HL Deb 25 July 1973 vol 344 cc1831-916

2.52 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee on Recommitment. —(Baroness Young.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [The Maplin Development Authority]:

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?


My Lords, I hope it may be convenient to the Committee if at this point I speak briefly to report on the Select Committee appointed by the House to consider the Petitions against this Bill. I have no doubt that other members of the Committee will speak later on points which are of particular interest to them. One member of the Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Hinton of Bank-side, is not in his place, no doubt because of the loss he has sustained by the sudden death of his wife. The Committee owe him a particular debt for his grasp of the abstruse subjects which we explored in the Select Committee and for his ability to make them almost intelligible to a layman like myself. I hope that the House will be able to profit at a later stage of the Bill from his wisdom and knowledge, and in the meantime I am sure that you would all wish to join in expressing your deep sympathy to him.


Hear, hear!


My Lords, I should like first to say what the Select Committee did not do. We did not consider the problem of the new town; we did not consider the problem of the six alternative access routes, because the consultative documents which are now in your Lordships' hands were not before the Committee; nor did we call in question the policy contained in the Bill. This, so I was informed, is in accord with the accepted practice of this House where a Hybrid Bill is more in the nature of a Public Bill than a Private Bill and where the policy has, or may be said to have been, accepted by Parliament. And this Bill of course has been passed by the House of Commons, and has been given a Second Reading in this House.

That procedure seemed the more sensible to follow in this case, since two of the three Petitions before us—including the main Petition from the Defenders of Essex Association—stated in terms that they were not opposing the Bill in principle. The third Petition, from the Essex River Authority, did not say so specifically but said so implicitly because they raised two very minor points on which they were given assurance by the Promoters at an early stage in the proceedings, and thereupon withdrew their Petition. Therefore, what the Committee did was to consider these Petitions, and in particular the Petition from the Defenders of Essex, in relation to what we learned about the Government's plans for reclaiming and developing the Maplin Sands.

We made three Amendments to the Bill, which are shown on a piece of paper numbered (139a). The first two of those Amendments were in fact proposed by the Promoters as a result of their discussions with the Kent County Council, who were the authors of the second Petition. As a result of these two proposals and other assurances given by the Promoters to the Kent County Council, the Kent County Council withdrew their Petition. These two additions were, as I say, made in particular in response to the Kent County Council, but they are of general application and, I think, give satisfaction also to the local authorities in Essex, and to the various amenity societies who are interested in the development of the Maplin Sands.

In addition to those Amendments, the Select Committee also put in a short Special Report, which is printed on a piece of paper (No. 179). In that Report there is reference to a term of art, "model-work". This term was perfectly plain to the members of the Select Committee, who had been sitting together for eight or nine days, but may not be quite so clear to your Lordships. It refers to the studies which are being undertaken at the Hydraulics Research Station at Wallingford, where they have constructed a model of the Thames Estuary of several feet extending over a very wide area, and which will give the opportunity of studying the effects of the reclamation of the Maplin Sands on the neighbouring coastline as regards tides and silting and various other matters. Those studies are still in train, and will continue for some time to come. I hope that otherwise the Special Report is clear, but of course members of the Committee will be glad to elucidate any points if elucidation is required. I dare say that that will be most conveniently sought and given when we come to the relevant clause.

In conclusion, I should like to make two comments on the Amendments put in by the Petitioners. Several of them sought to include provision in the Bill for regulating the operation of the airport when it opens seven years' hence—for instance, restrictions on night flying and on the use of flight paths, and grants for sound-proofing buildings. On the evidence which was brought to us, we were satisfied that adequate powers exist under present legislation to enable the appropriate authorities—whether the Secretary of State, the London Port Authority or the Civil Aviation Authority—to do all the things desired by the Petitioners, if they wish to do so. Therefore we felt that it was unnecessary to include in this Bill statutory powers to enable these things to be done. We also felt that it was undesirable to make provision in the Bill now, because it seemed to us almost impossible to find the right answer so far ahead in point of time and without regard to what the position will be at the other airports. We were convinced by the case put to us that it is important to retain flexibility.

The other point that I should like to leave with your Lordships is that this was not the first Select Committee to consider this Bill. It was given a thorough going-over in the House of Commons, where a number of clauses—Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, 21 and 23—were added in response to the representations of the Petitioners. The Amendments which came before your Lordships' Select Committee were, in many cases, designed to improve still further the provisions of these clauses in favour of the Petitioners. We made an addition in the case of the white weed which, in case some of your Lordships share my previous ignorance, is a peculiar form of seaweed found only on the Maplin Sands and which, when processed, becomes an emerald green and is in great demand in the United States for floral decoration. That was a point which had been left over by the House of Commons for further investigation.

Also, as your Lordships will see from our Special Report, we thought there was need for further thought in the case of the Havengore Creek. But, for the rest, we thought that the House of Commons had struck the right balance between the general interest and public expenditure on the one hand, and local interest and legitimate local grievances on the other, and our conclusion was to confirm the judgment of the House of Commons. That is all that I wish to say at this stage, but I repeat that members of the Committee and I will be only too glad to help your Lordships on any further points that you may have to raise.


Before the noble Viscount sits down, may I ask whether he will be kind enough to elucidate one point on which I am not clear? He referred to the model which is to show the effect of the reclamation on the tidal streams in the airport and so on. Does that model exist now, or is it something that is to be created in the future? If it does not exist now, how long will it be before results from it can be expected?


It exists now. I dare say the Government spokesman will want to say more about this, but the evidence given to us was that the authorities are at present studying the effects of the reclamation of the whole of the Maplin Sands, and that they hope to complete those studies by the end of the year. They will then immediately turn to studying the effects of Stage 1, which is the two runways and the seaport in the Southern part of the area; and studying the effects of that part alone will take a matter of months.

3.2 p.m.


I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Hood. What he said has been most important and most informative, but what leaves me a little surprised is the fact that the Special Report from the Select Committee makes no mention of any of the most interesting matters to which he has just referred. All that I can find in the Special Report is a reference to Clause 10 and Clause 25, and it really would be of greater help and assistance if we had a Report which really was a Report, after a Select Committee had gone through these matters. I put it forward as a point for consideration, that in future we have something of rather greater length when a Select Committee reports. That would give us an opportunity of studying these matters before we came to the Re-commitment stage. As for the rest, I wonder whether it would be of more convenience to the Committee if any other points of information which the noble Viscount has were given when we come to the relevant parts of the Bill.


I wonder whether the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, can help me on one small matter. He referred to further consideration being given to the future of Havengore Creek. As a small rural creek, more or less able to look after itself without very much dredging, it has existed for many years. But with the great build-up it will become an urban creek and will need completely different treatment, including, possibly, an authority to control it, if it is to continue to exist as anything other than an aquatic rubbish dump. Has that point been considered?


I wonder whether it would be for the convenience of the Committee at this stage if I said right away that we should like to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, and his Committee for their Report, for the thoroughness of their work and for reporting it to the House. I should like to echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and say that I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the various points which have been raised were taken when we come to the appropriate Parts of the Bill. May I say to the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, that the question of the Havengore Creek comes under Clause 10, and I suggest that he makes his points then.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Reclamation and disposal of land in Maplin area]:

3.7 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 1: Page 2, line 4, after ("may") insert ("after such date as the Secretary of State may by order appoint").

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lady Young, I suggest that with this Amendment we take Amendment No. 3 and discuss at the same time Clause 25, which we cannot avoid doing. These Amendments give effect to the statement which I made on Second Reading about the Government's intentions with regard to Clause 25, which was added to the Bill at the Commons' Report stage. My noble friend and I made it clear on Second Reading that the Government remain convinced of the need for Maplin, and this remains the situation. The effect of the Government's Amendments, taken together, is to remove from the Bill Clause 25 and to replace it with a provision which provides an opportunity for further Parliamentary debate on the basis of a report before the reclamation works authorised by the Bill go ahead.

I explained the main reason for deleting Clause 25 on Second Reading. Unfortunately, your Lordships are under the handicap that we do not have Hansard in its customary form to refer to. It is not acceptable for the Civil Aviation Authority to be given executive responsibility for making decisions about the Maplin project. The Civil Aviation Authority have an advisory role only. It must be for Ministers who are answerable to Parliament to take decisions in this field. If Parliament takes the view that some further control is required, then it is right for this to be in the hands of Parliament. Clause 25 also has the defect of specifying too narrow a field of review. It would require a review of …technical developments of new quieter aero engines, short take-off capability, or other relevant factors, affecting the operation of civil aircraft.

These factors are very important, but they are not necessarily the only ones which have to be studied. As I said during the Second Reading debate, the Government accept that, before substantial public expenditure is committed, we ought to look again at all the factors affecting the need for the project". Any provision providing for the further study should be wide enough to enable this study to take account of all relevant factors, and from this point of view it is preferable not to have a list of factors written into the Bill.

There is a third objection to the way in which Clause 25 deals with this problem. It attempts to introduce control over the construction of the airport. A control of this kind is not appropriate to the present Bill, which is concerned with the authorisation of reclamation work. Although the Bill grants planning permission for the airport, the actual work of construction will be carried out under other statutory powers. This construction work will be the responsibility of the British Airports Authority, and satisfactory arrangements for control over this aspect of the project exist in the arrangements by which the British Airports Authority's investment programme is controlled by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Clause 25 would give the Civil Aviation Authority power to take such action as may be appropriate to delay, vary or desist from the construction of an airport, but the proper point of control, not only in terms of the object of the Bill but logically, is the beginning of the reclamation work. It would surely not be sensible for the Maplin Development Authority to make an early start if further consideration of factors affecting the need for the airport showed that the airport would not need to be operational until, say, 1990. The prudent thing to do, therefore, is to place control not over the construction of the airport but on the commencement of the reclamation works.

Accordingly, Amendment No. 1, to subsection (1), restricts the Maplin Development Authority's exercise of the power conferred on them by the Bill to carry out the works shown on the deposited plan. The effect of this Amendment is that the Maplin Development Authority cannot exercise their power to carry out the reclamation works until after such time as the Secretary of State has made an order. The provisions concerning this order are set out in Amendment No. 3, which contains the new subsection (9). The new subsection (9) provides that the order activating the Maplin Development Authority's powers under subsection (1) is to be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure in both Houses of Parliament. It provides also that before making an order the Secretary of State is to consult with those concerned, and is to lay before Parliament a report of these consultations and of his conclusions. This subsection therefore provides the basis for further Parliamentary debate if necessary, and for this debate to be based on a full appreciation of all the factors involved, including the views of interested bodies. It follows that the order will not be so framed as to come into effect immediately. Time will obviously have to be left for both Houses to study the report and to debate the order before reclamation can start, if a debate is desired in either House.

The Government Amendments preserve the principle that decisions must rest with Ministers, who are answerable to Parliament, and if necessary with Parliament itself, and not with an advisory body like the Civil Aviation Authority. The views of the Civil Aviation Authority and of other bodies are of course relevant, and the Amendments therefore provide for the Secretary of State to consult with such bodies before making his order. In fact, such consultations have already begun. The bodies listed are those concerned with airport policy and with the reclamation. This reflects the Government's thinking that the basic factors to be studied will be those affecting the timing of the need for the third London airport. The British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority will have the prime role here, though other organisations can of course be consulted as necessary. But because the procedure in the Amendments operates on the power to carry out the reclamation works, the bodies to be consulted cannot be limited only to those dealing with airport policy. Clearly, the Maplin Development Authority will need to be brought into consultation. The Port of London Authority are also included, because it will clearly be necessary to look at the repercussions on the seaport of any changes in the reclamation timetable arising from consideration of the timing of the need for the airport.

This does not mean, however, that we accept that the review should cover the need for the seaport or the implications of it for other ports. These questions are dealt with under other statutory procedures, which it would be wrong to duplicate in the Maplin Bill. This point will be dealt with in more detail on Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, put down by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and others. By contrast with Clause 25, the new subsection (9) puts no restrictions on the matters which the Secretary of State may take into consideration in deciding when to make an order. The main matters to be studied will, as I have said, be those affecting the timing of the need for the airport; but the new sub-section does not prevent the Secretary of State from taking into account other factors also if these are shown to be relevant. The point of control, in the Amendment to subsection (1), is the commencement of reclamation works. This is clearly appropriate if it is accepted that the objective must be to provide for the control to operate before there is any substantial commitment of public money to this project", which are the words I used.

On this basis, the right time for Parliament to be given a further opportunity to debate the project must be the point at which the Maplin Development Authority are ready to go out to tender for the first major stage of reclamation. In the light of the Government's objectives, which I explained at Second Reading, it is clearly right that this opportunity for further debate should be offered at this point. What we want to provide, in other words, is an opportunity for a final check before a decision is taken.

On present indications, it is unlikely that the Maplin Development Authority could be ready to go out to tender until early 1974, with the objective of beginning work in the summer, if that be decided. On this basis the report which the new subsection requires the Secretary of State to produce, and the laying of the order, are not likely to take place before the beginning of 1974. There will, therefore, be an interval of some time after Royal Assent is given to the Bill. Meantime, the Maplin Development Authority can be set up and can do all the preparatory work which will be necessary before they could be ready to go out to tender for the first stage of this major reclamation project. It is only in this way that the opportunity for further debate can be provided at the final stage, so that we can be sure that our judgment is based on the most up-to-date information, and that it has the support of Parliament. I beg to move.


May I interrupt to make it perfectly clear which Amendment we are inserting? Is it No. 1 only, although the noble Lord spoke to Nos. 1, 2 and 3?


With respect, I spoke to Amendments Nos. 1 and 3, and the Motion to leave out Clause 25, but if it is desired to treat this as a paving Amendment I shall be quite happy.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.19 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 37, leave out from ("whether") to ("shall") in line 38 and insert ("or in what state any land is to be made available under subsection (2), (3) or (4) of this section, or when different parts of the land to be made available under each of those subsections are to be reclaimed, shall be decided by the Maplin Development Authority in accordance with the reasonable requirements of the British Airports Authority or, as the case may be, the Civil Aviation Authority or the Port of London Authority but").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to clarify the relationship between the Maplin Development Authority and the three "statutory clients"—the British Airports Authority, the Port of London Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority—over the making of land available for the airport, seaport and air navigation services. The Government have always accepted that the statutory clients should be able to specify the quantity and quality of the land required and the time at which it is required, while recognising that this last factor might be subject to constraints outside the control of the authorities. They have also maintained that there must be arrangements for the Secretary of State to resolve disputes by reference to any of the Authorities. So far as quality and timing is concerned, however, this policy has been implicit rather than explicit, and Clause 2(7) at present refers only to the question whether any land is required for the purposes of a statutory client. This Amendment meets the request of the British Airports Authority. It should be made clear on the face of the Bill that the requirements which they make on the Maplin Development Authority can relate to quality and timing as well as to quantity. This applies to all the statutory clients. At present subsection (7) is formed so as to provide specifically only for the situation where there is a disagreement between the Maplin Development Authority and a statutory client which has to be settled by the Secretary of State.

The effect of the Amendment is threefold. First of all, where any particular reclaimed land is demanded by a statutory client under subsections (2), (3) or (4) the Maplin Development Authority must make their decision whether this land is required in accordance with the "reasonable requirements" of that other Authority. This covers the question of the quantity of land to be made available. Secondly, the Maplin Development Authority must decide in what state the land is to be made available in accordance with the "reasonable requirements" of the appropriate Authority. This covers the question of quality and reflects the fact that the authorities may have different requirements, for example, on the depth of reclamation fill or the weight-bearing capacity of the land or sections of it. Thirdly, the Maplin Development Authority must decide when different parts of the land to be made available to an Authority under the appropriate subsections are to be reclaimed in accordance with the "reasonable requirements" of the appropriate Authority. This covers the question of timing to meet, for example, a situation where the British Airports Authority want one section of their land to be reclaimed before another to meet their construction programme. The Amendment does not change the original provision for disputes to be settled by the Secretary of State.

I should like to make it clear that the Amendment does not mean that the Maplin Development Authority become the agent of the statutory Authorities. Decisions on quantity, quality and timing rest with the Maplin Development Authority in accordance with the Authorities' reasonable requirements. If the Maplin Development Authority has doubts about whether the requirement is reasonable, for example, because of external constraints on the reclamation programme, they can appeal to the Secretary of State for a decision. The Amendment simply reflects the commonsense proposition that the statutory Authorities should be able to tell the Maplin Development Authority what they require in terms of land and when they want it, and that the Maplin Development Authority should if possible endeavour to meet such requirements. I beg to move.


I am sure this is a sensible improvement of the Bill and we are glad to support it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.25 p.m.


I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 45, at end insert— ("(9) The power to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument, which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament; and before making such an order the Secretary of State shall consult with the Civil Aviation Authority, the British Airports Authority, the Port of London Authority, the Maplin Development Authority and such other persons as appear to him appropriate, and shall lay a report of the consultations and of his conclusions before Parliament.")—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

THE EARL OF PERTH moved as an Amendment to the Amendment Amendment No. 4: Line 6, after first ("Authority") insert ("the National Ports Council,").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 4 standing in the names of myself and the noble Lords, Lord Kennet, Lord Coleraine and Lord Henley which shows that it is an all-Party Amendment. If it is convenient to your Lordships perhaps we might take in this discussion Amendment No. 5 at the same time. That does not mean that we may not in fact vote or move each Amendment separately at a later time, but I think they are really part of a whole, so if it is agreeable I propose to move them both now and then we can consider what in fact we should like to discuss in Commit tee.

First, I would thank the Government for Amendment No. 3, so far as it goes. When the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, introduced it he pointed out that there would be opportunities for the House to have a further debate later, and that, of course, we all welcome. He went on to say, "…on all the factors involved". We are not satisfied for certain that all the factors involved will in fact be taken into account, and it is for that reason that we want Amendments Nos. 4 and 5.

Let me take Amendment No. 4 first. It suggests that we insert the words "the National Ports Council" after the words: "Civil Aviation Authority, British Airports Council and the Port of London Authority"—in other words, you have listed at the present time various Authorities that the Secretary of State is going to consult, but perhaps the most important one of all from the angle of the seaport is not in. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that there was a reason for this—let us hear it. At this moment I am bound to say that I, and I am sure many other noble Lords, are very worried about it. Why are we worried? I am worried because only the National Ports Council can assess the importance of this proposed seaport at Maplin in relation to the other ports in this country—Humberside, London itself, Southampton or elsewhere—and what is proposed is a formidable project.

Some of your Lordships had the advantage of listening to the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, on the Second Reading debate, but those who were not present then will, with very few exceptions, not have had the opportunity of reading Hansard. I have the relevant Hansard here; but not all noble Lords will have it, so I think I had better explain that what is proposed is a port capable of taking tankers of up to half a million tons. These would go through the narrow Straits of Dover. Further, it is said that it would be a rival to Rotterdam. I only mention these matters to draw to your Lordships' attention how very important this seaport may be. I believe that the ports for this Island are more important than the airports, and therefore I feel that it is essential that the National Ports Council be listed as an authority which the Secretary of State is bound to consult, hence the first Amendment, Amendment No. 4.

If I may now come to what I call the second part of the overall Amendment, in fact Amendment No. 5, this is concerned not only with the seaport but also with the airport, with the roads, and with the great town of 600,000 people. I should like to suggest that when the Secretary of State considers this he should also consider the question of the Channel Tunnel, because they are all part of an overall complex and it is no use trying to deal with each piecemeal. Therefore in our Amendment we are asking that the Secretary of State should consider this overall question in relation to national policy for regional development and land use planning.

I endeavoured to find out how this scheme, which is going to cost us £2,000 million to £3,000 million, compares with the amount of money that has been spent ever since the beginning of regional development—and I go back 40 years. This is a pretty formidable task and I have been led into such things as the Economic Journal of March. 1973, which had a very interesting article on this point, and various other statistics. I think that the facts are of general interest. Until about 1963 the amount the Government spent on regional development in one way or another was relatively small, a few tens of millions a year. Then, in 1963, there was a very large increase. In the next six years it ran at the rate of about £100 million a year, and in the last three years, from 1970 to 1973, we really have been going it! The expenditure on regional development has been about £250 million a year. I tried to add all that up and I got a figure of somewhere between £1,500 million and £2,000 million for expenditure on regional development ever since the beginning.

How does that compare with what is proposed here? Of course, it could be argued that there has been a change in the value of money. But I think that what comes out from this study is that both expenditures are of about the same order of magnitude. If you are going to spend on the South-East Region—which in a sense does not want any money spent on it, from the point of view of overall employment—the same amount as you spent over 40 years on regional development, that makes one think. If I am right about that, we need to think the more, because regional policy is at last showing signs of success. Some of your Lordships may have seen the Sunday Times of July 15 which contained an article headed, "At last jobs move North". I will not go into it any more, but the implication of that is clear. Then if Maplin and the Channel Tunnel are to go ahead this may be a very serious thing in relation to regional development as a whole. For this reason, I and my colleagues feel, and I am sure that many of your Lordships feel the same, that it is essential that the Government should look at this subject from the point of view of regional development, and not just in isolation. That is the reason why I am moving Amendment No. 5, which I hope that the Government will be able to accept. It is in no way a wrecking Amendment. It has been put down just to make sure that the Secretary of State will give to this matter all the attention needed from an overall point of view. If the Government can give us that satisfaction, that will be fine. If not, we shall have to think about what we are going to do.


Unless the noble Lord who is dealing with this subject from the Government Front Bench is ready to accept this Amendment, I should wish to support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who has advocated what I think is a reasonable proposition, indeed an inevitable proposition, and I shall give the reason why. After the submission, not so long ago, of the Rochdale Report, which defined, geographically and economically, the number of ports required for the purpose of commercial transactions, shipping and the like, I should have thought that it would be most undesirable to construct another seaport. In the course of Questions that I have ventured to address to Ministers on the subjects of Maplin, Concorde and the proposed Channel Tunnel, I have had in view, I think quite appropriately, the probable expenditure; an expenditure which may be estimated but the estimate, as we know, is usually falsified.

I can recall when the Attlee Cabinet considered the Heathrow proposition. The estimate presented to us was £6 million. Consider what it has actually cost since the project was initiated. I am not certain about what I am now going to say, but I would hazard a guess that it has cost well over £600 million, and it is still in the process of development—but that is another story. The purpose of the Rochdale Report was to provide for the United Kingdom an adequate number of seaports commensurate with our trade. In the course of Lord Rochdale's investigations there was a great deal of controversy because of the competition between the ports, but eventually it was decided that some of the smaller ports which were not regarded as profitable and economic should be closed down, and that was done.

Let us consider the situation. I am not going to object to another airport because the principle has already been accepted. There may be great difficulties ahead. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has indicated them, and they are indicated in the Amendment and in the clause which is under review. There may be many difficulties before the project is completely developed. But, in principle, I would not object to another airport for a variety of reasons apart from the expenditure involved. But an additional seaport would be in competition with other ports throughout the country, many of which are finding considerable difficulty in paying their way—for example, on the Mersey—and sometimes the difficulties encountered create industrial disputes, for one reason or another. In particular, an additional seaport would compete with Southampton. If we require additional seaport facilities in the South of the United Kingdom the appropriate course would be to develop the Port of Southampton, where all the facilities for development are available. No doubt the Government have considered this; I hope that they have. If we are to proceed with an airport at Maplin, well and good, if a case can be made out and if the reclamation will not impose a much heavier financial burden on the Exchequer than is in contemplation. But no additional seaport is required.

Let us consider what would happen if there was another seaport. Obviously, it could not be of a minor character; it would have to be a port which would pay its way in the future, a vast seaport which would cost a great deal of money. It is to be in competition with other ports in the United Kingdom and, in particular, with the ports already available in the South of England which can absorb all the shipping and trade that is required if further development is necessary. Moreover there is Falmouth and other ports in the South and the Bristol Channel not far away. Why, in Heaven's name, do we require another seaport at Maplin? Go ahead with the airport, if that is necessary, but by no means go ahead with the construction of another seaport. For that reason I venture to support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in his proposition.


Before my noble friend winds up, perhaps he will consider whether in his Amendment, where he says "and consult with such other persons" the National Ports Council would be included. If the word "persons" also includes the term "bodies", then one would be happier to support the Amendment. Perhaps he could elucidate that point when he comes to address the Committee.


I omitted to mention what is the relevant point in the course of my observations—I had not a prepared speech. I should have mentioned that the reason I support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is because of his proposition that the National Ports Council be consulted.


In the face of great criticism from all sides in both Houses that the Government have not shown enough keenness in co-ordination in planning transport, the Government have conceded this Amendment which, on the face of it, seems a very good one. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, and I and one or two others have put down two Amendments to that Amendment to try to get an assurance from the Government that they will go as far as they possibly can in this kind of consultation. The first Amendment asks that the National Ports Council should be added to the list of consultations. It may be that the Government will be able to demonstrate to us that the National Ports Council in any case will be consulted. We want a firm assurance on that, and if we can get it then I feel sure we shall be satisfied. The second Amendment, No. 5, asks for a rather more searching examination into the co-ordination of these plans. Again the Government may say that this goes without saying and that that is what they are going to do. If we can get that assurance then I feel we may be satisfied.

What everybody on all sides wants is to be assured that there is rather better co-ordination in the minds of the Government as to what they are doing. The whole problem of transport in this country is so daunting that no Government has been prepared to face it. There is no central organisation looking at the whole question of air, sea, road and rail. Each is taken individually. We have this new idea of a Europort which is going to measure up to Rotterdam. That has come upon us by surprise as something incidental to Maplin airport. One of the reasons for going to Maplin was to reduce the noise affecting other airports, yet here we are moving an airport to Maplin to get rid of noise and proposing to make a town of 200,000 or so underneath it. Has anyone thought about this? The noble Earl asks what would be the effect on the Channel Tunnel. None of these things is properly co-ordinate. What the Amendments are doing is trying to extract from the Government an absolute guarantee that these things will be looked at in greater detail than they have been up to now.


May I add one or two words? Presumably the Government could give an assurance that the National Ports Council was one of the bodies they had in mind in drafting their Amendment when they used the words "such other persons as appear to him appropriate". This often happens when such a phrase is included in the drafting of a Bill: the Government reply that they have the intention of consulting them but that they do not think it necessary to list all the bodies that might be brought in under the Bill. If that is to be the answer, then we say to the noble Lord in advance that it will not be satisfactory, because the same might have been applied to the Port of London Authority or the Maplin Development Authority. Naturally the Government are going to consult them but they need not put them in the list at all. They could have merely said "such persons as appear to him to be appropriate". If that were the reply, I think it would be less than a satisfactory argument, from the Committee's point of view.

There is one other point in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. It is his mention of the half-a-million-ton tankers which might use this seaport coming up the congested lanes of the Channel. If the Government have that in mind, they must be "off their rockers", to take along the congested and dangerous sea lanes enormous tankers which might come into collision with other vessels and cause incidents that would dwarf the "Torrey Canyon". With respect to the noble Earl, I do not see how the Government could have that in mind, because the original statement of the Secretary of State cm February 2, 1972, ruled out the location at Maplin of industries such as oil refineries and petro-chemical works; and one understands from the Consultative Document issued yesterday by the Department of the Environment that that is still the case. If there are not going to be refineries in the Maplin neighbourhood, why should enormous tankers want to come in, in the first place? It would imply that the oil companies would need to invest large additional sums of their scarce capital in pipelines which would take oil from Maplin to wherever the refineries were located. If an alternative solution is available where tankers can get to existing refineries, that is the solution that they would prefer.

There is another point arising from some of the discussions I have been having with experts in the oil industry, who tell me that it is quite possible that with developments in the North Sea oilfields we could reach self-sufficiency at some point in the 1980's and that we should be producing the whole of our requirements from the oil fields already discovered, together with additional wells that they hope in the course of time will come into production, judging from the experience that they have had so far. That does not mean necessarily that we should refine North Sea oil at our refineries. We might need to export some of it, because it is of very light specific gravity, not entirely suitable to the needs of the fuel economy of the country, where heavy fuel oils predominate. We might still want to export some proportion of our North Sea oil and replace it with heavier crudes from the Middle East. Even if we were self-sufficient there should be an indefinite number of tankers coming in.

We have already capacity to do this. Your Lordships last year approved a Bill which has since attracted some criticism in the Sunday newspapers, to allow the Shell Company to build a marine terminal at Anglesey, where they would bring in half-a-million-ton tankers and feed the whole of the North West through their refinery in Stanlow. If we are now saying that the capacity for refining in the South East is not enough and that we must bring enormous tankers up the Channel, we are saying that there is going to be such a rate of growth of oil consumption in the South East as to justify the additional investment. It is the practice of the oil industry to locate their refineries near the centres of consumption. Therefore we are expecting not only that we are going to create this enormous additional consumption to a value which, as the noble Earl calculated, is equivalent to all the money poured into regional development in the past, but anticipating, quite apart from that, industrial growth of manufacturing industry to use the oil produced in the South East which will justify these tankers. I hope that Lord Drumalbyn will be able to reassure us and say that even if this port is constructed—though I do not see the need for it—it will not be allowed to bring in such giant vessels and to create difficulties of congestion and danger in the Channel.

3.50 p.m.


I had intended to hold my fire on this Amendment until I saw the whites of the Government's eyes, but since we have had two Liberal speakers on it, perhaps the Committee will bear with me if I make some observations about it at this stage. The Committee considers this Amendment in a season when emotive language is ringing out in the country about this matter. We are invited to say, "Yes to the future", and all that sort of thing. Some of us have always thought that it does not matter much whether we say, "Yes to the future", because it is going to arrive anyhow. The thing is to make sure that when it does arrive it contains the right thing and not the wrong thing. This we on our side of the Committee think is what Parliament does not yet know. These Amendments are put down in order to ensure that we may get some notion of what the future holds for us.

On Amendment No. 4, to insert the words "the National Ports Council", I think I should be right in saying that even the Port of London Authority itself does not yet really know whether it wants the Maplin seaport. In saying that, I bear in mind the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, on Second Reading, when he said this: The Port of London Authority in due course has to apply for permission…for expenditure on…the oil terminal and the container port. In order that it should justify its case it has to show that the marketing of these projects"— here I think the noble Lord meant that it has to show that there would be people ready to avail themselves of the facilities made available by the Port of London Authority— indicates that there is a need for them, and, in particular that the container port will have people who will definitely want to come to it. This process of marketing has already begun, but it is not possible for the Port of London Authority to submit firm proposals to the Government until after the Bill is law. Then the Port of London people can say to likely users of these two terminals, 'The Bill is law; the Maplin project is going ahead; let us now enter into agreements to do this, this and this.' Until we have done that I cannot satisfy my right honourable friend"— that is, the Secretary of State— that the work that my people have done justifies his approval of the project. There is a statement by the Chairman of the Port of London Authority that he cannot justify the project itself to the Secretary of State until he has done more work on it. That, in itself, I would submit to the Committee, is sufficient reason for having another stage—the other stage offered by the Government—before a decision is taken by Parliament to go ahead with this construction.

But we need not only the view of the Port of London Authority on this seaport; we need the view of the National Ports Council as well. Plenty of evidence has been given to Parliament that the Port of London will be better served if it moves downstream. Plenty of evidence, I would say, has been given to Parliament that Britain is in need of a great new port. But no evidence, to my knowledge, has been given to either House of Parliament or the public that the great new port ought to be in London. It might be on the Humber; it might be, as my noble friend said, in Bristol, or anywhere else. What we need is that evidence, and that must come from the National Ports Council.

It may be said—indeed, I have a shrewd suspicion that it will be said from the correspondence which the Government have been courteous enough to send me copies of—that there is no need for Amendment No. 4 because the Government are bound to consult the National Ports Council in any case. I would make two points about this. First of all, O.K., so the Government are bound to consult the National Ports Council. But why not write it in this Bill, too—belt and braces? It would not do any harm. In any case, when the noble Lord comes to speak, I hope he will tell us in great detail on what terms the Government are bound to consult the National Ports Council under the 1964 Act. Can we be perfectly confident that they will put to the National Ports Council the broad question: Should a great new national port go to the London Estuary? Can we be confident that they will put that question to them under the 1964 Act; and would it not be better that it went into this Bill, the context of which is clear to everybody?

The purpose of Amendment No. 4 is to get a national view on the national port question. The purpose of Amendment No. 5 is to make sure that when tile Secretary of State reports all these consultations to Parliament he does so not only with airport and seaport considerations, but all national considerations, in view. Amendment No. 5 mentions the new town. I make no complaint that the new town was not mentioned in the Bill as it comes to us in Committee. The plan for the new town was published only two days ago. It all hangs together. We are, in effect, being asked to approve an airport, a seaport and a new town standing in one place in South-East Essex.

The last thing I want to say is this. We on this side of the Committee think that that is wrong. It is true enough that the document called Strategy for the South-East, which was published jointly by the Government, the Regional Economic Planning Council for the South-East and the Standing Conference on South-East Local Authorities some two or three years ago, says that South-East Essex should be a major growth point. It did not say that there should be a new town, but that it should be a major growth point. But since then the population projections themselves have been revised downwards; that is, both the national population projections, and within that the regional South-East population projections. We do not now expect so many people in the South-East by population increase as we did when this document calling for major growth there was published. We ought to have some report to Parliament on that fact before this all goes ahead.

What are the Government going to do about the fact that the Greater London Council have refused to contemplate any major new roads within Ringway 3? How is this new motorway going to get into London? This is a question of major regional planning. Nothing about it has been laid before Parliament. The whole development of South-East Essex must depend on it. It is no good having a vast new industry, port, airport, a new town, with wealth going into London, which stops "bonk" 12 miles out. How is it going to get in? I think that Parliament should know.

There are three elements in this plan—airport, seaport and new town. The airport, I think, has been widely discussed—and my noble friend Lord Beswick will have something to say about that in a minute. The second and third aspects, the seaport and the new town, have not been widely discussed. The Government have not shared their thoughts with Parliament. One may suspect that the Government have not indeed clarified their own thoughts. Elements two and three, in our view on this side of the Committee, are wide open. It may be right to have them—we do not kno—but let us have the reasons. That is why we on this side support Lord Perth's Amendments Nos. 4 and 5.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, it is of course a good many months since it was announced that the Government were contemplating the possibility of a seaport in connection with Maplin. This was done in February 1972. Since that time, had anybody bugged what was going on in the Government they would have seen a great deal of co-ordination going on and a great deal of planning in connection with the Maplin project. So I think I can reassure noble Lords who have spoken that the whole question of co-ordination on the economic side, on the manpower planning side, and all the rest of it, has been very much taken into account in these proposals.

It would not be proper for us to go into a detailed discussion on this Bill of the Consultative Documents that were issued yesterday either on the new towns or on the access roads. Of course there will be ample opportunity for comment on these documents and I should like to make it quite clear that this is an additional stage which the Government have introduced into these procedures. This opportunity for comment does not in any way remove the right of individuals to object to proposals affecting them when the formal statutory procedures take place—that is, those procedures that will have to be complied with before any of these developments can go ahead. So there is this additional stage when the public will be able to comment on both the new town and the access routes proposed before the Secretary of State takes the next step. That will take the form of designating the town in the first place and then, so far as the access roads are concerned, the actual form of legislation adopted will depend upon which of the access roads and railway routes are chosen. Noble Lords will know of the difference in the form of legislative provision that is made as between road and rail routes.


The questionnaire which is to be filled up by members of the public asks them to state which of several alternatives they prefer; it does not ask them in the first place whether or not they like the scheme. There is no place on this form to record opposition to Maplin as a whole, is there?


These are proposals put forward for access routes, subject to the procedures in the clause that we are now discussing. If that goes forward, then the access routes will also go forward, and it is essential that these should be provided before the airport itself becomes operational. Therefore we shall have a different time-scale here for the access routes. They will be completed at one time, and of course the construction of the airport will be going on for a long time after that.

I feel I can give the noble Earl, Lord Perth, the assurance that he wants; in other words, that there will be the fullest consultation with the National Ports Council. In fact, although the Bill gives broad planning permission, the port could not go ahead under the provisions of Section 9 of the Harbours Act 1964 unless and until the Secretary of State for the Environment had consulted the National Ports Council. They will advise him not only on the viability of the proposals but also on their applications for other ports; that is to say, how they fit into the national context. If we were to add the National Ports Council to the list of bodies to be consulted under the proposed new subsection (9), we should be cutting across these existing statutory controls. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, says, "Let us have belt and braces as well"—but if the belt and braces get all tangled up together the last result might be worse than the first. It is right that the Secretary of State's consultation with the National Ports Council should be carried out in the context of a submission by the Port of London Authority under Section (9) of the Harbours Act. This procedure provides a well-established arrangement for considering all the aspects of the proposed port development, and it will enable the Secretary of State to be fully apprised of the views of the National Ports Council on the Port of London Authority's proposals for Maplin and how they affect the national interest as a whole.


I should like to ask the noble Lord just one question, if I may, because as he said—and I thought he was right to do so—the practical arrangements already on the Statute Book make it possible for the House to be fully apprised of these matters; but what we are asking for and what indeed I think I am later on going to thank the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for giving to us, is the opportunity to have a report given to this House, and on the basis of that report Parliament can then say yea or nay to the Order that will be required. It is in relation to that further Order that he has new been good enough to say will be needed that we think this ought to go into the Bill.


Perhaps I could start from this point: the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, mentioned that my noble friend Lord Aldington had said that the application to the Secretary of State would be unlikely to happen before the start of the reclamation at Maplin. The point is that what we are considering, so far as the Order is concerned, is whether reclamation should go forward for the airport. The seaport is not necessarily involved with the airport. We could have the airport without a seaport. It would mean that the amount of land to be reclaimed would be less and it would mean certain adjustments in the plans for reclamation, and all the rest of it. But—


Why was it necessary to insert the Port of London Authority? The Port of London Authority obviously is intended to consider whether at some stage Maplin should be developed for the purpose of another seaport.


And before the noble Lord replies to my noble friend, may I ask him to look at the first three lines of Clause 2, which read: For the purpose of reclaiming land from the sea for the establishment of an airport and a seaport in the area comprising Maplin Sands and Foulness Sands…".


May I say first of all to the noble Lord that in Clause 2 we are dealing with the powers that are conferred, and the powers are conferred for the purpose of the establishment of an airport and a seaport. All I am saying now is that it does not follow absolutely that a seaport would have to be established, even though it was decided to establish an airport. There is nothing mandatory in the clause to say that a seaport shall be established.


Since the case for the airport seems to have vanished almost without trace and the case for a seaport is very hard to establish, are the Government proposing to consult the Ministry of Agriculture on the grounds that reclaimed land of this sort is very valuable—I believe it costs roughly about £10,000 an acre—and that this could be part of a major reclamation scheme comparable to the Delta plan which the Dutch have so industriously adopted for reclaiming land for agricultural purposes? I find the arguments which have been deployed by the Government absolutely unconvincing. I believe in fact that they are about to do this—that is, to reclaim farmland—and I should like to ask whether this is to be part of the Bill.


I am not sure whether the noble Lord was present for the Second Reading debate when the arguments were fully deployed. I hope that in due course when Hansard is published he will have an opportunity of reading those arguments. I thought I had stated them very clearly indeed. The Bill, after all, was given a Second Reading so that the noble Lord's views that nothing is left in the arguments in favour of having an airport really do not have the support of your Lordships' House as a whole. But if I may go on from that to the point which we are here dealing with, I should first like to say that the fact that the National Ports Council are not named in the new subsection (9) will not mean that the Secretary of State's report under the subsection cannot deal with the port proposals. Indeed, as the port will be a relevant consideration when the Secretary of State comes to make his Order—I repeat a relevant consideration, not a conclusive or critical one—it will clearly be reasonable for a report which precedes the Order to deal with the Port of London Authority's proposals in so far as these are relevant to the overall consideration of the reclamation scheme. That is why the Port of London Authority is mentioned.


The noble Lord has just mentioned the Port of London Authority. Did he mean that or did he mean the National Ports Council? We are interested in the National Ports Council, of course.


The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has drawn to my attention something of which I was already well aware—the fact that the Port of London Authority is one of those bodies which are to be consulted before the Order is made. I was explaining why that was so. This proposal for an Amendment to subsection (9) so far as the National Ports Council are concerned is not one we could accept, but the case for consultation with the National Ports Council, under the appropriate statutory proceedings, is entirely accepted. Of course there must be consultation, and there must be consultation under the Statutes as they now exist.


May I try and understand this because this is of great relevance to me in relation to whether we press on with our Amendment. Before this Bill goes forward will the Secretary of State, under Clause 2, have consulted the National Ports Council on the Port of London Authority's proposals? I have the letter which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, winch does not make me happy. I am not going to read it at length, but it says that the fact that the National Ports Council are not referred to in the Bill will not prevent this going forward. It does not say the Council will, it says that they will not prevent. I must ask the noble Lord to give us a perfectly straightforward answer to this, that before the Secretary of State goes ahead with the powers under the Bill the National Ports Council will be consulted.


I thought that my noble friend Lord Aldington had explained fully that when the National Ports Council are consulted will depend entirely on when the Port of London Authority puts forward its proposals. Naturally, the National Ports Council cannot be consulted unless the Port of London Authority has put forward its proposals at that time.


May I ask an important question? I follow the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, perfectly. We do not know when the National Ports Council are going to make a report, or offer their observations, to the Government. Is the noble Lord therefore saying that the Government may well come to Parliament with an Order activating this Bill before they get the report from the National Ports Council? If so, does he not realise that this is precisely the contingency we are trying to meet with this Amendment?


I do not understand the noble Lord's difficulty. Let me put the matter again. What we are mainly concerned with here is the establishment of an airport at Maplin. Added to that, or in conjunction with that, there may be a development of a seaport at Maplin which is within the Port of London Authority's area already.


Only part of it.


It goes up to Foulness Point.


The noble Lord does not know the facts.


The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, must not say that. That is not true. I can open a map in front of me, and I know the facts perfectly well.


I should hate to be thought discourteous, but have we not had an interjection from the Chairman of the Crown Estates Commissioners, who have some responsibility and knowledge about who owns mud and sand round our shores, that only part of the proposed airport and seaport reclamation lies within the Port of London Authority area? I should be reluctant to see that dismissed by the Government as being of no account; and I should be happy to keep on talking about it for a moment if it would be a help to tide over the time which is always necessary for the finding of documents and plans.


I do not want to rest on anything to do with Crown Estates. One has only to look at a map to see the point here. I believe it was a 1958 Act which gave the Port of London Authority rights over a considerable part of the area—far the greater part, but not all of it. I am not speaking with any authority from the Crown Estates, but I am speaking from my knowledge of the 1958 Act, and from having seen the map.


I suggest—


I have not finished my speech. I have been interrupted many times, even while I was speaking, which is unusual in your Lordships' House. I concede that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, knows his facts on this matter. I have a map in front of me and entirely concede that part of this scheme is outside. This is within the Port of London Authority's area, and that area, as I understand it, extends to Foulness Point. It is the very Northern part of the reclamation. Indeed, it is not until we get to four runways that it is outside the Port of London Authority's area. The whole of the land likely to be available for the seaport will be within the Port of London Authority's area. I hope that I have managed successfully to answer that point.


The point I am not—


I really must not be interrupted too much because one can lose the thread, but I give way to my noble friend.


I am most grateful. The point I am not clear about, and which affects my attitude towards this first Amendment, is this: under Section 9 of the Harbours Act 1964, which we have been discussing, is the Secretary of State obliged to consult the National Ports Council, or need he only do so if he wishes?


I have been trying to make the point that he must consult; he is obliged to consult the National Ports Council.


But the noble Lord has not replied to the question I put to him before. I understood that the Secretary of State was obliged to consult the National Ports Council; what we have not got clear is whether the two Houses of Parliament will have the benefit of those consultations before they are asked to approve an Order. So far as I understand the noble Lord he cannot say that this will be so. In order to ensure that it should be so I suggest we put it in the Bill.


Let us try to get the logic of this matter. What is the point of putting the National Ports Council into the Bill until they have something to be consulted about? What they have to be consulted about is the Port of London Authority's proposals. The Port of London Authority are bound to be consulted, and this will be contingent on the acceptance of the Port of London Authority's proposals after taking advice from the National Ports Council. I am not prepared to say at the present time that necessarily the proposals will have been formally made to the Secretary of State before an Order is laid. That is all I am saying now. I am saying that because we are concerned mainly with the provision of an airport, and the provision of the airport can go forward perfectly well without a seaport.

I am sorry to detain your Lordships on this, but I do not think I have been the only person to do so. If I may turn now to the second point, about regional planning policies, the second proposal to amend Section 9 would bring within the ambit of the proposed report to Parliament regional and land use planning matters. As drafted, however—


I am sorry—


I am sorry; I must be allowed to go on.


Order, order!


May I ask a question? Are we discussing now another Amendment? Ought we not to dispose of the first Amendment? Why are we discussing the second Amendment? Should not the first Amendment that has been moved be put to the Committee before we discuss the second Amendment? That is all I am asking.


I think it is the custom of the Committee when two Amendments are discussed together to complete the discussion and then one can take each Amendment separately; each Amendment can be moved separately and the Committee can make its own decision on each one. I am, after all, only following speeches which have been made by noble Lords who did not confine their remarks to the one subject. I do not think the noble Lord would expect me to confine my remarks to the one subject, either.

The Amendment would require the Secretary of State to cover in the report the regional and land use planning implications only of the seaport and the new town, and not of the Maplin project as a whole. As I have explained, in considering the Port of London Authority's proposals for a seaport at Maplin the Secretary of State will have the advice of the National Ports Council on the implications of these proposals for other ports. This means that regional implications will be studied under the existing statutory procedures. This aspect of the second Amendment is therefore subject to the same objections as is the proposal to add the National Ports Council to the list of bodies to be consulted.

It is not clear what is meant by studying the regional implications of the proposed new town. The main regional issue that arises when a new town is proposed is the call that such a town will make on mobile industry; that is, industry which might otherwise be available to boost employment in the assisted areas. But in this respect the Maplin New Town will not be like other new towns; as the Consultation Document published on Monday, July 23, shows, the major source of employment for the Maplin New Town will be the new airport. If, therefore, the case for going ahead with the Maplin airport is made out, there is no separate issue of regional policy arising in relation to the new town. Similar considerations arise on the references in the Amendment to the land use planning implications of the seaport and the new town. The seaport is not expected to be a major generator of employment—something like 4,500 by 1990, according to the Port of London Authority's present estimate. Its effect on planning policies in South-East Essex will therefore be small in comparison with the effect of the airport. Certainly, any employment generated by the seaport would be well within the scope of the kind of population growth envisaged in this area under the provisions of the South-East Plan, which has been accepted by the local planning authorities in the area and by the Government.

The siting of the new town clearly has land use planning implications, but this is not a matter to be explored in detail in the Government's review or in the report to Parliament prior to an order under Clause 1 being made. The procedures in the New Towns Act provide for full consultation on the siting of proposed new towns and for full consideration of objections. The Consultation Document which was published on Monday indeed represents an addition to these procedures, as I have said, in that it provides a preliminary stage of consultation before the drawing up of the draft Designation Order on which statutory consultations and the holding of a public local inquiry are based.

These objections to the second Amendment do not mean that the regional and land use planning applications will not form part of the Government's review of the project and be reflected in the report to Parliament. In relation to the airport, one factor to be considered will naturally be the extent to which growth in traffic handled by regional airports may affect the timing of a need for the third London airport; and the review will certainly cover not only the land use implication of Maplin but also the catering for all the expected traffic growth of the existing London airports, as some of the opponents of Maplin have proposed. It will cover all those things. So both regional and land use planning aspects will be fully considered, in so far as they are relevant to the decision to go ahead with reclamation for an airport and seaport at Maplin.

The principle—I say this only in conclusion to the noble Earl, Lord Perth—of including in the review and in the report to Parliament regional and land use planning implications, in so far as these are relevant to the proposed order, I entirely accept; but the Amendment is not viable for the reasons I have suggested. In the first place it is not comprehensive; it is limited to part of the problem; and, in the second place, the main examination of the question will be carried out under other statutory procedures.


The Minister's arguments about Amendment No. 5 really are somewhat breath-taking. I think I understood him quite clearly to say, "If you want to take into account regional developments, then to some extent they are not relevant, because if you put down an airport and a seaport at Maplin you are not going to take employment away from other parts of the country; they are going to create their own employment. Therefore, one does not need to consider this question of the development areas and employment in them". That is an absolutely breath-taking argument—I think I am quoting the noble Lord accurately—because if in fact you put an airport somewhere else near a development area, then it will create employment and help the development areas. If you put this new port at Maplin, it is not going to create more tonnage coming into the country. So necessarily, if it is successful it is going to take employment away from some other port. Indeed, when I heard Lord Perth's figures about expense on these two projects in the South, and what we have for forty years spent in other parts of the country—I did not realise the comparison of these figures before—I could not but come to the conclusion that the Government are gravely mistaken; and these two Amendments will indeed help, I hope, to prevent this great scheme from going forward at all. My reason for hoping that it will not go forward is simply this. Unless we change the boundaries over a very long time between the South and the other parts of the country, then the South is going to become increasingly overpopulated and the North is going to become increasingly devoid of all the institutions and industries and the other things that keep a live population going in our great cities to the North. To bring these two considerations fully into play before this issue is debated next time in Parliament is extremely important, and these two Amendments help. I therefore support both of them.

4.27 p.m.


Although I was not altogether convinced by the argument of my noble friend on the first of these two Amendments, I must say I am inclined to believe that our fears are probably without any real foundation. As I understood him, the Secretary of State is obliged to consult the National Ports Council and, moreover, the Secretary of State can take no further steps towards the seaport side of the Maplin project until the National Ports Council has been consulted. But I am less impressed by the Minister's argument against the second of the Amendments. He said that this Amendment was not valid because it dealt with only part of the problem; it dealt with only the seaport and the new town, and left out of account the airport. But that is perfectly natural because, after all, it is not the airport that is going to interfere with the national policy of regional development; it is the new town and the new seaport if they come about.

I, like the noble Lord, Lord Brown, was most impressed by the figures which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, gave at the beginning of the debate. As I understood him, he said that over the past ten or fifteen years, or whatever it was, in trying to attract industry from the South-East to the North we had spent about £2,000 million, and we are now going to spend about £2,000 million in order to attract industry from the North down to the South-East. I am not, and never have been, a believer in what is called consensus politics, but I think that in all my political memories, at any rate since the war, there has been agreement on both sides of both Houses on one thing at least, and that is that there is a wholly undesirable lack of balance between industrial and social development in the South-East of England compared to social and industrial development in the rest of England. It seems to me to be quite extraordinary—I must say this—that the Government should suddenly put all that into reverse and inevitably, not redress the balance but make it even more uneven than it is to-day.

I should like your Lordships to consider first the effect of these new proposals—the new seaport, if it comes off, and especially the new town which will be a town, as I understand it, about the size of the city of Hull—on the national regional policies that we have to pursue. First, let us consider the effect on London. I may be unfortunate in where I live, but where I live the postal services are quite clearly breaking down because the strain on them is too great. The telephone service seems to be breaking down because the strain on it is too great. Transport is breaking down, as I am sure any of your Lordships who do as I sometimes do and take the Underground between five and six o'clock in the afternoon, will know. It is breaking down because the strain on it is too great. What will happen to all these services if we impose this additional burden on this part of the country? Because this new town and everything associated with it will in fact be another suburb of the already too great conurbation of London.

The second thing we ought to consider is what is the effect going to be on the regions. I suppose each of us thinks first of the region with which he has been most closely associated, and I think of Humberside. In the new areas of Humberside where, on the North bank at any rate, there has been heavy unemployment, there are now great hopes of attracting new industries. One thing which militates against that is the lack of skilled labour, because all the skilled labour has been drawn into the maw of this not "Great Wen" but great ulcer which London is becoming. Another evil effect on a region like Humberside is that great companies which have been based for perhaps a hundred years in Hull have had to transfer their headquarters to London because of the poor communications between Hull and the South. If we are to have a new seaport, I think there is a great deal to be said for having it on the Humber. I believe it would be far less costly if we were to make a new seaport in the hook of Sprun head—far less costly even, than the proposal for a new seaport as an adjunct to the Third London Airport.

I should like to go back for a moment to what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said about the giant tankers. It is said that adversity makes strange bedfellows. I do not know what has put me into bed with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, but I entirely agree with him on that point. Anyone who, like myself, has navigated, not a 500,000-ton vessel but five-ton vessel through the Straits of Dover, across the Thames Estuary and through those shoals, knows that they are probably the most dangerous waters in the world, and if it is really intended to have a new London seaport to deal with these mammoth tankers—if it is really our intention to attract that kind of traffic away from Rotterdam to this country—then surely the obvious thing to do is to have the seaport, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, suggested, in Anglesey or somewhere in the West, where there are comparatively few navigational hazards and where these vessels can come with perfect safety, because the prospect of one of these 500,000-ton tankers being wrecked, say, on tile Goodwins, is so terrifying that I do not see how anyone could contemplate it.

There is another point that I should like to put to your Lorsdhips as briefly as I can, on national planning. I believe we suffer from a shortage of houses. Surely a demand on the civil engineering industry such as would be represented by the Maplin project and the Channel Tunnel (if we go into that) would really make any sensible housing programme absolutely impossible, and it would so inflate the price of houses, which are already inflated enough now, that it would be disastrous. Earlier in the debate on this Amendment my noble friend said that Maplin would not become operational until 1990, I think it was.


No; it is intended that one runway should be in operation in 1980 or shortly afterwards.


I beg my noble friend's pardon: I entirely misunderstood.


I did say that development would be going on thereafter, possibly until 1990, if the four runways were required.


That was the point that I was really taking my noble friend up on, because I do not see how anybody can deny that this project in its early stages, until we begin to get an income from it, is highly inflationary; and if the Government believe, as I believe, that inflation is the greatest evil that threatens not only this country but Western civilisation, then anything that contributes to that inflation should be postponed. If we begin this expenditure (as I think my noble friend said) at the beginning 1974, I cannot see that it would matter very much if we waited until 1975 or 1976. Would it matter so much if the airport were not in operation until 1980 or 1981 or 1982, or if the complete works were not finished before 1993 or 1995? If we can get a pause in this inflationary spiral, to which this work must make its contribution, surely—


May I just intervene? This is what we are talking about: it is essentially what the review is going to establish. It is a question of when we could start this: there will be a review which will lead to an order, after which we can invite tenders and the reclamation will be able to start. The point which my noble friend is now making is exactly this.


And these are the points that I have been dealing with, which I believe to be covered by Amendment No. 5. Therefore I hope very much that, in spite of what my noble friend said earlier, he will perhaps have a change of mind and be able to accept this Amendment.

4.39 p.m.


I wish to speak only to Amendment No. 4. I am puzzled, and I am sorry if I did not quite follow the Minister's reply. He was repeatedly interrupted, and that may have caused me to miss his conclusive argument against Amendment No. 4. It seems to me, however, that the case for Amendment No. 4 is very strong indeed and I am not at all clear why Her Majesty's Government think it necessary to resist it. I understand from my noble friend the Minister that it would be perfectly possible, under the words in his Amendment, to consult with the National Ports Council: it would be perfectly possible, but would not be certain. What I believe this House desires, and I rather expect the other place desires as well, is that when the order which is mentioned in my noble friend's Amendment comes to be debated in Parliament, each House of Parliament should have as much information that it considers relevant as possible.

I was very much impressed by two speeches made in earlier debates by noble Lords who know a great deal about the shipping industry. First, there was the speech of my noble friend Lord Addington, which has been mentioned by several noble Lords in this afternoon's debate—and a very powerful speech it was! I also remember the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, in the debate on the Channel Tunnel. Both speeches convinced me that the shipping industry had a right to be consulted on both these great projects, and, indeed, could contribute much for our consideration. The Amendment of my noble friend the Minister would make it compulsory for the Secretary of State to consult with the Port of London Authority. I cannot see what the Government would lose, and I can see a great deal that Parliament could gain, if it were also necessary for him to consult the National Ports Council. It may be that my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn has given some conclusive reason against it that I missed, but I was following him as carefully as I could. I admit that he was continually interrupted, but I cannot see the answer to the simple question, "What harm would it do to anybody if Amendment No. 4 were adopted and the National Ports Council were added to the list of the named bodies in the Amendment of my noble friend?"


I hope I may be allowed to ally myself with the noble Lords, Lord Coleraine and Lord Cones-ford, in pleading with the Minister to give consideration to, and accept, Amendment No. 4. To that I would add also Amendment No. 5, but in this matter No. 4 is particularly important. I happen to have been fortunate in spending a whole day yesterday with the Port of London Authority visiting Maplin in their launch, and I saw in detail exactly what they propose doing. I was a little surprised to learn from the Minister that no plans had been prepared, because we were shown plans in very considerable detail. I must say that I was very much impressed by the argument put up by the P.L.A. I thought they put up an extremely important case. I do not want to go into it in detail, but they dealt with such matters as approaches through the channel, and it is quite an important matter.

They have themselves, with the Admiralty, explored the deep-water channel which runs through the Straits of Dover and have found that there is a very good channel, up to 100 feet deep and two miles wide at its narrowest, which goes almost straight to Maplin. It does not go to Rotterdam or Antwerp, and this is a very interesting matter. Apparently the Dutch would have to do a considerable amount of dredging to maintain a channel that would allow the big tankers to go in. These are important matters which made me feel that the Port of London Authority have a very good case indeed, In fact, they stated that they had their plans for a seaport four years before anyone thought of an airport at Maplin. It sounded a little odd to me to hear from the Minister that one could drop the seaport and go ahead with the airport, because all the evidence is that the seaport was planned first.

Furthermore, I should like to ask the Minister this question with regard to the dropping of the seaport. The seaport takes up about a quarter to one-third of the width of the proposed Maplin development. If the seaport is not built, will they reclaim the whole of that area?—because this would seem extremely extravagant. If they do not reclaim all that area, have they the hydrological evidence yet to tell them what they can reclaim, because the exidence we were given on the Select Committee was that the hydrological evidence for the present scheme will not be available until the end of December. In other words, we do not yet know in detail—we know in general terms but not in detail—what the reclamation area might be. If one were suddenly to slice off one-quarter of that reclamation area, it seems to me one would be bound to go back for further hydrological experiments.

What I am saying is that the Minister would do no harm if he accepted this Amendment. As one who now believes that the seaport, though not necessarily the airport, has a good case, I still feel that this case can be accepted only as part of a national policy. It would be madness to accept something which gave the Port of London something fine and superior, only to discover that it turned out to be at the expense of the rest of the country. It is quite essential that the National Ports Council should be properly consulted and, furthermore, that we in Parliament should know what are the results of that consultation. Therefore I urge the Minister to show on this occasion that reasonableness with which he frequently indulges this House, and allow this Amendment to be accepted.


May I speak for a moment on Amendment No. 5, on the question of water supplies? If we are to have a great area of seaport complex, an airport complex and a new town, a very large water supply will be necessary. I know from my own experience that South-East Essex has been very short of water. There is a big scheme for taking water from the Ely Ouse and from the Stour to try to keep up the level of water in South-East Essex. This is an important point. May I ask the Minister whether the question of the water supply to such a large complex as the Maplin Development has been fully considered?


May I give my support to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5, and also to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Wolverton, concerning water supplies. While one may give general support to the concept that we have under discussion, I am given to understand by those who are personally involved in the matter of water in this area that it has already been made clear that there will be serious problems concerning the adequate provision of water, particularly for the size of population that is in prospect. Can the Minister give some precise information as to the extent of consultation that he has had on this aspect with those who are in authority in the particular area, so that the House may have positive assurances that adequate water supplies are or will be available?

4.49 p.m.


I cannot reply to-day to the last question put by the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, but I am certain that there have been consultations. Since water is such an essential commodity, these plans would not have gone ahead without such consultation. What I was going to say to the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, is that we are here talking about the Maplin Development Plan. We are not talking about access roads or water supplies for the new town, or anything of that sort; we are talking about the Maplin Development Plan relating to the recovery of those lands and to the subsequent construction of the airport upon them. It is the reclamation of these lands with which we are primarily dealing, and at the moment we are talking about who should be consulted before the order is laid in order that this reclamation work can start. I think it would be as well if we stuck to that point.

I thought my noble friend Lord Cones-ford dealt with the matter very succinctly. He asked what harm it would do to consult the National Ports Council. The difficulty here is simply to see what good it would necessarily do, because the National Ports Council will in any case have to be consulted when the Port of London comes forward with its authority. If—and I am saying "if" because I do not know; and nor for that matter did my noble friend Lord Aldington know when he made his speech—these proposals do not come forward by the time the other authorities have been consulted, I am not sure that it would be putting the National Ports Council into a very easy position if they were then to be consulted in general without knowing what the Port of London Authority's proposals were going to be in particular, as they will later have to pronounce on those proposals as a statutory duty. I think there is that technical difficulty here. I am quite prepared to look at this question again to see whether my fears of the embarrassment to the National Ports Council are right or wrong. I am quite prepared to take this back to see whether or not it would be worth while putting the National Ports Council into this list. My own view is that it would not be desirable, but it may be that it might turn out to have some advantages after all.

Perhaps I may say this to my noble friend Lord Coleraine. We have, after all, already taken a decision in principle on the Bill, and the reason why we have done that is that the question was put to Roskill: do we need more provision to handle passenger air transport, and in particular where should a third airport be situated. That was the point.


I think I must challenge the noble Lord on this. I do not believe it was put to Roskill whether we needed more provision for air transport.


If you are asking him where a Third London Airport should be situated, and also asking him whether a Third London Airport is needed, I think my paraphrase there was justified. In any case, the point is this. Granted that you are going to have more air traffic over the years ahead, you are obviously going to need more people to handle that traffic, and if that traffic is going to be generated in the South—and such a very high proportion of it is—then you are going to have to meet that need one way or the other in the South. I do not think we should go into this part of the matter further, because this is precisely the sort of thing that will be considered in the review—to determine when this need will arise in the South. What we are here being asked to determine is only, first of all, whether we should consult the National Ports Council. As I have said, I do not believe that we should, but I am quite prepared to have another look at this.

The second matter we are being asked to consider is whether we should also review the whole question of the new town and the seaport needs particularly. I am quite certain in my own mind, and I would strongly advise noble Lords not to accept at any rate the second Amendment, because, as I have said, this is something which is being amply covered by the various proposals put forward for the new town, the access roads and the like; all that comes into this side of the matter. And, of course, unless you have the airport you will not need the new town, so the whole thing hangs together there. Given the order being put forward, we shall then have the designation of the new town. We might even have the designation beforehand in order that studies can be started. In any case we should not have the new town if there were no airport. So this is going to be considered anyway. I really do advise my noble friends not to accept the second Amendment.


I see the noble Lord's argument about the connection between the airport workers and the new town, but does the airport really require a new town with a population of 600,000 people?


The position is that the numbers expected are 200,000 extra by 1990, and that might rise to 300,000 by the year 2000 or the early part of the next century. The requirement to service the airport is likely to be about 60,000, and there would be another 60,000 probably to be added on to that to service industry in general, and 4,500 for the seaport. These are the needs in this area.


I thought one of the arguments for Maplin was that it would prevent people being deafened by more noise because there are very few people there. If you have a town of 600,000 all

round the airport—and I understand the noise shadow is 24 miles—you are going to affect 600,000 people.


Not in the flight path of the aircraft in line with the runway.


I will not seek to say anything more on the substance of Amendment No. 4. We on this side have heard with interest and gratitude the noble Lord's assurance that he will reconsider the matter before the next stage. I think the only question that remains is whether, in the presence of that assurance, we should leave out the National Ports Council or carry it in, in the knowledge that it can be taken out again later if the Government persuade us to do so. We believe it would be right to put the National Ports Council into the list, and we urge the Committee, after having heard the pros and cons from all sides, to do precisely that and carry this Amendment.


I am very puzzled about Amendment No. 4 in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said. I cannot get it clear in my mind. It is one thing to refer it back, but I think there is a problem here and I feel, with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, that unhappily we really ought to press this Amendment and get it in. I cannot see what harm it does. If at Report stage it can be shown that it is wrong, fine, I will rejoice. But at this stage I feel that I must press Amendment No. 4.

4.59 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 113; Not-Contents, 68.

Adeane, L. Beswick, L. Burton of Coventry, B.
Airedale, L. Birk, B. Byers, L.
Albemarle, E. Blackett, L. Carnock, L.
Alport, L. Blyton, L. Champion, L.
Amherst, E. Boothby, L. Clwyd, L.
Amulree, L. Bourne, L. Conesford, L.
Archibald, L. Bowden, L. Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.
Arwyn, L. Bradford, E. Crawshaw, L.
Auckland, L. Braye, L. de Clifford, L.
Avebury, L. Brayley, L. Diamond, L.
Bacon, B. Brockway, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Balogh, L. Brown, L. Douglass of Cleveland, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Buckinghamshire, E. Erskine of Rerrick, L.
Essex, E. Kinnonll, E. Samuel, V.
Ferrier, L. Leatherland, L. Sandys, L.
Fiske, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Sempill, Ly.
Gage, V. Lucas of Childworth, L. Shackleton, L.
Gaitskell, B. McLeavy, L. Shepherd, L.
Gardiner, L. Maelor, L. Shinwell, L.
Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Massereene and Ferrard, V. Simon, V.
Granville of Eye, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V. Slater, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Monson, L. Stamp, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Mountevans, L. Stonehaven, V.
Hale, L. Ogmore, L. Stow Hill, L.
Hall, V. Orr-Ewing, L. Strange, L.
Henderson, L. Peddie, L. Strathspey, L.
Henley, L. Perth, E. [Teller.] Summerskill, B.
Hood, V. Phillips, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hoy, L. Platt, L. Thomas, L.
Hughes, L. Raglan, L. Vernon, L.
Hunt, L. Rathcreedan, L. Vivian, L.
Inchyra, L. Rhodes, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Inglewood, L. Roberthall, L. White, B.
Jacques, L. Royle, L. Williamson, L.
Janner, L. Rusholme, L. Wolverton, L.
Kahn, L. Sainsbury, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Kennet, L. St. Davids, V. Wynne-Jones, L.
Killearn, L.
Aberdare, L. Elles, B. Merrivale, L.
Abinger, L. Elton, L. Milverton, L.
Ailwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Moyne, L.
Allerton, L. Fortescue, E. Northchurch, B.
Ashbourne, L. Glasgow, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Balfour, E. Gore-Booth, L. Rankeillour, L.
Barnby, L. Gowrie, E. Redesdale, L.
Berkeley, B. Greenway, L. Rhyl, L.
Bessborough, E. Gridley, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Bethell, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor) Sandford, L.
Bledisloe, V. Sharples, B.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Howe, E. Somers, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Hylton-Foster, B. Stocks, B.
Caccia, L. Ironside, L. Strathclyde, L.
Cole, L. Jessel, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Kinloss, Ly.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. Sudeley, L.
Daventry, V. Limerick, E. Tenby, V.
Davidson, V. Long, V. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Denham, L. [Teller] Loudoun, C. Wakefield of Kendal, L,
Derwent, L. Luke, L. Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Wise, L.
Ebbisham, L. Margadale, L. Young, B.
Eccles, V.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.8 p.m.

THE EARL OF PERTH had given Notice of a further Amendment (No. 5) to Amendment No. 3: Line 9, after ("conclusions") insert ("thereon, and his assessment of the probable effects of the seaport and the proposed new town on national policy towards regional development and land-use planning,").

The noble Earl said: I am very conscious of the fact that as it stands this Amendment to the Amendment is in a degree defective in relation to what we want, which is that the whole of the question of the Maplin Development shall be related to the regional develop- ment throughout the country. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, told us that it referred only to the seaport and to the town, and it is not meant to. In these circumstances I think the proper thing to do would be to move a correct Amendment at Report stage. I, for one, do not feel prepared to move this particular Amendment.


Perhaps the noble Earl, in considering whether to move a suitable Amendment, will have regard to the new Clause 2(6).


Is the noble Earl moving his Amendment, as some noble Lords wish to discuss it?


No, I am not moving this Amendment, I prefer to do it at Report stage, but other noble Lords who have put their name to it may wish to do so.


If I am in order, I should like to move the Amendment so that it may be discussed briefly by the Committee. I think that the points made by the noble Earl are very clear. When there is an Amendment which the Government declare is defective towards achieving its own purpose it seems at first sight a reasonable thing not to move it and to come back at Report stage with another and better Amendment to achieve the sane purpose. But one should look at another point beyond that. How far is the wording removed from perfection? The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has told us that it ought to refer to the airport as well as to the seaport and the new town. He has implied that the Government would be perfectly willing to lay before Parliament the report which it ought to lay before Parliament, on the national regional policy implications and the land use planning implications of the whole of Maplin in all its three parts—that is, the airport, the seaport and the new town—but that the Government would not be willing to be bound to lay before Parliament a report on the national implications of only the latter two parts.

These two attitudes are not really very far apart. Most of the effect on national policy will come from the new town and the seaport—I make no bones about that. The actual reclamation of the airport itself will have very little effect upon regional policy. It is the regional economic infrastructure which goes with the new town, which goes with the industry to come to that, that will have the national impact, and this would be caught by the Amendment which is before the Committee. We on this side would say: let us carry this Amendment into the Bill at this stage, and let us amend it and improve it if we can at Report stage. That would be better, while we have all the arguments in our heads (because it very much relates to what we have been discussing), than leaving it out now and having to start all over again when we come back in October. I beg to move.


I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will accept that suggestion. He has seen the very strong feeling in the Committee in the heavy defeat which the Government have just sustained. Would it not be better to accept the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and accept this Amendment? If necessary, we can think about it again at Report stage.


I do not think that that would be so. I have made it quite clear that all the relevant considerations will be taken into account and that a report will be made upon them. I do not think there is anything that need be said. It is acknowledged that this Amendment is not perfect, and it would therefore be a mistake for your Lordships to accept it.


The noble Lord drew attention to subsection (6) and asked the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who was considering whether to move his Amendment, to think again about that subsection. Subsection (6) in no way has the same intentions as the Amendment before us, and I would put it to the Committee that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is quite clearly in some difficulty. I do not want to import suggestions, but he is clearly under instructions not to accept these Amendments if that can be avoided. We ought to put him out of his misery, because the country and the large proportion of this Committee are very concerned about the total effects of these great schemes in the South.

England is the most densely populated country in the world, and the South-East is the most densely populated part of England. This means that we are going to load into that part of the country this intensive development which will, in one way or another, ensure that the population is still further increased. We shall be bringing into the South-East more institutions—the new airport and other developments which follow these great investments—and we shall widen still further the gap between London and the other great cities of this country. That may seem irrelevant to this Amendment, but the implication of resisting this Amendment is that the Government are not open to arguments of this sort on this issue, and they never have been. By rejecting this Amendment they are saying, "We shall go so far with you in considering the total situation, but we are not going the whole way".

The country and the large part of this Committee are extremely concerned, not simply about Maplin, not simply about a port, but about the whole implications of this £2,000 million investment in the most densely populated part of England. If we put this Amendment into the Bill, it will at least be a signal to the Government that they have to take the global attitude much more seriously. This Committee should divide on this Amendment, and I hope it will be put into the Bill as an indication to the Government that they are not taking the will of the country and the will of this Committee sufficiently seriously. They must take more account of what this House and the country thinks than they are doing at the moment. Let us therefore have this Amendment.


May I comment very briefly, and say that the whole purpose of the review is to consider the timing of the need for the airport. That being so, all the relevant factors will be considered in that connection. But there is no point in going beyond that, given the fact that the Bill has already received a Second Reading.


I feel that Clause 2(6) gives the Secretary of State very wide powers indeed. It states: … the Secretary of State shall have regard to the interests of the environment … that may be affected … and he shall not give his approval unless satisfied that the use of the land … would be consistent with the proper distribution of industry and employment. I should have thought that that gave a very much more satisfactory overall power than the rather tight wording of Amendment No. 5. Therefore, if the Amendment goes to a Division I will certainly oppose it.


Has the noble Lord noticed that that clause deals only with the reclaimed land, and not with the totality of the land which is covered by the Bill?


I am aware of that, but what we are talking about involves employment.

5.17 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment to the Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 86; Not-Contents, 88.

Airedale, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Mountevans, L.
Amherst, E. Erskine of Rerrick, L. Ogmore, L.
Amulree, L. Ferrier, L. Peddie, L.
Archibald, L. Fiske, L. Perth, E.
Arwyn, L. Gaitskell, B. Phillips, B.
Avebury, L. Gardiner, L. Platt, L.
Bacon, B. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Raglan, L.
Balogh, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Beswick, L. Hale, L. Rhodes, L.
Birk, B. Hall, V. Royle, L.
Blackett, L. Henderson, L. Rusholme, L.
Blyton, L. Henley, L. [Teller.] Sainsbury, L.
Boothby, L. Hoy, L. St. Davids, V.
Bowden, L. Hughes, L. St. Just, L.
Brain, L. Hunt, L. Segal, L.
Brayley, L. Inchyra, L. Shackleton, L.
Brockway, L. Jacques, L. Shepherd, L.
Brown, L. Janner, L. Shinwell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Kahn, L. Slater, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Kennet, L. Stamp, L.
Byers, L. Killearn, L. Stow Hill, L.
Carnock, L. Leatherland, L. Summerskill, B.
Champion, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Clwyd, L. Longford, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Coleraine, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. White, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. McLeavy, L. Williamson, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Maelor, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
de Clifford, L. Meston, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Diamond, L. Monson, L.
Aberdare, L. Elton, L. Milverton, L.
Abinger, L. Essex, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Ailwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Moyne, L.
Allerton, L. Fortescue, E. Northchurch, B.
Auckland, L. Gage, V. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Balfour, E. Gore-Booth, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Barnby, L. Gowrie, E. Rankeillour, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Greenway, L. Redesdale, L.
Berkeley, B. Gridley, L. Rhyl, L.
Bessborough, E. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Bethell, L. Hailes, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Bledisloe, V. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Sandford, L.
Bradford, E. Sharples, B.
Braye, L. Hanworth, V. Somers, L.
Brentford, V. Howe, E. Stocks, B.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Stonehaven, V.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Inglewood, L. Strathclyde, L.
Caccia, L. Ironside, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Cole, L. Jessel, L.
Cork and Orrey, E. Kinloss, Ly. Strathspey, L.
Craigavon, V. Kinnoull, E. Sudeley, L.
Crawshaw, L. Lauderdale, E. Tenby, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Limerick, E. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Daventry, V. Long, V. Vernon, L.
Davidson, V. Loudoun, C. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Luke, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Windlesham, L. {L. Privy Seal.)
Ebbisham, L. Margadale, L. Wise, L.
Eccles, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Wolverton, L.
Elles, B. Merrivale, L. Young, B.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment to the Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.25 p.m.


The Committee will now return to the discussion of Amendment No. 3, as amended by Amendment No. 4. Amendment No. 3 has already been moved.


On the major substance of this Bill the Government have gone as far as I originally asked them to go, and I should like to offer my thanks to them for the way in which they listened to the arguments and for the way in which they have phrased their Amendments. Of course, we have contrived to improve this Amendment in one particular; and, in passing, I must say that I really was surprised that the Government left out the National Ports Council. I hope that, on Report stage, we can obtain other words which will implement the intentions behind the Amendment which has just been so narrowly defeated. I should also like to express my appreciation of the general helpfulness of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, in the way he has contrived to cover up some of the shortcomings of the governmental machine at the present time. I am referring to the fact that we are in great difficulties with Hansard. It was only a clay or two ago that, thanks to the noble Lord, I was able to see a copy of his Second Reading speech, and we have been handicapped to some extent—and those outside who have tried to follow these matters have also been handicapped. Having read that speech may I say to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that I thought it was a very good speech; and, indeed, he made a better case for the airport than his colleagues have been able to do up to now.

Having said that, I would also say that, had they not agreed to come back to Parliament again and to amend the Bill to ensure that there will be another opportunity for both Houses of Parliament to give the go-ahead or otherwise, then it would have been most surprising, for let us recall that so far there have been two Government Reports on this matter—and I speak now especially about the airport. We have had the Roskill Report, and that specifically recommended against the Maplin site. Then there was the Civil Aviation Authority Report, and that specificaly said that the original basis for the Third London Airport was not now a sound one. Had the Government gone ahead without giving Parliament another opportunity to voice an opinion it would have been, as I say, most strange behaviour indeed.

Having said that, may I make a reservation? On Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, made some comment to the effect that the Government had been charged with, as he put it, "cooking the books" so far as the C.A.A. Report was concerned. I have not made a charge of that kind and I do not intend to make a charge of that kind, but I do say that we shall look most carefully at the reports which will eventually be laid before Parliament, and we shall look particularly carefully for their objectivity and for their completeness. I say that for two or three reasons. The first is that, by strange coincidence, on the very same day as it was announced that the Government were tabling these Amendments to make it possible for Parliament to have another look at the whole thing, the Prime Minister said that it was essential to go ahead with it, and that those who were against these projects and that particular project were lacking in moral courage; and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Lord Windlesham, only yesterday, accused some of us of lacking in confidence when we are confronted with these large projects. It does still seem from that that there is a very firm indication to go ahead with it, irrespective of what reports come out.

I find this attitude of the Prime Minister in particular rather strange. It is not just my feeling in the matter; I find that it is a doubt which is shared by a good many other people. For example, in the Sunday Times of July 8 there is a heading to an interesting article in which it is stated: Civil servants in revolt over Maplin airport". And again later, on July 22: Maplin Ministers hush up report on quieter jets". We are given information about the way in which the Prime Minister has intervened on what should have been, one would have thought, a departmental matter. For example, I read, and I quote: On Ministers' orders in fact Mr. Michael Woolf, one of the Conservative Central Office recruits into Whitehall, has spent some weeks in the office of the Lord President of the Council drafting a resounding Ministerial speech in favour of Maplin". Then again it is said: The Prime Minister has now initiated an interdepartmental study to see how the weightings of the N.N.I. index could be changed". There is another indication in that the Prime Minister—and again I quote: Has sponsored the setting up of an interdepartmental committee to devise ways of recalculating noise figures so as to improve the case for Maplin. I would say to noble Lords opposite that there is this feeling, expressed here and elsewhere, that there is an intervention from higher up into the activities of some of these people who are having to look into the various matters upon which they have now undertaken to report. We are also aware—or so we are told—that the C.A.A. report itself, was, in draft, an even more damning document than the final publication. There was a change of emphasis, a rewriting of certain phrases in order to bring it more into line with Governmental policy. I stressed at the beginning that I am not making any great charge of "cooking the books", but I do want an assurance from the noble Lord that we shall have complete reports on all the matters which are at issue here. They are not stated in the Amendment which we are now discussing, and which I am pleased to accept, although they were in earlier Amendments. They were in Clause 25, and they would have been in the Amendment which had been put down in the name of some of my noble friends and myself. I want an undertaking from the noble Lord that there will be no selectivity when presenting these conclusions of the various committees that are now working on such matters as, for example, aero-engine noise, noise shielding, RTOL, STOL, computerised air traffic control and the whole of the quite exciting possibilities that lie open before us for dealing constructively with the noise problem.

In addition, I want to ask the noble Lord whether he will give us an assurance that the question of air traffic control into Maplin will be dealt with in these reports. It has been indicated that there will be no noise over this new town because all the aeroplanes will come in over the sea. I do not think this matter is quite so simple as they have tried to make out. I am not entirely convinced that it is possible. In addition, there may well be certain international problems about the stacking of aircraft over waters which are not within our own territorial boundary. All these things should be included in the reports that are laid before us. If they are, I shall again be in a position of thanking the noble Lord and his colleagues for what they have done, and I am sure that we shall then have the fullest possible debate on these issues before we eventually give a final go-ahead.

5.35 p.m.


I am also grateful to the Government for putting down this Amendment. I was very worried when we were debating the Bill on Second Reading and I had the honour of speaking on the Roskill Commission's Report. I said that if the airport went anywhere it ought to go to Maplin. I was quite certain on that point, but I was a little dubious about the enormous expense of this project, and in view of the big new developments which are taking place in quieter aircraft—shorter take-off and so on—I have put down an Amendment (it is not in order yet to discuss it) to leave out Clause 25 and substitute a new clause. The Government are wanting to cut out Clause 25 and the matter was dealt with under Clause 2. I only wish that they had included in Clause 2 consultations on quieter aircraft, shorter take-off capability and bigger aircraft for the report which they are going to make to Parliament. I should have liked to see provision for an Affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament, rather than the Negative Resolution procedure for which I do not much care. So far as it goes, I think the Amendment which Her Majesty's Government have put down is a great improvement and I welcome it.


I should like to endorse the remarks which have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. A report from the Government on the approaches and corridors to be taken to this new airport is surely due at a very early stage, because these will affect not only the new town project but everything else on the set-up of the airport, and naturally the people who are living in Kent and Essex are all looking to see what decision is going to be made over the approaches. As I see it at present, it is possible to approach this airport over the sea—landings and take-off could be made over the sea—but this is by no means certain, and at the moment there is no statement from Her Majesty's Government on this point. May I ask that this be put in the report?


I should like to support some of the observations which have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick; he may feel a certain personal diffidence about saying some of these things since he is connected closely with the British Aircraft Corporation. Perhaps I ought to say on his behalf, if he will forgive me for doing so, that the latest developments in quieter aircraft are extraordinarily promising and there is no doubt at all that the greatest relief to the people living round Heathrow will come—at least for the next twenty years—not from the development of Maplin but from the development of quieter aeroplanes. It is probable that by the time Maplin is functioning a significant number of the aircraft using Heathrow will confine what they call their "noise profile" almost within the boundaries of the airport itself, and if this is done a great deal of the case for Maplin which is resting on environmental grounds will disappear.

The second point which I must make is that very dramatic improvements have been made in the last few years in the development of various electronic aids to navigation, particularly the marshalling of aircraft before they land. Your Lordships will doubtless recall the complete congestion at Kennedy Airport, particularly, a few years ago which was entirely eliminated by the introduction of secondary radar. Work is still going on in this country, on what I think to be far too small a scale, for the improvement of the electronic aids to the proper marshalling of aircraft. I suggest that the Government should be prepared to invest, let us say, one-tenth of 1 per cent. of the moneys which are being spent on Maplin in an attempt dramatically to increase the scale at which the work is being done, for example at Malvern under the direction of the C.A.A. and the Department of Trade and Industry.

The case for Maplin, as for any airport, must always be considered in the light of current technology which changes as we watch it. The change has been dramatic, and there is no reason to believe that it has stopped or that the direction in which change and improvement can be expected will not itself change. It is extraordinarily important that these things must be borne in mind and be reconsidered at all stages. The last point I would make—perhaps it is a personal one, based on my own experience of other places—is that we are taking an enormous amount for granted in this project. It has taken us nearly twenty years to fail to link Heathrow Airport with the London Underground system. It has been impossible for twenty years to build an extension to the Uxbridge line about five miles long. It has proved impossible to link the Cromwell Road Air Terminal with the local Underground station 100 yards away. Yet we are confidently expecting the construction of a railway and a motorway system about 100 miles long, ending up at somewhere like Barking; and when we have arrived at Barking the problem of getting from Barking to Central London would be considerably more complicated, and the distance considerably greater, than that which now separates Central London from Heathrow.

So I think that the problems yet to be solved are so enormously greater, in terms of cost, planning and so on, than those which have so far been faced, formidable though they are, that it is essential that the matter be kept under revision at all stages. Before we finally commit ourselves to this enormous expenditure of money, Parliament should have another opportunity to discuss the matter in considerable detail in the light of the available technology, be it of road construction, railway construction or quieter aeroplanes; and, most particularly, the electronic aids to navigation and landing. I support the Amendment warmly for that reason.

5.43 p.m.


I should like to suport the Amendment. It is sensible that we should have a comprehensive report. I am still a little worried about how the Government think that they are going to compel airlines based at Heathrow to move to the new airport at Maplin. I do not imagine that there is any provision in the Bill for financial compensation, but any airline making the move will have to compensate their staff. Redundancy payments will be applicable over a long move like that; they are applicable in respect of a move from one factory to another factory a mile away. So there will be considerable redundancy costs and there will be considerable training and recruiting costs in the new abode.

I can conceive that it would be possible to squeeze people out of London Airport towards Maplin by a whole host of pressures. It would be possible, perhaps, to say: "You must go there if you are operating aircraft of a certain noise factor." incidentally, that would be an incentive to operators to fit present-day aircraft "hush-kits", which can reduce noise substantially. I can conceive that charter operators could be told, "Yes, you may be given a charter licence, but you will have to operate out of Maplin." But, of course, British Airways, the old B.O.A.C. and B.E.A., are increasingly coming into the charter market. They will not want to split their operations between their main bases at Gatwick and London and also at Maplin. I can conceive that you could say to the long-haul operators going to Australia, that the fact that you spend an hour and a half getting to the airport, rather than threequarters of an hour, is probably of no consequence; but it will become of consequence when Concorde comes into service.

I can conceive, also, that you could say to those who wish to operate either landing or take-off during the dep night hours, "If you wish to operate in this country you will have to go to Maplin." At present, the hours they can operate in and out of London Airport are between 11 p.m.—or it may be 12 midnight—and 6 a.m. For the sleeping habits of those near the London Airport, those hours might well be stretched when there is the alternative of Maplin so that people might be allowed to sleep until 7 a.m. or go to sleep even earlier than midnight. I can see all these pressures coming. But we have to remember that the only people whose arms we can twist are the British operators. If we try to twist the arms of the international operators and say to them, "You can operate scheduled services in and out of this country only from Maplin", they will bite us back by saying, "That is quite all right, but you cannot come into our capital cities, either. None of your British aircraft can. You are going to operate from a lesser important airport 55 miles away from our capital city." Then, of course, we should have to concede and they would come into London Airport.

These, I think, are problems which must beset the Government and the licensing authorities when Maplin comes into existence. I do not want to make a Second Reading speech, but I hope my honourable friend will consider this problem, because otherwise I cannot see how those efficient international air carriers who are already deeply entrenched at Heathrow will be persuaded to move elsewhere.

5.45 p.m.


I rise with the greatest diffidence, primarily because I have not addressed your Lordships before, and I hope that you will be kind enough to extend to me the indulgence which is usual on these occasions to enable one to make one's initial blunderings without too much embarrassment. Also, I find myself in a difficulty in actually finding my way round what has happened. I understand that we are now dealing with an amended Amendment that deals in turn with Clause 25, which appears to have been rendered very nearly superfluous.

I welcome this Amendment because it seems to me to be a way of buying time for the Minister before the final decision is made. As has been rightly said on numerous occasions, this decision must be made in the light of developments and technological expertise. I think it would be a mistake to expect too much from these developments. Briefly, the computer-assisted approach system allows one to fly aeroplanes at the very minimum safe interval one after the other. But at the same time the wide-bodied jet leaves a vortex or jet-wash behind it of such duration and intensity that it is not safe to fly as close behind it as the C.A.A.S. could get you, and so the one militates against the other.

The main technological development which I think concerns us all has been mentioned this afternoon; that is, the advent of the quieter aeroplane. I live—and perhaps I ought to have mentioned this to your Lordships as a declaration of interest—within six miles of the runway of the East Midland Airport and I have become something of a connoisseur of aircraft noise. I have discovered, for instance, that a BAC 1–11 in a really bad temper can inflict physical pain to people indoors. Fortunately, the occurrence is rare. Only recently, I discovered to my astonishment, because it actually happened, that it is possible to conduct an intelligent conversation—with effort, it is true, but not with discomfort—while a TriStar, powered by RB.211 engines, three of them, is immediately overhead at about 1,000 feet, which is something I would not have believed had it not actually happened to me. I regard this as one of the most important technological developments of the age.

This brings me to the question of how long people ought to be able to fly in and out of Heathrow in the evening. I feel that the effect of this in general will be that it will be acceptable, even to the people of West London and Windsor, to lift the night-flying restriction on Heathrow, thus increasing its capacity by 20 per cent. or more, which puts still further back the date at which Maplin will become necessary. Moreover, I think it worth while to draw your Lordships' attention to the obvious fact that if we were to say that no aircraft that made more noise than the TriStar was allowed to land at or take off from British airfields, as the sole manufacturers of engines at present meeting this specification there will be a considerable financial advantage for us to do this. Therefore, I am impelled to support this Amendment because of the reasons of environment and finance and practical common sense, which will save us throwing money into the sea, sinking vast sums of capital under the water.

There is another reason, though it may perhaps appear trivial to your Lordships. The first Public Bill to which my father gave any support and interest was concerned with motor car engines and motor cycle engines. His effort was to insert the phrase that they, "shall be fitted with effective methods of silencing". Your Lordships' ringing eardrums will have marked for you the singular lack of effect that this has had down the generations. I am not content to leave matters there, not merely out of injured pride, but because I think it wrong that the will of Parliament, of this House, should be flouted as a result of manufacturers' interests and that this nation should be subjected to a greater and greater barrage of cacophony while we stand idly by. This Amendment provides an opportunity for the Minister to make an order and to take advantage of a situation which will benefit us both in terms of environment and in terms of hard cash. For those reasons, I support the Amendment.


May I first have the privilege of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Elton, on his intervention, evidently to all of us extremely expert and well-informed. I, like him, would support this Amendment, but I want to bring out at this stage some contrary reasons. It seems to me that a great deal of the emphasis has been on the negative side. Like other noble Lords I do not wish to make a Second Reading speech, although I was unable to make one when it happened, but I think it right to mention the reasons on the other side why this Amendment will be advantageous. We have heard a great deal about the environment and about quieter engines, but we know that for quite a time to come engines will not be all that quiet. When we look at this from the regional point of view we must look at it not only from the Essex point of view but from the point of view of the next 20 years for the inhabitants of Richmond, Feltham, Windsor, Staines and so on.

Again, we must perhaps look at this not only as a great technological problem but also as a great problem of how we are all going to live in the future. The first impact of the new proposals by the Government on me seems to have been very much the opposite to that experienced by most noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon. There is a reason for this, but none the less perhaps it is important to say that possibly in the future we will be living in circumstances in which we can go rather faster and fur- ther on land than we have previously. It may be easier and better to have a coordinated transport policy from Maplin than the unco-ordinated one that we have had hitherto from Heathrow. It may be easier for us to start again rather than to go on 'botching up" the transport situation between central London and Heathrow as we have half tried to do, but now thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Burton we shall now do a little better than before. There are also a great many reasons on the other side, the imaginative, the looking-into-the-future side, why further thought should be given, further views expressed and further ideas generated. For that reason, a reason opposite from that of other noble Lords who have spoken, I too welcome this Amendment.

5.55 p.m.


May I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Elton, on his excellent maiden speech. There was no reason for him to be diffident. I have not heard a better maiden speech either here or in the other place. He displayed a mastery of technical detail which I believe few of your Lordships could equal. His contribution was of great help in reaching a conclusion on this Amendment, which I must say we all welcome.

Every speech that has been made also convinces me that the circle of bodies with which the Minister is to consult should be as wide as possible. There is no mention of the British Aerospace Industry and yet a number of speeches this afternoon have been concerned with the development of QTOL aircraft, including that of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I do not think anybody could have foreseen the advances in technology which have occurred even in the last few years. As an illustration, I would point out that the U.S.A. is now considering legislation imposing compulsory noise limits on domestic airlines, which the Roskill Report said that we should not attain until 1995. This also illustrates the point that the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, made, that things are happening so rapidly that within the time scale we are talking about—the Minister is thinking of producing a draft Order in the early part of 1974—we may have to revise our opinions again and bring in possibilities such as the expanded use of Heathrow Airport by better terminal facilities and the possibility that with short take-off and landing aircraft we might be able to use one runway for both take-off and landing—perhaps by dividing it into two and thus doubling the capacity. All this might happen well within the time scale we are talking about in the construction of Maplin.

There are other factors, apart from the development of other types of aircraft, which ought also to be taken into consideration. One of these is the Channel Tunnel. This has been mentioned before en passant. The estimate is that it will take only five million passengers from the air services in 1985. But most people that I have spoken to think that this is an extremely cautious assumption. Certainly when electrification of the railway between London and Manchester came into effect virtually all the airline traffic was removed except for inter-line passengers who travel from Manchester to Heathrow to catch onward flights; whereas the estimate for the Channel Tunnel assumes that only some 60 per cent. of the passengers on routes like London to Paris and London to Brussels who now travel by air will transfer to the Tunnel. Although the journey time from city centre to city centre would be 3 hours 40 minutes in the case of Paris and 3 hours 25 minutes in the case of Brussels (which compares favourably with the air journey taking into account going out to the terminal, then to the airport and in again in the other direction) virtually the whole of that traffic between London and destinations like Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, could be diverted to the Tunnel and instead of having 20,000 fewer aircraft movements a year, which is the C.A.A. estimate, it could be considerably larger; hence again, we postpone the need for a third London airport still further.

A noble Lord said in a previous debate that it was granted that we are going to have more air traffic over the years and more people to handle it. He assumed that, right up to the end of the century and beyond—because some of his figures related to the 21st century—we are going to see the sort of growth in air traffic that we have experienced in the last 15 years. That is an unwarrantable assumption. I do not think that in the future air traffic is going to grow as rapidly as it has in the past. One of the obvious reasons for this, if one is thinking of very long time scales which I think should be taken into account in relation to a project like Maplin, is the availability and the price of aviation fuels during the 1980s and the 1990s.

I have already made some reference to the supply of oil in relation to the port. I should now like to point out to your Lordships that between now and 1980 the major oil companies are anticipating at least a doubling in the host Governments' take per barrel of fuel taken out of the producer countries from the present levels of something like 2 dollars 20 cents per barrel to 5 dollars per barrel and upwards. But these assumptions may prove to be optimistic, because the producer Governments have the bit between their teeth at the moment and will be seeking to screw the last possible ounce of royalties and tax out of the oil companies. This is going to have an effect on the end user, and particularly the user of aviation fuels, where the cost of the fuel is a fairly high percentage of the total cost of the fare. So I do not think it is reasonable to assume that air travel will retain the same relationship to people's disposable spending power as it has done in the last 10 years. In fact, it is one of a few commodities that have gone down, in real cost, over recent years. I do not think we can expect this trend to continue. Therefore people's choices of spending may not be quite so heavily geared to more travel; they may find other things that they would like to do with their disposable income. It may be of course that by the turn of the century we shall have come to the stage where oil and oil products are so valuable that they can be used only as feed stocks in the chemical industry for processes of very high added value, and we shall look back and say how wasteful it was to have burned them as fuel for the purpose of transport. I am of course looking very far ahead in making this kind of possibility apparent to your Lordships, but when one is proposing to spend upwards of £1,000 million we cannot take our thinking only as far as 1980, or just beyond it; we have to consider how this airport will be operating towards the end of the century.

Therefore I should like the Minister, in the consultations he is to have, to discuss with the oil industry what sort of price they expect aviation fuel to be when the scheme comes into operation, and how they think this will affect the volume of traffic. In fact, I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that not only will bodies such as have already been mentioned be consulted, but also all those concerned with transport generally. British Rail, for instance, certainly should come into the consultations. To what extent will the advent of the high-speed train and the Advanced Passenger Train enable British Rail to compete so successfully on long-range domestic services that B.E.A.'s flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh, for instance, will no longer be required and will be replaced by surface transport? I hope that the Minister will be able to give us the kind of assurance that I am seeking, and I am sure we all welcome the partial assurance he has given in moving this Amendment.


I shall be brief, and I do not intend to make a Second Reading speech. It is a pleasure to me to be the first from these Benches to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Elton, on the informative nature of his maiden speech and on the persuasive charm with which it was delivered. I do not intend to enter into the fundamental question of the desirability or otherwise of the Maplin Airport. Rather I want to raise two questions of a perhaps localised interest, but on which I hope we shall be given full information when the reports come from the Government. I should like to join with my noble friend Lord Beswick in saying that up till now on many of the aspects of this whole matter we have not had full information. We have been showered with statistics, many of which have been mutually contradictory.

The first matter upon which I hope to see full information in the reports is that of the roads. The maps that had been circulated to us show that these roads stop suddenly at the London border. Where do they go from there? They have shown us, along with the legends that accompanied them, that very few houses will need to be destroyed. That is indeed very welcome. But when the roads leave the London border and go into Inner London, it is most important that we should know what routes they are to take, and the number of houses that are likely to be destroyed, because this factor could weigh considerably with people who up to the present have not finally made up their minds.

The second point I wish to raise concerns the rates of the Essex County Council and the other local authorities in the County of Essex. I speak here as one who for many years was Finance Committee Chairman of the Essex County Council, and who had to endure the experience of seeing new towns and London County Council estates springing up in the county. We found that the county, through its ratepayers, had to meet enormous expenditure in providing schools, police stations, fire stations, clinics and other services for the increased population. In this case, when the new town has been built (I hope that the tense has been noticed there as indicating my general point of view) the Essex County Council will need to spend an enormous amount of money.

This is a national scheme, and I feel that the national Exchequer should contribute a considerable proportion of that expenditure which the Essex authorities will have to incur. The Essex ratepayers should not be unduly punished for what is a national scheme. Unless the Government come forward with generous financial assistance on the lines that I have been suggesting, I am sure that many people in Essex who are at present neutral on the question of the Maplin airport scheme will turn into very severe opponents indeed.

6.7 p.m.


I am grateful to noble Lords for their contributions, and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for the way in which he introduced this subject and the kind things that he said. The debate has ranged over a wide number of topics that will have to be taken into account. I do not think we have mentioned all of them, but almost every one that was mentioned seemed to me to be something that would be taken into account. That is precisely one of the reasons why we have not attempted to list them. I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Elton on his speech, which he delivered with the utmost grace and to the manner born as if he had been doing it all his life. I thought he struck exactly the right note here when he said that we are "buying time". I think that is what we are doing. We are having a pause, if you will, so that before we actually make up our minds we can up-date all the information that we have built up so far and take account of the developments in the meantime. I think this is what all your Lordships want us to do. I am sure I can speak with the utmost confidence in saying that there will be no question of fudging the books in this matter. We shall genuinely attempt to get all the information and compare all the predictions, estimates, forecasts and the like on how affairs will develop. At the end of the day we shall have to reach a judgment upon them, which judgment we will put before your Lordships. No doubt your Lordships will feel critical of some parts of them, but I hope that when the time comes your Lordships will feel able to reach agreement with the Government on the Order that they propose to make.


Whatever advice the Government are given by all these bodies that are to be consulted, the decision will still be the same. Is that right?


No; I did not say that. I said that the whole thing will be re-evaluated, up-dated and looked at again. We shall get a mass of advice, and at the end of the day we shall have to reach a judgment on that advice. All I am saying is that it is not just a question of ascertaining the facts, or even the extrapolations or anything of that sort. It is a question of judgment, bearing in mind all the considerations as to the right time to go forward, if we are to go forward at all. This is what we are talking about.

I was very interested indeed in the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I am certain that everything he mentioned will be taken into account in the general calculation. I was also interested to see a close correspondence between the observations of my noble friend Lord Elton and those of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and to observe where they put the emphasis—they are both experts in their own fields. I took the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden. I think he is quite right: noise is one of the things, together with the development of engines and how fast new developments will be produced, which have to be kept closely under review. But at a given moment in time we have to reach a judgment, because we have these estimates as to how traffic may develop. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, may be quite right in saying that this is a change. We have to seek to evaluate it, but, as I said in the Second Reading debate, the estimates made separately by Roskill and the Civil Aviation Authority correspond very closely indeed for the periods of 1972, 1980 and 1985. They represent a formidable increase which will have to be provided for. If those estimates are made, then we have to consider how the demands are to be met and we must reach a judgment at the end of the day. I hope we shall be able to do this competently and fairly.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 5 agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Exclusion or modification of certain provisions]:

6.13 p.m.

BARONESS YOUNG moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 20, leave out lines 11 to 14 and insert— ("(4) Subject to sub-paragraph (5) below, where the Maplin Development Authority fails to comply with a direction given under this paragraph").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6 and at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 7 and 8. It might be helpful if I explained that these three Amendments must be seen against the purpose of the third Schedule which, taken as a whole, frees the Maplin Development Authority from various statutory controls. This Schedule was substantially amended in another place, and the main purpose of these Amendments was to extend the circumstances in which the Port of London Authority could give directions to the Maplin Development Authority on the conservation of the Thames. The Port of London Authority has a duty under Section 5 of the 1968 Act to safeguard not only the conservation of the Thames but also navigational safety. These three Amendments are concerned with navigational safety. The first is a paving Amendment. Amendment No. 7, which proposes a new sub-paragraph (5), would allow the Port of London Authority, if it thought that urgent action was needed to prevent danger to navigation, to step in and do whatever was thought necessary before the fourteen days normally allowed for compliance for appeal had elapsed. Of course, if the Port of London Authority, on subsequent appeal by the Maplin Development Authority, were to be found to have misjudged the situation and to have carried out works which were not necessarily required, then the cost of such work would, under the terms of the new sub-paragraph, have to be borne by the Port of London Authority itself. Such a situation is perhaps unlikely to occur, but it is reasonable that the Maplin Development Authority's position should be safeguarded.

The new sub-paragraph (6) would make the Maplin Development Authority liable to a fine if it failed to comply with a direction given by either the Department of Trade and Industry or the Port of London Authority in the interests of navigational safety. It might be, for example, that a direction was given that dredging or works should not be carried out in a particular way or in a particular place, and in such a case the power to do works in default provided for in sub-paragraph (4) would not present an effective way of dealing with non-compliance by the Maplin Development Authority. There are adequate precedents in legislation—for example, in the Thames Barrier and Flood Prevention Act 1972—for imposing on public authorities a liability to a fine in such circumstances. It is of course to be expected that the Maplin Development Authority will act reasonably and in close co-operation with the Port of London Authority, and the penalty is not expected to be used in practice. It is in effect an ultimate sanction. I beg to move.


I should just like to thank the noble Baroness for explaining the position so clearly and so briefly.


I beg to move Amendment No. 7.

Amendment moved—

Page 20, line 20, at end insert— ("( ) The Port of London Authority shall not take the steps specified in a direction given by it if an appeal against the direction is pending or may be brought (within fourteen days of the giving of the direction) unless it appears to the Authority that immediate action is required to prevent danger to navigation; and may not recover any costs incurred in taking such steps if the direction is cancelled on appeal.").—(Baroness Young.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 8.

Amendment moved—

Page 20, line 20, at end insert— ("( ) Subject to sub-paragraph (3) above, where the Maplin Development Authority fails to comply with a direction under this paragraph which—

  1. (a) is given by the Secretary of State; or
  2. (b) is given by the Port of London Authority and expressed to be given for the purpose of preventing danger to navigation;
the Maplin Development Authority shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400 and, on conviction on indictment, to a fine.").—(Baroness Young.)

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.

Cause 9 [Protection of flora and fauna]:

6.18 p.m.

THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE (LORD SANDFORD) moved Amendment No. 9: Page 5, line 20, after ("Conservancy") insert ("Council").

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move Amendment No. 9 and to speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 10 and 11. Your Lordships have this afternoon heard the Royal Assent to the Nature Conservancy Act. That creates the new Nature Conservancy Council, which will broadly take over the conservation functions of the previous Nature Conservancy. The purpose of this Amendment and of Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 is to adjust the Maplin Development Bill to this new situation. I beg to move.


I beg to move Amendment No. 10.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 22, after ("Conservancy") insert ("Council").—(Lord Sandford.)


I beg to move Amendment No. 11.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 25, leave out ("the Nature Conservancy") and insert ("that Council").—(Lord Sandford.)

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10 [Havengore Creek]:


I should point out that in Clause 10 there is a misprint. The figure of 25 in the Marshalled List should in fact be 39.

6.21 p.m.

LORD WYNNE-JONES moved Amendment No. 12: Page 5, line 39, leave out ("1/") and insert ("2").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with the entrance to Havengore Creek. This may seem a trivial matter; in fact it is something which is very small indeed. It is a creek which yachtsmen use in moving round from the River Crouch and the River Roach out into the Thames, and they go round to Shoeburyness and Southend without going into exposed waters. The information that we were given at the Select Committee was that although there will not be a large number of people using this creek at the present time, the number is significant and the creek plays an important part in the recreational facilities which are available. We in the Select Committee were necessarily concerned only with the matters that the Petitioners raised with us. The Petitioners were naturally worried about the impact on themselves—in fact that was their only right to come before us to put forward a plea. We are entitled to look further at this matter because the plan is that there should be considerable development in this part of Essex, and therefore one can reasonably assume that there will be a considerable extension in the amount of yachting which occurs in the neighbourhood.

I am told this is a part where very often the week-end yachtsman goes, the person who does not yacht regularly but who sails as a recreation at the week-ends and who uses and sails a small boat in this part. At the present time coming out from Havengore Creek the yachtsmen have to cross a part of the Maplin Sands where there is a channel. There is also clearly marked on the survey map a roadway, which I think is called the Broomway. This roadway is an old one which was at one time used for access round the sands. It is fairly close to the shore. This roadway is one of the obstacles which restricts passage out because of silting up round it; consequently, the access to Havengore Creek is restricted to about an hour at high water. This means that at the present time the boat owners who use this channel know all about the situation and they operate in the appropriate way during the restricted period of entry.

With the reclamation of Maplin Sands, which we have discussed and to which approval has been given, the whole of this entrance will be enclosed within the reclamation area. But the Government gave an undertaking that where practicable the channel would be maintained. This can be done. We were informed by all concerned—by the Director of Wallingford Research Laboratory, the hydraulics laboratory; we were also informed by the firm which has been responsible for making estimates of the cost of reclamation, the cost of bridging, and everything like that—that everything indicated that this channel could be maintained. Nevertheless, it will be closed during most of the period of construction of this reclamation area, so the yachtsmen will undoubtedly lose this facility over the next few years once the scheme has started.

Why do they want the facility to be continued afterwards? It is because, when the whole area has been reclaimed, the only way they will be able to get round from the Southend area to the Crouch will be by using a main shipping channel in which operate large ships. This is something about which the expert yachtman would not worry too much; if he had a well found boat he could undoubtedly use that channel. But there will be many who at the present time use this region for their yachting who will not be expert, and who will not wish to go out into the main channel, which involves a 31 mile reach right round and can be in exposed waters. Therefore they wish to have this entrance to Havengore Creek maintained.

Provision is made in Clause 10 for the maintenance of such a channel. Sub-section (2) reads: … the channel to be maintained by the Maplin Development Authority shall be such as to allow direct access to Havengore Creek from sea, at all times during a period beginning one hour before and ending one hour after mean high water springs, by any vessel—

  1. (a) requiring clearance above water level of not more than 4 metres;
  2. (b) having a depth below water level of not more than 1.2 metres at any point; …"
The 1.2 metres restricts the use of this channel considerably. The evidence given to the Select Committee was interesting on this point. I quote from evidence given by Mr. Ventris. He said: Once the shallowest part of the entrance is negotiated—8–9 feet at Mean High Water Springs and 5 feet at Mean High Water Neaps … This means that only at certain times can they hope to have this 8 to 9 feet. The 1.2 metres that is given in the Bill will not adequately maintain the existing channel. I have taken advice on the matter and I am told that if that channel were raised to 2 metres that would almost certainly be adequate for all the boats that use this creek, and further it should not be disturbing to the régime which will settle in this region. Naturally, this is something which has to be accurately worked out on the hydraulic model, and it is impossible to say until it has been worked out whether you could have the 2 metres maintained regularly. But equally it is uncertain whether you could get the 1.2 metres because the hydraulic model has not yet been operated. It is beginning operation and we shall not know the results until the end of December. What I am suggesting is we should put in the figure of 2 metres instead of 1.2 metres in order to maintain an amenity which is being used at the present time, and which will become even more important with the developments which are going to take place. Surely, if we are doing something at Maplin which is meant to be an amenity for the country as a whole, we should not forget the people who in small numbers are living there at the present time and we should ensure that they retain what amenity they have now, and that they have this properly maintained for them.

There is the separate problem of the bridge. To this your Lordships will recollect the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, made reference in the Special Report from our Committee, which was that the road and rail services coming across Maplin might be put in a tunnel, and that this should be examined to see whether it could appropriately be done. We were told by the consultants that there was, in their opinion, nothing technically impossible about it, and they gave an estimate, which is available of course to the Government, of the cost. But, quite apart from what is done about bringing the road and railway over, the adequate dredging of this channel will make an enormous difference to its availability. I speak not as a yachtsman; I speak as one absolutely innocent of such a vice, but I feel it is immensely important that people should have available for them amenities to which they are accustomed and which form a proper part of their recreation. Others will be able to say more about the technical details of this matter. I beg to move.


May I ask a question for clarification? Does this depth of 1.2 metres, at low water, refer to a sailing boat with its centreboard down or with its centreboard up? I see that according to paragraph (2)(b) it means at any point That point should be clarified because it appears to be rather vague. I quite agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken that if the channel can be made deeper without any vast expense, it will be far more useful. I should like clarification regarding the centreboard.

6.32 p.m.


I wish I had been here earlier on the debate on this Bill. Unfortunately, when the Bill was in its earlier stages I was abroad navigating some rather warmer, deeper and certainly less muddy waters than those we are dealing with at present. On coming back I find that it is almost essential that I speak on this Bill because I seem to be more or less unique. I have navigated over the Maplin Sands a great many times. I have passed backwards and forwards through Havengore many times: and, what is more, I believe I am the only noble Lord present, at any rate, who has fished on these Sands both for cockles and also for white weed. So I know a little about the area and perhaps I may be of use to your Lordships. This is a very odd area, a very odd area indeed. Geographically I believe the Maplin Sands is older than the land at Foulness which lies to the North of it. It appears that the sand bar caused the silt to deposit to the North, to form saltings. Then primitive man built himself this incredible road with brushwood along the top of the Maplin Sands so as to get himself out to safe harbourage on the Point, and the land to the North of the sand bar was then inned for agricultural purposes. Naturally, they put seawalls round the mud for agricultural purposes, rather than try inning the sand, which is of course our present purpose. So Maplin was built up.

The astonishing thing is that the highest natural ground in the area (I am not talking about the seawalls) is actually in the sea under the sand, along this Broomway. The land slopes downwards to the North, and if there were no seawalls the whole area would be largely covered at highwater. The slope of everything, therefore, is northwards and all the streams run northwards. As a result, this natural creek, Havengore Creek, runs from South to North. The tide enters it first of all from its northern end and the water does not actually flow northwards until the Broomway covers, which is very late on the tide indeed: so much so that there can be plenty of deep water all along the creek if you are coming from the North, and you do not hit a shallow which you stick on until you are actually where the old lift bridge is, which will now presumably be abolished.

I know all this very well. I have waded in the creek at this point in sea-boots; I have walked along the Broomway and I have walked across the Broomway at this point. The fact of the matter is that there is masses of water in the creek—a quite astonishing depth—if you are coming from the North to South, until you reach the lift bridge. At that point it starts to get a little shallower, but the actual shallow patch is a quite steep hump where the Broomway is, and that hump, as was given I think in evidence, is only 20 or 30 yards wide. This is what we are talking about when we talk of dredging. We are not talking about dredging 10 miles of derelict canal; we are talking about dredging away a hump of sand about 20 or 30 yards wide. It could almost be done with children's buckets and spades. It could not be an expensive business. To dredge it would be immensely valuable and would get rid of a lot of opposition in the locality which is being generated by what may be done at Havengore.

The fact of the matter is that there is easily 6-foot of water to the North of that lift bridge and there is normally plenty of water in the creek. The difficulty is simply to get over this hump, and if that hump were dredged down 2 or 3 feet, as could easily be done, the result would be to produce a creek, not with 1.2 metres but with 2 metres of water in it at high water; and that would be far more valuable, enormously more valuable.

This creek was very useful to me, I must say. I had a shallow draught barge yacht. What is more, I had mast dropping gear so I was able to go under the lift bridge without bothering to lift it. This is a point in the Bill concerning the height of this bridge where, I must say, I feel slightly opposed to the local inhabitants. I do not see the necessity for large fixed masts which cannot be taken down. My experience with mast dropping gear—I must say I invented and installed my own—was that I could get my gear down and up again with all sails set in 48 seconds. That was a bit special; maybe not everybody could have done that. But it shows that, with a little thought, and not very much money, it is possible to install mast dropping gear and use it.

I am prepared, as everybody in this House knows, to support waterway causes when they are genuine, but I do not feel that I could inflict many million pounds' worth of expense on the Exchequer simply for the purpose of raising the bridge a little higher. I think one could get at least part of the necessary effect by dredging the bottom a little lower, and that that extra height would at least get the superstructure of larger motor craft under a fixed bridge, and also would have the extremely valuable effect that you would not only have one hour either side of high water to enter, but you could enter possibly for another hour or half hour either side of high water. That would be enormously valuable for small craft. This is important to small craft because the trip round outside the tip of Foulness can be tricky. You set off in nice weather; but is it nice weather when you reach the tip? With our changeable British weather it very often is not. And these little craft are going to multiply enormously; those wishing to go through the creek are going to multiply simply because the journey round the Point has been made more dangerous, as we have already heard. They are multiplying by the natural multiplication of small craft which is happening all over the country. They are multiplying for a further reason, and that is that the average size of small craft that people are using is becoming smaller and smaller. They will multiply again because this is now going to be made into a very large built-up area. This creek will become a major asset in the area, and for that reason we really should set about doing something for it instead of just trying to keep it to its present rather shallow depth over the Broomway. I am sorry to say that, for all its age, the Broomway must go so far as the creek is concerned.

That was the main point I wanted to make, but I should like to make one other subsidiary point. For hundreds of years now this has been a nice little rural creek. A nice little rural creek largely maintains itself: it silts up gradually but the process goes on over the centuries. It is not something that happens at once. But this creek will cease to be a nice little rural creek; it will become a very urban creek indeed; and my experience of urban creeks is that they silt up with astonishing and horrible rapidity as everybody in the locality throws his rubbish into them. This creek must have an authority in charge of it, otherwise it will soon cease to be a creek and become a rubbish bin; and it will not matter to what depth the Statute says it should be dredged.

Another thing about this creek is that the sea walls are slowly becoming too low. They were rebuilt at the time of the 1953 floods. That was when the previous creeks which paralleled this creek were blocked off. They were blocked off for the simple reason that it saved the raising of the sea walls all along their length. It was a matter of economy. Now, with Havengore, if the sea walls have to be raised again—and they will have to be raised again in the next few years—what are we going to do? Are we going to raise them all along its length, through the middle of an urban area? I suggest that it would be far better for an authority to be formed for this creek; for it to fit locks and lock gates at either end of the creek so that when the time came to raise the sea walls they would have to be raised only at the entrance and not along the two sides of the creek. This would represent a saving of many thousands of pounds. I cannot give the exact sum, but because of the windings the distances along the sides of the creek are quite considerable. If this point is taken into consideration it might save any money which might otherwise be spent on improving the creek itself.

Those are the two points I wish to make. This creek could be made much better. It must be preserved, and if we are to preserve it we should do something about putting an authority in charge of it, otherwise, instead of being a rural creek it will end up as a piece of water largely in the interior of a town, which will be wanted as a town amenity and which will serve many purposes besides the actual passage to and fro. It will be a very valuable piece of water indeed, and when we consider the depth it is going to be we should take into account that it should be deep enough for all the craft which will use it. I therefore support my noble friend in asking that this creek should be dredged for its very short length to a depth of two metres.


I do not pretend to have any expertise in the world of yachting, but I have received some representations from the Wakering Small Boat Users' Association, who have asked me to support any moves in your Lordships' House, either to increase the depth of water or to raise the height of the bridge. I am satisfied from what I have heard that to raise the height of the bridge by an Amendment to this Bill is impracticable, but I think the proposal made by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, is reasonable and I hope that it will commend itself to the Government.


As a colleague of the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, on the Select Committee over nine days I, too, should like to say a few words in support of his Amendment. I think we were all impressed by the general attitude of the people of that particular area of Essex. They did not whine about the principle of the Bill. They were not represented by counsel. They came as laymen and put their case before us and I think the odds were stacked against them from the beginning. This is a national project and as such I support it, but in so doing I think we should do our utmost to protect the interests of the comparatively few people in the area who will be adversely affected. In spite of the possible advantages of increased property values, and so on, there are very few people who welcome an airport on their doorstep, and I should have thought that the outcry over the Roskill proposals for Cublington would substantiate that. So I think we should lean over backwards to protect the minority interests of the people in this case.

I am not a sailing man, but clearly sailing is the primary interest in that part of the world. It is equivalent to the interest in horses in my part of the world and I know what an outcry there would be if there were any intereference with equestrian pursuits in the Midlands. I hope the Government will be able to protect this creek, which is obviously a lifeline to the sailing people. I hope they will be able to improve the channel, particularly, as we have heard, as they might be able to avoid the expense of increasing the height of the bridge. In so doing they would help enormously the present locals and also the future so-called immigrant locals.


As an unskilled navigator of inland waterways who enjoys them very much, I support the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones. It obviously makes an enormous difference if one can go through this channel once every tide without have to consult the times of the tides to see when it is possible to go through and when it is not. The other point that was stressed by the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, is that the inland waterways are one of the amenities in this country which will be increasingly used over the years. It is a very great recreation for the people who are not sufficiently skilled to navigate the sea. I am sure that this small Amendment would give enormous pleasure to a great many people, and it seems important to get it right in legislation now instead of having to amend it later.


Before my noble friend replies I should like to ask one question. Is there at the present moment a depth of more than 1.2 metres at the datum point in question at one hour before or after high water springs? I sought a little advice about this clause and it appeared to me that the information given here in depths and heights are as they actually exist, and I am wondering whether in fact this is correct?


I think perhaps the Committee might like me to answer that, as I feel it may puzzle anybody else. The fact is that there is considerably more water over this sand bar at high water springs, but high water springs occur once a fortnight, and yachtsmen of course may want to get in at other times of the moon. After all, the perfect spring tide does not necessarily apply at the week-end and therefore we must have enough water through this channel not only at high water springs but also at other times in the week. There is actually at this moment a great deal more water over high water springs, but anyone knowing his Thames will know that it is impossible to say anything with accuracy to 0.2 of a metre in the matter of high tide and the spring tide. It may go a foot or two up or a foot or two down on that. I am afraid that the question is really unanswerable, but I would say that 1.2 metres at high water springs is much too little. I rather fancy that there is a misprint in the Bill and that it ought to have been 1.2 metres at high water and not at high water springs.

6.50 p.m.


I do not think that is so, speaking as a "former naval person". I would confirm with the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids, that this is indeed a tricky part of the world in which to navigate; the weather is fickle, and if you are driving destroyers you have to be even more careful than if you are driving small boats, but I would agree that this creek we are talking about is a useful sheltered channel for small boats seeking to make their way from the Thames estuary to the Crouch. The depth of the channel is 1.2 metres at high water springs and, as the pilot says, it is suitable at those times only for boats drawing no more than 4 feet. I think that is the datum from which we have to start. As I have said, I would agree that this is a useful sheltered channel, but I am not sure I would agree that without it small boats or other boats that cannot use it have to navigate in exposed waters for as far as 31 miles. Thirty-one miles may be the total extent of their passage, but they are not exposed for that length of time and distance to rough or uncertain weather. Nevertheless, it is a useful sheltered channel.

It was for that reason that after hearing those who raised this matter in another place, notably the Royal Yachting Association, the Select Committee there incorporated what is now in the Bill as Clause 10. In this House a further Amendment of exactly the same effect as that which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones—as he will know because he was a member of the Committee himself—was moved by the Defenders of Essex, and others. The Committee of which he was a member considered that Amendment and, as we have heard from the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, the Committee of which he was a member rejected that Amendment; and I think they did so prudently. We know, because the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, has told us, that they did so because they understood that the model work—and the noble Lord described to your Lordships what that involved—now being undertaken by the Hydraulics Research Station at Wallingford was not yet at a sufficiently advanced stage for anyone to know what would be involved in having this channel artificially deepened beyond the natural depth at which it now stands. So that of the Select Committees in both Houses, who heard all this, one initiated this Amendment and the other agreed that the right thing to prescribe was that the statutory duty laying down what the Maplin Development Authority must do should be to protect and maintain facilities in the form in which they now exist for the benefit of the boats that use them at the present time. I hope your Lordships will agree that so far as it is right to make or prescribe by Statute the obligations, the duties, the things that the Maplin Development Authority must do, what has been prescribed is appropriate.

The object of this Bill is to ensure that the existing amenities and facilities in this area are as far as possible safeguarded, protected and maintained, and this clause in its present form does exactly and precisely that. In the present state of knowledge, and in the present state of knowledge of model work I submit to your Lordships that that is the right thing to do. When the Hydraulics Research Station model has revealed its results, we can then consider what more might be done, not just to preserve these amenities but to go into the very proper question of enhancing and improving them, for all the reasons which noble Lords have put forward. If many more people are going to live here, many more recreational amenities must be provided. That would be the moment to consider what more can be done to make this existing amenity a better and greater one. The provision in the Bill for that is contained in Clause 2(5)(a) where it says that the remainder of the land that is being reclaimed may be used for such other recreational, amenity or other purposes, and so the Authority there have the power, as distinct from the duty, to use land for just this sort of purpose. But that is not all. In addition, we have the authority for which the noble Viscount, Lord St. Davids called. We have a Regional Water Authority; we have a Water Space Amenity Commission, and it will be the duty of both of these bodies to consider how to make the best use of all the water in the country; but this will be of particular importance for recreational and amenity purposes.

I do not think that at this moment, therefore, it would be right to write into the Bill a duty the implications of which we cannot see, the implications of which the Select Committee could not see, the implications of which they thought it right not to put into the Bill (and the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, was a member of that Committee), but rather to accept the assurances from me that the Maplin Development Authority now have, thanks to Clause 10, the specific duty to maintain this creek in the condition it now is in for the purposes of the boats than can now use it. Then, when we know what the Hydraulics Research Station model has shown, we can see what further might be done, and it will be practical, right and reasonable to do so. I hope that with the assurance that the matter will be considered, that the powers to take action on whatever is decided are there in the Bill, and in the Water Bill which we have just passed, the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment. But I am sure the Committee will be grateful to him for the opportunity he has given to the House to look at this matter and for me to give these assurances.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for the statement he has just made. However, I should like to call his attention to the fact that Clause 10(4) states: Where the Maplin Development Authority satisfies the Secretary of State that serious adverse effects have arisen, or are likely to arise, from any siltation, scouring or alteration of tidal flow attributable to the maintenance of a navigable channel in Havengore Creek in accordance with this section the Secretary of State may by order provide for the closing to navigation of so much of the creek within the said limits of deviation as he considers appropriate. In other words, whatever figure one puts in, whether it be 1.2 or any other figure, it is not an obligation on the Maplin Development Authority to maintain that creek if they can show to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State that it is not possible or reasonable to do so. And so, surely, whatever figure we put in is at the moment really an instruction to aim at that figure and furthermore to ask the Hydraulic Research Station to do their tests with that figure in mind rather than with a different figure. If we leave the figure 1.2 metres in, then the Hydraulic Research Station will do all their research on 1.2 metres until some time later someone comes along and says, "Why not 2 metres?" They may say by that time that it is too troublesome to revise the model. It would be sensible to put in the figure 2 because it does not state at all that this must be carried out independently of whether it is feasible, because surely, subsection (4) guards the Authority entirely against anything of that type.


Before my noble friend replies, may I raise one matter which I think he touched on? If the depth was increased by 0.8 of a metre, is there a chance that this creek could become a tidal race which I feel might have a very adverse effect? Is this possibly one of the reasons why we are carrying out this tidal exercise in model form at the moment?


I am grateful to my noble friend. That is the kind of contingency for which subsection (4) provides. If the effect of the reclamation and the attempt to keep this particular creek open, which will result from the discharge of the duty laid on the Maplin Development Authority by this clause, were to produce very serious silting or other effects disturbing navigation over a much wider area, then the whole matter would have to be reconsidered in the greater interests of the greater number of people who might be adversely affected. But before the Maplin Development Authority can draw back from the obligations laid on them by Clause 10(1), they would have to satisfy the Secretary of State that that was so. I think this is the opposite side of the coin, but in certain circumstances, where the effect of keeping this creek open really has very adverse effects elsewhere, then of course it would perhaps be necessary to close it. On the other hand, our hope and expectation is that the work of the Hydraulics Research Station will show that it may be possible to go beyond maintaining the creek in its present state, which is the duty of the Maplin Development Authority as the Bill now stands. I hope that satisfies the noble Lord, and that he will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment.


Will the noble Lord correct one remark he made? He said it was intended to keep the creek in the same state as now. This is clearly not so. At present there is unlimited headroom along this creek. He intends to build a low bridge. That is going to make a considerable difference to the navigation.


I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble Viscount? We are speaking to the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wynee-Jones, which has to do with the depth of the channel. He mentioned the bridge, but I did not follow him on that because it was not strictly in order. If the noble Viscount wants to raise the question of the bridge, it would be in order for him to do so on the Question, Whether the clause shall stand part.


The noble Lord misunderstands me. We do not want the bridge raised, but you get exactly the same result by lowering the bed of the channel; you get the same result more cheaply. When you go under a bridge the height under the bridge depends on the height of the tide. If the channel is deeper and you can enter it earlier and later on the tide, it means you can get under a low bridge, and if you deepen the channel that much you have in fact heightened the bridge that much. What is more, you can get under that bridge earlier and later on the tide. This is the simple point. We do not want to alter the bridge; it is the channel we want to alter.


I hope the noble Viscount will not navigate on that basis, because he will find he hits the bridge if he does.


This is a very simple principle on which one has navigated so many bridges. One can point to many places. One might point to Brentford Bridge at the entrance to the Grand Union Canal, which you cannot get under at high water springs, but which is perfectly navigable shortly before high water springs and shortly after high water springs. Nobody wants that bridge raised, because they know that just before or just after high tide they can get under it, because there is sufficient depth in the channel. This is the simple point. If you push the bottom of the channel down, you have in fact rather cheaply raised the height of the bridge.


In reply to the noble Lord, I certainly do not propose to press this Amendment. But I hope I am entitled to assume that the Government will bear this point in mind and will make sure that in all the considerations of the Hydraulics Research Station this additional depth will be taken into account. If that is done, then I shall be perfectly satisfied.


Certainly I can give that assurance.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clauses 11 to 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [Duty to consult on aerospace developments]:

On Question, Whether Clause 25 shall stand part of the Bill?

Resolved in the negative, and Clause 25 disagreed to accordingly.

Remaining clauses and Schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.

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