HC Deb 25 July 1929 vol 230 cc1544-6W

asked the Minister of Health whether, having regard to the shortage of water, he will prepare a Return of the districts seriously affected showing whether the supply is in the hands of a private company or a statutory authority?


I doubt whether any useful purpose would be served by the production of such a Return as is suggested by my hon. Friend. It seems to be best for the moment to concentrate on measures for relieving the shortage where it exists.


asked the Minister of Health whether his Department possesses or receives regular Reports on the water supplies of different centres of population; whether, to the knowledge of his Department, there are places with inadequate sources of supply, in view of their anticipated development in the near future, and which are not yet taking action to increase them; and, if so, can he state their names?


A comprehensive Return of water supplies was made some years ago, but was not altogether satisfactory. Particulars are now being collected by local investigation so as to obtain full and accurate information. I cannot supply the hon. Member with a list of places that need to increase their supplies. The policy advocated by the Department is that of Advisory Regional Committees for fully ascertaining needs and recommending the best and most economical means of meeting them.


asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied with the voluntary information of local authorities and companies contained in the British Waterworks Year Book; and whether, in view of the importance of the subject, he has considered the question of compulsory returns?


I think that there is room for improvement, and I understand that the aim of the British Waterworks Association is to achieve it. The question of compulsory returns has been considered, but it was felt right first to try a Year Book on the lines of that now issued.


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the menace to the health of London through an impending shortage of water in London, he will make an inquiry as to the amount of water available; and what, if any, restrictions in the use of water are immediately required or contemplated?


I am assured that no serious shortage of water in London is to be expected, because of the large storage capacity which has been provided by the Metropolitan Water Board. The restrictions now in force have been imposed because of the very large increase in consumption and to prevent possible difficulties of distribution in certain areas. I understand that no further restrictions are contemplated.


asked the Minister of Health what action has been taken by his Department since May, 1928, on the question of water supply in areas throughout the country, seeing the attention of the Minister of Health was at that time called to the threatened shortage?


The whole question is constantly under review in my Department and a booklet was issued in October, last urging the need of comprehensive surveys through Advisory Regional Committees. The present drought is exceptional and I am advised that there is no need for alarm as to the position of water supplies in general, though there is great difficulty in certain localities. But I am anxious that Local Authorities should undertake without delay measures on the lines advocated in the booklet.


asked the Minister of Health if he will, having regard to the anxiety caused both from a health and industrial point of view by the diminishing water supply in numerous areas, circularise all water authorities requesting the immediate connection of existing supply services throughout the country, thereby providing useful work for the unemployed and, in addition, tending to obviate the closing down of works and to preventing disease in communities which may now or in future suffer from water shortage?


I have already in the communication which I have issued to local authorities pointed out the need for neighbours to help one another and shall be glad to do anything more in my power if any particular case is brought to my notice. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the communication.