HL Deb 13 November 1969 vol 305 cc817-35

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill, I should like to remind your Lordships briefly about its procedural history. This Bill, which was opposed by five petitioners, was introduced into this House in the last Session of Parliament and was debated on Second Reading on February 25. On that occasion the House approved an Instruction to the Committee that was to consider the Bill. That Instruction directed the Committee to give special consideration to two matters: the need for additional supplies of water, and the availability of alternative sources. The Select Committee sat for 12 days and visited the site of the proposed reservoir. They made a Special Report which has been available to the House since July 21, in which they advised the House that the Bill should be allowed to proceed. My Lords, I think that is all I need to say by way of explaining the procedural history of the Bill since it was introduced into this House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Listowel.)

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, it was suggested to me, who had the honourable but somewhat invidious task of being the Chairman of that Select Committee, which consisted of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, the noble Lords, Lord Clwyd, Lord Foot, Lord Granville-West, myself, Lord Rankeillour and the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, ably helped by Mr. Mitchell, the Clerk of the Committee, that I should say a few words to fill in any gaps, if there arc any, in the Report we wrote. The Bill arises as a result of the existing and expected increase in short-fall in water supplies of the Calder group of water supplies—Calderdale, Wakefield, Mid-Calder and Huddersfield. The figures of shortage were agreed upon by the Promoters and the Petitioners alike. It was also agreed that pending the arrival of large bulk supplies into the West Riding, expected in the 1980s, adequate relief could be found only from the Calder Valley catchment where the Hebden water and the Calder water are the only streams which are not being fully exploited at present. So in fact the only difference between the two sides was one of method: how to get the water.

The Committee sat for 12 days and heard evidence ably given by water engineers, landscape experts, geologists and, of course, amenity lovers. I think the Report we wrote gives a fair résumé of the arguments, and I assume all of your Lordships have read it. The Promoters' scheme appeared to be much more workmanlike and credible than the alternatives put forward by the Petitioners. The latter carried several important areas of doubt which could not be resolved except in practice: for instance, how strict or how lax would the river authority be in their duty to improve the condition of the rivers in their charge when they came to fix the minimum flow figures; how strong would be the opposition to the flooding of the farms in the Culden Valley; what would be the extra delay involved? I think all the members of the Committee accepted that the Promoters' scheme was the superior: the question at issue was whether the amenity factor was such as to make it imperative to accept that the Petitioners' scheme, or some unnamed scheme, must be preferred in spite of the probable extra delay and probable lower yield of water. That is where there was a division of opinion in the Committee.

On Tuesday, June 24—luckily a fine day—five of us visited the scene. One of the ultimate majority and one of the ultimate minority were not able to come on that day. The wooded part of the valley reminded me of some of the Cornish valleys around Bodmin Moor, and the moorland part resembled the steep-sided coombes one finds in the West Country. The wooded part is almost unique in that part of the world, but the moorland part must have many counterparts in the Pennine Chain. I should have liked to walk from bottom to top of the valley but was told that there was no time as the going was rough and slow. So three of us started half-way up the wooded part and two walked back the easier path from the top, at Blake Dean, to join us. We had noted parking places for coaches at the bottom of the valley. We had previously seen i he confluence of the Hebden Water and the Calder River and had seen that the volume of the Hebden was not very impressive.

On our walk we passed the gauge on the Hebden Water and noticed that the flow was about double the minimum flow, and this made one wonder how far the river authority would go if they were pressed to allow in the Hebden a flow less than they had agreed for the Promoters' scheme. One must remember that the yield of the alternative scheme depended on a lowering of this minimum. The path beside the stream was very rough; it was no path for Mum and the picnic basket. I was on the look-out for signs of human activity, and so long as the path was in the woods I saw no litter at all, and hardly a footprint. Indeed I should be surprised if there was much through traffic at all. When we left the trees the path was good and we found more signs of life in the shape of cigarette cartons, et cetera. At the top of the valley we found two coach loads of children from a school playing where the feeding moorland streams enter the moorland valley. There is just room for two coaches there, and it is a good picnic spot used by schools. The general conclusion one got was that there was good picnicking at the bottom and the top of the valley but the rest was not very accessible to family parties. But of course it is a nice walk for the energetic.

Then we had to consider the effect of the Promoters' scheme on these amenities. The picnickers who park at the bottom of the valley would not be affected at all. Secondly, the long-range walkers, instead of debouching from the trees into a moorland valley would be faced by a terraced 1 in 3 slope, covered by trees, and at the top would follow the footpath going either side of the new man-made lake, about 300 yards wide, on which at certain times of the year they might see sailing and boating but no bathing or power boats. They would then go on to join the Pennine Way, as they do at present. The only people to lose would be those who picnic at the top end of the moorland valley called Blake Dean. Most of us thought that if the local authority chose to provide parking space, then the foot of the dam would provide a very pleasant alternative to this latter place, improved as it might be by certain suggestions in design put forward by one of the Committee and nicknamed the "Shannon Basin". In fact, the foot of the dam might be less draughty than Blake Dean. The lake will attract people for sailing and in this way satisfy a public want. There appears to be no limit these days to the amount of water which can be used for pleasure purposes. I do not believe that the lake will be very obtrusive. One will either have to get close to it or go above it, further up into the hills, to see it at all.

The schemes of the Petitioners are described at some length in the Report. They propose to use the same water as the Promoters, but in a different way, and the consequent shortfall would be made up by tapping the Rochdale Canal and lowering the minimum flow in Hebden Water. Both of these, it seemed to the majority if not all of the Committee, were rather doubtful propositions. An essential of the alternative scheme is a dam across the Culden Valley which would drown important farmland and buildings, and presumably would be opposed by farmers, with all the delay that that implies.

All in all, my Lords, after an exhaustive hearing, the majority of your Lordships' Committee thought the Promoters' scheme so much more to be preferred as to overcome the amenity case, You cannot have water storage without altering the landscape; and in this case you would, in effect, be exchanging half-a-mile of moorland valley, wooded at one end, for a lake which will give much pleasure to many young people. Moreover, you will be doing this without destroying anybody's home or livelihood. There is one weekend cottage, I believe. involved; no farms; just a little bit of pasture and some rough grazing. You will be leaving intact what has come to be known as the Hardcastle Crags—in other words, the wooded valley before it turns West to thin out into the moorland valley—and I do not think the people who use this main part of the valley will be prejudiced in the least. After full consideration, the majority of the Committee thought that the Promoters' scheme should proceed.

6.4 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, has indicated, the decision reached by the Select Committee in considering this matter was not a unanimous decision. There was a minority view, and as one of the minority I trust that it will be thought proper and permissible for me to indicate briefly to the House why I felt unable, reluctantly, to agree with the remainder of my colleagues, all except one. This was a very difficult inquiry, at least for me; this was my first experience of sitting upon such a Select Committee. As the noble Lord has said, we had a hearing which extended over some 12 days and in which we had to consider matters of great detail, of technical detail and technical difficulty. I am bound to say that I found the task we had been set a difficult one to carry through.

But our task was made easier, I thought, by reason of the Instruction that we had received from this House on Second Reading, because there were implicit in that Instruction the three matters to which the House wanted us to direct our attention. The first thing we were to consider was the high amenity value of the existing valley. The second thing we were asked to do was to consider whether the case that there was a need for additional supplies of water had been made out. The third thing we were asked to do was to consider whether there might be some viable and practical alternative to the proposal contained in the Bill. Perhaps I may deal with those three questions in order.

On the question of amenity, it is of course always an almost insoluble conundrum to try to weigh the considerations of amenity against other considerations, such as public need for water, the cost of obtaining it, and the rest. It is an equation in which the symbols are different on each side of the equation. This matter of how much importance is attached to preserving a particular piece of the countryside is necessarily primarily a matter of subjective judgment. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, what impression this place made upon him. I suppose that in this matter of the amenity value of a piece of countryside our judgment is a matter of prejudice and predilection, and it is unlikely that anybody is going to be very much shifted by argument, however persuasive it may be.

But one of the things that was urged upon us by some of the Petitioners against this Bill on this question of amenity was that it is not entirely a subjective matter; there is an objective test which can be applied. The objective test is to look at the identity of the opponents and the quality and the nature of the opposition which the scheme has attracted. And I am bound to say that I found on this occasion that the opposition which had been brought to bear was indeed formidable. It consisted, first of all, of the noble Lord, Lord Savile, in whose family this area of land has been vested for many generations, and it was perfectly evident that Lord Savile had not come to petition against this Bill from any private interest of his own but simply because he was gravely concerned about what he thought would be the damage done to the public interest if this valley were sacrificed.

Then we had what I might properly describe as the passionate opposition of the National Trust, who are now the owners of a substantial part of the area affected. We also had the opposition of the Hardcastle Crags Preservation Committee, a committee of local residents which had been set up some years before with the express object of trying to preserve this valley inviolate against reservoirs and things of that kind. Then we had the opposition of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, and, finally—and this I think was significant—the opposition of the Hebden Rural District Council. In my experience it is not always the case that when these questions of amenity are being considered those raising them get the support of the local authority, who may be looking over their shoulders and thinking about rateable values and matters of that kind.

Those were the Petitions, my Lords. But behind them, buttressing the opposition to this Bill, there was a veritable host of other organisations—amenity organisations, open-air organisations, recreational organisations—which came forward in support of the opposition to this scheme. It seemed to me that it was properly urged upon us by the Petitioners that in considering this amenity question, and what importance we ought to attach to the preservation of this valley, we ought to have due regard to the weight of the opposition which it had in fact attracted. I was left in no doubt that this proposal was regarded with the gravest possible concern by those people who knew the place best, and those people who lived in and around it. If I may turn from that to the second question, the question of need, as the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, has said there was substantial agreement among all members of the Committee, and indeed between the Promoters and the Petitioners, that the need had been made out. There was some difference of opinion as to the extent of the need, when the need might become effective, and things of that kind, but nevertheless there was agreement that there was a need. But I think it is important to recognise exactly what the nature of the need was, because it was conceded by all parties that this scheme is a short-term scheme. This reservoir, and the supply of water that it will give, is a short-term scheme intended only to meet the need, or the possible need, of the Calderdale group of undertakings between 1974 and 1981, or possibly 1982, and it was agreed by all parties that once the year 1982 had been reached this scheme would be inadequate and further supplies from some other source would inevitably be required. That being so, and this scheme being only what might perhaps be described, and was described, as a "stop gap" scheme to fill a short period of time, the onus resting upon the Promoters to satisfy us that there was no reasonable alternative to the—I will not say the destruction of this valley, but the complete alteration of this valley involved in this scheme, it seemed to me that the burden upon the Promoters of satisfying us that that was the case was all the heavier.

That brings me to the third question which we were invited to consider, and that was the question of whether there was indeed any viable, practicable alternative to that which was contained in the Bill. A whole variety of different possibilities, different alternatives, were put up by the Petitioners who canvassed before us, but I think it will be agreed —and indeed this is contained in the Report—that as the argument proceeded, and as the hearing went on, the concentration of everybody was really directed upon a scheme which I think is described in the Report as Scheme No. 4. This was the front runner; this was the candidate which, if any alternative was going to prevail, was obviously most likely to succeed.

But there were two curious and very unsatisfactory circumstances attendant upon this particular scheme. The first was that this scheme, this alternative, only emerged in the course of the hearing before the Committee. Before the Committee started sitting, this alternative scheme which, as I say, became the front runner, had never been heard of. The second curious and unsatisfactory circumstance attending this scheme was that in one particular and crucial matter we were left without the essential information upon which we could come to any certain conclusion.

If I may, I should like to explain to the House how those two difficulties arose. One of the original alternatives, or schemes, which was put up by the Petitioners, consisted of a proposal to build a reservoir and dam in the neighbouring valley, the Calder Valley; to establish an extraction point some way down the river, and then to extract the water supply from the extraction point at a place called Midgehole by taking advantage of the water coming directly through the aqueducts from the existing reservoir and the new reservoir, supplemented by the water coming down the river to the extraction point. But when that proposal was put forward—it had been discussed by the experts on both sides long before the hearing before the Committee—to the surprise of the Petitioners (and indeed, if I may say so, to my surprise) the expert witnesses for the Promoters came up with a quite new objection to this scheme which had never been heard of before. The objection, in the main, was that this scheme, because it involved using river water and reservoir water, would involve difficulties of treatment, and would involve perhaps an expensive process of treatment because, to my surprise —I knew before that oil does not mix with water—I found that water does not mix with water. But apparently that is the case. So when this objection was made, the Petitioners who had put up the proposal conceded that there was some merit in this objection, and they went away and on the following day came back to the Committee with the new amended proposal. What they proposed to do was to pump the water back which had come down the river; that is, pump it back at the extraction point into the reservoirs so that it would then come down having a uniform quality which would eliminate the need of any treatment works at or near the extraction point. And so the proposal which, as I say, became the main candidate as the alternative to the Bill's proposal, was a scheme which had only been evolved overnight, and to which no one had had the opportunity of giving any careful analysis or consideration.

I can only say that I regard that—I do not think anybody is to blame for it—as an extraordinarily unsatisfactory state of affairs, bearing in mind that our Committee had been precisely instructed by this House to consider with every care the alternatives to the Bill's proposal; and in fact the best candidate as an alternative turned out to be a scheme which had never received any detailed analysis for consideration at all.


My Lords, if I may I should like to interrupt the noble Lord to say that I think it is only fair to point out that the Committee looked at this scheme in its best possible light. There was no question that they may not have had time to discover in great detail what snags were attached to it. They considered it in the light of what the Petitioners were able to claim for it.


My Lords, I am much obliged, and I entirely agree with the noble Lord. I am not suggesting that the Committee were deficient in their duties—I hope we were not. What I am saying is that here we were presented, as the best possible alternative, with a scheme which was, as it was described in the proceedings, the brainwave of the engineer on behalf of the Petitioners, thought up by him overnight, and I think the noble Lord will agree that that was the case.

This brings me to the second difficulty with which we were confronted; that is to say, we were without an essential piece of information. I should like to explain to the House how that arose. I hope I am not going on too long, but I think these are matters of importance. The Report itself necessarily gives only the view of the majority, and it is important for many interests that my dissenting view should be laid before the House. The second difficulty arose in this way. Under this amenity scheme the Petitioners contended that they would be able to extract at the extraction point at Midge-hole a minimum supply of water of 5.8 million gallons a day, which they considered would be sufficient to meet the stop-gap requirement between the years 1974 and 1981.

It was not, I think, seriously argued by the Promoters that if 5.8 million gallons a day could be extracted at the extraction point then that would not fill the bill. The argument which the Promoters used against this proposal was that if you extracted 5.8 million gallons a day from the extraction point, it would not allow a sufficiency of water to flow below the extraction point to meet the needs of the health of the river, of the riparian owners and of the industrial users below. On the other hand, the Petitioners contended that it would indeed leave a sufficient flow and the argument came down to this. The Petitioners were saying, "All that is needed by way of minimum flow below the extraction point is 5½ million gallons a day", while the Promoters said. "No, that will not do. You must have a minimum flow below the extraction point of no less than 6½ million gallons a day." The essence of the matter was that if the Promoters were right in saying that 6½ million gallons a day was the minimum acceptable flow below extraction point, then that would leave the Petitioners' scheme short of 1 million gallons a day up at the extraction point. The whole issue came down to this: Were the Promoters right or were the Petitioners right?

When you are considering what is an acceptable minimum flow in a river, who is it who has to decide the matter? It is a matter which falls for decision by the river authority, subject to an appeal to the Minister. It is for the river authority to decide, when they are asked to grant a licence for extraction, what minimum acceptable flow must be maintained below the point of extraction. The extraordinary situation, as your Lordships may think, with which we were confronted was this. We could not get any answer as to what the river authority would be prepared to agree to, and the reason why we could not get any answer was because the river authority could not answer a hypothetical question of that kind. The river authority can only make a pronouncement as to what they will regard as a minimum acceptable flow when a positive proposition and scheme is put to them. Then they have to go through certain statutory procedures of consulting with the various interests concerned before they can say what minimum flow is acceptable to them. Therefore, it was quite impossible to ask any question of the river authority's engineer as to what the river authority might be prepared to agree to, because he was in no position to bind his authority in advance. I hope that I have not overstated the matter.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord is slightly overstating the matter. I think the figure in our Report was 6.2 million and not 6.5 million, and I think he should say that the river authority had already agreed to give a licence to the Promoters' scheme for a 6.2 million minimum as set out in our Report. So that to reduce the figure below that was the hypothetical question.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would be so good as to yield for a moment. The discussion is enthralling, and I know that the House is following it with deep interest, but it is perhaps worth while reminding the House that the details of what was said before the Committee are available in the Records of their proceedings.


My Lords, I am much obliged for that intervention. It so happens that I have in front of me one of the Records of the proceedings, which I am afraid confirms that I am right, and that the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, is wrong in saying that the figure which the Promoters said was the minimum figure was 6.2 million. It was not 6.2 million; it was 6.5 million. I was about to quote from the relevant page of the document, because I wanted to quote to the House what was said by counsel for the Promoters about this difficulty in which we found ourselves, of not being able to get any reply from the river authority about the minimum flow. What he said was this: It must seem from where your Lordships are sitting to be unsatisfactory in the extreme that a witness was called from the river authority and that neither side felt able to ask him questions on this critical point. I concede that that must be, I apprehend, extremely frustrating and very unsatisfactory. That is what the counsel for the Promoters said, and I am bound to say that I think it was a perfectly accurate statement about the wholly unsatisfactory situation in which we found ourselves.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend how much lift there was to raise the water from the extraction point to the reservoir? If it was 200 ft. it would cost 7d. per thousand gallons, and if it was 300 ft. it would cost about 1s. 6d.


My Lords, I am not capable of entering into a technical discussion of that kind, but I assure my noble friend that this scheme involving pumping back into the reservoir was not in the main attacked by the Promoters upon any question of cost.


So my noble friend does not know how high it was?


No, my Lords. I am afraid I do not know.


My Lords, I think I can supply the figures. The level at which the pumping would be done was in the neighbourhood of 400 ft., and the reservoirs were something of the order of 1,150 ft.


My Lords, if I may interrupt this private conversation between my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, may I say that at the end of the day, having given consideration to all these points, I asked myself this question. We were under this Special Instruction from the House to inquire into these alternatives, and a heavy onus rested, as I thought, upon the Promoters to satisfy us that there was no viable alternative. I therefore asked myself: Have the Promoters discharged that burden of proof which rests upon them? I came to the conclusion that they had not done so, for two reasons. One reason was that I thought there had been no sufficient —indeed, scarcely any—examination of what appeared to be the best alternative; and the second reason was that we were able to obtain no authoritative answer about what the river authority would accept by way of minimum flow.

My Lords, I hope that I have not offered these comments in any negative or critical spirit. As I understand it, this Bill will now go to the other place. As I understand it, it is likely to be petitioned against in the other place, and it will then come before a Committee of that House. Is it too much to hope that when it does come before the other place there will then be an opportunity for proper answers to be given to the two questions to which I have sought to draw attention? Surely it ought not to be beyond the procedural powers of these Houses to get some satisfactory answer as to what minimum flow would be acceptable to the river authority. It would surely be a sad and ironic comment upon the procedures of these Houses if this valley, the splendour and natural beauty of which is not really in dispute, were to be sacrificed irretrievably to meet only the short-term need and on the basis of a guess which may be wrong and on the basis of a conjecture which may be entirely unfounded.

My Lords, it had been my intention to go on to make one or two general comments upon the procedures under which this matter is being resolved, but I am sure that I have occupied the time of the House too long to engage upon that now. I would have expressed the hope that these difficult matters, and the disadvantages under which we suffer because of this lack of information, and because there has been no full opportunity to examine the alternative scheme, can be put right in the other place, so that we do not take the risk of losing this valley upon a false premise.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, before the Minister rises I think it is appropriate that a few words should be said on behalf of the National Trust, which is so greatly concerned with this Bill. This House is always grateful to those of our number who serve on these Committees, and I am sure we are much indebted for the speech which we have heard from my noble friend Lord Hawke and for the extremely valuable speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Foot. Lord Foot has stated so admirably the main points that I desire to be considered before such a measure as this Bill is passed into law that I can, I think, be very brief. We have two facts to encourage us to be brief: first, that on this occasion there is, of course, no question that the Bill will be read a third time in this House this afternoon. No one disputes that. Secondly, it will go to another place and come before another Committee for searching examination.

My Lords, I served on the Executive Committee of the National Trust for over thirty years, and some of the property with which this Bill is concerned was given to the National Trust during that period. The National Trust naturally wants the splendid beauty of this valley to be permanently preserved. That is its object in the proceedings, and in pursuing that object it is serving not only its present and future members but everybody concerned with amenities in this country and elsewhere. The extent and nature of that beauty were so well expressed in the full debate that took place on Second Reading, on February 25 of this year, in the speeches of my noble friend Lord St. Oswald and others, that I shall not trouble the House on that subject again.

With all the main points put by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, I think that the National Trust is in complete agreement. On the only question that arose between the noble Lord, Lord Foot, and my noble friend Lord Hawke, I think I can point to something that is agreed between them, because it appears in the Special Report itself. That is that, in turning down what became the main alternative proposal, as the noble Lord, Lord Foot, has explained, the Committee admittedly acted by way of surmise. I do not say that that was their fault, but it is admitted on page 7 of the Report itself. I need not bother to read whole passages, but the matter is not in dispute.

The main alternative, which would have saved this lovely valley in the opinion of the National Trust, was turned down because the Committee made a particular guess in answer to the question that was put before them, namely, whether the river authority would allow a particular flow or not.

If this lovely valley is going to be treated as this Bill proposes, which will involve the destruction of great beauty in the opinion of the various authorities and local authorities mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Foot—if that is to be its fate—I hope that at least that fate will be suffered on the basis of knowledge and not on the basis of a guess, and I hope that the resources of another place and its Committee will be sufficient to obtain this information somehow, so that if we must suffer this destruction then at least its necessity will have been proved and not depend on a guess. This Bill must have a Third Reading to-night, but the case for the most stringent examination in another place is, I submit, overwhelming. I think it would have been overwhelming on the basis of what was said on the last occasion and in the Special Report which is before us, but it has been made absolutely conclusive by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Foot, with which I should like to associate myself.


My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether he would be good enough to answer me this question. Was what has been called Scheme No. 4, which was the scheme eventually rejected because certain information was not forthcoming from the river authority, a scheme which was put forward by the National Trust and the other amenity societies?


My Lords, on the nature of that I am quite prepared to accept the account which was given by the noble Lord, Lord Foot. I cannot expand what he said, which I thought was a fair description on the basis of such knowledge as I have.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words about this Inquiry. I do not want to repeat what I said in my speech on the Second Reading in February to which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has referred, but I should like, as one of the Vice-Chairmen of the National Trust, and also as Vice-President of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, to thank him for what he said. The noble Lord, Lord Foot, properly pointed out that there were three elements in the Instruction which was given to the Select Committee, the first of which is the high amenity value of this valley. It does seem to me, however, after reading this Special Report more than once, and very carefully, that this Report on behalf of the majority— and one must remember that it was a majority of the Committee —really pays insufficient attention to the first of these points, the high amenity value of this particular valley.

It is clear, I think, as your Lordships will agree if you will look at it, that this is the last and most beautiful unspoilt valley in the eastern part of the Pennine Range in Yorkshire. It is described in the Special Report as "a local beauty spot". Those are the words that are used. But it is not a local beauty spot; it is one of the most important pieces of [...]cenic beauty in the whole of England, and the fact that the Bill was petitioned against by the National Trust and also by the Council for the Protection (as it now is) of Rural England underlines its national importance. Speaker after speaker in the debate that we had in February underlined this; and there can be no question about it. If one reads this Report, one sees that witness after witness before the Select Committee (Lord Foot or Lord Hawke will correct me if I am wrong) emphasised the unity of this valley. Its beauty depended on the contrast, of the beautiful woods and slopes with the moorland above and the great crags raising themselves above it.

Yet this Select Committee divided into two and said that it was not really a unity at all, but two sections. This was contradictory to the evidence that they had heard. It does not seem to me that they attached sufficient importance to the outstanding scenic beauty of this place. That being so, it is easy to see how the minds of the majority worked. They balanced the Promoters' scheme against the scheme which was, apparently, to some extent thought up at the last moment by the Petitioners. No doubt the Promoters' scheme is the better of the two schemes. But in the scale of the balance surely the outstanding scenic beauty of the Hardcastle Crags, the woods and the moors ought to have been put in and would have brought the balance down with a bump. That, it seems to me, is the mistake that was made by the majority of this Committee.

The noble Lords, Lord Conesford and Lord Foot, pointed out that this matter will have to be looked at again in another place. I hope that when that is done the real importance of this piece of wonderful scenery will have proper attention attached to it.

6.44 p.m.


My Lords, I think the House will wish me to say little. I join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, and Members of his Committee for the work that they put in on this difficult Bill. We have heard a vivid account from the whole Committee of what the valley looks like, and a lucid and forceful account from a Member of the minority at or near his "maximum acceptable flow" of the reasons the minority had for dissenting from the majority. The Bill will now go to another place where, as several speakers have said, it will be re-examined. The only other point that I should like to make, because I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, heard it while it was being made, is about what my noble friend Lord Chorley has just said. in the Committee Report it is not the valley, as such, which is described as a "local beauty spot", but the Hardcastle Crags. The Report goes on to note that the reservoir will not be visible from Hardcastle Crags.


My Lords, I would only say, as I have a right of reply, that I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate for the welcome interest they have shown in the Bill, which indeed raises many issues of public importance, all of which have been touched upon in the course of the speeches to which we have listened, I should like also to associate myself with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, Chairman of the Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Foot, and the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, and all other Members of the Committee for their willingness to shoulder the very heavy burden of work imposed by membership of this Committee. I hope that your Lordships will now be prepared to give the Bill a Third Reading.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.