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First Schedule—(Provisions As To Making, Confirmation, Coming Into Operation And Validity Of Certain Instruments)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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I beg to move, in page 79, line 34, at end, to insert:

"Provided that in the case of a public path order or diversion order, if objection is made by statutory undertakers on the ground that the order provides for the creation of a public right of way over land covered by works used for the purposes of their undertaking or the curtilage of such land, and the objection is not withdrawn, the order shall be subject to special parliamentary procedure."
This provides for the special Parliamentary procedure where the land of statutory undertakers is proposed to be acquired or where a public right of way over land or an access order is made. In effect, it introduces a special Parliamentary procedure into these matters.

How is it that this Amendment is being moved? During the Committee stage I received two telegrams from statutory water undertakings, and the Minister told me that he had received some also. He very kindly agreed to receive representations from them on this subject. It would be useful to know whether this Amendment is now regarded by the undertakers as being satisfactory for the purpose of ensuring the safety of their undertakings.

The hon. Member is speaking to the wrong Amendment. This Amendment applies the special Parliamentary procedure to statutory undertakers. The matter mentioned by the hon. Member arises on a later Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 79, line 47, at end, insert:

"and, in the case of a public path order or diversion order, if objection is made by statutory undertakers on the ground that the order as modified would provide for the creation of a public right of way over land covered by works used for the purposes of their undertaking or the curtilage of such land, and the objection is not withdrawn, the order shall be subject to special parliamentary procedure."—[Mr. King.]

11.30 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 79, line 47, at end to insert:

"(4) Where, in the case of an access order, it is represented by the persons carrying on a statutory undertaking, being a water undertaking, that any land comprised in the order as submitted to the Minister or in the draft order prepared by him, as the case may be (or, where notice of a proposed modification has been given under head (a) of the last foregoing sub-paragraph, any land to which the proposed modification relates), should be excluded from the operation of the order on the ground that by reason of—
  • (a) the proximity of the land to any reservoir used for the purposes of the undertaking, or
  • (b) any other physical factor affecting the flow of water from the land into any such reservoir,
  • the operation of section fifty-five of this Act as respects that land would be likely to involve danger to the purity of the water supply which could not be prevented by the taking of any reasonable measures, sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph, or head (c) of the last foregoing sub-paragraph, as the case may be, shall have effect in relation to that representation as if it provided for the consideration of the report therein referred to by the Minister and the Minister of Health acting jointly."
    This Amendment provides, in effect, that, although there will be general access to gathering grounds, a water undertaker may make representations if in a particular case a grant of access to the public might affect the purity of the water. In such a case, these representations will be considered by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Town and Country Planning, but it will be for the Minister of Town and Country Planning to give the final decision. In the great majority of cases, where water is, in fact, purified, it is not contemplated that the grant of public access will affect the purity of that water. In that respect, the report of the sub-committee on gathering grounds is acceptable, and the water suppliers make no complaint. But there are cases where water is not treated, and where public access might possibly lead to damage being done. Therefore, we consider that it is well to err on the side of caution, and not give rise to public apprehension about the purity of water. It is, therefore, provided in such cases that the public will be excluded from sufficient distance of the water to prevent any possibility of pollution by public interference.

    I am glad to hear the Minister say that the main terms of the gathering grounds committee report are accepted, and that the water undertakers have no objection. But one cannot congratulate the water authorities so far on carrying out their new principles because many are still restricting access to a far greater area than is recommended in the report. In the Amendment, there is reference to

    "any other physical factor affecting the flow of water from the land into any such reservoir,"
    and I think that such a wide and general phrase, causing alarm, is going much wider than anything in the report of the gathering grounds committee. That report said that there was no reason for restricting access providing pollution of reservoirs did not occur, but this wording makes it difficult to envisage what is meant. I should like the Minister to assure us that there is no intention, in the use of this phrase, to go beyond the general principles contained in the report of the gathering grounds committee.

    I do give that assurance, because it is not the intention of this Amendment to go beyond the recommendations of the gathering grounds committee report. Danger to the purity of water is always the governing factor, but it is not intended to regard as a danger to the purity of water any factors other than those contained in the report.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 80, line 5, leave out "the last foregoing sub-paragraph," and insert "sub-paragraph (3) of this paragraph."

    In page 83, line 30, after "paragraph," insert "2 or."—[ Mr. Silkin.]