HC Deb 03 November 1976 vol 918 cc1403-5
24. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to introduce legislation implementing the proposals outlined in his Green Paper on the water service.

Mr. Shore

The very substantial response to the Green Paper is still being analysed. I look forward to future legislation, but no final decisions on timing have yet been taken.

Mr. Durant

In future legislation, will the right hon. Gentleman take account of the recent legislation passed by the House on charges to those who are not connected to the sewerage system? Is he aware that that legislation has resulted in a great loss of financial revenue to the water authorities and placed an extra strain on the remaining households?

Mr. Shore

The recent legislation may have imposed costs directly on the water authorities, but I do not think anyone would doubt that it conferred great benefits on water consumers throughout the country. As for the scope of the legislation which we hope eventually to bring before the House, it is too early for me to comment on the particular proposals being put forward, but we hope that the legislation will strengthen the organisation of the water industry nationally.

Mr. Hardy

Although it may be unreasonable to demand that general water legislation should be introduced next Session, will my right hon. Friend at least ensure that a small and uncontentious Bill is brought before the House to deal with the severe problem, of which I know his right hon. Friend is aware, concerning those not connected to the main sewers?

Mr. Shore

I shall consider what my hon. Friend has said, but I think he will realise that the question of the size of the legislative programme is a very difficult one and is more for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Mr. Madel

Mention has been made of the Drought Act. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the time scale in implementing that Act? Is he aware that the Thames Water Authority applied for restrictions on 18th August but that they were not signed until 13th September? The Anglia Water Authority had equal difficulty. Surely the Minister must look afresh at existing legislation if we are to avoid great difficulties if we have another drought next summer.

Mr. Shore

I should like notice of the instance that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. General experience has been that the operation of bringing drought orders into effect under entirely new legislation, and at short notice, has been very successful.

Mr. Urwin

In his dealings with the water service, will my right hon. Friend seek to use his considerable influence to ensure that water authorities are given instructions to purchase British cars for their employees? I had visual evidence this morning of a Japanese Toyota car carrying the insignia of the Thames Water Authority. Bearing in mind the plight of the British motor industry, is it not disgraceful that this situation should be allowed?

Mr. Shore

I hope that what my hon. Friend has said about the desirability of buying British cars wherever possible will be noted not only by the water authorities but by all those who can exercise decisions in this matter. My hon. Friend gives excellent advice.