HC Deb 26 January 1972 vol 829 cc1369-70
9. Mr. Arthur Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to ensure an adequate independent system of appeals against decisions of the future regional water authorities, relating to consent conditions and abstractions.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Peter Walker)

The existing system of appeals will continue.

Mr. Jones

Would my right hon. Friend care to comment on the subject of public accountability in connection with his proposals for regional water authorities?

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend will appreciate that the paper is basically a consultative document. Thus, if any views are expressed about improving or obtaining public accountability, I shall of course consider them.

Mr. Denis Howell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this aspect of his proposals is causing widespread concern, that it is thought generally to be an engineers' plan—it is conceded that this may have merit—and that there can be no case for nationalising these authorities while removing public control and accountability, which appears to be the purpose of the paper?

Mr. Walker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for asking that supplementary question because it enables me to reply that there is no need for such public concern.

Mr. Ron Lewis

When is the right hon. Gentleman likely to introduce the Bill dealing with this subject?

Mr. Walker

I hope so to introduce the Bill that the new proposals can come in at the same time as the new authorities.