asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that in the Weald of Sussex and Kent there is an urgent and unsatisfied demand for piped water supplies to improve both milk production and the amenities of home for agricultural workers, since much of the well-water is inadequate in volume and poor in quality; and if he will arrange a joint conference of his Department and that of the Ministry of Health with local authorities in the area, in order to consider ways and means of providing this service for all localities.
The reply to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I are collaborating in the improvement of water supplies, and there is close consultation between local authorities and war agricultural executive committees in working out proposals for mains extensions when labour and materials are available.
Has the attention of the Minister been called to the absurd situation arising in the South of England, an instance of which is given in the "News Chronicle" today, by which there is an ample supply of pipe water available for military camps, but neighbouring farms and cottages are not allowed to use it? Will he look into that matter at once? Will he also deal with the whole question when he makes his promised statement on agriculture?
I am not aware of the case mentioned by the Noble Lord, but if he will bring the facts to my notice I will look into them. The Noble Lord will, however, be aware that, under Section 3 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1941, and Section 5 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1944, grants up to 50 per cent. can be made to such schemes as those referred to in the Question, and that already 860 schemes have been approved in Kent and Sussex since the Acts came into force.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is impossible for any individual farmer or landowner to get the local authorities to act, because their reply is that they are held up by the Government?
I can only repeat that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I are collaborating on this.
Is it not time the Minister gave up circumlocution in theory and went in for a campaign of common sense?