WATER BILL [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 1948.

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Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading 12:00 am, 30th January 1948

I am bound to say that I have a great deal of sympathy with the eloquent appeal that has just been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) for what may be called a "new deal" in the organisation of the water supplies of the country. I am not sure, however, that I would have expressed some of the points in his speech with quite the same vigour as he did, because I know that, in addressing his remarks to my and his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, he was pushing at an open door. I believe that the Ministry of Health are very conscious of the fact that they are—and, perhaps of necessity—dealing with the country's water supplies on the basis of an ad hoc patching up of the existing structure, rather than working out a completely new structure. I have no doubt that they are conscious of that, and are filled with a desire to build a new structure and to start a new scheme, whenever that is possible.

I think the House will recognise that, what with one thing and another—the new health scheme, and the re-orientation of the relationships between the Government and the local authorities and of the relationships between the local authorities themselves—the Ministry of Health have got quite a lot on their hands at the moment. Anyhow, as even my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke suggested, this is not, perhaps, the best time for entering into large-scale arrangements which would, of necessity, involve considerable expenditure in capital equipment. But sometimes it is necessary to keep pushing at a door even when one knows it is open, because if one does not give a little push once in a while, it has a tendency to shut.