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Water Supplies (Conservation)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the rapidly increasing use of rivers for irrigation, especially in the agricultural counties of eastern England; and whether he will instruct the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs to consult together with a view to the establishment of one authority responsible for the conservation and use of water.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir".

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government expects to receive a report on water conservation from a sub-committee of the Central Advisory Water Committee later in the summer and he is already in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. A memorandum has recently-been circulated to interested bodies outlining tentative proposals for a new approach to water conservation and river management. Their views on the proposals are now awaited.

Does the Prime Minister realise that, even if we have a summer of only average rainfall, a most serious position may arrive, especially in eastern England? Will he instruct his colleagues to do everything they can to speed up the consideration of this matter, which has dragged on for a very long time?

Great improvements have taken place. I admit that it is an important matter, and it is for that reason that my right hon. Friend is acting.