Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 4, leave out from beginning to end of line 21.
I beg to move: "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."This part of the Clause is being replaced in the Bill, and the Amendment is simply to secure a re-adjustment.
May I have some explanation as to why this part of the Clause should be lifted bodily and transferred, word for word, to a later part of the same Bill?
This part of the Bill deals with the domestic water supply, and it is being taken to another part where it more properly belongs.
This part deals not only with the domestic, but also with the agricultural water supply, and some of us are concerned with the exact basis on which we are to be rated for water supply. To take an example, a farm with 150 head of cattle, may use a million gallons of water a year and it is important that we should differentiate between the domestic and the agricultural water rates; I cannot understand why this part has been transferred to the end of the Bill.
It is only from the point of view of drafting that it has been put in a more appropriate part of the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman is not, then, following the precedent just put through the House by the English Minister of Health's Department and attempting to go back on the principle that domestic water rate should not be charged except to anyone who has used the supply? He is acting in sharp contradistinction to the idea imposed on the unhappy English citizen who has to pay for water which he has not received and which he is not likely to receive.Question put, and agreed to. Lords Amendment: In page 9, line 33, at end, insert new Clause "A" (Temporary provisions as to defrayal of expenses where requisite information, etc., not available.)
I beg to move: "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."This is introduced to meet the difficulties of local authorities which happen to have found themselves in a rather complicated position because of the nonexistence of information necessary to carry out the Act in time; it also makes certain adjustments.
Before we add this Clause to the Bill a word of thanks should be said to the Secretary of State. He will remember that in the Committee stage points were put by the Opposition regarding the necessity of introducing some words whereby the position of local authorities should be safeguarded as they are now going to be. I understand this new Clause is being inserted at the express desire of the City Council of Dundee, but there are many other local authorities, some of them small, which are in the same position of supplying water to other authorities outwith the boundaries of the authority concerned. It would have been very difficult for them to comply with the conditions in the short time available. I and the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) are in the same position as far as that is concerned, and I am sure he would agree that I am expressing our joint thanks to the Secretary of State, not only for having been so good as to include this Clause, but also for having seen the wisdom of the advice tendered him by the Opposition, and for having met the various requests which have been made by the local authorities.Question put, and agreed to. Lords Amendment: In page 18, line 21, at end insert new Clause "B" (Provisions as to supply of water to agricultural subjects):
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
The right hon. Gentleman has taken three subsections out of one part of the Bill and is now trying to put them back in another. We are obliged to him for giving us the opportunity of reconsidering this matter. The fact is that farmers are only just beginning to realise what this Measure is going to mean to them. Under the 1929 Act they pay water rate on 12½ per cent. of the rateable value of their land, so a farm worth £200 will pay water rate on £25, which at 3s. in the £ is £3 15s. They are very perplexed at the fact that there is no guidance to the local authorities as to what the charge for the meter rate may be, or what other alternative arrangement—"other specified terms" as the Clause says—may mean. If the water rate remains as it is, in some cases they might find their present water rate multiplied something like 100 times, and that alarms them considerably. I agree that de-rating was a measure to assist a depressed industry, and I agree that since the National Government came into being in 1931, and progressively since then, the farmers have gradually got away from that depressed state and have now ceased to be a depressed industry.I also agree that the greatest economy should be fostered in the use of water, and there are many ways in which that can be promoted. But not in all cases. For example, in dairy farming it is not possible in the washing of bottles. I am informed by experts that during the summer time cows drink 20 gallons a day, and that, I understand, cannot be recovered. I am also told that a herd of 100 dairy cows would consume at least half a million gallons of water per year. I do not mean to say that they consume it bodily, but that is the amount required for a herd of that type. Some compensation should be made to the farmers for what is bound to be a very considerable increase in their charges, and for that reason we are now seeking an assurance that in the guaranteed prices fixed for farmers in the future, particularly for the dairying industry, this additional charge, which is likely to be very heavy, is taken into account.
All I can say is that in the fixing of these prices all the interests of farmers are carefully gone into and full justice is done to them.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will profit by the words addressed to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson). It is usual in these circumstances to disclose one's personal interest. I am interested in dairy farming, and I can confirm almost everything that my hon. Friend has just said. The consumption of water in Scotland has been increasing considerably over a long period of years. I know that some people in this House and outside find it hard to realise it, but I am assured that it is so.As regards the vital industry of dairying, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take to heart the plea which has been made by my hon. Friend. It is the desire of this Government, as it was of previous Governments, and as it must be the desire of every succeeding Government, to maintain and indeed to increase the dairy production of this country. We cannot possibly have an efficient dairy industry, and produce milk in the way it ought to be produced, and avoid serious disease or illness amongst the people of this country, without an adequate supply of pure water—
I do not know why the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport should find anything mirthful in that remark. If he was as well acquainted with the day-to-day affairs of the countryside as I am he would not be so ready to jeer. In all seriousness I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that he should take to heart the warnings which have been addressed to him. As I was about to say—and I will say it now when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport is in a more reasonable frame of mind—we cannot possibly have proper dairy production in this country, with due cleanliness, unless we have the adequate supply of pure water to which my hon. Friend has just referred.The right hon. Gentleman must also take seriously to heart this question of mounting costs of production. It is all very well to ride off, as the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to do, by saying, "We are taking all these things into consideration." In the past we have had many instances of Governments of varying political complexions saying just the same kind of thing. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will live up to—if that is the right expression—this expressed desire, more worthily than some of his predecessors. It is all very well to say that the prices for farmers are in a satisfactory position at the present time. They are. But the costs of production are mounting, and the right hon. Gentleman will be well advised—because so far as Scotland is concerned he is the Minister of Agriculture—to take all this into serious consideration when the time conies, as it does month by month and year by year, to revise the scale of payment to the dairy farmer, and also assure him of the supply of pure water which is essential for the industry, so that not merely should the farmers be helped, but that the public should have that efficient supply of water it is the intention of the Government always to guarantee.
Question put. and agreed to.
Remaining Lords Amendments agreed to. (Several with Special Entries.)