Clause 1. — (Establishment and Duty of Conservancy Board.)

Orders of the Day — Milford Haven Conservancy Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1957.

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8.33 p.m.

Photo of Miss Megan Lloyd George Miss Megan Lloyd George , Carmarthen

I beg to move, in page 2, line 38, at the end to insert: and of ensuring an easy passage at all times through the waters of the haven for ascending salmon and sea-trout. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) raised this matter during the Second Reading debate, but he did not get a very satisfactory answer from the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. I hope that tonight we may be given a more satisfactory answer.

There are a number of safeguards in the Bill requiring the Board to have regard to the desirability of preserving the natural beauty and the flora and fauna of the district, but there is nothing about salmon, salmon-trout, or sewin, which, as everyone who knows that part of the world will realise, is of considerable importance. This is not so much the sport of kings or of lairds but of nearly everyone who cares at all for the gentle art. There is not much of a means test about it, but I think I had better not go into the reasons for that.

There may be obstruction and difficulties caused by activities carried out under the terms of the Bill. For instance, dredging could be undertaken and a barrage might be constructed which would prove a considerable obstruction and prevent the salmon from reaching the spawning beds in the higher reaches of the river. I have looked at the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1923, which contains certain provision to prevent this kind of thing from happening and makes it an offence; but, unless the Joint Parliamentary Secretary can say to the contrary, I do not think that the provision in that Act would cover this particular instance.

I hope, therefore, that we shall find an opportunity to include the Amendment within the Bill and so make the thing absolutely certain. It is an important provision to fishermen of all classes, and it has an important effect upon the tourist trade. Perhaps, as a justice of the peace, I had better not define the position any more clearly.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

The Amendment moved by the hon. Lady seeks to place a duty on the Board to have regard to the desirability of ensuring that salmon and sea trout are able at all times to ascend to the spawning beds in the upper reaches of the river. I am aware that there is anxiety about the effect of the development of the Haven upon the run of salmon and sea trout. I do not need any persuasion from the hon. Lady on the sporting aspect of the matter.

I would draw the hon. Lady's attention to two points. I do not think that any works are likely to be done by the Conservancy which will affect salmon and trout. She referred to the barrage; we do not know very much about that, because the authority will have to come to Parliament with its scheme. She mentioned that under subsection (6) the Conservancy has a duty to conserve the fauna and it may well be, as the hon. Lady said, that salmon and trout will be included under that collective name.

I have pleasure in accepting the hon. Lady's Amendment. After what she has said, it would be correct for the proposed words to be included in the Clause.

Photo of Miss Megan Lloyd George Miss Megan Lloyd George , Carmarthen

I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

I have a couple of points to put to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. Subsection (1, b) refers to lines of demarcation and the powers of the Milford Haven Conservancy Board. The paragraph ends with the words: as far as the tide flows. Would the Parliamentary Secretary define what he means by those words? If there is to be a barrage across the Haven it may make an alteration in the flow of the tide. If the Parliamentary Secretary means what I imagine he means, I am sure there will be no difficulty. It is very important, if a barrage is constructed, that the powers of the water board which constructs the barrage are reserved to the area in which the reservoir is made, above the barrage; in other words, up to the foot of the barrage.

The second point is the question of the duty which is laid upon the Board under subsection (6) that, In formulating or considering any proposals relating to their functions under this Act, the Board shall have regard to the desirability of preserving natural beauty and of conserving flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary what those words mean. They can mean anything. When it comes to consulting the National Parks Commission on questions of amenities, I should like to know how the procedure will work.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

I think the hon. Member is quite right to raise the first point on the concluding words of Clause 1 (1, b) and the meaning of the words, as far as the tide flows. The position is, as he said, that if the Prescelly Water Board erects a barrage by permission of Parliament that phrase would mean up to the foot of the barrage. Under the Bill at the moment the Conservancy would have jurisdiction right up to Haverfordwest. It would not need that jurisdiction, one would have thought, if the water board erected a barrage. If there is a question of erecting it in the tidal water that would affect the régime of the river.

The position under subsection (6) is that we are putting a statutory duty on the Board to have regard to all questions of natural beauty in the Haven. There is similar protection in the private Acts of the dock authorities within the Haven. The point is made about consultation in a further Amendment—to the First Schedule, page 24, line 21—which will enable the appointment of one member of the National Parks Commission, who no doubt will be in consultation with the Board on exactly those points.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

I am sorry to delay the Committee, but I am seeking an assurance that sometimes these considerations and discussions with the National Parks Commission will take place on the level of officials without necessarily reaching the Board. That is a more effective way of dealing with the machinery than taking it up to the Board, where it becomes a main issue.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

I think that point is borne in mind and I will draw it to the attention of those responsible. The hon. Member can be satisfied that a member of the National Parks Commission will have the point brought to his attention.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.