HC Deb 04 April 1989 vol 150 cc80-5
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)

I beg to move amendment No. 145, in page 208, line 9, at end insert—

'Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 (c. 26) (1) In section 1(1) of the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 (government contributions towards expenses of water authorities for the purposes of rural water supplies and sewerage) the words "subject to such conditions as the Treasury may determine," shall be omitted. (2) For the words "may, in any case in which it appears to him to be desirable so to do, undertake to make a contribution" there shall be substituted the words "shall make a contribution of at least 50 per cent.". (3) The words "provided that the Minister shall not undertake to make a contribution towards the expenses of making provision for the sewerage, or the disposal of the sewage, of a rural locality unless he is satisfied that the need for making the provision is due to anything done or proposed to be done, whether before or after the passing of this Act, to supply, or increase the supply of, water in pipes in that locality." shall be omitted.'.

As I represent a rural constituency, I am moving this probing amendment so that I may ask the Minister some questions which are of interest to those who live in rural areas.

At present, local Government meets about 50 per cent. of the cost of the schemes to which my amendment refers and I am wondering how much of present legislation is a legacy of the past. In 1989, sewerage services should be available in all areas, except in really isolated places where provision would be uneconomic. Under current requisition procedures, rural sewerage facilities are not being provided adequately, and it would seem that the Government should adopt a totally different approach to this issue.

When I raised the matter in Committee I said that, while the problem affected only about 5 per cent. of households, it was serious problem nevertheless. I am not suggesting the schemes should apply to isolated houses or hamlets, but, as I said in Committee, some quite large villages can be without sewerage schemes. For example, Wormley in Surrey is a semi-urban area with about 400 houses, and Claxby in my constituency is a relatively large village which has been campaigning for some time to have a sewerage scheme.

Under existing legislation, water authorities have a general duty to provide such a scheme, but the local authority must requisition the scheme. As the local authority pays about 50 per cent. of the cost, there is no incentive for the authority to do that. That results in much buck-passing among local authorities, water authorities and the Government, so that schemes of this type rarely come to light.

I do not suggest that my amendment is the only way forward or that the Government should necessarily pay as large a contribution as I suggest. I hope, however, that the Government will look into the problem which, while small in national terms, is important to rural communities.

Mr. Wigley

I support the amendmemt because the circumstances described by the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) obtain in many rural areas. They certainly do in mine, and I would not belittle scattered hamlets, which also have the right to modern facilities.

It is important for us to consider how financial assistance of the type that we are discussing will be available once the Bill becomes law. In that context, the amendment may not go far enough, but it would be a move in the right direction, and considering that it has been proposed by a Government Member, we in the Opposition should support it.

The hon. Gentleman described it as a probing amendment. I regard it as stronger than that. It should be added to the Bill; and if the Government say that it is too untidy as drafted, they could accept the principle involved in it and tidy it up in another place.

Mr. Moynihan

Clause 69 gives owners, occupiers and certain public bodies, including local authorities, the right to require a sewerage undertaker to provide a public sewer. The person requisitioning the sewer is required to pay over 12 years any difference between the charges for the use of the sewer and the cost incurred by the undertaker in providing it.

Rural sewerage grant is available under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 to reduce the cost which would otherwise fall on those requisitioning a public sewer. It is paid to the undertaker on condition that it is used to reduce the deficit payments required from the local authority or the owners and occupiers requisitioning schemes. The grant is paid at the rate of 35 per cent. of the eligible cost of a scheme or 35 per cent. of £3,310 per property served, whichever is the lower. In 1987–88, grant totalling £4 million was approved in respect of 68 sewerage schemes.

The purpose of amendment 145, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) pointed out, is to require the Secretary of State to pay grant at a rate of at least 50 per cent. of the cost of the works. I believe that it would be unfair and undesirable to increase the rate of grant in the way my hon. Friend suggests and to compel the Secretary of State to pay grant in all cases at a particular minimum level.

Mr. Wigley


Mr. Moynihan

Because it would favour those areas where provision of necessary first-time sewerage had been slow in comparison with areas where the water authority and the local authorities between them had made good progress. It would be undesirable because higher rates of grant would remove to some extent the financial discipline on both water undertakers and local authorities to ensure that requisitioned schemes were both justified and economically designed.

I hope that what I have said will reassure my hon. Friend about the arrangements and that he will agree to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Leigh

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

In that case, I must put the Question.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 172, Noes 310.

Division No. 136] [5.59 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Fyfe, Maria
Allen, Graham Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Alton, David Godman, Dr Norman A.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Golding, Mrs Llin
Armstrong, Hilary Graham, Thomas
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Ashton, Joe Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hardy, Peter
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Haynes, Frank
Barron, Kevin Heffer, Eric S.
Battle, John Henderson, Doug
Beith, A. J. Hinchliffe, David
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bidwell, Sydney Hood, Jimmy
Blair, Tony Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Blunkett, David Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Boateng, Paul Howells, Geraint
Boyes, Roland Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Bradley, Keith Hoyle, Doug
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Buckley, George J. Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Illsley, Eric
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Ingram, Adam
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Janner, Greville
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Johnston, Sir Russell
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clay, Bob Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clelland, David Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kennedy, Charles
Cohen, Harry Kilfedder, James
Coleman, Donald Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Lambie, David
Corbyn, Jeremy Leighton, Ron
Cox, Tom Lewis, Terry
Cryer, Bob Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cummings, John Loyden, Eddie
Cunliffe, Lawrence McAllion, John
Cunningham, Dr John McAvoy, Thomas
Dalyell, Tam Macdonald, Calum A.
Darling, Alistair McFall, John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dewar, Donald McKelvey, William
Dixon, Don McLeish, Henry
Dobson, Frank McWilliam, John
Doran, Frank Mahon, Mrs Alice
Duffy, A. E. P. Marek, Dr John
Dunnachie, Jimmy Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Eastham, Ken Martlew, Eric
Evans, John (St Helens N) Maxton, John
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Meacher, Michael
Fatchett, Derek Michael, Alun
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fisher, Mark Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morgan, Rhodri
Foster, Derek Morley, Elliott
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Skinner, Dennis
Mowlam, Marjorie Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Mullin, Chris Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Murphy, Paul Soley, Clive
Nellist, Dave Spearing, Nigel
O'Brien, William Steel, Rt Hon David
O'Neill, Martin Steinberg, Gerry
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Stott, Roger
Parry, Robert Strang, Gavin
Patchett, Terry Straw, Jack
Pendry, Tom Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Pike, Peter L. Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Primarolo, Dawn Turner, Dennis
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaz, Keith
Radice, Giles Wall, Pat
Randall, Stuart Wallace, James
Redmond, Martin Walley, Joan
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Richardson, Jo Wareing, Robert N.
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Robertson, George Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Rogers, Allan Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Rooker, Jeff Winnick, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Worthington, Tony
Ruddock, Joan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Salmond, Alex
Sedgemore, Brian Tellers for the Ayes:
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Mr. Dafydd Wigley and
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Mr. Richard Livsey.
Adley, Robert Chapman, Sydney
Aitken, Jonathan Chope, Christopher
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Churchill, Mr
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Amess, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Amos, Alan Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Arbuthnot, James Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Colvin, Michael
Ashby, David Conway, Derek
Aspinwall, Jack Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Atkins, Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Atkinson, David Cormack, Patrick
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Couchman, James
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Cran, James
Baldry, Tony Critchley, Julian
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bellingham, Henry Curry, David
Bendall, Vivian Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bevan, David Gilroy Day, Stephen
Biffen, Rt Hon John Devlin, Tim
Blackburn, Dr John G. Dicks, Terry
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dover, Den
Boswell, Tim Dunn, Bob
Bottomley, Peter Durant, Tony
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Eggar, Tim
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Emery, Sir Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Evennett, David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fallon, Michael
Brazier, Julian Favell, Tony
Bright, Graham Fenner, Dame Peggy
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Fishburn, John Dudley
Buck, Sir Antony Forman, Nigel
Budgen, Nicholas Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burns, Simon Forth, Eric
Burt, Alistair Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Butcher, John Fox, Sir Marcus
Butterfill, John Franks, Cecil
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Freeman, Roger
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) French, Douglas
Carrington, Matthew Fry, Peter
Cash, William Gale, Roger
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Gardiner, George
Garel-Jones, Tristan MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gill, Christopher Maclean, David
Glyn, Dr Alan McLoughlin, Patrick
Goodhart, Sir Philip McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Goodlad, Alastair McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Madel, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Major, Rt Hon John
Gorst, John Malins, Humfrey
Gow, Ian Mans, Keith
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Maples, John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Grist, Ian Maude, Hon Francis
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mellor, David
Hague, William Miller, Sir Hal
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Mills, Iain
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, Sir David
Hanley, Jeremy Moate, Roger
Hannam, John Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Morrison, Sir Charles
Harris, David Moss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, Alan Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hawkins, Christopher Mudd, David
Hayes, Jerry Neale, Gerrard
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Nelson, Anthony
Hayward, Robert Neubert, Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Nicholls, Patrick
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hill, James Norris, Steve
Hind, Kenneth Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Oppenheim, Phillip
Holt, Richard Page, Richard
Howard, Michael Paice, James
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Patnick, Irvine
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Pawsey, James
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunter, Andrew Porter, David (Waveney)
Irvine, Michael Portillo, Michael
Irving, Charles Powell, William (Corby)
Jack, Michael Price, Sir David
Jackson, Robert Raffan, Keith
Janman, Tim Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rathbone, Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Redwood, John
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Renton, Tim
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Riddick, Graham
Key, Robert Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Kirkhope, Timothy Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Knapman, Roger Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Rost, Peter
Knowles, Michael Rowe, Andrew
Knox, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Ryder, Richard
Lang, Ian Sackville, Hon Tom
Latham, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lawrence, Ivan Sayeed, Jonathan
Lee, John (Pendle) Scott, Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lilley, Peter Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lord, Michael Sims, Roger
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McCrindle, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Soames, Hon Nicholas
Speller, Tony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Viggers, Peter
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Squire, Robin Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Stanbrook, Ivor Waldegrave, Hon William
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Walden, George
Steen, Anthony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Stern, Michael Waller, Gary
Stevens, Lewis Walters, Sir Dennis
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Ward, John
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Watts, John
Sumberg, David Wells, Bowen
Summerson, Hugo Wheeler, John
Tapsell, Sir Peter Whitney, Ray
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Widdecombe, Ann
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wiggin, Jerry
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilkinson, John
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Wilshire, David
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wolfson, Mark
Thorne, Neil Wood, Timothy
Thornton, Malcolm Woodcock, Mike
Thurnham, Peter Yeo, Tim
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tracey, Richard Younger, Rt Hon George
Tredinnick, David
Trippier, David Tellers for the Noes:
Trotter, Neville Mr. David Lightbown and
Twinn, Dr Ian Mr. Stephen Dorrell.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Six o'clock, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [6 February] and the resolutions [21 March] to put forthwith the Questions on the remaining amendments moved by a member of the Government.

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