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We listened with very great interest to the Minister, particularly when he spoke about other plans which this White Paper envisages in regard to the agricultural industry. I was pleased to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that the Minister of Agriculture was taking an interest in this work and would probably reply to the Debate. May I say that it is not only we, in this House, who are taking an interest in this water question. There are others outside who are interested in what we are doing here to-day, and in what is to be the legislative outcome and result of this White Paper. The representatives of the agricultural industry have given consideration to it, and I am entitled to say that they receive with pleasure the proposals—so far as they go—put forward in this White Paper. They have their criticisms. They do not wish that their interests in this matter should be restricted entirely to the White Paper, but they would like an opportunity of collaborating with the Government to the utmost, to see that results accrue from the White Paper proposals.
There are three points I wish to mention. The first is on the question of consultation. On page I of the White Paper, the last paragraph states:
The Government's proposals are presented with a view to discussion in Parliament and with the various interests concerned before the precise form of the measures to be submitted to Parliament is determined.
We are having that discussion to-day, but I would like an assurance from the Minister that representatives of agriculture, of the National Farmers' Union and the workers' union, shall have an opportunity of discussion with the various Ministries concerned, and particularly with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health, before it is too late and before the Ministers have made up their minds, so that the agricultural point of view shall have full consideration. Constant reference is made in the White Paper, and by the Minister himself, to the
importance of agriculture, but nobody realises more than those actually engaged in the industry what water means to agriculture. Water plays a very great part in the efficiency of agriculture. What to-day, and indeed, at all times, is more important to the general public than the efficiency of the food production of the country? Water plays a tremendous part in the quality of a good deal of the food that is produced. In the dairy industry, milk and its products cannot be produced properly and satisfactorily unless there is an adequate supply of water. There is the cleansing of utensils. There is no food which is as good as milk, and no food which offers more suitable media for bacteria. The farmer is producing food for the people, and it is our duty to do all we possibly can to make it easy for him to get a clean and adequate water supply. One great complaint is that milk is not always in the condition it should be when supplied to the consumer. It is not the producer who is to blame; it is what happens to the milk in transit from producer to consumer. There should be an adequate supply of water for the proper cooling of milk, and the period of transit should be as short as possible, particularly in hot weather.
The great importance and advantages of a good water supply for the livestock of the country are generally known, but I question whether people generally know the disadvantages of a bad water supply. There are large numbers of farms with no water whatever or with an inadequate and bad water supply.