HC Deb 10 April 1962 vol 657 cc104-5W
67. Mr. Reynolds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what considerations have led him provisionally to decide that the functions of the Metropolitan Water Board should be transferred to the proposed Greater London Council, bearing in mind that the administration of water was specifically excluded from the terms of reference to the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, and that the proposal has accordingly not had the benefit of any consideration by the Royal Commission.

Dr. Hill

Although water supply was excluded from the Royal Commission's terms of reference, since the areas convenient for supply are not necessarily those convenient for general local government purposes, it was never suggested that the Minister would not be free to consider further the existing arrangements for water supply in the light of the recommendations of the Commission when these were known. In the event the Commission's proposal, which the Government have accepted, will result in a directly elected authority which could conveniently assume responsibility for water supply as for other matters affecting the whole, or the major part, of Greater London. In these circumstances, I see no further need for an indirectly elected authority concerned with water supply alone.

The constitution of the Board would in any event need radical re-casting as a result of the proposals; and it seems sensible therefore to take the opportunity of getting the best organisation possible. While I acknowledge the achievements of the Metropolitan Water Board, I think that it would promote the efficiency of local government generally in London if water supply were administered by the Greater London Council along with that Council's other functions; and that it might well make, in the long run, for greater efficiency of water supply to link responsibility for this service with responsibility for others.