HC Deb 03 March 1981 vol 1000 c126
Q1. Mr. Wigley

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the administrative co-ordination between Departments in relation to the safety of reservoirs.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Wigley

Is the right hon. Lady aware that, following the recent BBC2"Open Secret" programme, there has been wide-scale public concern at the non-implementation of the Reservoirs Act 1975, an Act that was welcomed on 22 January 1975 by the Conservative Party when in Opposition? Does she understand that the Act gives further powers to local authorities in terms of inspections and policy to make binding their decisions? Will she discuss the matter with the Department of the Environment, with a view to bringing in a commencement order for this important Act?

The Prime Minister

I have had information from the Department of the Environment, which I think was communicated to the hon. Gentleman in answer to his previous question. I am informed that all the powers regarding the safety of reservoirs can be exercised under the 1930 Act, and that they are exercised under that Act by the district councils, whereas under the 1975 Act they will be exercised by the county councils. In both instances enforcement can be through the Crown courts. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will shortly be drawing to the attention of the district councils the fact that theirs is the responsibility for the safety of reservoirs.

Mr. Hannam

As reservoirs are the responsibility of the water authorities, will my right hon. Friend congratulate the accountants who so quickly achieved a reduction of £86 million in the level of water rates proposed for the coming year?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I think that both the accountants and the chairmen of the water authorities have done an excellent job. About £86 million less will be levied by water rates than would have been the case. Water rates have been reduced by an average of 6 per cent. I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is to be congratulated on the initiative that he took.

Mr. Maxton

Is the right hon. Lady aware that members of the civil engineering industry, many of whom voted for the Conservative Party in the previous election, are now saying that unless large sums of Government money are spent the safety of reservoirs will deteriorate and sewerage works will be on the verge of collapse, as will water supplies? Only the massive injection of Government money will solve the problem.

The Prime Minister

I am as much concerned about the safety of reservoirs as is the hon. Gentleman. The first step is to get the powers under the 1930 Act exercised by the district councils, so that we have a better idea of what is involved.

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