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15° Julii, 1927.]

Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.

[Continued.

844. I am only speaking of the reason why you say so?-That is certainly not the reason.

If

845. Surely; it is no blame to you. they disagree with your sections it is a very good reason for saying they are unreliable?—No, that was not the reason for saying they were unreliable. I checked all these sections through as far as I could possibly do so from the ordnance map, showing the distance apart of the banks, and so on. I got private information, not from the Ministry, not to place reliance on those sections because they ascertained something afterwards which showed they had not been properly taken. I did check something myself with regard to the width between the banks, and so on, which were shown on the ordnance plan, and it was perfectly obvious that the gentleman who was taking those sections must have spent most of his time in the local public house and made them up there.

846. I will wait till we get them. You will let me have them presently. In the meantime would you mind informing the Commitee how much the cubic capacity of the Hundred Foot has diminished from its original condition down to the present time?-From its original condition in 1809?

847. No, not in 1809; when it was first of all constructed?-By Sir Cornelius Vermuyden.

848. Because we have the record of what the size of the Hundred Foot River was intended to be?-You have the record of what the size of the Hundred Foot River was intended to be, but I am very doubtful whether it was made to that size

849. You may be doubtful, we may all be doubtful, but we have at any rate this, that when it was constructed it was to be constructed to a certain scale. I want to know how far it has shrunk from that scale at the present timeabout half?-I do not remember that there was any scale set down which would enable cne to get the true width and depth of it.

850. Very well. If you have not the information we shall have to supply it?— But at all events there were many of these channels for which certain dimensions were put down hundreds of years ago, but it is perfectly obvious they were never constructed like that. Take St.

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John's Eau, that was intended to be 50 feet wide, but it was only about 20.

851. Do not confuse the matter. St. John's Eau is no part of the Hundred Foot?-No.

852. It was not constructed at the same time; it was merely a relief to the Old West River. What that has to do with the Hundred Foot I cannot conceive. It was merely that in tracing out these dimensions of those channels and finding out what they were constructed so it was obvious they were not carried out as they were intended to be, and I do not know what the size of the Hundred Foot River actually constructed was, no more does anybody else.

853. I merely raised those points, as a matter of fact, because I wish for the production of those diagrams and documents, and I will now wait till the proper order of my cross-examination.-Would you mind repeating them. I will take the short list down.

854. You say you have not Rennie's Report of 1809, but you have the diagrams?-Rennie's Report. No, I think all the Rennie information has gone back to the Ministry, but I have no doubt they will do their best to get it for you.

855. If the Ministry have the Report I have no doubt they will produce it too. -Mr. Rennie's Report 1809.

Mr. St. John Raikes.] I suppose that will be done.

Mr. Macmillan.] I should have to look at the material, first of all, but I have no doubt we should do so.

Mr. St. John Raikes.

856. If it is three quarters of a ton of documents-.-It is an immense amount of material.

857. The other thing is Mr. Grantham's Report of 1917. It is the 1917 one I want, not the 1914. I want the 1917 Report together with the diagram of the Hundred Foot River dated 4th

July, 1917. Now to get on to your plans, of course you realise the importance of the opposition that I am representing, the Middle Level and these other allied bodies. They represent about half of the Fen district?—Yes.

858. And I think, to take my leading client amongst them, the Middle Level Commissioners, you will do them the

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Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.

justice to say that they are a body that manage their affairs extremely well?Yes.

859. May I put it that they have been the model of the Fens practically throughout.-Certainly, the Middle Level District is extremely well run.

860. They have in the past spent an immense amount of money on drainage?—Yes.

861. And have therefore improved the value of their lands to a considerable extent? Oh yes, enormously.

862. I am much obliged. I think in addition to that we have put at your Service our officials, and you have been good enough to express your appreciation of the service they have been able to render you in arriving at the conclusions on which this scheme is founded? -Yes.

Mr. St. John Raikes.] I am only introducing myself in a way because I wish to show that we are not inspired by any combative spirit, or the sort of spirit my learned friend seemed to think inspired everybody who had to deal with these questions.

Mr. Macmillan. Not inter se. Merely internecine.

(To the witness.)

Mr. St. John Raikes.

863. I suppose this might almost be described as inter se. Your object, and your fellow Commissioners' object, is to produce as good a scheme as possible and a workable scheme.-Yes.

864. You realise, like we all do, that the scheme embodied in the 1920 Order was an unworkable scheme for one reason, because the matter of finance had never been considered?—Yes.

865. That was a very serious blot on the scheme. Nobody knew what the scheme was going to cost, and nobody knew how the cost would be apportioned when the scheme came on. But at any rate in this scheme you have gone into the question of cost? Yes.

866. I think we had it already what makes this scheme necessary is first of all the neglect in the past of what I may call the tidal channel-it really covers the thing; that includes the banks. I am taking the wording of the Act.-Yes.

867. And the other is the more rapid descent of the water from the higher lands. That is so, is it not?-Yes; 1

[Continued.

could not attach very great weight to the latter.

868. No, but I mean, as a matter of fact, the danger as such is caused very largely by the water which comes flushing down from above?-Yes.

869. That is plus the neglect in the past? Yes.

870. Those are the two causes?-Yes. 871. In addition to that, although you have minimised it rather-I will not say you have minimised it because you have not dealt with it for the moment-there is this question of the deposit of silt which blocks up the channels and has gradually raised them above the level of the surrounding lands. Of course, the silt is borne by the sea, and also to some extent by the land water?—Yes; I should say to a very slight extent by the land water. The evidence of the Middle Level -I remember Major Clark was asked that question, and he was of opinion that it was nearly all sea borne in his case. The South Level were asked the same question and they were of the opinion that it was nearly all sea borne there. That is Denver Sluice.

Mr. St. John Raikes.

872. My Lord, in order to enable you to follow what I am going to ask, I am proposing to put before the Committee just a plain diagram giving a bird's eye view really of the river from the outfall right up to Earith. Nothing of the sort has been put before you yet by the promoters or by anybody. (Same is produced.) (To the Witness.) I was asking you with regard to the question of silt, and you had given a reply based on what the Middle Level has said ?-Yes.

873. I should like the Committee to look down to the right-hand corner of the plan just above King's Lynn. They will see the Eau Brink Cut, and just above it St. German's Sluice. St. German's Sluice is the outfall for the waters of the Middle Level, is it not?-Yes; it is the main outfall.

874. And if you trace that to the level you see the words "Middle Level Drain" until it reaches the boundaries of the Middle Level, and then you see various things like Popham's Eau Sixteen Foot Drain, and so on?-Yes.

875. The point is that the outfall of the Middle Level is considerably below the Middle Level itself?—Yes.

876. It is much further down stream? -Yes.

15° Julii, 1927.] Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.

877. And the outfalls of some of the other bodies that I appear for are also round and about St. German's. I am not particularising them for the moment, but that is so.-Well, I do not know what the other bodies are.

878. You did not realise?-I knew you were cross-examining for the Middle Level, but I have no doubt it is so.

879. I must just tell you who we are; I was not going to bother about it. We are the Middle Level who drain 171,000 acres, the Norfolk Court of Sewers, who drain about 42,000 acres, some on both sides of the River, the Marshland Smeeth and Fen District Commissioners, through whose district our main drain passes; they drain about 8,000 acres; the Manea and Welney Drainage District Commissioners, who drain 7,300 acres, but who deliver their water into the River much higher up; the Stow Bardolph Fen Drainage Commissioners, who drain 5,662 acres; the Magdalen Drainage Commissioners, who drain 4,000 odd acres; and, finally, the Downham Fen Drainage Commissioners, who drain 1,685 acres. The bulk of the water that comes from those Commissioners is taken to the River about St. German's Sluice?-Yes.

880. The point about silt I wanted to make with you was this. You say the Middle Level said to you that most of the silt deposited at their outfall was the silt brought by the sea?-Yes.

881. With that I entirely agree. But, as a matter of fact, in addition to the water that is sent down from the uplands, there is in fact a good deal of silt sent down by them which gets into the upper reaches of the River below Earith? Yes, there must be.

882. For example, the old West River has been silted up considerably, has it not? Yes.

883. That is shut off from the sea silt altogether?-Yes.

884. Further than that the Washes, during the last 70 or 80 years, have risen, I am told, in height, about two feet. That is due, is it not, or must be due, entirely to the silt deposited by the Upland waters when held up by them? Yes, if it is a fact. I tried to ascertain that, but I could not get reliable figures.

885. I do not expect you to go further than that. You remember at previous Inquiries, large sections of the Uplanders have said that they like the floods in the Uplands because of the silt

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[Continued.

that they deposit in their fields which enables them to get their crops without the use of manure?-Yes.

886. So I suggest to you that a good deal of silt comes down from the Uplands? Yes.

887. Of course I am only putting this as a foundation for something else. In addition of course to silt we have to deal with the whole of the weeds that come down when they cut the weeds in the Upland waters ?—Yes.

888. Can you tell me this? Starting, we will say, at Earith, how long in the ordinary way-how many tides in the ordinary way-would it take to enable a mass of weeds to get to the sea?That would depend very much on the conditions in the River, but assuming a normal flow, it will take, I should think, two or three tides to let the weeds get down.

889. They go down so far with the tide. Then they come back again, not quite so far, and get a little more like that (Illustrating)?—Yes.

890. So from the Uplands end we get three things: The water that causes the danger to us, some of the silt that blocks up our channels, and, in addition, the weeds which more or less hamper us also in other ways?—Yes.

891. That is so. You have told us, Mr. Binnie, that the main object you are aiming at in the first instance is the lowering of the low water level?Yes.

892. Might I add to that that you probably are also aiming at increasing the period of low water?-Yes.

893. That is almost equally important, although you have not yet mentioned it? -Yes.

894. Those are the two objects?—And the prevention of silt entering the river from the sea.

895. But I was not for the moment dwelling on the silt. I was only giving the effect that you were going for?Yes.

896. I think there is no question that if you succeed in lowering the low water level and prolonging the period of low water, you will create a vast improvement in the drainage of the district?Yes.

897. Starting with the works below Denver-the whole of them-taken as a whole, starting from the bottom, the extension of the training walls, the

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Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.

deepening and banking of the channel, the cutting off of the Magdalen Bend, are all directed to these two objects?— Yes.

898. And they are the backbone of the scheme?-Yes.

899. I think I may say, without any reflection upon your knowledge and ingenuity, that they do embody the opinion of the most eminent engineers in the past who have dealt with this problem? -Yes.

900. And the difficulty of carrying them out, either in part or in whole, has always been the question of money? -Purely finance.

901. It is really hardly necessary to go through the names; in fact I will not. We have already mentioned Mr. Rennie, and I think there were recommendations by Mr. Abernethy in 1876, by Mr. Wheeler in 1884, by Mr. Grantham, as we know, in 1914 and 1917, and in 1918 there was a scheme put forward by Mr. Case at the Inquiry held by Mr. Preston at King's Lynn which practically embodied the scheme up to Denver that you are now putting forward?-Yes.

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902. It practically embodied it?—Yes; he wanted to straighten a few bends, but neglecting minor detail it was practically embodied.

Mr. Riley.] Was that from the seaward or landward?

Mr. St. John Raikes.

903. That was from the sea right up to Denver. (To the Witness.) But curiously enough, Mr. Preston, who is also an eminent engineer, had to consider that scheme and he turned it down?-I do not know. I read Mr. Preston's Report. I was not quite sure whether he turned it down or whether he did not.

904. I may say I was supporting that scheme at that time on that occasion, and I was rather disappointed with the result? Yes, I think anybody would be.

905. I think Mr. Preston was for carrying out bits of the scheme and seeing how they worked, and if they did not work putting a sluice right across the River. That was his Report?—Yes.

906. At any rate, we had Mr. Case's scheme and he was a very experienced engineer of great eminence, and very well acquainted with the River Ouse?Yes.

907. So on general engineering grounds, in spite of Mr. Preston, you are standing on a very firm foundation?—Yes.

[Continued.

908. That portion of the scheme, as I have said, represents the backbone of the new Ouse Drainage scheme?—Yes.

909. And in addition to that it represents by far the greater part of the cost? -Yes.

910. That is going to cost, in round figures, £2,000,000?-About. Yes, getting up to that.

911. Of course that is a great deal of money?-Yes.

912. You have not been able to get out any drawings or quantities or anything of that sort in order to support your estimate of cost?—I have taken out quantities and sections, yes.

913. Since when?-They were taken out in 1925, and I took them out again. I have details of quantities, if you want those.

914. We have not had them?—No. 915. We have tried in vain to get them?-I could give you details of quantities and prices.

916. Perhaps you will let our engineers have those? I think I showed Major Clark the details.

917. But dealing with these works, and especially the works which run right down to the sea, there are always possibilities of the estimates being very largely exceeded? Well, it depends. I have tried to take what I consider to be a price which I do not think will be exceeded, and we have put in a very large sum for contingencies.

918. Yes, I know. For example for training walls you have put in a sum of £700,000?-Yes, that is based on a price, for instance, which is about 25 per cent. above work of a somewhat similar character which we have just been carrying out.

919. Of course as regards that type of works running out to the sea, there is this additional danger, that, at some period in the course of their construction they may be destroyed by a storm?— During the period of construction, yes.

920. You may have got them half constructed. Your system is, of course, to drive in these piles, to support them by tieing back the piles, and expect them to fill up with sand between the two bends? -Yes.

921. Until that filling up takes place, of course, they are not what you would call in a very strong position?—I think they are fairly strong.

922. You must know instances. You remember at Neath Harbour, years ago,

15° Julii, 1927.] Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.

after they had spent something over £1,000,000 on the preliminary works, a storm came and swept the whole thing away? Yes. This is a different thing here, because owing to The Wash being so shallow up at that end, you cannot get anything like the waves there that you get at Neath.

923. I do not want to press it too far? -That has all been taken into consideration. I consulted two firms of contractors. They did not seem to think there was any risk in this particular position.

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924. I quite realise you have made the proper allowance for contingencies. am not suggesting you have not made the proper estimates, but the tendency of estimates is for them to be exceeded? -I am glad to say we have been rather fortunate in the estimates we have made. Taf Fechan Reservoir will be opened next week, and I think we have spent about £100,000 less than our estimate, which was £1,500,000.

925. I think you are entitled to wave that little flag on your own behalf. But you will admit that the sum is a very considerable one; that we are already agreed upon?—Yes.

926. And I think you must admit that it may possibly be exceeded?-It may,

yes.

927. Now if the estimated cost is exceeded, we will have to bear the balance of the cost between the estimate and the actual cost? Could I just read the wording of the Act a moment? I forget what it says there.

Mr. St. John Raikes.] The wording of the Bill is

Mr. Macmillan.] It is Clause 5, my Lord, page 9 of the Bill.

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Mr. St. John Raikes.

928. Subject to the provisions of this section, the Minister shall, out of moneys provided by Parliament, contribute towards the expenses incurred by the Ouse Board in respect of the works specified in Part 1 of the Third Schedule to this Act, or in respect of the matter specified in Part II of that Schedule an amount not exceeding one-half of the expenses so incurred." Now I again ask you supposing that there is any excess over the estimate, in your opinion will the Government be bound to find any portion of that? There is no definite sum stated. It looks as if they were going to pay half. It is a question more for a lawyer.

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[Continued.

929. Let me put it because I want to raise this question to the Committee through your mouth. In your Report, one of your fellow Commissioners says --I can refer to the page if necessarythat in your opinion the Government ought to find at least half of the cost of the works. That is amongst your recommendations?-Yes.

930. Now the Government, instead of accepting that and putting into their Act that they will find not less than half, have put in that they will find a sum not exceeding half, which might be any sum up to half or less than half? Yes.

Chairman.] I let you put the question because Mr. Binnie's evidence has been entirely on the engineering side.

Mr. St. John Raikes.] But he is one of the Commissioners, my Lord.

Chairman.] He is one of the Commissioners, I know, but I do not want too much time spent upon that aspect of this Bill, perhaps with this witness. expect Mr. Macmillan will be calling somebody to deal with it.

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Mr. Macmillan.] I propose to call a representative of the Ministry.

Mr. St. John Raikes.

931. I will deal with that point with him. I only want to get from this witness that, if the Government are not bound to contribute half, we will have to find the money if there is any excess of expenditure. I suggest of course that it will have to be found by the taxpayers and by the contributors. (To the Witness.) Now really summing up the questions I have been asking about cost, they come to this, that it is not possible in anticipation to calculate the exact amount of the burden that will have to be borne in respect of these works. It cannot be less than £2,000,000 and it may be more ?-It might be less than £2,000,000 and it might be more; I will put it that way.

932. It is very unlikely to be less I am afrɛid, but at any rate it might be more. Now, my Lord, I am a little bit in a difficulty over this question of dealing with Mr. Binnie purely on the engineering question, because there was one figure which has already been dealt with by my learned friend that I wanted to get before the Committee as soon as possible. Of course, you will stop me if I exceed. (To the Witness.) I was just going to ask you a simple

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