HL Deb 30 November 1976 vol 378 cc129-30

2.50 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that the bridge to be built over the Shropshire Union Canal at Arddleen near Welsh-pool is so constructed as to permit the navigation of vessels along the canal.

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)

My Lords, this is the objective which the Welsh Office and the British Waterways Board are together seeking to achieve.


My Lords, I am greatly obliged to the noble and learned Lord for that reply. Is he aware that a great stretch of the canal has recently been cleaned and opened at the expense of many private individuals in order to make it navigable and that if this bridge is constructed so that barges cannot pass underneath all that work will be set at naught? Is the noble and learned Lord further aware that much of the money for this work has been collected under the auspices of no less a person than His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales?


My Lords, I am aware of the matters to which the noble Lord has referred. In 1973 the Welsh Office agreed to a suggestion by the British Waterways Board to incorporate in the bridge design a box culvert capable of accommodating a dropped lock. I am sure that noble Lords will understand fully what that mechanism means and what is involved. Since then I understand that, although the Welsh Office agreed to pay for the box culvert and to contribute towards the cost of the dropped lock, certain difficulties have arisen. There was a conference on 20th October between all concerned, including a representative of the Secretary of State for Wales. A number of alternative suggestions were put forward and the Secretary of State is awaiting the receipt of conclusions upon those expert discussions.


My Lords, is the noble and learned Lord saying that the canal will or will not be navigable when the bridge is completed?


My Lords, I am sorry that my answer did not make that elementary fact clearer. Obviously the answer is, Yes.


My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord bear in mind that too much navigation could ruin what is at present a most attractive canal? It is an admirable nature reserve, and that aspect may be ruined if too many motor-boats use the canal.


My Lords, that is yet another illustration of the many sidedness of Truth.