HC Deb 02 February 1984 vol 53 c400
Q4. Mr. Wigley

asked the Prime Minister if the Government will introduce measures to control water rates.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The average domestic water services bill is about 20p per day. We continue to press water authorities to improve their efficiency, so as to keep increases in charges as low as possible. For this financial year the average increase in main charges was 5 per cent.

Mr. Wigley

In view of the draconian powers that the Prime Minister is taking to rate cap the rates levied by democratically elected local councils, is she aware of the misgivings in Wales at the very high water rates that are being levied by a non-elected body that has powers of taxation without representation and hits particularly at those on low incomes? Will she now move towards a system where there can be a water rate rebate?

The Prime Minister

No. I believe that water rates are not a tax, but are a charge for services supplied. They are therefore different in nature from the fundamental local authority rates. With regard to the charges of the Welsh water authority, I understand that the authority is consulting the local consumer advisory council about various proposals to redistribute charges between and within various groups of consumers. I am sure the hon. Gentleman realises that this is a matter for the Welsh water authority.


Mr. O'Brien

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When the Prime Minister replied to the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), she said that water charges were for services. Would she explain—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not see the hon. Gentleman rise to ask a question when that matter was being discussed.

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