HL Deb 12 July 1989 vol 510 cc331-42

7.21 p.m.

Lord Brooks of Tremorfa

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. In moving the Third Reading I can do no better than to refer to the Special Report of the Select Committee which, over 13 sitting days together with a day to view Cardiff Bay and no doubt several sittings in private, considered every aspect of the Bill in the greatest detail. Your Lordships will note from paragraph 6 of the Special Report that the Committee had before it an Instruction from this House to pay particular attention to two aspects: the achievement of an acceptable water quality standard and the effect on fish migration. I draw your Lordships' attention to the Select Committee's study of those aspects in paragraphs 33 to 41 and I commend the Committee on its findings.

In its conclusion the Committee's report states in paragraph 42 that: the case for the barrage stood or fell on the economic evaluation of the investment which would be attracted to the area … the Committee were convinced on the evidence that the economic case was sound and that the investment prospects were good. I ask the House to endorse the findings of the Select Committee.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Lord Brooks of Tremorfa.)

Lord Moran

My Lords, all of us would wish to thank the committee very much for their work in considering this question. I read through the whole of the transcript of its hearings, and it is clear that the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, and his colleagues went into all aspects of the problem over many days with great care and thoroughness. We must all be very grateful to them.

I should say a word about the House's Instruction to the Committee, which I moved at Second Reading. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that it called, first, for an acceptable water quality standard at all times and the safeguarding of public health; and, secondly, for the safeguarding of the passage of migratory fish.

On both those issues the authoritative experts in Wales are, without question, Welsh Water. Halfway through the hearings I asked Welsh Water when they would be giving evidence. I was told that they had not been invited to do so—and they are indeed not mentioned in the transcript among the prospective witnesses listed by the promoters on Day 4 of the proceedings (pages 3 and 27). I thought that surprising as I did not see how the committee could carry out the terms of the Instruction given to it by your Lordships' House if the promoters were not going to call Welsh Water. I therefore raised the question with the clerks. I assume that your Lordships' committee did then raise it with the promoters because, happily, Welsh Water were subsequently asked to give evidence on fisheries and water quality, and that valuable and comprehensive evidence is now on record.

Perhaps I can deal first with the second point in the Instruction dealing with fisheries. I studied Dr Cresswell's evidence on Day 7. I note that Welsh Water has laid down stringent conditions, which seem to me reasonable, given all the work that they have done and are doing to rehabilitate the fisheries on the Taff. I am content with what is proposed. One cannot be absolutely certain that it will work—I believe that the fish will have to swim downhill to get into the lake—but I very much hope that it does.

Turning now to the question of water quality, that seems to me of central importance. It has been suggested that at Second Reading I exaggerated the risks. I have looked again at what I said, which was based very largely on Welsh Water's original petition and their subsequent public statement, and I do not think that there was any exaggeration. Indeed, it seems to me that what I said was substantially endorsed by what was said by the experts at the hearings.

It was confirmed that there can be no immersion sports (Day 1, page 35) and that there is no possibility of raising the water quality to bathing standards (Day 8, pages 21 and 33). At Second Reading I said that there would be a health hazard for those who fell into the lake. I did not then know that an unfortunate man had fallen into the Taff during a raft race and subsequently died, very tragically, from leptospirosis, as recorded on Day 4, page 62.

The committee were given the fullest evidence on the problems of algae, of blue-green algae and toxins, on non-biting midges—which I am sorry to see might need to be controlled by chemicals—and on the quantities of rubbish carried down by the rivers Taff and Ely. Those problems are to be dealt with by Vitox units, slurp units, booms across rivers and "water witches", at substantial cost. They will require a major continuing effort which we must hope will be effective.

I observed that Mrs. Essex, a planner with Mid-Glamorgan County Council and a Cardiff City councillor, said in her evidence, I feel very strongly that the water quality of the impounded lake is nowhere near the point of quality we were all led to believe would be the case when the barrage was first mooted". Incidentally, no one appears to have asked how the rubbish and algae which are to be collected from the rivers and lakes are to be disposed of. I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Brooks, about that. As it is, domestic refuse has hitherto apparently been dumped in the Penarth dock and will have to be cleared out at a cost of f 12 million or more (Day 3, page 22). That is more than double what it is proposed should be spent on an alternative facility for the birds.

The question of the funding of nutrient stripping after 20 years is still, so far as I know, unresolved and is not referred to in the Committee's report. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Brooks, can tell us how that stands.

I recognise that by the use of machines great efforts are going to be made to deal with water quality problems. But machines can go wrong and, as we know, men can go on strike. The Times of 8th May, for example, reported one of the worst pollution incidents in recent history when storms washed sewage into the Thames, the "bubbler" machine which puts oxygen into the river was being repaired, and vast numbers of fish were killed along the river from Kew to Tower Bridge—there were dead fish floating down past your Lordships' House.

The hazards of water quality are not fantasies. They are very real, not only in this country but in many other parts of the world. The Daily Telegraph of 4th July reported that: At the eastern end of the Baltic, near Leningrad, a 14-mile dam nearly complete across the Neva delta is causing major problems". A Soviet expert said: Because of inadequate water treatment there is an alarming increase of blue and green algaes … Three months ago, the bacteria count was one thousand times the permitted level". The Sunday Telegraph of 18th June carried a very strange photograph of a gondolier with two passengers in a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice with the Rialto Bridge in the background, but all three of them were wearing face masks. The caption under the photograph read: Gondoliers and tourists guard against the growing stench of the Grand Canal by wearing face masks". The accompanying article quoted the mayor of Venice as saying: We are on the brink of catastrophe … Almost the entire lagoon is covered. The algae are changing the whole environment, and I'm afraid I have little faith in the measures we are taking". The article went on to quote the man in charge of the operation as being "pessimistic" saying: These algae double in size every 15 days. It's simply a battle we cannot win". The article added: Nearby towns have already blocked barges trying to dump the mess on their doorsteps". It went on: Worse is in store, for the scum … is a perfect breeding ground for billions of tiny flies. Once hatched, they head for the lights of Venice. Last year they descended on the city in a plague of biblical proportions. The city's airport was closed as carpets of insects made runways unusable and infiltrated aircraft engines. The railway station was cut off and street lighting obliterated". It is clearly a nightmare situation in Venice, but it shows what can happen when questions of water quality go wrong. Subsequent reports have described growing and serious problems with algae all down the Adriatic coast. Venice is a city—if ever there was one—with a "superb maritime environment", but the deterioration of water quality is creating grave problems. It shows what can happen. I greatly hope that those problems will not come to Cardiff. We must all hope that.

Turning to the other question of the extinction of the Taff-Ely SSSI and the problem of the wading birds, I see that the Nature Conservancy Council said in their evidence on Day 12 that the Severn estuary is an internationally important wetland and Cardiff Bay a uniquely important component of that wetland; that, very large populations of birds of several species depend on Cardiff Bay for their feeding and their survival"; and that, passage of the Bill would lead to the destruction of the Cardif Bay and thus do serious damage to the nature conservation interest of the Severn estuary as a whole". As the committee noted, this appears to be the first time that an entire site of special scientific interest might be eliminated as a result of development proposed by a public authority. Sir Peter Scott was quoted as saying, You may also add my personal voice to those vehemently against this disastrous proposal". There can be no doubt that it would be an extraordinarily damaging precedent for development elsewhere. That is a worry when some 30 barrage schemes are being considered in Great Britain on the Tees, Severn, Humber, Mersey, Morecambe Bay and many other estuaries.

It runs against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Ramsar Convention, which requires the wise use of wetlands, and the Community's birds directive, and would result in the loss of many birds, including some like the dunlin which are becoming scarcer. The committee noted that the outlook for the dunlin, redshank and curlew is not, in its words, "reassuring".

The alternative area proposed is regarded by the experts, according to the evidence that they gave, as far too small to make a real difference. I am surprised that the committee did not require the promoters to provide something much more substantial. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, will say a word about that.

The case against the barrage is essentially that it is purely cosmetic, that it will do away with the tides, the SSSI and most of the wading birds and that, while seeking to create a "superb maritime environment", it will shut away the sea behind a wall of concrete and Cardiff will become rather less maritime than it is now. It has also been argued by the petitioners that the welcome development of Cardiff docklands is going ahead anyway.

The case for the barrage seems to depend on the assessment of the property developers. Their expertise clearly carried weight, but not all their remarks create confidence. On Day 7 Mr. Richardson, of Rothschild's, for example, talked about, a freshwater lake which is blue and sparkling That betrayed a surprising ignorance, for it has been clearly established that, whatever else it is, the lake is unlikely to be blue. The promoters also used rather cloudy language when talking about the barrage, describing it on Day 6 as "a destination" or "an attraction". In summing up, their counsel used the word "superb" five times in describing the plan.

I am strongly in favour of the development of the Cardiff Bay area, but I am still not happy about the barrage. With the greatest respect, I think that the committee gave insufficient weight to the extinction of the SSSI and its consequences, both national and international. I think that they should have stipulated a much better alternative for the birds. Although the committee profess themselves satisfied that the water quality will be satisfactory visually, biologically and for limited recreational purposes provided that strict standards of control are maintained, I must say that, if I lived by Cardiff Bay, I would be nervous about the problems of water quality and algae in the bay. Those environmental questions matter a great deal to people as recent evidence shows. I do not think that we should assume that the public always want developmental considerations to prevail. But we must now, I think, leave it to another place to consider the question.

Lord Elibank

My Lords, I must begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Moran, for his kind words about the work done by our committee which I know that all the members will appreciate.

This is a project which stands or falls, as we said in our report, by the economic evaluation of the attractiveness of the development possibilities either with an impounded freshwater lake behind a barrage or, as with existing circumstances, when the tide rises and falls freely. When the tide is low, the area is covered by mud flats with birds coming and going.

It is entirely possible and reasonable to hold either of those points of view, but the committee was greatly influenced by the weight and experience of those witnesses whom the promoters brought before us and who had enormous experience in the development of estates and areas throughout the United Kingdom.

We considered the evidence very closely because it was, as I have indicated, critical to our assessment of the merits of the Bill. I believe that, in the end, we were all convinced that the project offered great economic benefits to Cardiff. It is not that, if the barrage were not built, south Cardiff would remain an area of desolation. There is no doubt that development would take place over a considerably longer period of time. We were offered evidence which showed that the quality of much of that development would be inferior to the development with the barrage.

I emphasise that economic aspect because, as the noble Lord, Lord Moran, rightly pointed out, there are drawbacks to the scheme which we again considered very carefully. He mentioned the effect on bird life. There is no doubt that the bird life in the area will suffer. The experts on that subject were modest in their evaluation of what might happen. There was no degree of certainty except a general consensus that the number of birds, particularly dunlin and redshank, would diminish. Some would find another site in the Wentloog artificial lagoon. Others would find sites in the Severn estuary, but a number would not return to the estuary and some, it must be presumed, would die in transit.

That is a serious disadvantage as is the other point mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moran, about the extinction of the SSSI and the impact that the Bill will have the public's attitude to the Ramsar Convention and the relavent EC directive. Again, I do not think that the committee was particular happy about that outcome, but it had to be weighed against the economic advantages.

The noble Lord, Lord Moran, asked me why the Wentloog lagoon should not be larger. I think that there are two reasons. Primarily it is a question of money. There is a certain amount of money made available for its construction and any larger lagoon would obviously cost more. The second reason is that it is experimental in nature. It may or may not be a success; but if it is a success there is no real reason why the lagoon should not be extended further eastward along the Severn estuary. It can be increased in size if it turns out to be a successful attraction to the birds.

One of the questions that most worried the committee concerned groundwater. The impoundment of the bay will lead to a rise of up to 3 metres in the groundwater levels. Groundwater is a sinister element rather like gas which creeps up on the householder very often unnoticed until his cellars, basements and even the superstructure of his house are damaged.

It is fair to say that the promoters have gone to quite extraordinary lengths to provide reassurance, by way of surveys and engineering works, to the citizens resident in the area around the rivers and around the impoundment lake. The relevant clause, Clause 12, was much discussed in evidence. The Committee thought it right to extend further the protection offered by Clause 12 to those residents between the inner and the outer zone. That not only extends protection to those citizens but in our view also made the Bill a great deal easier to understand for all the residents of Cardiff.

Lastly I come to the issue of water quality which, I think it is fair to say, is the main concern of the noble Lord, Lord Moran. It concerned the committee also. The basic problem is that the water from the rivers which feed into Cardiff Bay—the Ely and the Taff—are polluted industrially and by sewage. It will be very difficult to make the quality of the inland lake better than the quality of the two rivers which supply the water to it, at least in the short term. There is every prospect down the road that the new water authorities will be able to take action to decrease the pollution in those two rivers and so improve the quality of the lake.

However, that must lie in the future. In the meantime, we have to grapple with the project as it stands today. There seem to be three real problems with which the promoters have to deal: the debris on the surface; the algae that will form from time to time in the lake; and the oxygenation of the water which affects its quality and particularly any fish in it. Again, the promoters have promised or undertaken to take quite elaborate measures to ensure that those three problems are properly grasped when the lake is finally impounded behind the barrage.

The committee listened very carefully to the evidence given principally by the Welsh Water Authority, whose evidence was most helpful and most useful, but also by other witnesses that came before us. One cannot be totally reassured about the quality of the water. A point that may be helpful to a layman in judging the quality is that no full immersion sports will be tolerated or permitted. That is to say, bathing will not be permitted, at least in the initial stages, but other water sports that involve the occasional ducking—for instance, sailing—will be allowed. I think that gives a fair indication of the level of water quality that the promoters hope to achieve.

It is only fair to say that in the course of the committee's visit to Cardiff we saw what was the Bute Dock—a system of water without any of the benefits that the promoters propose to use to improve the quality of the inland lake. To the superficial and inexpert eye the quality of that water appeared excellent. So we are hopeful that the level will be of an acceptable standard. Certainly I should put it no higher than that.

The noble Lord, Lord Moran, mentioned—and indeed it was in the committee's Instruction—that we should have regard to the ability of fish to come and go over the barrage. Again in most respects that involves a fairly conventional engineering contrivance, and the Welsh Water Authority was perfectly satisfied with the steps that the promoters proposed to take. The one ingenious or novel aspect is that at times the water outside the barrage will be higher than the water in the lake, and so the fish will have to descend rather than ascend at that point. However, that has been provided for and will be monitored from the time that the impoundment takes place.

All in all the committee felt (I must say with varying degrees of enthusiasm) that the benefits of this scheme outweigh the drawbacks, which are undoubted and have to be clearly faced. For that reason we recommend that this Bill should be allowed to proceed through your Lordships' House.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, and the members of his committee for having discharged the task which it delivered into their care. I trust that my noble friend Lord Brooks of Tremorfa will forgive me when I remind the House—not that it needs to be reminded—that the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill has been contentious; and notwithstanding the reassuring nature of the report, it remains contentious in Cardiff. There has been a flow of opinion in its favour; but it has also created a barrage of criticism. The conflicting views and pressures remain. I feel that that fact must be placed on the record in your Lordships' House.

I have studied the report produced by the committee, and as one would expect it took into account all the anxieties which were voiced during the Second Reading debate in this House. I shall limit my comments this evening to one of those; namely, the damaging effect on residential properties of the raising of the water table. Indeed, that has been very fairly underlined this evening by the noble Lord, Lord Elibank. On this issue, which is one of the key issues, there is at least one significant disagreement between the experts: the expert evidence produced by the promoters and that brought forward by the people—the residents whose properties might be adversely affected.

The committee acknowledged that: The uncertain results of changes in groundwater levels were a cause of very real concern to many of the residents of the area". However, having heard the evidence, the committee was also satisfied that the amendments made to Clause 12, which is a very complex clause dealing with the protection to the property near the bay, together with the undertakings given by the promoters, would adequately meet that concern. I have this afternoon checked in the Private Bill Office that the undertakings relate to Clause 12(2)(b) and Clause 12(24). The noble Lord, Lord Elibank, and his committee are satisfied with the terms of those undertakings.

As my noble friend Lord Brooks pointed out, the committee accepts in paragraph 42 that the case for the barrage stands or falls on the economic evaluation of the investment which would be attracted to the area. Therefore while the committee accepts that that case has been made out, it also acknowledges in paragraph 42 that the assessment is "in large measure subjective". I believe that the words I have quoted provide some food for thought.

I have no other point to make except to say that as the regeneration strategy is implemented I would expect the promoters to keep a watchful eye on the position and fully to implement the undertakings that they have given, if that need arises. I very much hope that my noble friend Lord Brooks of Tremorfa will be able to give that confirmation to the House.

Lord Crickhowell

My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate except briefly to pay tribute to the work of the committee. Like the noble Lord, Lord Moran, I have read all the evidence and I was deeply impressed by the thoroughness with which the committee undertook its responsibilities.

I must declare an interest. I am a director of Associated British Ports which is a major landowner with development plans in the area. I had considerable responsibilities for the origins of this scheme. Clearly I am a believer in the scheme. I set out the arguments in Second Reading and I do not propose to repeat them. But when the evidence of developers is questioned and we are told that it is subjective, I think that I am entitled to say that it is not just the view of a few people carefully selected by the promoters to give evidence but of a much wider circle of expertise.

During my period as Secretary of State, before we took the firm decision to go ahead we spent more than a year talking to every single person in the property world on both sides of the Atlantic who we thought might be able to guide us in the wisdom of the matter. It was only after we had heard their overwhelming consensus on the economic merits of this scheme that we decided to proceed. Since then I have been actively involved with a company with a direct interest and have met a very large number of others who have supported that view. It must be said that there really is a very strong economic case of which the committee is convinced, as my noble friend Lord Elibank has made clear.

The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, said that the scheme was contentious. I suppose that all great, massive schemes—in particular schemes involving property—will be contentious. However, I can think of very few schemes of this scale and magnitude that have had such comprehensive cross-party support or which have united so effectively differing local authorities and groups of people as this scheme has in Cardiff. There are those who have fears; there are those who are critical. But there is a quite strikingly impressive unity of opinion among the elected representatives in local government and many others besides.

Of course anxiety has rightly been expressed about the need to do away with an SSSI. It was one of the points that, as Secretary of State, I faced up to myself. I called upon the best environmental advice. As the committee has made clear, it too weighed up the unhappy consequences of the loss of an SSSI and some possible effects on bird life against the economic arguments. Just as I had, it decided that the economic and social arguments prevail.

I add, as I added at Second Reading, that there are also environmental arguments. There is a very strong environmental case for this Bill. It is not just that habitats will be created—and they will be created—but that much will be done to improve the environment in the whole area, indeed right into the heart of the City of Cardiff. That must also be weighed in the scales.

However, what prompted me above all to rise to my feet and to say rather more tonight was the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Moran. He said that at Second Reading he did not exaggerate. On that occasion he certainly painted a very alarmist picture. I remember being told that we faced the prospect of hundreds of thousands of dead fish and all sorts of other horrible things. Reading the evidence I formed a rather different impression. It happens that I brought into the House tonight the evidence given on 24th April when Mr. Owens, the witness of the Welsh Water Authority, was cross-examined in detail. I shall not refer to the fisheries issues because the noble Lord said that he was content. But he also said that the evidence of Welsh Water was valuable and comprehensive. It should therefore clearly be put on the record that Mr. Owens, giving evidence for Welsh Water, made it absolutely clear that it was satisfied that the standards that it felt were necessary could be met. When the examination had been conducted and re-examination took place, Mr. Owens was asked this.

On the question of the steps needed in order to ensure that the water quality standards are adhered to, and the cost of those steps, are those matters which you have gone into in detail, or have you been concerned with what the standards and what the level of monitoring should be? A. It has been Welsh Water's responsibility to consider the standards that are to be applied to that lake. We have satisfied these in the dicussions with the promoters. The promoters have commissioned a whole series of studies into these various aspects. We have discussed those studies with the promoters and we have had access to all the findings of those studies which have been carried out by a whole range of consultants. Our judgement has been formed basically on knowing standards which we have set, our own judgement as to the validity of some of the studies carried out and some lessons which have been learnt from those studies". He subsequently made it perfectly clear that it had looked at the uses that will be made of that area of water. He stated: We have set down the standards to safeguard those uses". That is the view of the expert evidence of Welsh Water. It should be weighed against what we heard earlier in this debate.

Of course there are hazards in undertaking sports in polluted rivers, although the River Taff is nothing like as polluted as is sometimes made out. Mr. Magnus Magnusson is quite wrong when he said in the course of last week that it is one of the most polluted rivers in Great Britain. If it were, the noble Lord, Lord Moran, would be expressing justified concern about the survival of the salmon that now pass up that river. However, there is much to be done and I declare an interest. The NRA will have to ensure that the quality of those rivers and the water system in South Wales is substantially improved in the years ahead. That will be one of my responsibilities; it clearly must be.

Welsh Water is satisfied that the standards will be adequate for the uses to which the water will be put. In Bristol immersion sports are not permitted, but major sporting activities take place in the docks at Bristol. I referred at Second Reading to my own past when I spent more hours than perhaps today I like to think of rowing and sailing on the Thames. I frequently fell in. At the time the Thames was a great deal more polluted than it is today. Some noble Lords may recall a regatta not very long ago during which the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, fell in. He, for many years, represented a part of Cardiff. He and I survived. The truth is that the water quality is not perfect, it will not be pristine, but in the view of the experts it will be quite adequate for the uses to which it is put.

Disposal of rubbish is always a problem. But Penarth Docks is not to be emptied to deal with the problems of water quality. The idea is that it should be emptied because the value of land for development in the area will be so considerable. People do not wish to freeze land which has been used in a rather thoughtless way when there could be a future use for it were it not unsuitable because of methane and other problems connected with refuse disposal. However, the refuse of Cardiff and the surrounding area will have to be disposed of whether the barriage is built or not.

I believe that the committee has rendered an immensely valuable service in answering the understandable concerns in great detail. I do not believe that anyone who has read the report, still less anyone who has read the massive evidence presented to the committee, can have the smallest doubt that this House is well justified in allowing the Bill to pass for consideration in another place.

Lord Galpern

My Lords, as the only member present here this evening who served under the chairman I should like to say a few words. It was a great pleasure and an honour to serve under the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, as chairman. As a member of the committee I learnt a great deal about wildlife on the Severn Estuary. I learnt too—this was even more satisfactory—of the delightful sense of humour of the noble Lord. Tonight the House should be grateful to him for the masterly presentation that he made of the proceedings and of our conclusions as a result of deliberations over several weeks.

The best I can say is that if ever again I am asked to serve under the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, nothing would give me greater pleasure.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, it may be helpful if I give your Lordships a brief indication of the Government's position on this Bill and the amendment made by the committee. As I told your Lordships during the Bill's Second Reading, the Government have a substantial interest in the objectives of the Bill as it is the intention that the cost of building the barrage will be met by the development corporation with the assistance of a grant in aid provided by the Welsh Office. We, like the committee, are satisfied that the economic benefits that will flow from the barrage will outweigh the costs involved.

We are pleased that the committee having considered all the evidence, has recommended that the Bill should be allowed to proceed. The amendment simplifies the provision in the Bill to protect property that might be affected by rising groundwater. As such the amendment is perfectly acceptable to the Government and we believe that it should be kept to overcome the concern of the local residents.

We have studied the evidence on water quality put before the committee based on expert reports and the witness from the Welsh Water Authority. This is a subject in which the Government have the closest possible interest. We are reassured by the committee's conclusions that it considers that satisfactory measures will be undertaken to ensure that the quality of water in the inland bay will meet the standards specified in the Bill. We share this view and also the committee's conclusions that the sponsors must maintain the strict standards that have been set. The National Rivers Authority will also of course have a role to play in this in due course.

The Government believe that the Bill should be read for a third time and allowed to proceed.

On Question, Bill read a third time.

Lord Brooks of Tremorfa

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

I wish to thank all those noble Lords who have played their part this evening. In particular, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Elibank, for what I thought was a superbly concise summary of all the work that he and his committee did over many days. It listened to a great deal of evidence.

I am afraid that I come to different conclusions from the noble Lord, Lord Moran. I too read all the evidence. Indeed I read it almost as soon as it was printed, and I came to a different conclusion. I must point out that it was never envisaged that immersion sports would take place in the impounded water after the barrage was built.

When the scheme was first mooted, I had two concerns which have been expressed by some of the petitioners and indeed have been mentioned this evening. The first was the effect on the environment. But far more important to me was the concern expressed by many people in Cardiff, particularly in the Riverside and Canton areas, about the effects of possible flooding. I was born between the two rivers and I would not advocate any measure that would make the situation worse. I remember on many occasions the flooding of the rivers Taff and Ely and all the distress that that caused. I am satisfied that the evidence that has been given to the Committee will resolve that problem.

Accordingly, I commend the Bill to your Lordships.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Brooks of Tremorfa.)

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Viscount Long

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.15 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The sitting was suspended from 8.7 to 8.15 p.m.]