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Waterways Board Properties

Volume 326: debated on Wednesday 15 December 1971

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2.45 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide a map to show which properties of the British Waterways Board will be handed to each new water authority.]

My Lords, it is not yet possible to publish such a map. The intention is that each Regional Water Authority should take over all British Waterways Board waterways in its area, but discussions about the implementation of these plans may reveal that certain local adjustments may be needed for the sake of efficient operation.

My Lords, would it not be a very good thing if Members of Parliament could have such a map so that they could see what the Government have decided? Would it not also be a very good idea if the Government had such a map so that they could see what they have decided?—because those who know something about this have been able to prepare a kind of map based on watersheds, which are going to be the boundaries, and some of them look absurd in the extreme.

My Lords, eventually the public at large and Parliament will have everything put before them, because there will have to be legislation. When this happens all will be made clear.

My Lords, is my noble friend able to give an undertaking that appropriate machinery will be set up to achieve proper co-ordination among the Regions for the benefit of the canal community? Secondly, can the noble Lord confirm the undertaking set out in the 1968 Transport Act, that a minimum route network of canals would be retained and would be unaffected by the winding up of the British Waterways Board?

My Lords, this is slightly wide of the Question, which asks about a map of properties, but the Inland Waterway Amenity Advisory Council were given a three-year period, referred to by the Lord Chancellor in 1968, to consider the future. Here we are talking of remainder waterways, and this period has now elapsed. I must emphasise that discussions are now taking place with all the interested parties and it is a little premature to answer questions which are still under discussion.