§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that by law the water rates become due quarterly, and on the first day of each quarter in advance; that persons neglecting to pay the rate when it becomes legally due are liable to have their water out off; with the result that most householders are usually legally in arrear owing to the custom of the water rates being demanded only half yearly, when one quarter has expired, and another is partly due; and of the abusive power that this difference between law and custom places in the hands of the Water Companies, he contemplates legislative action to amend the law on this point?
§ MR. RITCHIE (for Mr. MATTHEWS)
I do not know, Sir, whether, my right 541 hon. Friend the Home Secretary supposes that I should answer this question, but as he is not in the House I will do so. The Acts of the Water Companies usually provide that the water rates shall be paid in advance by equal quarterly payments, and I believe it is the case that the water rates, as a general rule, are only demanded half-yearly. The Acts also usually empower the companies, where the rates are payable by the occupiers, to cut off the supply if the water rate is not duly paid at any of the times of payment specified in the Act. The result of these provisions would appear to be that a company might cut off the supply if the rates were in arrear, although they had not actually been demanded. The question of the continuance of this power is, I think, one which should be considered when there is any further general legislation with regard to the Water Companies. At the same time, I may say that I have never had brought under my notice any case where this power has been abused by a company.