Orders of the Day — Doncaster Area Drainage Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1929.

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Photo of Mr Noel Buxton Mr Noel Buxton , Norfolk Northern

The Minister has alluded to the problem which is to be followed up as a consequence of the Royal Commission's Report. After all, the Commission reported quite a considerable time ago, and I have been wondering whether the Government could persist for such a long time as still remained between the reporting of the Commission and the dissolution of this Parliament in neglecting the problem till after the General Election, and get away with its neglect. It seems to me that this is a belated and a very diminutive contribution to a problem which everyone recognises to be very great and very urgent. The Commission states that nearly 2,000,000 acres are in need of very rapid attention. However, this is a crumb the Minister is throwing to the dog, and it is certainly one of the most urgently needed. I do not take up an attitude hostile to the Bill, but I think the Minister might satisfy the House a little further than he has done in regard to the manner in which it would fit in with the scheme of the Commission. He said that it would not conflict with the general plan, but perhaps he would say a further word as to how the principle of benefit which the Commission adopted and worked out in a new form would fit in with the scheme of the Bill.

A reflection occurs to me in thinking of the Bill. If its provisions are applicable to this area, why is it not possible without further delay to make proposals applicable to the general problem. I presume it is because in this case there is a particular factor. There is the presence of mines and mining companies which can make a special contribution to the cost. But a large part of the area is agricultural, and the agricultural land drainage problem is provided for in the Bill. Therefore, the Bill is dealing with a problem which applies everywhere, and, I suppose, is the same fundamental problem the Minister has to face in regard to plans for dealing with neglected drainage in general. Perhaps he would show what broad features there are in the Bill which make it different and easier to deal with than the general problem. If not, if this plan is applicable, one does not see why we should further delay. If it is not applicable, how is it possible that this scheme fits in with the general scheme recommended by the Commission. No one can think there can be much further delay in dealing with a problem which means that such a very great area is daily deteriorating.