asked the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to co-ordinate plans between the Home Office, the Board of Trade, and the Ministers of Housing and Local Government, Defence, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to ensure adequate underground storage of water in the 'seventies for agriculture, industry and domestic needs and in the event of nuclear attack.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is responsible for conservation of water resources. The possibility of increasing by artificial means the quantities of water available underground will be a matter to be studied by the Water Resources Board and the river authorities which it is proposed to establish under the Water Resources Bill. The fact that water underground is comparatively immune from contamination by radioactive fall-out will naturally be taken into account.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there appears to be a great ignorance throughout the country of the potentiality of storing water underground, particularly by planning boards and others who have this responsibility? Could he take steps to publicise to all those who have responsibility for the conservation of water the importance of underground storage of water in view of the great need in so many directions for the use of water in years to come?
I think that this is a very important point, and I am glad that my hon. Friend has called attention to it. Some experiments are already being made in the Lea Valley and in the Trent Valley, and under the Water Resources Bill now before Parliament the authorities will be specially equipped for this work.
I am in sympathy with the hon. Member's desire for planning the underground storage of water, but has the Prime Minister seen Sir John Cockcroft's recent study on nuclear attack on this country in which he said that if such an attack were to take place the water supplies of our cities would be completely destroyed?