HC Deb 01 May 1973 vol 855 cc1008-11


'(1) It shall be the duty of a water authority to provide any sewer necessary for domestic purposes if the conditions mentioned in either paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (2) below are satisfied.

(2) The conditions mentioned in subsection (1) above are—

  1. (a) that—
    1. (i) the water authority are required to provide the sewer by owners or occupiers of premises in their area who need the sewer for the drainage of those premises: and
    2. (ii) the aggregate amount of the charges which would be payable annually by the persons making the requisition in respect of the drainage of the premises in question into the sewer will not be less than one-eighth of the expense of providing the sewer;
  2. (b) that—
    1. (i) a sewer is needed for the drainage of premises in the water authority area but the aggregate amount of the charges which would be payable annually by the owners or occupiers of the premises for the drainage of which the sewer is needed will be less than one-eighth of the expense of providing it; and
    2. (ii) the local authority in whose area the premises are situated undertake subject to subsection (3) below, to make good to the water authority in each year the difference between that sum and the amount received by the water authority in respect of the drainage of the premises in question into the sewer;
  3. (c) that an owner of land who proposes to erect on it buildings for the drainage of which a sewer will be needed—
    1. (i) requires a water authority to provide a sewer, and
    2. (ii) undertakes, subject to subsection (3) below, to pay in respect of each year a sum amounting to one-eighth of expense of providing the sewer (less any amount received by the authority in respect of premises which drain into the sewer) until the aggregate amount of the charges payable annually in respect of the drainage of the buildings into the sewer, and in respect of any other premises draining into it, equals or exceeds that sum.

(3) Any obligation to pay an annual sum under subsection (2) above shall in any event cease on the expiration of a period of twelve years from the date on which the laying of the sewer is completed.

(4) If premises for which a sewer is needed are situated in the areas of more than one local authority, an undertaking under this section may be given in respect of the premises by more than one of those local authorities, but need not be given by all of them.

(5) A water authority may require a landowner (other than a local or public authority) to deposit with them, as security for the payment of an annual sum under subsection (2) above, such sum, not exceeding the total expense of laying the sewer, as the water authority may require.

(6) The water authority shall pay interest at a rate prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State or, if no rate is for the time being prescribed, at 4 per cent. per annum, on any sum in their hands by virtue of subsection (5) above, and—

  1. (a) shall, on the request of the landowner appropriate out that sum any amount due under his undertaking; and
  2. (b) when the undertaking is finally discharged, repay to him any sum remaining in their hands.

(7) A water authority may agree with a local authority or any other person who is obliged by virtue of this section to meet any portion of the expense of providing a sewer that the whole or any part of the account for which that person is liable shall be deemed to be satisfied by payment of a capital sum.

(8) If a water authority, after receipt of an undertaking under this section, or of a sum of money in lieu of such an undertaking, do not, before the expiration of the relevant period, lay the necessary sewer, they shall, unless they show that the failure was due to unavoidable accident or other unavoidable cause, be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400.

(9) In subsection (8) above "relevant period" means six months or such longer period as may be agreed by the water authority and the local authority or other person requiring them to lay the sewer.

(10) Any dispute arising under this section—

  1. (a) as to the nature or extent of the work necessary for laying a sewer; or
  2. (b) as to the relevant period for the laying of a sewer,
shall, in default of agreement, be determined by arbitration.

(11) If the parties to any such dispute are unable to agree on the appointment of an arbitrator the appointment shall be made by the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

(12) A sewer shall be treated for the purposes of this section as necessary for domestic purposes if it is necessary for removing water used for cooking or washing, or the contents of a lavatory, from any premises.

(13) In this section "local authority" does include the council of a county or the Greater London Council.

(14) Nothing in section 14 above or any arrangements made under section 15 above shall be taken to impose on a water authority any such obligation to provide a sewer as may be imposed on them under this section without the requirements of this section being satisfied '.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.16 p.m.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The effect of the clause is to establish a procedure whereby a water authority may be required to provide sewers for domestic purposes in certain circumstances which are set out in the clause. The clause follows closely the existing provision in the Water Act 1945 for the requisitioning of domestic water supplies, to which the water authorities will also be subject.

I gave an undertaking in Committee to introduce such a clause and I was grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Arthur Jones) who put down an amendment which would have achieved something of the same purpose. In the course of the debate on that amendment my hon. Friend urged me to ensure that water authorities would make provision in their investment programmes for the sewerage and sewage disposal facilities needed to implement local authority development plans.

My hon. Friend was seeking a rather general obligation. In this clause I ask the House to accept a more specific obligation on the new water authorities. The clause gives both local authorities and private persons a means to secure the provision of sewerage facilities, subject, of course, to their willingness to make guaranteed payments, as it is in the case of water requisitioning, and this, I think, will be far more effective than a general obligation on water authorities to make provision for such facilities in their programmes.

My hon. Friend has led me to a much more specific provision than the general obligation which he contemplated. As the law stands at present, local authorities are obliged to provide sewerage and sewage disposal facilities only in those parts of their districts in which there are already occupied premises, and this has acted in the past as a constraint on development. The clause will overcome that. It is also consistent with the proposals in the Government's White Paper on housing recently published, where it is said that developers should contribute towards the cost of providing the infrastructure for housing development.

Perhaps I may briefly tell the House how the clause achieves the purposes which I have indicated in general terms. The clause sets out the requisitioning powers of each type of person—or body —by reference to the conditions which he has to meet in order to make valid use of those powers. Private persons will be able to requisition a sewer to serve existing property without any liability to pay more than their normal charges for sewerage if the amount of those charges would equal or exceed one-eighth of the estimated capital cost.

Local authorities will be able to requisition a more costly scheme to serve existing properties—namely, a scheme which will cost more than eight times the aggregate of the charges payable annually in respect of the sewerage of the properties served. In that case the local authority, in order to make that requisition, must undertake to make up the annual revenue to one-eighth of the actual cost for a period not exceeding 12 years.

Finally, a prospective developer, whether it is a local authority or a private person, will be able to requisition a sewer on condition that he makes up in each year for up to 12 years the amount by which one-eighth of the capital cost exceeds the annual charges paid in respect of the properties served. In short, the clause follows the comparable water supply provisions for requisitioning in assur-

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