cause great difficulty and raise the most heated feelings, but this one has been inquired into at length and with a care which I suppose will have exceeded that given to any other water proposal that has come before us in recent years. I did not have the privilege of listening to the debate which took place here some four or five years ago, but I read it with great interest at the time, being enormously interested in these matters, and I followed the course of events thereafter to see how the matter proceeded.
I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Molson that the intervening years have been most profitably spent, because the Order that is now before us is a very great improvement over the original proposals, and most of the serious objections, if not all of them, have, I think been removed. In particular, I should like to pay my tribute to my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, whom I am very glad to have beside me on the Bench to-day, and who will be saying a brief word later in the debate, because I believe that his conference was of the greatest possible value in inquiring into this very difficult problem. The membership of the conference, wisely, included not only all the local authorities concerned but also repre- 160 sentatives of the National Parks Commission, the Lake District Planning Board, the county councils and so on, and a number of leading water experts. The result was that, not only here in Parliament but far outside, their findings carried great authority and, I believe, went a long way to soothe the deep anxieties which were so generally felt throughout the country about the danger to the renowned beauty of the Lake District.
I think my noble friend's conference may be said to have established the facts of the situation: first of all, the quantity and the timing of Manchester's water needs; secondly, alternative sources from which these could be met, and, indeed, which of the alternative sources (which had been mentioned from time to time) were really not viable at all. The special significance, I think, of this is that Manchester accepted the report's view that these were serious objections.
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? He made a very important statement saying that these proposals were not viable, and laid it down as if everybody agreed with that. A very large number of people did not agree with it. I think that should be on record.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
My Lords, I have no doubt that Lord Inglewood will tell us in more detail the other sources which were discussed by the conference which he considers were viable, although, naturally, I have not done more than study the report of the conference. The authoritative membership of the conference was such that I myself was convinced by them. My noble friend Lord Inglewood, however, has the advantage of being familiar with all the countryside in that neighbourhood, and he may have even deeper knowledge.
The particular objections I wish to refer to are, first, the original proposal of Manchester to construct a reservoir in Bannisdale Valley, which was obviously one of great objection to the feelings of many people; and, secondly, the scheme for abstracting water from Ullswater, which included the weir above Pooley Bridge. In the event, proposals in a somewhat further modified form which eventually came forward from Manchester removed both those objections. The 161 scheme which we see before us to-day is this revised Ullswater scheme for a reduced amount from Ullswater, plus the proposal to abstract from Lake Windermere a quantity of some 20 million gallons a day. This makes a total of 45 million gallons a day which I should think, judging on all the evidence, was the absolute minimum that Manchester would be able to manage with.
The effect of my noble friend's conference, as I have said, established the facts and was a great help to everybody concerned. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Molson's comments on the public inquiry, and indeed the Minister's decision in the light of it. This introduced further safeguards which I think are valuable. I agree with him, and it certainly seems that they have broadly satisfied at any rate the majority of those who put down objections against the original Order. That, I would think again, is reassuring. Broadly, it seems to me that this scheme which is before us now is the best scheme that can give Manchester the quantity of water needed, and in the time that is available before they are in serious difficulties over shortage of water. It also seems that, with the safeguards which have been built in, and which were referred to so lucidly by Lord Molson, the natural water levels of Ullswater and Windermere should be safeguarded from injurious effect. Also the local amenities should be safeguarded from damage by the construction of the pumping stations, and so on, which will be necessary.
The final point, which I think is of great importance, is that Manchester have accepted that the purity of their water supply can be adequately assured by means of purification processes and are therefore willing to give access for the general public, and it will be, I trust, not only to these grounds from which they draw their water but also to others.
The only major uncertainty which remains—and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, may be able to deal with this when he replies—is the source of water for the future. It is well known that this additional supply from Manchester cannot last them for more than ten years; or fifteen years at the very outside. It is likely that they will need additional supplies by 1975 or 1980. I appreciate that at the present time there can be no firm 162 answer to the question of where this additional supply will come from. The Water Resources Board have, of course, reported that the Northern Working Party are now considering the whole problem of the long-term water needs and supplies of the Northern area, both in the North-West and the North-East. But we shall not have their report until the end of the year. We know that there are the possibilities of these two major schemes, the barrage scheme, on the one hand, and the desalination scheme, on the other, which could provide the answer to this problem. Additional supplies would be needed from 1980 onwards and until the end of the century.
I accept, as I have said, that we cannot know the answers now, but I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, is aware that the Government are certainly on notice—indeed, his right honourable friend the Minister has made it perfectly plain in his decision—that no more water is to come from the Lake District. And Parliament itself has made this plain. In these circumstances, it seems to me to be of great urgency that the Water Resources Board should push on to make the necessary investigations into these two major sources as rapidly as possible. The particular point I am coming to now is the mention made in the Third Report of the Water Resources Board, in paragraph 56, that the feasibility studies on the Morecambe and Solway barrage schemes have been held up for lack of money on account of the Government's decision to restrict capital expenditure, and at the present time all that is happening in these very important investigations is simple paper studies.
My Lords, we have only some thirteen years now, up to 1980, by which time it is virtually certain that the additional supplies will be needed. It is a fact that these major schemes take an immensely long time to prepare. A feasibility study is itself a matter of several years' work. It seems to me that the Government are running a serious risk of placing this area in a shortage of water by the 1980s unless they allow this feasibility study not only to proceed, but to proceed with all urgency, to make sure that as early as possible the Water Resources Board and the Government find out which is to be the major source of water for the future. 163 Having made their decision—and it will not be an easy one; it will be an expensive one—they must then proceed with all speed to put the work in hand so that the extra supplies are ready by the time they are needed. This problem is squarely on the plate of the Government, and I hope that in replying to the debate the noble Lord will be able to give us some more reassuring words than appeared in the Report of the Water Resources Board. With those few comments, I trust that the House will in due course approve the Order.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Molson, give an indication that he had no intention of dividing the House on this issue. I quite appreciate the regard which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, has for the retention of the natural beauty of the Lake District, but I had the feeling, which was sustained throughout the first 20 minutes of his comments, that he completely accepted all the safeguards that had been introduced into this Order—safeguards which would retain the natural beauty of the Lake District. Indeed, I shall have the privilege, I hope, of using the same arguments that he used, presumably in support of his Motion, to express my opposition to what I thought was to be the spirit of his opposition to this Order.
The noble Lord made reference to the thirsty urban communities. Manchester, like many other urban communities, is a thirsty urban community and one that is in desperate need of more water—so much so that this Order is vital to Manchester. I took part in the debates many years ago, to which reference has been made, when Manchester was looked upon as the bold bad wolf that had the intention of desecrating the Lake District. Manchester is not only a Corporation, it is representative of millions of human beings, and in seeking to extend its control of the supply of water it is seeking to serve the interests of that community. The only means open to Manchester to discharge its statutory responsibilities imposed by Parliament for the supply of water is by seeking these additional powers.
The demand area covers a population of 1,345,000 which is supplied directly 164 by the Manchester Corporation, and there are 12 other water undertakings dependent on the Manchester Corporation for their bulk supplies. The total dependent population is 3½million. Demand is growing at the rate of 4 million gallons a day, and at this rate the demand will exceed the yield of Manchester's resources before the end of 1969.Those facts, and the need of Manchester Corporation, were common ground at the Inquiry, and had been common ground to Manchester Corporation and to those who objected. No one has denied the ever increasing needs of Manchester.
The conference over which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, presided was satisfied that Manchester Corporation needed more water. There has been an indication that the increase had been from 105 million gallons a day in 1961, to 121½million gallons a day in 1966. The point I wish to emphasise is that this demand, expressed as it is in this Order, for more water on the part of the Manchester Corporation, is no sudden demand. The proposals before the House are based upon long and exhaustive inquiries over more than five years. Indeed, I think it would be true to say that this Order is based upon the most detailed and exhaustive surveying and inquiry that has ever been made into claims made by any water authority in seeking new supplies.
In 1961 the Jellicoe conference was set up to examine the extent of the timing of Manchester's needs. It investigated the alternative sources of supply, to which reference has been made by the noble Lord opposite, and it considered in detail all the objections to the scheme. There was a technical committee and an amenities committee. That inquiry was followed by a detailed inquiry by the inspector of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and then by the Minister himself; and we have had from the noble Lord, Lord Molson, an indication of what appeared to me to be his satisfaction with the findings of the inspector. The proposals in this Order are prepared in the light of the Report of the Jellicoe conference, and of the inspector's report. I believe it is essential for the House to recognise that in its consideration of this Order.
I think everybody in Manchester, or indeed anywhere else, can understand the fears that are rightly held by so many 165 people about damaging the natural amenities of places like the Lake District, hut it is clearly established that with the protection and restrictions which are imposed by this Order there is no such danger. However, I should like to make quite clear a point which I think was accepted by the Jellicoe conference, by the inspector, and also by the Minister; namely, that a National Park and the water within such a National Park is not of itself sacrosanct.
It is our responsibility to see that the justifiable needs of the community are met without inflicting a permanent damage on natural beauty. It is essential to attempt to preserve natural beauty: there is all too little of it. Particularly those of us who come from the North have seen too much evidence of the desecration of natural beauty, and we shall be the last people in the world to see activities of a kind that can destroy such beauty. But here is a clear indication of an attempt to utilise a national asset, the Lake District, in a manner which has justifiably made clear that there can be no possible damage to natural beauty. Therefore, there seems to me to be no justifiable reason at all for any views to be expressed against this Order and the needs of Manchester.
The long-term needs of Manchester have been mentioned, not only in this debate, but on other occasions, and it is true that the long-term needs of the entire North West are being studied by the Water Resources Board, which includes the barrage schemes. But I would point out that we cannot know the outcome of these schemes to-day, and the Minister himself has indicated quite clearly that it is unwise to assume that they can provide the necessary supply of water before 1980. Therefore it would be impossible—I repeat, impossible—for Manchester to delay development of the scheme that lies before this House in the hope that they will be able to meet their requirements through any proposals or plans that may come from and through the Water Resources Board.
The Manchester Corporation originally put forward certain, proposals for a scheme which would enable them to abstract a certain quantity of water from Windermere and Ullswater by underground pump stations. But those proposals were modified in the light 166 of the inspector's investigation and the Minister's consideration. I think it is well to repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said, that in the Report the inspector has stated that in their modified form (which has been accepted by the Manchester Corporation and incorporated in this Order) they would involve no danger to existing standards of natural beauty or amenity, or result in restriction of existing rights of public access to land or water, either immediately or in the future. They would not be prejudicial to effective use and development of the Lake District as a National Park, and would in no way prejudice the form or scope of schemes needed in the future to meet long term water supply needs.
I would point out that it is not the Manchester Corporation who are making that statement; it is the inspector, supported by the Minister. The inspector, and indeed the Minister, went on to state that in one respect the works would result in some improvement on Windermere, and prevent interference with aquatic activities on Windermere, to which the lake is at present liable due to prolonged periods of low rainfall. This, incidentally, will be done by the raising of the weir at Newby Bridge.
The noble Lord, Lord Molson, made reference to the Minister's decision, and he quite justifiably complimented the Minister on his recommendations. I need not repeat in detail—it would have been my intention to do so had it not been that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, has stated them in detail—the substantial modifications in Manchester's original proposals for Ullswater. But I would mention one, that is, the incorporation of the weir in the intake tunnel. which of itself by physical means would prevent Manchester taking too much water from the lake. I would point out that the Minister himself emphasises that with the original proposals modified in the way he suggests, and accepted by Manchester Corporation, there will be no harm to the Lake District provided sufficient care is taken over design, landscape and site treatment.
One could justifiably ask what the Minister is doing about that suggestion. It is all very well to say to Manchester, "Yes, it will be good provided you landscape and so on". But as has been pointed out to us already, the Minister has gone 167 further than any other Minister in making absolutely sure Manchester Corporation is compelled to take the necessary steps to ensure that amenities are preserved. The Minister goes on to make certain that the closest attention is given to design and landscaping. Furthermore, Manchester itself will be required to obtain approval of the local planning authority for the design and appearance of all structures. In addition, the Minister imposes a series of stringent obligations with regard to appointing a landscaping consultant and to inform the local planning authority of his recommendations. Therefore, one can see that the Minister has made absolutely sure that, in the furtherance of the Manchester Corporation plans, there can be no damage whatsoever to the amenities of the Lake District.
I might appear to be placing undue stress upon this point, but I have vivid recollections of the debate which took place in this House not so many years ago, when a Private Bill of Manchester Corporation was thrown out because there were certain fears, possibly with justification. I did not think so, but the House did. On this occasion there is the positive assurance—and at least to some extent, I thought, accepted by the noble Lord, Lord Molson—that adequate safeguards have been laid down. The provisions that have been indicated by the Minister are strengthened in various ways. There is the obligation to comply with the local planning authority's requirements, and in order to keep the work under the Minister's control he has removed from the Order the clause empowering the Manchester Corporation to borrow money without the consent of any sanctioning authority. The effect there will be to compel Manchester Corporation to apply for loan sanction from time to time, and this will ensure examination of the manner in which the proposals are carried out by the Manchester Corporation.
Furthermore, Manchester Corporation will be required to submit a detailed programme of construction for works at the North-Eastern end of Ullswater, with the object of limiting to the shortest possible period any disturbance resulting from this construction. I might say in passing that, although fears have been entertained by various authorities, there 168 is no statutory authority that has made official objection to the Order that lies before this House, although individuals have expressed the fear—and I think it was echoed by the noble Lord opposite—that Manchester may go a little further and abstract more water than they tell us they intend to abstract at the moment. Already we have had the assurance that there are now physical barriers provided by the weir in the intake tunnel which would prevent any greater quantity of water being taken than the Order allows. Furthermore, there would be no point in Manchester seeking to take more water from Ullswater because it would be physically impossible to convey an additional quantity through the existing aqueducts.
My last point is one which was dealt with at great length on the last occasion we discussed this matter in this House. That was the question of public access. I think that Manchester, possibly justifiably at the time, was under considerable criticism because of the considerable area they had under their own control, and because there were no means for public access to the lake or adjoining land. There was good reason for that at that time, which was the necessity for avoiding pollution. I know everyone to-day shares the concern over sterilisation of large areas of the Lake District. But the Minister expressed the view that he is convinced that the proposals that are before the House, instead of curtailing public access, will result in many of the present restrictions being lifted. The draft Order empowers the Manchester Corporation to purchase 31 acres of land. It involves no restriction of public access to Ullswater or Windermere, or to surrounding land.
The present proposals include the treatment works which will deal with water, not only from Ullswater and Windermere, but from the existing Haweswater Reservoir, and the Inspector states quite clearly that there are good prospects that the present restrictions on the access to Haweswater will be relaxed. I may say, incidentally, that the Minister goes a step further, and states that he requires from Manchester Corporation a detailed programme for allowing public access to the lake at Haweswater.
My closing words are that Manchester Corporation, even to-day, comes under 169 severe criticism with regard to this question of public access. Yet they have stated quite recently that in the Thirlmere catchment area, where 12,000 acres belong to the Manchester Corporation, there is to-day public access to 7,000 acres, and of the remainder, 3,400 acres are used for agriculture and forestry. In the Haweswater catchment area the Manchester Corporation owns 25,000 acres, of which 14,500 are open to the public; the remainder, except for the Lake, are used for agriculture.
I need say no more, but merely emphasise what I stated at the beginning of my comments, that Manchester's needs are recognised by all. A case has been made out, clearly and convincingly. These needs can, at least in part, be met by the demands upon the Lake District; and there is also the assurance by the Minister, as indicated in this Order, that there need be no question of entertaining any fears of the natural beauty of the Lake District which we all cherish, being placed in jeopardy. Therefore, I am quite convinced that this House will accept this Order.
§ 5.33 p.m.
My Lords, people who live in the Lake District will be particularly grateful to my noble friend Lord Molson for initiating this debate this evening and giving us the chance of having what I hope is going to be a most valuable debate. I think it right and proper that we should do this and take time over it, because, although from the title of the Order anyone might think that this was just a local issue, it is in fact a national issue.
I, who live up in the Lake District and who represented a large part of the area in another place for many years, could speak this evening at great length, but I will try not to. I will try to keep to the important points, and in particular, to the points which affect the future. But first I want to say that this is a sad day for people who love and know the English Lakes. If we accept this Order we are taking away something of their beauty, whatever the noble Lord opposite has just said—a beauty which is unique in this country, and which, as was said in the famous debate in this House, five 170 years ago, should be "for all people in all times".
I do not want to take up point by point what has been said, but I think that the noble Lord opposite was pitching his case a little too high. Nobody attempts to deny Manchester's need. Nobody who has opposed the proposals has attempted to deny that there is water in plenty to be found in the North-West of England. But we do deny that the proposals in this order are going to have no effect on the beauty of the Lake District. The noble Lord worded his speech in such a way that one might suppose he thought that they were conferring a benefit upon us. The more tragic this is since there is water in plenty in the North-West of England; and the opponents of Manchester, as I have said, have never wished to deny them ample water. We have made that clear, and we have always said that there is no question of apportioning scarce water, because there is plenty of water. What we have disliked is the idea that they should draw the additional water that they need from the Lakes which are of special value to this country, simply because it is the easiest and the cheapest way of getting it.
After their proposals were defeated in this House several years ago, after a full day's debate, which in its turn followed weeks of exhaustive debate up and down the country and in the national Press, some of us hoped that future proposals would at least exclude Ullswater; the decision of this House was so clear. But apparently it is not to be. Before that debate we wanted then, as we want now, thorough consultation to find ways of meeting every demand that can be made, not just from Manchester Corporation, but from all parts of industrial Lancashire, without the sacrifice of others' interests. There are practical alternatives which would enable us to avoid further direct abstraction. They have been supported by data which was produced at the public inquiry at which eminent consulting engineers gave evidence, and evidence which was based on the data in the Minister's own hydrological surveys. In particular I would mention the Greenodd scheme, which I and others thought deserved a little more attention than was given to it by the inspector at the inquiry.
171 Then again, there are the enormous resources of water in South-West Scotland running into the Solway from the north. I do not mean a Solway barrage. I do not know whether all noble Lords are aware of the fact that there is something in the nature of 100 million gallons of water a day running to waste into the Solway from Loch Ken after it has done all the work that the hydro-electric people demand of it. That water is running to waste. It could be piped to join up with the Manchester network.
As I have said, many of us had hoped that after the strong views expressed in this House Ullswater would have been put out of bounds by the then Government and Manchester would have been told to direct its energies to other schemes. But this, apparently, was not to be, and they were allowed to retain the initiative, and of course have made good use of it. Over the years Manchester has never had any intention of switching from the main lines of their plans which were laid down a long time ago. In my submission, they have never given serious consideration to any alternatives. There was great cooperation with local interests during the course of the Jellicoe Inquiry to which all of us pay tribute; but there has been little enough co-operation since with local authorities and with the various voluntary organisations which have always concerned themselves with these matters.
Just to show your Lordships that I am not exaggerating, I would point out that in the daily Press, in the Newcastle Journal of February 14, 1962, we read this:Manchester warns: 'We intend to have Ullswater'".This was but a few days after your Lordships had decided otherwise, so it shows the respect in which your Lordships' House is held. An alderman is quoted as saying:They can stop gloating down at Ullswater, for we need that water; we intend to get it.We at Ullswater never gloated. I am not going to mention the alderman's name to add to his shame, but I quote his words just to show the policy that Manchester pursued over the years.
Preparing ahead is often wise. In this case it has been very thorough. I think that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, will agree with me that during the war we 172 were often taught a certain theory of tactics known as the schwer punkt—that is, that if you bang away sufficiently hard at one small section of the defence you break through. That is exactly what Manchester has done over these intervening years. And it has not been so difficult, because the central Government, of which my noble friends were members were not very serious; and the various local authorities and amenity societies, who rank as the opponents of these proposals, kept the general interest in mind but could not, naturally, entirely forget the interests of their own separate part of the region.
Windermere, for instance, has always had a small weir at its outlet. Windermere Urban District Council has never objected on principle to the proposals, but it was most concerned about safeguards. Ullswater objected on principle. People who lived in the Winster Valley and were threatened under some of Manchester's consultant's proposals, although Winster is not mentioned in this Order, were more concerned with the prevention of flooding of further large areas of land than in direct abstraction, and their fears have not yet been totally removed. The Cumberland River Authority appeared not sure whether it was a river board or a river authority and whether or not it was entitled to take a firm line, and then, in the end, said it was neutral.
Noble Lords will appreciate the large amount of finance which is involved in these inquiries. The cost of a public inquiry is an immensely heavy burden on small local authorities and amenity societies. A penny rate in Manchester, I am told, raises £108,500 with which one could conduct many inquiries, with leading Silks, and hardly notice the cost; but for us it has been a very heavy burden. We have been trying latterly to make our small amount of money go a very long way. I was chairman of a co-ordinating committee of four local societies during these intervening years, and we have had subscriptions, large and small, sent to us from all parts of England and from beyond. We have had the most touching letters on occasions, and presents sent anonymously, including some jewellery which we have not yet sold but are keeping for the next time—there will be a next time, I am sure, whatever the intentions of the Government may be. 173 When the first partition of Poland was carried out I am sure that those who did the deed had good intentions and assured Poland that there would be no further partition. But there was a second partition and there was a third partition, and in the end there was no Poland left. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, would agree with me that that is a fate that could easily befall the English Lakes.
Water undertakers always stress the urgency of their need; it is the first thing they say. The noble Lord, Lord Birkett, referred to this in the debate in this House five years ago. Whether or not we agree with everything that is now said about the urgency of the matter, it must be conceded that Manchester, through "going slow" on possible alternatives, has in fact strengthened the case for being allowed to go ahead with the plan which was always their first favourite. This was to draw water direct from Ullswater—and now, it appears from Windermere, too.
In these circumstances it will be said by many that the Minister had little alternative but to allow some measure of direct abstraction to meet, in his own words, short-term needs; and of course Manchester's case at the inquiry was based entirely on their short-term need. But here we must beware, because it is not possible to make a clear distinction between short and long term in this context, and we must be alert about the future. I am glad to say that all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate have agreed that we must be alert.
The rejection of the Longsleddale proposals, for which we all express gratitude, is not a complete safeguard, as has been represented, against substantially increased abstractions from Ullswater, because there are several alternative ways which are possible, from an engineering point of view, of getting water down the existing aqueduct, and there will always be other ways of supplementing that part of the system. We must not he entirely complacent just because we are grateful to the Minister now for striking out that part of the proposals. Just think for a moment: if, in the future, a Minister is faced with what I call "I.C.I. arguments" having regard to the North-East of England, how very hard it will be for him to refuse them, whatever his predecessors may have said, and however 174 good their intentions may have been when they said it!
There is another tragic feature about this case. Several years after the Water Resources Act reached the Statute Book and the Water Resources Board was set up, we still see a major proposal being considered in isolation, which was something we so badly wanted to avoid. The Minister has come to a decision without taking any advice from the Water Resources Board which, from my reading of the Act, it is his statutory duty to do. I know the excuse that was given for what I am going to call collusion between the Minister and the Water Resources Board not to carry out what Parliament in a Statute said they were to do, but I ask your Lordships to take note of what happened at the public inquiry. There, surely, one would suppose that if any evidence were to be given by anybody connected with the Water Resources Board, it would be evidence of an impartial and objective kind, because of the authority and weight such evidence must necessarily carry. But, in fact, the Director appeared as a witness for Manchester Corporation. One understands the reason for that. He had been with a firm of consultants and no doubt Manchester Corporation had paid a fat fee for his services in the past. But the effect of a member of the Water Resources Board appearing for Manchester Corporation—
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, the noble Lord is not suggesting that this gentleman gave his evidence solely on the basis of a "fat fee".
My Lords, of course I was not, and I am surprised the noble Lord should even make that suggestion. The fact remains that there was here a great departure from the normal traditions of public service in this country. Anyone who has ever served in a Government will, I am sure, bear me out that once anyone accepts the responsibility of being the most junior Parliamentary Secretary in any Department, on that day he drops all professional responsibilities, directorships or anything else, and his loyalty and responsibility is one hundred per cent. due to the Government. It would have been very much better if that procedure had been carried out in this case, because of the effect it left. I understand the motives, and I am not imputing 175 any dishonesty of any sort or kind. I am simply saying that the effect was very unfortunate, and I am sorry it happened. I hope that when the Joint Committee come to consider this Order they may think it is worth making a special report on this point.
To-day, the Minister is asking the House to approve an Order under which two more lakes are being joined to Manchester's network of reservoirs and aqueducts. There are limits set to what works may be done, and I accept that the previous Minister of Housing and Local Government has done his best to be helpful in this regard. There are carefully prescribed amenity safeguards, and we are all grateful for this; but, equally, changes are bound to come as a result of the various works, and they are bound to be for the worse.
The question we have to ask ourselves to-day is whether we are right to give away our premier National Park, piece by piece, in this way. Can we afford to give away our precious lakes two at a time? To many people what memories their names will recall!—not just the people who think of the Lake poets and love their works, but people who think of their holidays, perhaps the first adventure holiday they ever had. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who has probably climbed the fells overlooking the lakes, will agree with me. The older generation will remember Thirlmere and Haweswater before they came under the control of Manchester Corporation. Perhaps if we live to an old age we may see Windermere and Ullswater going the same way, but pray God we never shall!
Think of the other names that come to mind—Crummockwater, Ennerdale, Wast-water, from all of which some water is being taken or is about to be taken. The West Cumberland authority has already carried out a survey of Bassenthwaite to see what yield can be extracted from there. If all these schemes go through, what is going to be left? The character of the Lake District depends—and I do not want to say this in a blasphemous manner—on the way Almighty God has made it, not on the way the landscape planners and the professional advisers of Manchester Corporation or Government Departments are going to change it. Where is this to end? Will it ever end?
176 Under our procedures an Order can be amended only by a Joint Committee. We cannot amend it on the Floor of the House; we must either accept it or reject it. I thought your Lordships would like to know that there were three attempts by local interests to petition against this Order. It may be noticed in passing that in no case was Parliamentary counsel briefed, for none of the bodies concerned could afford further fees on that scale. One was successful and two—one of which was mine—failed because we could not establish our locus in the narrow sense that is required. I will not argue the point now, but this arbitrary procedure is a matter we might look at on another occasion. I was trying to effect amendment which I thought would command the support of the majority of your Lordships. I wanted to strengthen the position of Parliament in this matter so that when we are clearer about the long-term plan—and I very much doubt whether the noble Lord who is going to reply can tell us very much more about it to-night—the position of Parliament will be quite clear. At the moment it is not.
It is hardly realistic this evening to ask the Minister to withdraw the Order and to bring it back with my Amendment in it—I am not going to do that to him—but I have written to him and I am going to ask him now, feeling that there is everything to gain and nothing to lose, whether he will give us an assurance that he will, in fact, do the very simple things which my Petition asked for; namely, that he would lay a report before Parliament before ever authorising any increase. I am advised that it is possible for him or his successors to authorise one and to by-pass the Special Parliamentary Procedure at the same time. That, I believe, was not the intention of Parliament, but under the Water Resources Act it is possible for him to do so; and I think it would be fair for him to say that if a situation arose in which he was pressed to do something of this sort—and it is not impossible—he would first lay a report before Parliament.
Secondly, I should like to ask him to lay a report before Parliament 15 years from now when, perhaps, the licence might be reviewed. The year 1980 has a special meaning in this regard, and 15 years from now—1980—might be a time 177 when Parliament could be allowed to look at this licence again. The noble Lord may well say to me in reply that this is quite unnecessary, since under the Water Resources Act, Section 43, the river authority may revoke or amend the licence to extract, or, in fact, the Minister may direct them to do so. Noble Lords will notice that there is no reference to Parliament here. I submit it is hardly realistic to expect the Cumberland River Authority, who to date have been unaccountably timid in this whole business, to take on Manchester Corporation and risk a heavy claim for compensation, unless they feel that something has gone very badly wrong. Equally, Ministers in this country are historically on the side of water undertakers, and I can hardly imagine a situation where the Minister of Housing and Local Government would not be at least pressed by his advisers to avoid at all costs revoking or amending an Order which was going to attract wide attention or take up Parliamentary time. I think they would go to great lengths to dissuade a Minister from doing that. Therefore, in the interests of the country as a whole, I think it would be a good thing if the Minister said, first, that he would lay a report before Parliament both 15 years from now and if he found that he was ever pressed to authorise additional abstraction.
I want to express my gratitude to the former Minister of Housing for the trouble he has taken to make this bitter pill as palatable as is humanly possible. He has been very clever in the presentation and, as a result, I think he had almost a better Press than he deserved from the editors of many newspapers, local authorities, and even from some amenity societies who were inclined in their relief, when Longsleddale was struck out, to put too favourable a construction on the remainder. They forgot for the moment that, even though Longsleddale was spared, they had lost the main battle, which was the battle of principle, that this extra water which is in abundance in the district could come mainly from estuaries rather than from the lakes. So the danger still remains that an even greater abstraction could, in fact, come about.
I think my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford said that an undertaking had been given that no more water would be taken from the Lake District but I 178 believe that that is incorrect. I think the Minister said that no more water should be taken from Ullswater. Certainly, the local authorities and amenity societies concerned are not going to object to the abstraction of water from the perimeter of the Lake District, which most of us would agree, in accordance with modern engineering techniques, is the right place from which to take it, even though it may take a little longer to carry out the works and might cost a little more.
In conclusion, I want to ask the Minister three questions. Can we be sure that if the safeguards are not carried out in the spirit and the letter the Minister will take immediate action? I do not doubt Manchester's good intentions to carry them out, but they have developed the habit of taking a very long time over action of this kind; for example, in improving the access to Thirlmere. Secondly, can we have an assurance that if, after the safeguards are fully carried out, it then becomes clear that they are not having the effect which the Government intended, they will take action to see that further conditions are laid down? For instance, the level of cill is to a large extent the best technical guess that can be made. One hopes and believes that it will achieve its object, but it is possible that it may not, and in that case I should like to think that the Minister would see that the spirit as well as the letter was carried out.
Thirdly (and this, I think, is most important of all) can we have an assurance that at an agreed future date—15 years is the time I have mentioned—when the present long-term surveys are complete and plans have been worked out, which I know will take time (it is no good thinking about desalination being a practicable alternative to-day, but a day could well come in our life time when it would be and when ample water is then available for all Lancashire's needs, the Government will have an open mind about allowing abstraction from Ullswater to continue? I am not asking very much in saying this, because there are no huge capital works involved. There are no great dams. The authorised 20 million gallons a day is most important at this present time, when urgency is being pressed, but is not a large contribution towards the total needs of Manchester today, and is an even smaller contribution towards what we are told the total needs 179 are going to be in a few years' time. I think, in view of the value to this country of the Lake District National Park, it is right that we should look at this matter again, should we decide that the provisions of the Order should continue.
If this can be said, many people in the Lake District and beyond who have worked to preserve the character and beauty of the English Lakes will be greatly heartened. By "preserving" I do not mean sterilising, because when we passed the National Parks Act we never intended to sterilise the Lake District. We wanted to see development appropriate to the district, new industries coming in, and, in fact, to see better highway planning than we have now. We want to see new opportunities for the people who live and work there. But I fear a future where an alien local authority will become so strong that our own Lakes Planning Board will seem poor and powerless in comparison, and that day is arriving.
I can hardly imagine an Order which I feel sadder about, but I appreciate the urgency which lies behind the need, and that it is our duty, if this urgency is really as acute as I believe it is, to help see that that need is met. We are responsible people and we have been overtaken by time. It would seem that the best service we can do to-day is to help plan for the future and not to obstruct, to see that in future there are no further intrusions, and 10 preserve the rights of Parliament, which at the moment appear very weak. So I hope that the Minister will help us in his reply. But, whatever he says, he must not deceive himself or us about the damage which we are doing to-day. Five years ago Lord Birkett, in his famous speech, described the English Lake District as "so small, so lovely, so vulnerable". This Order inflicts a deep wound. We must not let it be so deep that time may never be able to erase the scars.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ LORD ILFORD
My Lords, water undertakers do not go to places of natural beauty for their supplies by choice or, as my noble friend Lord Inglewood seems to think, through the wickedness of their hearts. They go there to meet an urgent necessity. Manchester Corporation decided to go to Ullswater and Windermere because they were confronted in their 180 water supply with an urgent necessity, about which there has been no real doubt. My noble friend Lord Molson, in a speech which was characterised by the lucidity and well-informed character which always marks his speeches, made no reference at all to the need which impelled Manchester to seek her water supplies from Ullswater and Windermere. Nor do I think my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford made any reference to that. Indeed, it was not until my noble friend Lord Inglewood was speaking that any reference to the need of the Manchester Corporation was made at all.
The existence of Manchester's need was never challenged in your Lordships' House when your Lordships were considering the Bill of 1962, at the Jellicoe conference, if one may call it that, or at the local inquiry which was held by the Minister into the draft Order.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
May I interrupt my noble friend? I was consulting my notes to see what I said about Manchester's need. I particularly commended the Jellicoe Report to the House because, among other facts, it established Manchester's need. I also commented later in my remarks on the 45 million gallons which would come from these two schemes as being no more than enough to meet Manchester's need. I am very conscious of their need.
§ LORD ROYLE
Before the noble Lord resumes his speech, may I remind him that my noble friend Lord Peddie said a number of things on this point?
§ LORD ILFORD
I am obliged to the noble Lord for reminding me. I had not overlooked that; but the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, was speaking from the point of view of a rather different interest, and I was concerned only with those who were speaking for the Lake District. The reality of Manchester's need is very great. The demand on their resources is increasing at the rate of about 4 million gallons a day, and the demand will exceed the yield of the existing sources of supply before the end of 1969. Manchester must be able to put additional water into supply by 1970 at the latest. These facts appear to be common ground. They have not been challenged at any of the inquiries at which these questions have been investigated. The Manchester Corporation's undertaking is, as the noble 181 Lord, Lord Peddie, pointed out, one of the largest undertakings in the country. It serves, directly and indirectly, a population of about 3 million persons, and it serves by direct supplies a population exceeding 1,300,000. It is a very large undertaking indeed. It would be a major administrative disaster if water supplies to a population of this magnitude had to be curtailed.
Manchester Corporation do not complain in any way of the prolonged period which has elapsed since they first began to make preparations to obtain the additional supplies which Manchester needs. If one has to propose works of this magnitude in a district of great natural beauty, like the Lake District, it is right that the fullest investigation should be undertaken and that every necessary step should be taken to ensure that the minimum of damage is done to the natural beauty of the place to which the water undertaking has had to go.
My Lords, I think that there can never have been a Bill or an Order introduced into your Lordships' House in which more elaborate investigation into the effect of proposed works upon natural scenery or amenities has been made than is the case of this Bill. At the local inquiry into the Order before the Minister's inspectors, 47 objectors appeared, and their objections were considered. A very large number of different bodies were also represented: the Council for the Preservation of Rural England; The National Trust; the British Mountaineering Council; the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society; the Countrywide Holidays Association; the Cyclists' Touring Club; the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the Lake District; the Holiday Fellowship Limited; the Friends of the Lake District; the Lake District Naturalists' Trust; the Ramblers Association; the Standing Committee on National Parks of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England; the Workers' Travel Association Limited; the Youth Hostels Association; The Lake District Planning Board; The National Parks Commission; The Ullswater Preservation Society; The Windermere and Leven Valley Preservation Society; The Cumberland River Authority; The Lancashire County Council; The Winster Valley Preservation Society; the Cumberland County Council; the Westmorland County Council, and the River Eden and 182 District Fisheries Association. All these bodies appeared at the local inquiry. Some were represented by counsel. They put their views to the inspectors, and their views were no doubt thoroughly examined.
Now your Lordships will wish to be satisfied, I think, that there is no practical alternative to these proposals. My noble friend Lord Inglewood is the only person who has suggested that there is a practical alternative which has not been completely explored. As I understand the Minister's letter, the alternatives that were proposed at the local inquiry were, first, the River Leven. The objection to the River Leven as a source of supply is that that river is in a district of no less natural beauty than the district surrounding Ullswater and Windermere, and that the natural beauty of the river valley would have been destroyed if in fact it had been used, as was suggested, as a source of Manchester's supply. In addition—and I suppose that, even when one is considering matters of this nature, one ought not to overlook this aspect entirely—it would have been an extremely expensive scheme both in capital expenditure and in operational costs afterwards.
My Lords, it was then suggested that a supply might be obtained from Liverpool. But Liverpool's own needs will soon exhaust any surplus that Liverpool may now have available; and by 1980 the quantity available for Manchester would be a mere fraction of the requirements to meet Manchester's needs. Then it was proposed (and I think this has been put forward again this afternoon) that the barrage schemes which have been suggested—and they are, after all, no more than suggestions—for Morecambe Bay and for the estuary of the Solway might provide an alternative. Barrage schemes are still in the very initial stages of their growth. My noble friend Lord Inglewood pointed out that the Water Resources Board, which is undertaking the feasibility surveys, is not making very rapid progress at the present moment, and it will be some years before it is established that barrage schemes in the two estuaries are a practical engineering proposition.
Then I think your Lordships will wish to be satisfied that everything has been done which can be done to ensure the minimum disturbance of the natural 183 beauty of the Lake District. I have enumerated one or two things which have been done, and I think some of them have been mentioned this afternoon. In the first place, all the features of the Bill of 1962 to which particular objection was taken on the ground that they would interfere with the natural beauty of the district have been omitted from this Order. Then, all the buildings which will be needed for pumping stations and so forth will be underground and will not be visible above the surface. This I think is important also: the water levels of the two lakes will be maintained. Pumping will not be permitted to reduce the level below that to which the lakes fall naturally in a dry season.
The proposed aqueduct in Longsleddale has been abandoned altogether, mainly, as I understand what was said this afternoon, as a safeguard against any future application to increase the pumping of Ullswater. Its absence will add a good deal to the operational difficulty of the scheme when Manchester Corporation have completed it; but it has been taken out of the scheme and no objection has been raised by Manchester. Then there is the introduction of a weir in the main intake tunnel. The purpose of the weir, as I understand it, is to prevent pumping of the lake below the prescribed level; and no doubt that in itself provides a safeguard against what would he a very disfiguring spectacle if the lake were pumped below the present low-water level.
The Order further provides that the Manchester Corporation will be obliged to comply with the requirements of the town planning authorities in respect of all their works and not merely in respect of those works which are to be carried out in the National Park. That, no doubt, is a safeguard. There is one other thing to which I would refer. The Minister has introduced into the Order certain provisions relating to loan sanction which will enable him to control the progress of the works in a manner which would not have been possible under the first proposal in the Order. No doubt, the Minister himself, when he comes to speak, will say something about that.
I hope that your Lordships will consider that the urgent need of this great industrial area can now be met without 184 the fear of impairing the natural beauty of the countryside. I am very glad that my noble friend has accepted the Order in its present form and does not propose to challenge it in Division. I should have hoped that some word of appreciation to the Manchester Corporation might have been expressed, in the light of their acceptance of all these conditions put forward by so many different bodies in so many different ways. I should have thought that they were entitled to a little credit for accepting so readily every proposal made for safeguarding the natural amenities of this district.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I never quite know how far one should declare an interest in debates of this kind. Perhaps, to be on the safe side, I ought to say that I am the President of the Friends of the Lake District from whose Annual Report the noble Lord, Lord Molson, quoted. That, no doubt, will indicate to your Lordships that I find myself very much in sympathy with what he and the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, had to say.
First, I should like to make it clear that this Order has not, in fact, been accepted by those who petitioned against it at the public inquiry. We are still, as Lord Inglewood said, very worried indeed and very upset; and undoubtedly further petitioning would have gone on if all the money that was collected to pay for that very expensive inquiry had not been, so to speak, sunk in it. We in the amenities movement have not behind us the rates of Manchester; we must go round collecting our pennies and shillings from the people whose hearts are involved in the saving of the Lake District. If it had not been for the expense, the battle would no doubt have gone on and would have been fought to another ditch.
On the other hand, it has been made quite clear this afternoon that this Order is a great improvement on the proposals that Manchester put forward in 1961, and we are certainly not quite so worried now as we were on that occasion. It was at that time very clear that not only the great majority of this House but the great majority of the people of England were very worried; and Manchester had to retire from that conflict with a bloody head. That was the long and short of what happened on that occasion. If, now, we could be really satisfied on two 185 points, then we might even sleep, if a little uneasily, in our beds.
These two points, which have in effect been brought up this afternoon, are that the Minister's safeguards are really going to work and that Manchester will not come back. The latter point, of course, is the more worrying one. The noble Lord, Lord Molson, pointed out that the Minister has done his best to steer them away from coming back; but as he was advised—and there could not have been any doubt about it—he has no legal power to prevent their doing so. Lord Inglewood's petition was, I thought, a very reasonable and—if he will allow me to say so—very sensible method of trying to safeguard that situation by making it necessary that the Minister should lay Papers before Parliament if Manchester did come back with an application for more water—and I do not think that there is any doubt that they will. It has been said this afternoon that this scheme is not going to last much beyond 1980, if beyond that year at all.
Of course, Manchester always overplay their hand on this question. On the last occasion when this matter was under discussion I remember that I acted as a sort of devil for the late Lord Birkett. He told me to go back and read up what had happened previously. I found, in connection with the Haweswater scheme, that the Manchester water engineer gave evidence on oath before the Committee that it was essential a start should be made on the scheme immediately, because Manchester required this water and would be in a serious situation, and the economy of South Lancashire would be in a serious situation, if they did not get the Bill through Parliament at once, so that they could start the work. Actually, it was 1925 before they did start the work.
When they were here before they said that it was essential that they should get work started at the latest by 1965. It is now 1967. I remember the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, saying that his Department's view was that it was probable work should start in 1964 if they were to get the water in time. Here they are in 1967, and obviously work will not start for some months yet. As I say, Manchester have always overplayed their hand in this way. While I have some sympathy 186 with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, about the needs of Manchester and South Lancashire—and obviously there are needs—I do not think that it altogether excuses them for the way they make these very categorical statements. Their conduct afterwards shows that the situation was not anything like so serious as they had informed the public, and indeed Parliament, it was.
As I understood the scheme of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, it was based on the fact that Parliament is a very much better watchdog of the amenities of this country than a Government Department. It seems to me a great pity that this business has now got into the hands of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and, so to speak, out of the hands of Parliament. What would have happened if Manchester had gone to the Ministry in 1961, instead of coming to Parliament? Manchester would have got what they wanted then—I do not think there is any question about that. At any rate, that is the impression I got from the very able speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on that occasion. I do not think there is any doubt at all that the Ministry would have given Manchester what they wanted. It is very difficult for a Ministry like the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to stand up to one of the great local authorities like Manchester. I do not recollect any occasion when the Ministry have turned down flat a proposal coming from one of these great local authorities, but Parliament has done so on this last occasion.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, brought up several occasions, including a case where the London County Council was turned down flat by Parliament. Under the encouragement of the noble and learned Lord I went into a number of cases, and found that this had been done quite frequently: cases where Parliament had said that beauty must have precedence over some economic consideration. That is something which very few Ministeries would be prepared to do. That seemed to me the reason why the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, was most valuable, because to keep this problem within the authority of Parliament is most important. We are always talking about the sovereignty of 187 Parliament, and about how essential it is that Parliament should show that it has sovereignty over the Departments in Whitehall. Yet when it conies to the acid test we confer upon the Departments in Whitehall powers which are used in this way. Having failed to get what they wanted from Parliament, Manchester go to the Ministry and get a large part of what they want.
My Lords, it is obvious from his letter that the Minister himself realises what a weak position he is in as regards preventing Manchester from doing so again in the future. He just cannot do it. I should have felt much happier if my noble friend Lord Peddie, and the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, speaking on behalf of the Manchester Corporation, had said quite flatly that they were authorised by Manchester to say that this was the last inroad Manchester would make on the Lake District. But they have not said that, and they will not. I should be surprised if the present Lord Mayor of Manchester, or the Manchester Council, would ever make any statement of that kind; and if they did, the next one would say they were not bound by it. Parliament is the only authority which has the sovereignty over matters of this sort, and I think it a very great pity that the petition of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, was rejected and that he had not a locus in regard to the matter.
Exactly the same consideration applies to the question of the safeguards. It is all very well to say that this weir is going to be put into a tunnel. An engineer who can put in a weir, can obviously take a weir out again. It may very well be that in a few years' time Manchester will come back and say: "We want some more water, and the simplest way of getting the water quickly—we are in a hurry for it, we are always in a hurry for water—is to take out this weir. It will not take more than a few weeks, and there are methods by which we can get the water to Manchester".
If this matter had to come before Parliament, Parliament would be much more likely than the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to take a strong line against it. Whichever Minister is in charge, he will be under very considerable political and economic pressure. Parliament is the only authority which can be 188 relied upon to take a firm stand in this sort of case, and I think it a great pity that locus was denied to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, because it would have been well that he should have been given the opportunity of putting these arguments before the Select Committee. I am very sorry that all we can do now is to protest. Apparently, there is no action that we can take which would be effective.
I look to the future with a great deal of apprehension, and I only hope that other schemes will be considered, particularly the scheme for taking water from South Scotland where, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, there are millions of gallons of water running away all the time. It would be a little more expensive for the Manchester ratepayer for water to be taken from South Scotland, rather than from Ullswater or Windermere, and that is why they are not going on with the scheme. Yet in the national interest, and particularly in the interest of the preservation of the beauties of this country, that is obviously what ought to be done. I hope that eventually we shall be able to persuade Parliament to see that it is the duty of Parliament to step in and protect the beauties of this country, and not always to put economic considerations first.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, the sting has been taken out of much that I wanted to say; in the main because of the reasonable way in which the matter was approached by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, in the early sentences of his speech, when he indicated that he had no intention of dividing the House, and ultimately in what the noble Lord had to say. To a large degree the same course has been followed even—if I may use the word "even"—in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. Therefore, it is not necessary (and I hope that I should never be guilty of tedious repetition) to go over the whole gamut of the objections to the scheme and the Order which we are debating to-day.
My Lords, I wish to add a few general remarks. The first of them is that I bow to no one, not even to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, to my noble friend, Lord Chorley, or to the noble Lord, Lord Molson, in my love of the Lake District. 189 I have lived only 60 or 70 miles away from the Lake District for most of my life and therefore my visits to the Lakes were very regular. I developed a love for the Lake District during the time when I could hike over the hills, and later, when I was older, when I could drive through that beautiful country. I was there only six weeks ago, and I enjoyed the surroundings even in the winter atmosphere. Therefore, there is no one in your Lordships' House who regards the Lake District with a greater amount of admiration than I do. I have a full understanding of what other noble Lords have said, but I would point out that when living 60 or 70 miles away from the Lake District I was also living in the Manchester conurbation.
The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, used terms like "giving away our beautiful lakes", and he said that God put the Lakes there and was not going to put all the contrivances there that were to provide water for Manchester. I would remind him that it was not God who put those "Satanic mills" in South-East Lancashire and the Mersey Valley.
My Lords, may I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Royle, that there is nothing about satanic mills in the Order?
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, if I may say so, there was an awful lot in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that is not in the Order. It was the noble Lord who referred to the question of God putting the Lakes there but not putting the other things there, and I do not find any reference to God in the Order before us to-night. My feeling about it is that we in the Manchester conurbation have as much right to consideration as the people who live in the Lake District. I am not concerned with arguments about the abolition of the amenities, because they are irrelevant.
I ask noble Lords to put their hands on their hearts and to point out any recent waterworks undertaking that has be spoiled the countryside. I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Molson that I was a member of the Stockport Water Committee when we built the Goyt Valley reservoir, in the constituency which the noble Lord ultimately represented in such a distinguished manner. 190 We had petitions from the same people who are now petitioning against the Manchester scheme, but when the scheme was in operation they quickly saw that they were mistaken in their objections. There was no question at all of be spoiling the Goyt Valley; and in recent years no area has been spoiled because of the establishment of waterworks.
So I would say with deep respect to noble Lords whose main consideration is the beauty of this area—and, my God! it is beautiful—that in Holy Script it is said:No man liveth unto himself.I am inclined to suggest that this great conurbation, which requires water for 1½million people, has a right to some consideration and thought from the people who are fortunate enough to live in a beautiful area such as the Lake District of Britain.
I do not want to go into the details of the Order, because they have been dealt with so well, but I should like to remind your Lordships that on page 12 of the Minister's memorandum to the Manchester Corporation there are four items which sum up the position. In the Minister's letter dated May 5, 1966, the Minister expressed the following view:1. Manchester must have additional water by 1970 to put into supply to meet their needs and those of the water undertakings that are partly dependent upon Manchester for water supplies.2. The Windermere proposals would improve the lake for recreation and reduce the risk of flooding and the proposals should be approved without modification.3. The Minister agreed with the inspector that the Ullswater proposals, if modified as suggested by the inspector, could apart from localised disturbance during construction be entered into and operated in the National Park without endangering natural beauty and would do no harm to the Lake District, providing sufficient care was taken of design, landscaping and site treatment and providing disturbance during construction of the works was kept to a minimum.These assurances have been given by Manchester Corporation. The letter goes on:4. The Minister approved the Windermere proposals and the Ullswater proposals as modified by the inspector and rejected the alternative schemes put forward by the objectors on the grounds that no practical schemes had been put forward for providing water in sufficient quantity and soon enough to meet Manchester's needs.191 That is the view of the Minister, and it is what the Order is all about.
My plea to noble Lords would be to ask them to put aside what I cannot help esteeming to be—I hope that I am being fair—selfish interests. There is some-something just as important as the beauty of the Lake District; it is the well-being and living of the people in the Manchester conurbation. These are the grounds on which I offer my contribution to the debate. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, was good enough to say that he would not divide the House on the Order to-night.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Molson for initiating this debate and I agree largely with what was said by my noble friend Lord Inglewood. I intervene only because, almost exactly five years ago, I played a fairly prominent part in the debate in which this House, by a majority of nearly two to one, threw out certain proposals that were then made by Manchester Corporation.
So often do I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Royle, says that I was a little astonished by something he said in the speech which he has just delivered. He said that the people in the Manchester area were entitled to have their need for water considered. Of course they are; and nobody disputes it. But then the noble Lord went on to suggest that their interest should be at least as much considered as that of the inhabitants of the Lake District. Does he really suppose that the beauty of the Lake District is of importance only to the inhabitants of the Lake District? This happens to be one of the glories of England—even of Europe—and the question has always been whether, to satisfy the needs of Manchester Corporation, it was necessary to destroy to a large extent the beauty of this great national asset.
Let me say at once that I agree with the decision not to oppose the Order before us to-day, for the reasons that have been given by previous speakers. But an earlier speaker in the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, suggested that this House had been wrong in the decision it reached on February 8, 1962, and implied that there was some similarity between the proposals we are now invited 192 to authorise and the proposals then before Parliament. That is not the case. The proposals, so far as Ullswater was concerned, were then far more injurious, and there was another proposal, which has not even been put forward on this occasion but which was then an essential part of the Bill—the proposal to flood Bannisdale. I could go on giving examples. That somebody speaking on behalf of Manchester should imply that the decision this House reached on that occasion was somehow brought in question by what we are asked to approve to-day I regard as quite fantastic.
Perhaps the House will allow me briefly to say how it came about that I played a prominent part in the earlier debate. A friend of mine in the House of Commons and a friend of many noble Lords, Mr. Whitelaw, who is Member of Parliament for an area in the Lakes, brought to my attention what was proposed some time before the Manchester Corporation Bill came up for debate in either House. He knew my concern with amenities and my alarm at what was being proposed. I promised all the assistance that I could give in this House. At that time we thought, on the whole, that the Bill was likely to be introduced in the House of Commons first, and I therefore did not think any immediate action on my part would be required. Then the Bill was introduced in this House, and my friends in another place pointed this out to me and that it was urgent to table the appropriate Motion. I said that, of course, I should do everything I could, but I thought that the position would be better if I came in to support the opposition to the Bill rather than to originate the Motion.
When I heard that my friend Mr. Whitelaw and my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who at that time was a Member of another place, had written to my old friend the then Lord Birkett, I said that he would be absolutely the ideal man to open that debate, and that I should do my best to persuade him to do so. Then came what I have always believed to be a direct intervention of Providence. I walked along from the House of Commons, and the first person I met was the late Lord Birkett, who was showing a party round this House; and he summoned me over to introduce me and to have a word with me. I am 193 afraid that I rather neglected those whom he was showing round this House, and at once said: "You are going to take on the defence of Ullswater, are you not?" After very little hesitation, he said that he was most willing to do so, but asked whether I would help with some of the procedural points, since he comparatively rarely intervened in this House. My greatest service to the cause of amenity was securing Lord Birkett on that occasion.
Then, unfortunately, I fell ill and was unable to take any further part in the preparation of our case until a few days before the debate. My old friend Lord Birkett asked me to windup for him on that occasion. It was the most exciting Parliamentary day that I have ever spent in either House. One of the reasons, of course, was that the result was wholly unforeseeable and, therefore, it was one of those rare occasions when it was conceivable that what one said might make a difference. I remember that debate very well indeed. I remember that I was denounced by the then Leader of the Opposition, my old friend the late Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, for some of the things I said. But I remember being thanked, not only on that day but on many subsequent occasions, by another old friend of many of us in this House, the late Lord Lawson, whom I had known as Jack Lawson in another place and here, and who cared passionately for the beauty of England. The importance of the occasion absolutely transcended all Party questions; in fact, there were no Party politics in it. I regard that decision of this House on that day as one of the most important decisions this House has made in recent years.
My noble friend Lord Ilford and others have said how urgent is the need of Manchester. But, of course, the need of these great cities for water will always be urgent. That is why my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford was so clearly right in requesting the Government to pay timely consideration to securing further water supplies to meet the long-term needs. The longer we postpone planning for the longer-term needs, the more shall we always be faced with the allegation that it is urgently necessary to grant an immediate request, whatever the effect on the beauty of this country.
194 My Lords, I have already spoken for longer than I had intended. I know that in the Minister who is to reply to this debate we have one who loves the beauty of the countryside as much as anybody in this House; and I hope that he will regard this debate as strengthening his influence, and the influence of everybody else in Her Majesty's Government who shares his concern, by showing that this House is most anxious that we shall not always be faced with these painful immediate decisions. I beg of him to use all his influence to see that our water supplies are greatly increased, although I agree that this will take some time, because the growth of the need for water is going to be continuous, and we cannot afford, unless we are to he unworthy of our country and to incur the hatred of posterity, to make further sacrifices of the priceless natural beauty of our land.
§ 6.48 p.m.
My Lords, I am intervening in this discussion only since, like my noble friend Lord Cones ford, I played some small part in the debate in your Lordships' House five years ago. I am going to say only a brief word on this Order, not because I underrate its importance but because, in my view, the ground has been thoroughly covered in your Lordships' discussions this afternoon. But I did have occasion, when I knew this Order was to be debated this afternoon, to refresh my memory on a Report which I think has been called a Report of the Jellicoe Conference. I have been told that others often feel a certain distaste at resurrecting their earlier sayings. In a recent biography, and a very good one, of Disraeli which I have been reading, I noticed that he tried to suppress two of his earliest novels. While I am not particularly proud of this Report as a piece of creative literature, I must confess that on re-reading it I found myself in substantial agreement with what I said.
I am not patting myself on the back for that, although I am not particularly averse to that operation; I am rather patting your Lordships' House on the hack, since if it had not been for your rejection, almost five years ago, of Part III of the Manchester Corporation Bill, there would have been no Jellicoe Conference and no Jellicoe Conference Report. I do not think that this would 195 have particularly mattered, but, also, there would have been no improvements, or, at least, there would not have been such substantial improvements, in the proposals now incorporated in the Order before your Lordships' House. I must confess I was a little sad, at the time, at being on the receiving end of that marvellous last flowering of the late Lord Birkett's advocacy and oratory. But I am glad now that I was on the receiving end, and the losing end, of that particular discussion. I am glad because I believe that the work which has been done subsequently has led to a substantial improvement in this scheme.
Mention has been made of the various improvements. I will not run over them; I will only single out four which, among others, strike me as particularly important. There is the elimination of the weir above Pooley Bridge which I think everybody on the Conference over which I had the honour to preside felt would be a very great impairment of that lovely view. There is the elimination, referred to quite rightly by my noble friend Lord Cones ford, of the proposal for a reservoir in Bannisdale. I remember very well in February five years ago going to Bannisdale on a snowy day and feeling straight away what a disaster that proposal, if adopted, would have been. There has been elimination of the proposal for a duplicate aqueduct in Longsleddale; and the fourth is that there has been the incorporation of the provision for a weir on the intake tunnel which, as I understand it, will provide a physical guarantee that there will be no abstraction from Ullswater when the lake level falls below a certain figure—I think it is 475.6 feet. This seems to me to obviate what the Conference felt was one of the greatest potential dangers; that was, damage to the ecological structure of the lake, to the vegetation which comes right down to the lakeside. It is one of the most difficult factors to assess.
These improvements—and I think we are all agreed they are improvements—have been the result of a most exhaustive and detailed process of investigation. There was that Conference. There was the subsequent planning by Manchester and its consultants. There has been the exhaustive inquiry—and I was glad that my noble friend Lord Molson congratu- 196 lated the inspector on what struck me, too, as a very fair and courageous report—and there has been, not least, the careful consideration given to that report by the Ministry and by the Minister, the former Minister of Housing. I think he has rightly been congratulated on his forthright Letter of Decision.
Your Lordships may wish, for what it is worth, to know my own conclusions at this stage. They are very simple indeed. First, I believe that the need, and the urgency of the need, of Manchester and those whom Manchester serves for a considerable new supply of water was clearly established by the Conference and has not been challenged, or effectively challenged, since. That is my first conclusion. My second, very briefly, is that the scheme as amended is, broadly speaking, acceptable. I was therefore very glad myself to hear my noble friend Lord Molson say that it was not his intention at all to oppose this Order.
Perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if, in conclusion, and in part qualification of what I have said, I just dwell on two points made by my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford. The first is the need for greater public access to Thirlmere and Haweswater. I must confess, after looking into this matter five years ago, and bearing in mind what Manchester has been able to do in the Peak District with the Longendale reservoirs, I had hoped by now that much greater public access would have been achieved, both around Haweswater and around Thirlmere. I notice that this greater public access around Haweswater will be achieved within the foreseeable future. That is a fairly vague phrase, and I hope that, when he winds up, the Minister may be able to be a little more specific on that point.
The second point is the need, which my noble friend and a number of noble Lords have referred to, for long-term and broadly-based planning for the water resources in the North-West. I think we are all agreed on the need for that; and also there is not a great deal of time here. The preparation and elaboration of a really comprehensive plan seem, to me the real guarantee against Manchester's coming back to the Lake District for water. But, because of that, I myself, like my noble friend, was concerned to 197 read in the recently published Third Annual Report of the Water Resources Board that, as a result of the squeeze, the feasibility studies on the Morecambe Bay proposal and the Solway Barrage proposals had been held up. I would accept that if we must have a squeeze certain great public works may be delayed. I should find it more difficult to accept the need for delay in planning for public works in the future. That seems to me to be a false and dangerous economy, and I should hope that the noble Lord, when he winds up, could give us some encouragement in this respect and some indication that the Government fully recognise the need to get ahead as urgently as possible with the planning for the water resources of the North-West and. in particular, with the mounting of feasibility studies for these potentially very important schemes.
I have said—and I hope I have not detained your Lordships for too long—what I have felt impelled to say on this occasion. But I should just like to say this in conclusion. I have often felt, and sometimes said, that this House is, and has shown itself to be, particularly well equipped to deal with questions affecting the physical environment of these Islands. That is why I am so glad that your Lordships over the past five years have given such very close attention to these particular proposals. The Lake District as a whole, and Ullswater perhaps above all, is one of our great national assets. I do not believe that these proposals, as now amended, will damage those national assets. But, if that is so, I believe that that is in no small part due to the attention which your Lordships have given to this question. And I personally hope that your Lordships will continue to give your close attention to these matters; not least to the preparation, the early preparation, of an effective long-term plan for the water resources in the North-West.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (LORD KENNET)
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, will not consider it a discourtesy if I begin my remarks by addressing myself to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who spoke last and is in a sense the uncle or stepfather of the present arrangement. There is 198 only one point I would single out in what he said, and that is the question of access to Thirlmere and Haweswater. I think the House knows the attitude taken by my right honourable friend towards the Corporation of Manchester on this point. I am sorry to say that I did not arm myself with information about the latest state of play before this debate, but I will do so and be ready to answer detailed questions at any time the noble Earl desires it in the near future.
To turn now to the Motion to annul the Order, I never thought that on a proposal to annul anything I should hear anybody speak in such favourable terms about the thing which he sought to annul. I thought Lord Molson got the emphasis exactly right. He gave a most accurate and useful account of the complicated history of this matter, and I want to thank him personally very deeply for saving me the trouble of saying what precisely is in the Order, since he has set it all out, and there is nothing to add to his account of the matter.
Now, my Lords, a couple of points made by Lord Nugent of Guildford. I have to confirm what Lord Inglewood said later: that Lord Nugent of Guildford is not right in saying the Government have pledged that no more water will be taken from the Lake District. I wish he were right. I look forward to the day when we can even stop the pumping out of Ullswater, Windermere, Thirlmere and Haweswater. But at present there is no such pledge; and there cannot be. What there is a pledge about—and I repeat it here—is that no more water will be taken from Ullswater; that that is final, and that no more artificial lakes will be created of the type proposed in the Winster Valley. I hope this will help Lord Inglewood in removing the fears of those who live in the Valley. They are groundless.
The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, complained about the fact that the Director of the Water Resources Board had given evidence at the inquiry on behalf of the Manchester Corporation. I should say a word about this. This was a transitional arrangement that nobody was particularly happy about. I have not had the opportunity of talking about it with the Director himself, but I do not suppose he was too happy about it—I do not know. He had been concerned before as a consultant to the Manchester Corporation on 199 their water needs in general. The time came when the Government rightly decided that we must have a Water Resources Board, and they looked around and they thought, "Who is the best man to be the Director, the 'technical boss' of this Board?" They decided that Mr. Rowntree was the man. What more likely that the most suitable man for that job should before he took it have been advising the city and county which has the most urgent water problem?
When he accepted this Directorship it was clear to everybody that there was a problem here, and the solution reached was that he should have a transitional period to be able to give evidence on behalf of the bodies to whom he had formally acted as consultant, not in his capacity as the Director of the Water Resources Board, but in a private capacity. This, I repeat, is a transitional arrangement, and I hope that very shortly we shall be in the position where we are through the transitional period, and the servants of the Water Resources Board will not give evidence at these inquiries on anybody's behalf but their own. They will be giving evidence as neutral assessors of the situation. The fact that Mr. Rowntree gave evidence once on behalf of a party at an inquiry is, I repeat, transitional.
The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, asked me for three assurances, one of which I should like to take up in advance: the other two I hope he will find adequately dealt with in what I have to say. The point I should like to deal with now is whether I could undertake that the Minister will lay a report before Parliament, if he or a future Minister changes his mind about pumping out of Ullswater, and in any event not later than 15 years from now. I have thought about this matter, and come to the conclusion that it would not add at all to the standing of Parliament in this matter. The Minister has laid down what is to be done at Ullswater. If Manchester Corporation wish to do anything else, they must come back to the Minister, to the present Minister or a future one, and ask his leave to do it. In view of the whole history of this matter, it is unlikely that such an approach would pass unnoticed, and it seems to me that any undertaking that the Government will 200 take the initiative in laying a statement before Parliament would not change the situation in any way. Parliament can raise the matter whenever it likes, and especially it can do so in this House, the great strength which, we all agree, is our total absence of rules of procedure.
My Lords, this debate is something of an occasion, because it is discussing an Order which is a successor to a Bill, to Part III of the Manchester Corporation Bill of 1962 which is so well remembered in this House. It is the successor to that Bill, but it contains very different provisions. The House, in 1962, threw out that Part of that Bill—swayed largely by a speech, which has been so often referred to, by the late Lord Birkett and which has become part of the history of this House in our generation—because it enabled the Corporation of Manchester to take water from the English lakes, and especially from Ullswater. The present Order allows the Corporation of Manchester to take water from the English lakes, and especially from Ullswater. But there the resemblance ends.
The House rejected the 1962 Bill for two main reasons: because it might have spoiled Ullswater, and because it was presented in the absence of an overall forecast and plan for the obtaining of water in the North-West. I make no judgment whether the House was right to reject that Bill; I make no judgment whether the Government of the day were right to commend it. But this judgment I do make: that the House would be right to pass the Order which is before it to-day.
My Lords, I wonder if I might interrupt on one point—Lord Kennet's remark that the Government of the day were commending the Bill. That is not the case. He is misreading the situation. All that those who were speaking for the Government of the day were saying was that the House should give the Bill a Second Reading and that it should go to a Committee. The House, rightly or wrongly, in its judgment decided against that. Those who were speaking on behalf of the Government on that occasion were very careful neither to commend nor "de-commend" the Bill in itself.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I apologise for my inaccuracy. I make no judgment whether the House was right 201 to reject that Bill before sending it into Committee or whether the Government were right to urge that it should be sent into Committee and not rejected on Second Reading. The judgment I make—and I am glad to find it so widely shared—is that the House would be right to pass the Order which is before it to-day.
Let me now examine this subject a little more under the two heads: the effect of the Order on the English Lakes and its justifiability against the background of long-term needs and studies. The Pennine Moors, the great, grey, rectilinear backbone of England, are wonderful and impressive indeed. When we see them we feel braced; we rub our hands and gather the energy to get up there in our big boots and our thick jerseys, striding and persevering, saying "Boo" to their size. But where that huge blankness gathers at the top left-hand corner of England into those neat and brilliant folds, cascades of rock and still sheets of water, there we feel different. We feel, as Lord Birkett himself put it in this House—and it has already been quoted to-day—it is allso small, so lovely, so vulnerable on that account".It is true. I think myself, and so do millions of us—and, God knows, we are not the first generation to think it—that if ever, in our continent, a philanthropic and playful Creator had offered to human artists the model for the art of miniature, the English Lakes are that place. They are the propeller of mountain ranges, the aldine pocket book of lakes. And how wonderfully preserved they are! I know of no place so near centres of industry where any European society has made such a good job of preserving natural beauty. They are as near the state that Wordsworth and Coleridge knew as ingenuity and careful good will could make them. There are only two exceptions, and how well we know them! They are Thirlmere and Haweswater.
I am among those who believe that this House is too much given to autobiography, but this I do want to say, because I think my own experience is common. My father, like all good fathers, used to take me walking in the Lakes when I was a boy, and I was soaked in Wordsworth, as so many are. My own idea of heaven, I now realise, tallies pretty closely with Butter mere and 202 Ennerdale, and the inner end of Ullswater, and for hell, I would reject all notions of heat and flame; they are comfortable compared with the awful dead coldness of Thirlmere and Haweswater. Looking back on our debate of 1962 we can surely understand the swift, intransigent "No" with which this House greeted the proposal. The hand which had once done that dark, unimaginative thing, even a generation ago, even three generations ago, as Thirlmere was, should never again be allowed into that jewelled land.
But done what, my Lords? Let us enumerate. Shut off the lake from human access. Planted the wrong trees—conifers. Interfered with the water levels and made grey, arid streaks in nature and allowed the weed to be exposed and to stink. Erected hateful fences. Built black pumping stations. Murdered—the word was Lord Birkett's—murdered two live and joyful lakes. Even the rejected 1962 proposals would not have done that. It is true they would have made a new sheet of water in Bannisdale and would have put visible installations and wires and pipes here and there. But they would not have shut off Ullswater, or thrown up fences and municipal notices. The proposals now before us represent another clear advance. They will leave Ullswater all unchanged to the delighted eye.
When this Order was in the offing I went up to Ullswater to have a look, and I know that my right honourable friend Mr. Crossman also went up before he made it. The level of the lake will not be interfered with. The works, at the bottom end of the lake, will be where they will show least because of the nature of the land, which is thereabouts somewhat nondescript, and because of the nature of the works themselves, which will be small, concealed, just about buried, and landscaped in the new way. Both the National Park Authority and the Minister will have to approve them in detail. There will be no fences; no coniferous forests; no dead grey streaks of rock exposed. Even the proposal for the new pipe-line down Longsleddale, which was in the plan after the Jellicoe Conference and which would have been physically capable of carrying away enough water to spoil the lake, whatever the Minister said—even that physical 203 possibility has been struck out of the plan, on the inspector's recommendation, by the Minister. They cannot take too much; the aqueduct capacity will not be there. Even this is not all; a weir is to be built into the uptake pipe, a ledge or throat which, supposing somebody forgot to switch the pumps off, when the minimum level was approached would slow up the rate of extraction and would stop it when the minimum level was passed. The arrangements in this Order do not rest on any authority's "say-so". Neither do they rest on that of the Minister or even of Parliament; they rest on the diameter of pipe-lines and on a little concrete ledge.
I would say this with some emphasis to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. He is wrong in saying that the Corporation can get excessive water out of Ullswater under the present system. They cannot exceed the pumping capacity laid down without constructing a new pipe-line, and they cannot construct a new pipe-line without the consent of the Minister. They cannot go below the minimum level of the lake without removing the weir and they cannot remove the weir without the consent of the Minister, and it is unrealistic to suppose that any future Minister either could or would allow the construction of new pipe-lines or the removal of the weir without the knowledge of Parliament.
My Lords, I do not want to be tiresome to the noble Lord, but as he has said I was not correct may I ask whether it is not possible to pump more water out of the existing pipe-line under pressure? When I spoke about alternatives to the aqueduct I was assuming that an approach to the Minister would have to be made, but of course Ministers can be put into very difficult positions by such bodies.
§ LORD KENNET
Not over the concrete weir; that is physically impossible. And as the Minister is being put into difficult positions by the Corporation of Manchester he can also be put into a difficult position by the preservation interest and by the noble Lord. Ministers are vulnerable to pressure from either side. They are also sensitive to the needs of both sides, and I would say to the House, and especially to my noble friend 204 Lord Chorley, that these fears about what a future Minister may do seem to me to leave out of account the fact that (I do not know whether it is for the first time) a Minister in a case of this sort has declined to rest on ink, on paper; has declined to rest on authority, and has insisted on the physical limitation which will ensure that the orders he has given are observed until indeed they are changed, if he should choose so to do, after due debate.
I will not go over the history of the proposals again because it has been put so clearly by several noble Lords who have spoken this evening. I should like to endorse what has been said and to express the gratitude of the Government and, I think, the whole House, to my noble colleague Earl Jellicoe for chairing his conference. I would point out that his conference took nearly a year to produce its results. Given who the chairman was, we all know that this was a measure not of sloth but of thoroughness, and the two answers it endorses are one on each side of the present proposal; and we are glad of that.
I turn now to the question of long-term supplies for the North-West, the second reason for which this House threw out the 1962 Private Bill. Here, the position has changed radically since 1962. Let me say, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that I think he was a little unjust when he said that the Water Resources Board had been in existence for years and we were not using it. The Water Resources Act was passed in 1963 and it took a long time for the Board to acquire offices in Reading and to appoint Mr. Rowntree, and it has been only a few months in operation.
§ LORD KENNET
The noble Lord has made the point that the Board has published three annual reports, but I think he will agree with me that in the main the first annual reports of such bodies are bound to consist of declarations of intention of what they are going to do. We are still awaiting the major results of their surveys in this part of the country.
In 1962, the whole burden of finding a suitable source and securing acceptance 205 of it, fell upon the individual water undertaker. We now have the river authorities and the Water Resources Board, who together provide an organisation for the planning of the development of water resources overall. The great value of this organisation is that it enables alternative sources to be identified, and their merits and demerits thoroughly assessed. This assessment is not limited to considerations of water supply. These bodies, the river authorities and the Board itself, are expressly required by the Water Resources Act 1963 to take into account considerations of natural beauty and of public access to open country in these gathering grounds and lakesides.
Three weeks after announcing his decision on the present Order, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government had a discussion with representatives of Manchester Corporation (and I was beside him at the time) on how the new water resources organisation could help in finding the best way to meet the long term needs of Manchester Corporation. The Water Resources Board was also beside him. There was general agreement that they should look further a field rather than limit themselves to this or that part of the country which might be easy to tackle, and that they should look at unconventional sources of supply—not at desalination, which I will deal with later, but at estuaries, lower reaches of rivers and underground water. In other words, they should do everything they could to avoid the necessity of taking water from any more lakes.
The Water Resources Board has a Northern Working Party which is assessing long term demands and resources for the whole of the North of England. It includes officers of all the river authorities concerned and of the water undertakers, including, of course, Manchester Corporation. Its study covers the period up to the end of the century. This is an absolutely immense task, but the Working Party will finish it by the end of this year. The Minister of Land has, however, asked the Board to give special priority within this study to finding sources which will meet the needs of the area, including Manchester, up to the mid-1970s. I draw attention to the date. Things are moving faster than many noble Lords have shown in this debate that they know. The Minister hopes to receive an interim report 206 from the Board on this matter next month. It is too early to say what the answer will be, but the Board was asked to prepare a short list of schemes worthy of detailed investigation, and work on this short list is already far advanced.
The Water Resources Board, as I say, are looking not only at the usual sources of water but further a field, including the projects for barrages across Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth. But barrages of this kind could not meet the needs of Manchester in the mid-1970s, even on the most optimistic assumptions, because such projects could not possibly be ready before the late 1970s. There is no experience of such schemes in this country, and virtually none in other countries. The Board were asked by the Government to take charge of the investigation of these projects, too. The first stage, the so-called desk studies by consulting engineers, has now been completed, and reports on these studies will be published before the end of this month.
Let me say once again a word to put the desalination question in proportion. I have already said in this House, and I say it again, that I think it is clear that in 50 years' time we shall be relying very largely on desalted seawater; we are bound to. The only question is when this will become economically competitive with fresh water from the conventional sources. The crossing point in the cost curves of these two sources will occur sooner or later, not only according to how fast the desalination cost curve comes down, but also how fast the conventional source cost curve goes up. With regard to the rate of increase of the cost of conventional water, the Government are very much aware of amenity considerations and are ready to take decisions, as I would say they have in this case, that in this or that case the cost of water may be properly increased to a given consumer or set of consumers if the alternative is a sensible loss of amenity value.
I should like the House to know that the overall picture in the field of forward assessment of water needs, and forward identification of water resources in the North-West, and of studies, including studies of barrages, has now changed out of all recognition. There is real activity and concerted activity, which I freely 207 admit there was not until a very few years ago. I think the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, knows it in his capacity as Chairman of the Thames Conservancy. We are adequately equipped to find out all the relevant truths and to take the right decisions for the long-term future. What these decisions will be I cannot yet say, because we have not yet been adequately equipped for long enough, but when we have the North-Western picture in a clearer focus within a very few weeks from now, we shall be able to make announcements which I think will satisfy all but those whose conviction of Government improvidence is unassailable by either fact or reason.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, I reflected long before I decided to initiate this debate, but I think that all noble Lords will agree with me that my initiative has been fully justified by the whole character of the debate. I felt that there ought to be a sequel to the debate of 1962. I felt that we ought to recognise, register and record, the great progress that has been made in the attitude to amenities. I felt that there should also be some mention of the value of the opposition, especially of those who subscribed so generously the £11,000 which it cost the amenity societies to be represented at the public inquiry. But I wanted also to express appreciation of the attitude of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and those who presided over it.
My noble friend Lord Rochdale has asked me to recall to your Lordships that there is one permanent reminder of the debate in 1962. A barren and typical fell, overlooking the lake of Ullswater, has been called the Birkett 208 Fell. That, I am sure, is a tribute which the late Lord Birkett would very much value.
I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Ilford to express appreciation of the attitude of the Manchester Corporation. I recognise that they have acquiesced in the decisions of the Minister. I do not really know what else they could do. I am reminded of the young student of philosophy who began an essay by saying, "I accept the universe". But we shall certainly express our gratitude to Manchester in future, if they continue in the spirit indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary, fully and heartily to co-operate in applying all the conditions that have been laid down by the Minister.
§ LORD KENNET
If the noble Lord will permit me, he did not tell the usual corollary to that story, which was that Carlisle's comment on the student's essay was, "By God! he had better".
§ LORD MOLSON
I think that one of the values of this debate will be that the corollary has now been mentioned, and it may come to the notice of the Manchester Corporation. This debate has indeed shown—the noble Lord, Lord Royle, was not quite correct; even I mentioned it—that the amenity societies do recognise Manchester's need for water; and there has been in this debate both a recognition of Manchester's need for water and also on the part of all of them, including the noble Lord, Lord Royle, the desirability of preserving the amenities of the Lake District. In view of this very satisfactory and useful debate, I have pleasure in asking your Lordships' leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.