HC Deb 24 January 1977 vol 924 cc948-9
14. Mr. Roderick

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what total sum of money for rate support was available in the last year before reorganisation of water services to reduce the impact of water and sewerage charges in Wales; what would be the equivalent thereof at current prices: and by what amount the present rate in the £ would be reduced were such a sum to be applied thereto.

Mr. Alec Jones

I regret that this information is not available and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.

Mr. Roderick

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that in Wales we have been paying through the nose, as it were, for water? Does he accept that it is high time that we had a Bill to remedy the situation? Will he ensure that we get a speedy conclusion to the Bill that will be before the House this afternoon so as to ensure a partial solution?

Mr. Alec Jones

I shall be playing some part in the business of the House this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, if I am fortunate enough to catch your eye, and it is my hope to ensure that the Bill that the House will be discussing will bring a measure of fairness to water charges not only in Wales but throughout England and Wales. I hope that the Bill will have a speedy passage.

Sir A. Meyer

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on Second Reading of the Water Charges Equalisation Bill there will be substantial support from my right hon. and hon. Friends and that, if the Government fail to get their Bill through, that will be a unique tribute to the incompetence of their own managers?

Mr. Alec Jones

I am glad that the tributes I have paid to certain Conservative Members will receive their reward this evening.

Mr. Mellish

In spite of our great sympathy, understanding and so on for our Welsh colleagues and friends, will my hon. Friend take it from me that he will not get any more money from London to solve their problems?

Mr. Alec Jones

With deep respect for my right hon. Friend. I stood at the Dispatch Box before the Christmas Recess defending the Government's decision on the rate support grant that significantly increased the moneys available to London. I did so because I thought it was right that Government money should be used to meet needs wherever they arose, in Wales, England, or the South-West.

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