HC Deb 07 February 1983 vol 36 cc618-9
9. Mr. Geraint Howells

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from farming organisations in Wales regarding water rates; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

None during the past year.

Mr. Howells

Does the Minister believe that those who live in Wales should pay a higher water rate than those who live in Birmingham or London? If he does not, what are his plans?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Gentleman understands the system that resulted from the Water Act 1973 and that which is proposed in the Bill before the House. It provides for different charges to be levied in different areas. The way to reduce those charges, as we have repeatedly said, in Wales as elsewhere, is by increased efficiency and productivity. We are trying to achieve that through a new, more businesslike authority.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister link up with both the farmers organisations and the Welsh water authority to discuss leaking pipes on farms? Is the Minister aware that a farmer in my constituency received a bill for £800, which is about 10 times his normal bill, because a pipe was leaking on his land and he was charged for the water that had disappeared without anyone noticing? Will the hon. Gentleman raise that point with the authorities?

Mr. Roberts

The maintenance of a water supply pipe beyond the water authority's communication pipe is the responsibility of the owner or occupier. Regular checks of the meter and the supply pipe should lead to early detection of leaks.

Sir Anthony Meyer

If the water workers, in threatening to endanger the health of the public, can obtain for themselves the substantial pay rise for which they are striking, will that make it any easier for the Welsh water authority to keep down water charges?

Mr. Roberts

This question relates to representations from farming organisations in Wales. There is another question about the strike, to which I hope my right hon. Friend will reply.

Dr. Roger Thomas

What financial relief is available to hill and upland farmers whose costs for piped water connections are more prohibitive than ever?

Mr. Roberts

We have had no representations on that point, but I should be happy to consider the matter.