HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc43-62

Lords amendment: No. 10, in page 6, line 33, leave out "or 71" and insert , 71 or (duty to move pipes etc, in certain cases)

Mr. Howard

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 161.

Mr. Howard

This new clause, after clause 155 and the consequential amendment to clause 7, will require a water and sewerage undertaker to alter or to remove its pipes in response to a reasonable request by any person with an interest in the land where the pipe is installed or adjacent land. The person may require the pipes to be altered or moved if that is necessary to develop the land in question. The new clause therefore goes a long way to ensuring that the presence of undertakers' pipes on private land does not unreasonably hinder development. An undertaker will be able to recover from the person any expenses reasonably incurred in carrying out the works involved. I commend the amendment to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 13, in page 7, line 12, after "particular," insert that the interests of customers and potential customers in rural areas are so protected and

Read a Second time.

Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)

I beg to move, as an amendment to the Lords amendment, amendment (a), to leave out second 'and' and insert `such that charges for domestic consumers are at the same level for the same level of service throughout the area supplied or serviced by any undertaker, and'. As I understand it, Lords amendment No. 13 is a concession which arises from the debate in another place when some of my noble Friends and also some Conservative peers expressed concern about the possibility of differential charging for rural consumers. An amendment was moved in the other place and lost by only two votes. It would have ensured that charges to consumers in rural areas were the same as those for consumers in urban areas. The amendment, which was so narrowly lost, is similar in terms to amendment (a).

Amendment No. 13 falls short of ensuring that prices will be standard in any one area, merely placing the director general under a duty to take account of the interests of rural consumers when assessing whether there has been any undue discrimination between consumers in a proposed charging scheme by an undertaker. The words "take account" are not strong enough to guarantee that the interests of rural consumers or other consumers are properly safeguarded.

Ministers in another place repeated pledges given to us in Committee that there should be no discrimination at all against one type of consumer, be it a rural consumer or any other consumer. The Minister made it clear, however, that the present concession in amendment No. 13 did not represent a standard charge for a standard level of service—hence our amendment (a) to tighten the matter up and to ensure that the principle of equity is followed in the charging policy.

Opposition Members believe that the supply of water and the disposal of sewage is important not only for individuals and families but for all of us. It is in everyone's interests that we should all have proper services, for obvious public health reasons, and it is particularly important to establish principles of fairness in charging. We know what is likely to happen to prices generally as a result of privatisation. Everyone, except Ministers speaking in public—I suspect that some are franker when speaking in private—accepts that prices will rise as a result of privatisation.

Ministers have often sought to give assurances about what will happen to prices following privatisation. For example, we have been told that the Director General of Water Services will decide everything and will look after the consumer, and that the new theory of comparative competition will ensure that the consumer gets a fair bill. I should happily give way to the junior Minister—the Minister with responsibility for sport—were he here, so that he could give us another entertaining session. His struggles to define the theory of comparative competition are about as convincing as the Secretary of State's assurances that prices will rise no more than 7.5 per cent. to 12–5 per cent. by the end of the century. That is what the Secretary of State told us last year on Second Reading.

Of course, that was before we had the latest round of increases in water authority charges—increases that averaged 10 per cent., in many instances, concealing much higher increases. For example, in Yorkshire not only was the average increase nearly 33 per cent. higher than that, which was hard to disguise, but the balance of charging is changing in many water authority areas. Those with a lower rateable value property have seen increases far higher than those with high rateable values. As in Yorkshire, there have been additional increases—increases in standing charges of about 33 per cent. It is easy to see where the sting is and where the real hardship will be caused because of the increases already in the pipeline.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

Has my hon. Friend seen recent reports in the Isle of Wight, where bills are now being delivered as a result of metering tests being conducted there and elsewhere? Bills that are two, three and four times the previous size are now hitting the doormats. It is a pity that the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field), who intervened in a vitriolic and trivial way, is not present to explain that to his constituents.

Mrs. Taylor

The whole House would have enjoyed the comments of the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) explaining the impact of metering in his constituency. All the information on metering that we have had so far shows that we were right to move our amendment in Committee, saying that there should be no compulsory metering of anybody's property. The metering experiments currently taking place do not take account of all the heavy fixed charges associated with metering. Many people are in for a severe shock when they realise what they will have to pay if metering is introduced.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

The hon. Lady mentioned the substantially increased charges that may be incurred through the introduction of metering. Given that the legislation has stated that there is a responsibility for charges to reflect costs, is there not a real danger that if an authority decides to have cost centres which subdivide its area, areas with the highest costs will lead to a higher charge? That is the very reason why we need the amendment.

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) is quite right. That is one of the dangers of the legislation and the proposals on how things will work after privatisation. There is also the possibility that investment will not take place in areas which have the greatest problems. That could also affect the level of later charges and discrimination in charges.

I am glad that the Minister for Water and Planning is here to reply to the debate. During the earlier part of the year we had a most entertaining few weeks with the Minister telling us—with as near straight a face as he could manage—that he was appalled by the increases in water charges being proposed by statutory water companies. He firmly told us that he intended to stop them, that he would lay down the law and act the bully to tell statutory water companies what they should do. As it worked out, meetings took place and the Minister saw some of the chairmen of the statutory water companies. They not only told him where to get off but they clearly told the public that the severity of the price increases that they were imposing was a straightforward result of the privatisation proposals. Far from the water companies being savaged by the Minister, we saw the Minister squirming in his attempt to prove that increases of up to 42 per cent. could have been even worse but for his intervention. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister has said that the matter has been badly dealt with.

Mr. Howard

Is it because the hon. Lady thought that the increases levied by the statutory water companies were so admirable that her party voted for them to be the model for privatisation in another place?

5 pm

Mrs. Taylor

The Minister well knows that what was said in another place was that that was not our preferred option. It would, however, have meant the end of the privatisation proposals. We made no bones about the fact that we did not like the proposal, but anything that would have scuppered the Bill was worthy of support.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)

That is an interesting question which we should look into further. Does not the very ease with which the statutory water companies put up their charges prove that that is not a model that we should follow, whatever our views on the rightness or wrongness of the Bill? Will the hon. Lady comment on that?

Mrs. Taylor

It is not the ideal model to follow, but the reason why the statutory water companies put up their prices by such significant amounts was the reason that they made clear to their consumers and to the public. It was because of the consequences of the Government's privatisation proposals. It is clear that what has happened with the statutory water companies so far this year will happen to other water consumers as time goes by if the water authorities are pushed into the private sector.

It is important to have that background to the starting point of prices in the water industry. We have seen significant increases this year, but there is far worse to come for all of us as water consumers. One reason why the amendment is important is that it will ensure at least some fairness in the treatment of consumers.

One interesting aspect of working on the Bill during the last year has been the amount of interest in the legislation from many different quarters. That is why, when it comes to estimating the impact of the legislation or its cost, we have an impressive array of advice, some of which my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) has quoted. One recent report on the financial impact of privatisation which I recommend to hon. Members has been prepared by an independent expert—an accountant—who has worked in the industry for many years. Mr. Stanley William Hill's work, which has been widely acknowledged by the City and financial journalists, shows clearly that the cost of privatisation alone will add at least 27 per cent. to water charges across the board immediately on privatisation.

That cost includes several items that outraged the public, not least the completely inept and ridiculously expensive advertising campaign upon which, at the Government's insistence, the water authorities have embarked. It is outrageous for Ministers still to claim that that water advertising campaign has nothing to do with them. I do not believe that one person in the country would accept as a coincidence the fact that the water authorities have spent as much in one four-week period on television advertising as Coca-Cola, Nescaféand Renault together—what a coincidence that that should happen just when the Government are putting through their privatisation proposals.

Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)

It is our money.

Mrs. Taylor

As my hon. Friend said, it is our money. At the moment, the water authorities are still in the public sector. Yet they are behaving as though they were answerable to shareholders and as though they might sell more water as a result of their advertisements.

Mr. Hill's estimate ties in very much with other estimates which have been given in another place. The Conservative peer, Lord Nugent, estimated that the first year increases in prices as a result of privatisation would be between 30 and 40 per cent. That was the estimate of a Conservative peer, not of any Labour spokesman. All that is before we take into account the costs of investment to improve the service, whether as a result of EEC directives, which we shall be discussing later, or of the backlog of problems and liabilities being faced by the industry.

The backcloth of prices is not optimistic. The increases that we shall be facing may fall more harshly on certain types of consumer. I have mentioned the pricing policy adopted this year by Yorkshire Water. There are also the problems with metering and the possibility of discrimination against rural consumers or, indeed, any consumers in high-cost areas. Those may include regions which have a large backlog of liabilities and may be forced to pay disproportionately for improvements within their areas.

The Minister could tell us a lot about pricing post-privatisation. I expect that we shall get all the critical announcements on prices once the legislation has gone through and, possibly, only once the House has risen for the summer recess. The Minister could tell us now the basis for K for the next 10 years if he chose to do so. All the discussions have taken place and recommendations have been made and discussed with the existing water authorities. I hope that the Minister will be forthcoming during our debate and tell us what the likely levels of K will be. We spent some time in Committee talking about K, but I hope that the Minister will tell us more about how cost pass-through will operate, because that is just as important. As the Bill is written, and as we have discussed it on several occasions, cost pass-through should be allowed only for new and unforeseen circumstances, not for existing liabilities which have not been met. Yet in an answer to me recently the Minister made it clear that the Director General of Water Services could take into account with regard to cost pass-through our existing commitments to the EEC, simply because those liabilities have not yet been budgeted or accounted for and plans have not been made. That would be an abuse of cost pass-through, but I believe that the Government are looking to move in that direction to disguise the real level of K that is necessary to go ahead with the Government's plans.

One other issue that I hope the Minister will deal with is very relevant to the amendment that he will be moving, because it concerns potential consumers. Amendment No. 13 refers to existing and potential consumers. I hope that the Minister will tell us a little more about his plans for the connection charge for water services after privatisation. On 11 May, after the Bill had left the House, the Minister announced that a new scheme of connection charges was to be drawn up. That is a completely new scheme which has not been discussed in the House. We have not as yet seen the full details of the scheme, and we do not know—nor do the builders involved know—when payments will have to be made, whether they will have to be made when the builder applies for a service for a particular site or after the houses have been built. I hope that the Minister will tell us what the likely connection charges will be. In the initial statement, it was said that the connection charge would be about £800 on average, but investigations have shown that some water authorities are thinking of charging an average of about £2,000, or even more in certain circumstances. That would obviously have an impact either on the price of housing or on the production of houses, if builders found it difficult to absorb that cost.

Mr. Nicholas Baker (Dorset, North)

I think that the hon. Lady is in danger of misinforming the House. We discussed the scheme in Committee because I tabled and moved an amendment bearing on it. The hon. Lady is clearly right to say that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister did not put the scheme forward to take account of her argument. Does she agree that it is fair that the developer, rather than existing water consumers, should pay a one-off charge to cover capital costs?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman said that I was wrong to suggest that the scheme had not been discussed. He then acknowledged that I was right to suggest that it had not been discussed. I accept that he raised the issue in Committee, but at that stage—not surprisingly—the Minister chose not to give us any information. Instead, he held a press conference, or issued a press release, at a later stage. I cannot talk about the details of the scheme because the Minister has not been forthcoming with the details. I am only asking the Minister, for once, to clarify what he is proposing. People who are not necessarily the natural allies of the Labour party—for instance, the Building Employers Confederation—are extremely worried about what the Minister is proposing and would like more information. Local authorities and housing associations which are still trying to build homes, despite the difficulties put in their way by the Government, would like to know what is to happen about connection charges. The Minister has said that there will be full consultation, but, as I understand it, there has been little consultation so far. Even the Building Employers Confederation is extremely worried about the Government's proposals.

Mr. Nicholas Baker


Mrs. Taylor

No, I shall not give way. We are running short of time and I must get on.

I hope that the Minister will tell us whether the Government intend to add new sums to the local authorities' capital allocation programme and to the funding of housing associations to take account of the new costs which will fall especially heavily on first-time buyers and purchasers of small properties. If we are talking about £2,000 as an addition to the cost of a small terraced house in Yorkshire, that will be a significant proportion of the final price. I hope that the Minister can tell us that more money will be made available to local authorities if they are to be faced with costs of that kind.

The public are well aware that privatisation of the water industry is likely to lead to a reduction in standards and an increase in charges. All that has happened in the past year points in that direction, as does every financial survey and economic study of the industry. Privatisation will cost ordinary consumers a great deal of money. We want a water industry which is accountable to consumers, not one which is accountable to shareholders. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his position.

Mr. Howard

I invite the House to agree with Lords amendments Nos. 13 and 15 and to reject amendment (a). Before I explain the effect of the amendments which were passed in another place and the reasons why I think that it would be unwise to accept the Opposition's amendment, it is important that we all understand the context in which the amendments fall to be considered.

The unavoidable fact, much though the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) would like to avoid it and much though she wriggled in answer to my questions and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), is that when the Bill was being considered in another place the Opposition voted for the removal of all price control measures. It avails the Opposition nothing to pretend today to be the friend of consumers when they voted in another place for the removal of the price control measures which afford consumers safeguards for the pricing of water and for the circumstances in which services are to be provided by the new water companies from which consumers will benefit greatly.

5.15 pm
Mrs. Ann Taylor

The Minister is coming up with a remarkable answer to what happened in another place. Had the relevant amendment secured a majority in that place, the Government would have been defeated and would have dropped the Bill. I can think of no better service to consumers than to kill the entire Bill.

Mr. Howard

I do not know how the hon. Lady can speculate on what the Government's reaction would have been if the amendment had been passed. It is clear from what she has said that, if there is any hope of defeating the Government in a Division, any protection for the consumer will go out of the window along with any sensible measure of price control. Apparently the Opposition will vote for anything if they think that it will lead to some embarrassment for the Government. That is a scandalous admission. It says more about the irresponsibility of the Labour party than volumes of pretended concern for consumers who will be anxious to obtain the services of the industry under the improved terms and conditions that will result from the Bill.

I turn to the amendments. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Director General of Water Services have a general duty under clause 7(3)(a) to use their regulatory powers under part I of chapter II so as to ensure that customers' interests in respect of charges are protected and that, in particular, there is no undue discrimination or undue preference shown by undertakers in fixing charges. That duty already provides the basis for a robust framework of consumer protection. Amendment No. 13 supplements the duty by requiring that, in particular, the interests of customers in rural areas are to be protected.

Mr. Wigley

As I said in an intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor), under this Bill a company could reasonably argue that it was not discriminating against rural areas if the ratio of the cost of provision of service to the charge was the same in a rural area as in an urban area. That could lead to a gross difference in the charges being levied. Will the Minister apply himself to that?

Mr. Howard

The point of amendment No. 13 is that, should any company come forward with any proposition of that sort in future, the director general would have to consider it against the general duty to prevent discrimination. I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument that, in the way in which he formulated the approach, the general duty to prevent discrimination conceivably might not be enough to defeat such a proposition. The effect of the amendment is that the director general will have a duty, in addition, to protect the interest of rural consumers. It is against that background that any proposition of the sort referred to by the hon. Gentleman would have to be considered. A direct consequence of the amendment is a substantial additional reinforcement for consumers in rural areas. I have no doubt that it would be regarded as especially relevant by the director general in the context of any approach such as that to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

Amendment No. 15 would require the Secretary of State and the director general, in the exercise of their duty, to protect customers under clause 7 and to take into account the particular interests of those who are disabled or of pensionable age in respect of the quality of any services provided by a company in the course of carrying out the functions of a water or sewerage undertaker. I commend the amendments to the House.

Amendment (a), which has been tabled by the Labour party, would add a further gloss to amendment No. 13. It would require my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the director general, when carrying out their duties under clause 7, to ensure that charges for domestic customers in rural areas are at the same level for the same level of service throughout the area supplied or serviced by any undertaker.

The amendment is both defective and undesirable. What does the same charge for the same level of service actually mean? Does it mean that every customer who receives the same quantity of water at the same pressure should pay the same charge? If so, the water industry would have to introduce very quickly an elaborate water metering system to measure both volume and pressure, in addition to an equally elaborate tariff. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), with his usual perspicacity, no doubt appreciates the force of that point. At the other extreme, does the phrase mean that undertakers would have to introduce a flat-rate, unmeasured charging system for all their domestic customers, regardless of the consumption of each customer?

The Opposition's amendment could have an adverse effect on many customers of water authorities that have adopted a policy of differential charging to alleviate the impact of the anomalies of the domestic rating system. To take just one example, Thames Water makes a rateable value-based sewerage charge at 8.9p per pound of rateable value in the inner area of north London but 19.5p per pound in its western division. That difference of 119 per cent. is intended to allow for the differences in rateable values of similar properties in the two areas to ensure that broadly comparable bills will result. That might well fall foul of amendment (a). The thinking behind amendment (a) is characteristically confused. It would be unworkable and it would not lead to the result that I think the hon. Member for Dewsbury intended.

The hon. Lady raised a number of other matters, with which I shall deal briefly. She referred to some of the consequences of metering, but she knows that metering is not a consequence of either this legislation or of privatisation. It is necessary that water undertakers devise an alternative method of charging for water services on the abolition of domestic rateable values. They have been given up to the year 2000 to come up with an alternative method. Many may wish to consider metering. Indeed, we introduced metering trials because we thought it important that the undertakers should have the advantage of such experience before reaching decisions.

The correspondence pages of newspapers have disclosed widely differing experiences. Many people think metering to be an excellent system, while others have reservations. I do not doubt that the undertakers will carefully consider the results of those trials before reaching any final decisions about an alternative method of charging.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

If the Minister accepts that there are differences of opinion on the benefits or otherwise of metering, why did he turn down our amendment to ensure that there was no compulsory metering?

Mr. Howard

At the end of the day, the undertakers will have to decide upon an alternative method of charging to the current system, which is based on domestic rateable values. They might decide that metering is the fairest and most sensible system to adopt and they would then need powers to introduce compulsory metering in their areas. That is such an obvious point that I am astonished that the hon. Lady questioned it.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Water authorities already have the necessary powers to introduce compulsory water metering; they were introduced in the paving legislation. Water authorities, such as the North-West water authority, are using those powers for new dwellings.

Mr. Howard

It is true that the undertakers can already use those powers, and they are sensibly doing so for new dwellings. However, they will want to consider the results of the trials before deciding whether metering should be introduced compulsorily throughout the whole of their areas.

Mr. Mullin

The Minister speaks of metering as though it were an academic exercise. In fact, metering has been introduced in a dozen or so areas and the bills are now hitting the doormats. We do not need to speculate: we know that many people are receiving bills two, three or four times higher than their previous bills. How does that square with the Minister's repeated assurances in Committee about the legislation's effect on prices?

Mr. Howard

As I have already said, metering is not a consequence of privatisation; it is an alternative method of charging to that based on domestic rateable value, which is being abolished. Experimental metering is taking place in several parts of the country and we shall benefit from the experience. It is by no means self-evident that water should be treated differently from food, for example, which is paid for on the basis of the amount consumed. Opposition Members appear to regard it as absolutely self-evident that there should be a system of charging for each and every commodity that has absolutely nothing to do with the amount consumed. There is no self-evident rule of law, justice or morals that suggests that people should not pay for such commodities according to the quantities consumed, provided that proper arrangements are made for the least-well-off members of the community. Such arrangements should be made through the social security system and not through some arbitrary method of charging that does not attempt to correlate use and cost.

The hon. Lady referred to some estimates of the likely effect of water privatisation on the prices charged. The estimates are erroneous—as the hon. Lady will realise, no doubt to her acute disappointment, when the prices are announced. She will have to wait a little longer before being given that information.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

What about cost pass-through?

Mr. Howard

Costs will not simply be arbitrarily shifted to cost pass-through. The arrangements for cost pass-through are set out in detail in the licence, which has been available in the Library for some days. It is clear that it is not possible for cost pass-through to be used to deal with matters that were foreseeable from the outset. In some instances the obligation will not have been foreseeable. In some instances, no doubt, the cost of meeting the obligation will not have been foreseeable. Both cost pass-through and benefit pass-through—the mechanism that will give to the companies and their customers a proportion of the proceeds from the disposal of their assets—are intended to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The detailed provisions for that are set out in the draft licence.

The hon. Lady's final point related to connection charges. The introduction of that measure was a typical example of what I referred to during my speech in the guillotine debate earlier—of the Government listening to reasonable and sensible amendments put forward while the Bill was proceeding through Parliament. It was not the Government's intention to introduce that measure, but the arguments put forward in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Baker) and others of my hon. Friends were so sensible that I was persuaded that it would improve the Bill.

One of my most enjoyable memories of the Committee stage was the sight of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael)—the leading Opposition spokesman—in a state of exquisite equivocation as he wondered what on earth to say in response to the sensible proposals put forward by my hon. Friends. The hon. Gentleman could not decide what to say or what to do. His was a remarkable speech in a remarkable Committee. We have set out our responses and conclusions, and we are holding consultations before the detailed regulatory arrangements are finalised. We shall of course take into account the views of bodies such as the House-Builders Federation that have a direct interest before final regulations are made.

I invite the House to reject the Opposition's amendment as being undesirable and unworkable, and I commend Lords amendments Nos. 13 and 15.

5.30 pm
Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South)

In his opening remarks, the Minister charged the House—as though addressing a recalcitrant and incredulous jury—that it should take into account the context in which the Lords amendments fall to be considered. My right hon. and hon. Friends want to take the context into account, because it is one in which the City of London has given water privatisation what one respected financial columnist described over the weekend as a "thumbs down". That is the context in which we should consider the Lords amendments and the Minister's rejection of the Opposition amendment to protect and to preserve equity as between the rural and the urban consumer. The Government have brought forward their own sham amendments relating to pricing because they know that the share issue can be successful only if the Government create a situation in which the water industry can exploit its monopoly control over prices to make the flotation attractive to prospective investors.

It is worth while considering the state in which the Government find themselves in relation to their friends in the City. A recent survey by Harris revealed that 59 per cent. of fund managers believe that the domestic water industry should not be privatised before it meets European standards. More than half the fund managers polled expect the dividend yield to exceed 7 per cent., which compares with a current average equity yield of only 4.4 per cent. Meanwhile, 91 per cent. of respondents to the Harris poll have not even set aside specific funds to invest in water. That is the context in which the Lords amendments are presented by the Government and in which they oppose our amendment. The Government are in a blind funk.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

A blind what?

Mr. Boateng

The hon. Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) mutters and moans in his usual sedentary and stultifying manner. I repeat that Government Members are in a blind funk over what will happen when the water industry is privatised and they seek to float that offer. They do not know what is about to hit them. In their desperation they attempt to preserve a pricing mechanism that will maximise the yield to shareholders.

The great mischief and evil about the Bill is the way in which, in a natural monopoly, it sets the shareholder against the consumer. The Bill creates a situation in which consumer interests in respect of health, safety and water quality will be subordinated to the greed and avarice of shareholders.

Mr. Leigh


Mr. Boateng

It is no use the hon. Gentleman shouting "Nonsense" because I have described the reality of the position. The Government's amendments are designed to avoid the fiasco that is in store for them.

The Minister can take one crumb of comfort from the Harris opinion poll. I suspect from the glimmer of recognition in his eyes, which those of us who served in Committee came to know all too well, that he has been feasting on that crumb—as well he might. The crumb is that when people were asked to identify the politician responsible for water privatisation, 18 per cent. identified the Secretary of State for the Environment, and only 3 per cent. identified the Minister for Water and Planning. That must be a great comfort to him—certain, as he must be, that his vocation and the Bill are an unmitigated disaster. Only 3 per cent. of the population will blame the Minister, but unfortunately for him it is not the people of this country who will determine his fate in the near future—although they may do so in the medium term. It is her upstairs who will determine the Minister's fate, and she has both him and the Secretary of State for the Environment well in her sights because of the consequences of the disastrous privatisation of the water industry.

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman feels better now that he has got that little joke off his chest. The hon. Gentleman referred to a lack of a sense of identity as between shareholders and consumers. How much sense of identity was there between the public authorities, with the Labour Government behind them, and consumers when water prices were bumped up by 40 per cent. in a single year in the 1970s? Is the official view that he is peddling today that the water industry will be unsaleable because its prices are too low, or saleable because its prices will be too high? It is impossible even for the hon. Gentleman to sustain both propositions.

Mr. Boateng

As the hon. Gentleman knows only too well, the gap between water prices and the retail price index has increased dramatically under the present Government, whereas under the previous Labour Government it closed. The hon. Gentleman makes an entirely spurious argument.

On the basis of what occurred in Committee and in another place, and of today's proceedings, consumers are right to be fearful of the fact that hidden within factor K is a remedy for increased prices. Factor K gives those who want to acquire the water industry the ability to boost profits, pass on any unforeseen costs, and avoid any risk that might otherwise arise in meeting required European standards. Built into the Government's proposals are practices that are discriminatory as between the urban and rural consumer and that will exploit the water companies' monopoly at every turn. The public know of that, which is why they are overwhelmingly opposed to water privatisation and to the pricing mechanism that the Government try to defend.

Only this morning I received a letter

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

I know that my hon. Friend is about to say that this morning he received a letter from the chair of a water authority. Is my hon. Friend aware that over the past five years river and sewage pollution in Yorkshire has doubled, yet the chair of Yorkshire Water spends taxpayers' money hand over fist on advertisements that have got up my constituents' noses? Everyone who has written to me is outraged about the doubling of pollution.

Mr. Boateng

My hon. Friend has put her finger on the speciousness of the propaganda put out by the chairmen of the water authorities. The letter that I received today from the chairman of Thames Water contained the usual series of anodyne points seeking to justify the unjustifiable—and, one is bound to add, to obscure the truth, which is that there is no way in which consumers will benefit from the sale.

One of the Government's proposals for the price mechanism attempts to buttress the advice already seized upon by Warburg Securities, the Government's broking adviser. Of course, the Government must work hand in hand with the brokers, who are the only people likely to benefit from privatisation. The main selling point for shares that already seem to have been condemned to slow profit growth is that 'stable and, probably, highly in elastic demand allied to rising prices make the revenue characteristics of the industry extremely attractive,' says Warburg, making the best of a difficult task. It is a difficult task, but one thing that we know for certain is that it will be made even more difficult for the consumer who will have to meet the rising prices.

The chairmen of the water authorities have not always spoken with quite the pleasant, reasonable voice with which they purport to speak in the letter. I cannot but refer to the position in the north-west, and to a report that appeared in The Independent on 22 May, headed Where there's mucky water there may be investors' brass". That has a familiar ring, when we think of the muck and the worms that now infest our water.

What the chairman of Thames Water says is interesting and worthy of consideration. According to The Independent, one water authority chairman described it"— the flotation and purchase of shares in water— as better than a gilt because it will be inflation-proof, with a little bit of sparkle and risk added by the diversification opportunities—'like safe sex'. The mind boggles. That we should have sunk to such depths that chairmen of public bodies describe share flotations in terms of safe sex! It raises the spectre of Messrs Howard and Ridley as the Masters and Johnson of water privatisation. They are trying to sell the unsellable, and, whenever possible, to exploit the consumer for the benefit of the shareholder. We shall oppose them at every turn.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

We heard a good deal from the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) in Committee, and were vastly amused by most of what he had to say—especially the bits that related to opera, which constituted the greater part of his speeches. Today, however, he finally told us his real concern, which is not for the consumer but for the shareholder.

The hon. Gentleman gave away the secret at the start of his excellent speech by expressing anxiety about the report that the Bill had received a thumbs-down from the City. It is a bit early for him to worry—the industry has not yet been privatised, so there is hope for his children sitting in the car park about which we heard so much. I advise him to go for the shares when they eventually appear.

5.45 pm

Lords amendment No. 13, which I welcome, is about consumers. We have heard remarkably little from Opposition Members about the consumer's interests. We have not even heard that the director general is to control prices, although that is surely one of the greatest consumer measures ever devised.

My hon. Friend the Minister mentioned another consumer measure—the connection charge. As he kindly said, my hon. Friends and I suggested that in Committee, but apparently the Opposition were not listening at that point. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) got into some difficulties in his speech—it is a great pleasure to see the hon. Gentleman in his place now—because he did not realise that the connection charge was a consumer measure. It is a one-off charge to be paid by developers on new properties to cover the capital costs of water and sewerage services. I will anticipate the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor), who has a pencil ready to write down her question. The price will come out of the land. If the hon. Lady talks to developers, that is the answer that she will hear from them.

Mrs. Ann Taylor


Mr. Baker

Perhaps the hon. Lady will allow me to finish as there is not much time.

It is existing consumers who will benefit from the connection charge, and it is right that they should not pay extra capital costs from new developments in their areas, and that the charge should be paid from the new land, with its inflated building costs. The measure will also replace the section 52 agreements arrived at by many local authorities, and will end uncertainty and some of the less desirable deals done by local authorities and developers involving new capital costs. I therefore reject amendment (a) and reiterate my support, and that of my hon. Friends, for Lords amendment No. 13 which, like so many of the Government's amendments to the Bill, is a consumer-friendly measure.

Mr. Allan Roberts

This has been a wide-ranging debate. The Minister has accused Labour Members in the other place of voting against measures designed to protect the consumer, but that is not possible as there are no such measures in the Bill. The powers of the Director General of Water Services are such that the consumer will be far from protected.

The party of so-called choice is introducing compulsory metering. In Committee, Conservative Members said that they wanted metering. They can have meters now. Metering is not compulsory, so if people choose to have water meters there is nothing wrong with that.

The Minister claims that the likelihood of the introduction of compulsory water metering in many areas has nothing whatever to do with privatisation. He believes that that exonerates the Government from blame. But it has everything to do with the poll tax legislation. If rateable values are abolished by the poll tax legislation, another means of charging has to be found. When compulsory water meters are installed in every home—at a capital cost of £1.6 billion—that will be a good way of providing the private water companies with a licence to print money. The compulsory water meter, which is a direct consequence of the poll tax legislation, is thoroughly unfair, switching the burden of taxation from the rich to the poor, who will be charged for the amount of water that they use.

The Minister extols that fact as a virtue, but the cost of water bears no relation to the amount that is used. Unlike electricity, which is expensive to produce but cheap to distribute, water is cheap to produce but expensive to distribute. As soon as the infrastructure is paid for and the pipes are there to take water to households, people can use twice as much water without it costing the water companies twice as much. The extra cost is negligible. It is the cost of getting the water there in the first place that is the problem. If people economise and use half as much water as their next door neighbours, the water companies will not save half the cost. Once the pipe has been laid and the water provided, the cost has already been met. There are no savings to be made by water metering. If the Government are concerned about economising and getting people to think about saving water, they should do something about the 20 to 30 per cent. of water which is leaking out of an aging system. That is the amount of water that leaves the reservoirs but never reaches people's taps because the system is out of date. The £1.6 billion capital cost of installing meters would be better spent on mending an aging leaking system so that water is no longer wasted.

Water metering is a tax on bath time. Large families will be reluctant to use water to bath their children as often as they should so as to cut down their water bills. The elderly, who already economise on electricity and other forms of energy for heating their homes because they are worried about the size of their bills, will economise on the use of water as well. They will be reluctant to flush the loo or to bath as often as they would like.

If compulsory water metering is not introduced, the alternative is a water poll tax. That is the prospect that the Government are offering in this Bill, which they say shows their concern for the consumer. There will be a flat rate water charge—another shifting of the burden of costs and taxation from the rich to the poor. North-West Water is determined to introduce compulsory water metering for all industrial and commercial users immediately after privatisation. It is already determined to compel any new dwelling to have a water meter, and it has made plans for the compulsory fitting of water meters over a period of years throughout the whole of its area. North-West Water is not concerned about the consumer. There will he an army of meter readers. Huge capital expenditure will be involved, which will lead to a tax on the use of water—a tax on cleanliness and a switch in the burden of taxation from rich to poor.

With the 27 per cent. price increase that all independent experts have calculated is likely after privatisation, we shall have the Government's disgraceful cut-off regime. The policy statements by the Department of the Environment on disconnections and guaranteed standards of service by private water companies are also a disgrace. The water industry clearly expects an increase in the number of disconnections from the domestic water supply. That is how much the Government care about the consumer. Last year, 9,000 people supplied by water authorities and 6,000 supplied by water companies had their water supply disconnected. The Labour party believes that water disconnection should never be necessary. Water is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of the nation. Giving privately owned monopolies wider scope and greater powers to disconnect customers who have difficulty paying for their water has no place in a civilised society. Yet that is what the Government and the Ministers are proposing. According to their revised code of practice, people on low incomes with a history of payment difficulties will be legally discriminated against. Their case will not be heard in the county courts. It is essential that every water consumer should at least have the option of a county court hearing to explain the circumstances of non-payment.

The Bill ought to provide much stronger safeguards for the sick and the disabled who are large users of water. Payment by instalments should be an option for every water consumer, not just those with payment difficulties. It is outrageous that the provisions were drafted by the industry and the Government without consulting consumer organisations. Privatisation of the water industry is already leading to huge price increases, which will inevitably lead to financial hardship for many consumers and to the likelihood of more people on low incomes being denied access to a domestic water supply. The prospects for families with children, for the disabled and for the elderly are horrendous. The social and health consequences of water supplies being cut off are so great that in many areas the Government are putting at risk the health and the wellbeing of whole communities. It is amazing that the Government are so callous about their cut-off regime and about the potential difficulties that people will face in paying their water bills as a result at having to meet the costs of privatisation and water metering.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

Does my hon. Friend recall that we were able to produce water bills in the Sheffield area which proved that 67 per cent. of the water charges for single pensioners were not for water but for water metering? The Minister referred to the payment of welfare benefit, but I recall the Department of Social Security saying that there would be no financial help to meet water bills.

Mr. Roberts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Our concern for people in such difficulties is clear. The Government's lack of concern is equally clear. They claim that this is an environmental measure because it will release water authorities from the constraints of the public sector borrowing requirement, but that can be done at a stroke anyway. Privatisation is not needed for water authorities to be able to borrow on the open market. One can imagine what will happen after flotation. During the lunch break at the Stock Exchange, the developers, the speculators and others in the City will be saying, "What shall we invest our money in today to make a quick buck or a long-term gain? Let us invest in the problems of cleaning up the river Mersey. Let us put our money into cleaning up Britain's bathing beaches and drinking water. We can borrow money on the open market as we are sure to make a packet out of it because it is very profitable."

My car broke down last week outside the House of Commons. It had a puncture. The police did not help me, so I got out and jacked up the car. I was about to take the wheel off when the Secretary of State for the Environment came by, opened the front door of my car and started to remove the radio. When I said, "What are you doing, mate?" he replied, "If you're having the wheels, I'm having the radio." Then the Prime Minister came along. She opened the bonnet of the car and was messing about underneath. The Secretary of State for the Environment and I asked, "What are you doing?" She replied, "Taking the water out of the radiator—you don't know how much this will cost very soon."

6 pm

Mr. John Heddle (Mid-Staffordshire)

I wish briefly to pursue the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Baker). I agree with him absolutely that the cost of connection for new homes will ultimately have an impact on the value and cost of building land. Anything that can legitimately keep down the cost of building land must ultimately be to the benefit of the consumer, particularly first-time buyers, whom we must protect.

May I press my hon. and learned Friend the Minister a little further? If I heard the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) correctly, she said from the Dispatch Box that the cost of connection could well be some £2.000 per dwelling. As I understand it—

It being Six o'clock, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes 188, Noes 303.

Division No. 272] [6 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Armstrong, Hilary
Allen, Graham Ashley, Rt Hon Jack
Anderson, Donald Ashton, Joe
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hoyle, Doug
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Battle, John Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Beckett, Margaret Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Beith, A. J. Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Ingram, Adam
Bidwell, Sydney Janner, Greville
Blunkett, David Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Boateng, Paul Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Boyes, Roland Kennedy, Charles
Bradley, Keith Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Bray, Dr Jeremy Kirkwood, Archy
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Livingstone, Ken
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Livsey, Richard
Buckley, George J. Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Caborn, Richard Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Callaghan, Jim McAllion, John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) McAvoy, Thomas
Campbell-Savours, D. N. McCartney, Ian
Canavan, Dennis Macdonald, Calum A.
Cartwright, John McFall, John
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McKelvey, William
Clay, Bob McLeish, Henry
Clelland, David McWilliam, John
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Madden, Max
Cohen, Harry Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Marek, Dr John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Corbyn, Jeremy Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cousins, Jim Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Cox, Tom Martlew, Eric
Crowther, Stan Maxton, John
Cryer, Bob Meacher, Michael
Cunningham, Dr John Meale, Alan
Dalyell, Tarn Michael, Alun
Darling, Alistair Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Morgan, Rhodri
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Morley, Elliott
Oewar, Donald Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dixon, Don Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dobson, Frank Mullin, Chris
Doran, Frank Murphy, Paul
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Nellist, Dave
Evans, John (St Helens N) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) O'Brien, William
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) O'Neill, Martin
Fisher, Mark Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Flannery, Martin Pendry, Tom
Flynn, Paul Pike, Peter L.
Foster, Derek Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Foulkes, George Prescott, John
Fraser, John Quin, Ms Joyce
Fyfe, Maria Radice, Giles
Galloway, George Randall, Stuart
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Reid, Dr John
Godman, Dr Norman A. Richardson, Jo
Golding, Mrs Llin Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Gordon, Mildred Robertson, George
Gould, Bryan Rogers, Allan
Graham, Thomas Rooker, Jeff
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Rowlands, Ted
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Sedgemore, Brian
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Sheerman, Barry
Grocott, Bruce Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Harman, Ms Harriet Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Skinner, Dennis
Haynes, Frank Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Heffer, Eric S. Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Henderson, Doug Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Snape, Peter
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Soley, Clive
Hood, Jimmy Steel, Rt Hon David
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Steinberg, Gerry
Howells, Geraint Stott, Roger
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Strang, Gavin
Straw, Jack Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wilson, Brian
Turner, Dennis Winnick, David
Vaz, Keith Wise, Mrs Audrey
Wall, Pat Worthington, Tony
Wallace, James Wray, Jimmy
Walley, Joan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N. Tellers for the Ayes:
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Mr. Ken Eastham and
Wigley, Dafydd Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie.
Adley, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Aitken, Jonathan Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alexander, Richard Day, Stephen
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Devlin, Tim
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dicks, Terry
Amess, David Dorrell, Stephen
Amos, Alan Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arbuthnot, James Dover, Den
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dunn, Bob
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Dykes, Hugh
Ashby, David Eggar, Tim
Aspinwall, Jack Emery, Sir Peter
Atkins, Robert Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Evennett, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Baldry, Tony Fallon, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Favell, Tony
Batiste, Spencer Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bendall, Vivian Fishburn, John Dudley
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forman, Nigel
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Forth, Eric
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Body, Sir Richard Fox, Sir Marcus
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Freeman, Roger
Boscawen, Hon Robert French, Douglas
Boswell, Tim Fry, Peter
Bottomley, Peter Gale, Roger
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gardiner, George
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowis, John Gill, Christopher
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Glyn, Dr Alan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Goodlad, Alastair
Brazier, Julian Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bright, Graham Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gorst, John
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gow, Ian
Browne, John (Winchester) Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Buck, Sir Antony Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Budgen, Nicholas Gregory, Conal
Burns, Simon Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Burt, Alistair Grist, Ian
Butcher, John Ground, Patrick
Butler, Chris Grylls, Michael
Butterfill, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hague, William
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carttiss, Michael Hanley, Jeremy
Cash, William Hannam, John
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Chapman, Sydney Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Chope, Christopher Haselhurst, Alan
Churchill, Mr Hawkins, Christopher
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Colvin, Michael Hayward, Robert
Conway, Derek Heathcoat-Amory, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Heddle, John
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Couchman, James Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Cran, James Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Critchley, Julian Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Curry, David Holt, Richard
Hordern, Sir Peter Mellor, David
Howard, Michael Miller, Sir Hal
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Mills, Iain
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Miscampbell, Norman
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Mitchell, Sir David
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Moate, Roger
Hunter, Andrew Monro, Sir Hector
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Irvine, Michael Moore, Rt Hon John
Jack, Michael Morrison, Sir Charles
Jackson, Robert Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Janman, Tim Moss, Malcolm
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Mudd, David
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Neale, Gerrard
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Nelson, Anthony
Key, Robert Neubert, Michael
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Kirkhope, Timothy Nicholls, Patrick
Knapman, Roger Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Norris, Steve
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Knowles, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Knox, David Page, Richard
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Paice, James
Latham, Michael Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Lawrence, Ivan Patnick, Irvine
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Patten, John (Oxford W)
Lee, John (Pendle) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Pawsey, James
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Porter, David (Waveney)
Lilley, Peter Portillo, Michael
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Powell, William (Corby)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Price, Sir David
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Raffan, Keith
McCrindle, Robert Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Rathbone, Tim
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Redwood, John
Maclean, David Renton, Tim
McLoughlin, Patrick Rhodes James, Robert
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Riddick, Graham
Madel, David Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Major, Rt Hon John Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Malins, Humfrey Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Mans, Keith Roe, Mrs Marion
Maples, John Rossi, Sir Hugh
Marland, Paul Rost, Peter
Marlow, Tony Rowe, Andrew
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Ryder, Richard
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sackville, Hon Tom
Mates, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Maude, Hon Francis Sayeed, Jonathan
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Trippier, David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Trotter, Neville
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shersby, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waldegrave, Hon William
Soames, Hon Nicholas Walden, George
Speller, Tony Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Waller, Gary
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Walters, Sir Dennis
Squire, Robin Ward, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Warren, Kenneth
Steen, Anthony Watts, John
Stern, Michael Wells, Bowen
Stevens, Lewis Wheeler, John
Stokes, Sir John Whitney, Ray
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Widdecombe, Ann
Sumberg, David Wiggin, Jerry
Summerson, Hugo Wilshire, David
Tapsell, Sir Peter Wolfson, Mark
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Yeo, Tim
Temple-Morris, Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Younger, Rt Hon George
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Thorne, Neil Tellers for the Noes:
Thornton, Malcolm Mr. Tony Durant and
Thurnham, Peter Mr. David Lightbown.
Townend, John (Bridlington)

Question accordingly negatived.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to he concluded by Six o'clock.

Lords amendment No. 13 agreed to.

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