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Irwell Water Area (Sheep)

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 7 April 1949

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asked the Minister of Health what instructions he has issued to the Irwell Water Board as to the terminating of the grazing of sheep on their extensive gathering grounds; and whether he will consider, as an alternative, insisting on the installation of chlorination plant.

The Board were informed in April, 1948, that my Department agreed that the then existing arrangements for sheep grazing, which were causing anxiety to them on the score of pollution of the water supply, should be terminated. I am arranging, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, for officers of the two Departments to discuss the question with the Board. I am informed that chlorination plant is already installed, but I am advised that this alone is not a sufficient safeguard as, in addition, long storage and filtration is needed.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if this action becomes general it will have a very adverse effect on our meat ration—perhaps further reduce it? Will he look at the matter again?


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the Irwell Water Board have terminated all grazing of sheep on their extensive gathering grounds; and if he will say to what extent the meat ration will be affected.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture
(Mr. George Brown)

Yes, Sir. I am aware that grazing was terminated as from 23rd October, 1948, but the Department is at present in consultation with the Ministry of Health with a view to obtaining the utmost agricultural use consistent with reasonable safeguards for the purity of the water supply. I understand that formerly the stock grazed on these grounds was of the order of 4,000 sheep.

Will the Minister try to convert the Minister of Health from his attitude that the sheep befoul the water supplies? Throughout the country there are sheep on gathering grounds.

On the contrary, it is not the Ministry of Health but the people responsible for the gathering grounds who need to be converted. We are trying to do that.

On an earlier Question today the Minister of Health expressed the view that the sheep do befoul the gathering grounds.

That was not what the hon. Gentleman has just said. The question was whether sheep do befoul gathering grounds and impair the purity of the water supplies, which would be a serious matter.