HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc88-126

Lords amendment: No. 44, in page 20, line 39, leave out "subsection (5)" and insert "subsections (2) and (5)".

Mr. Ridley

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this we shall discuss Lords amendments Nos. 45 to 48.

No. 49, in page 21, leave out lines 45 to 47.

Amendment (a) to the Lords amendment, at end add 'and insert "except that the Secretary of State or Director as the case may be shall have regard in any case to which paragraph (b) of this subsection applies to any report submitted to the Director by a technical assessor appointed under section 60 below in respect of the contraventions concerned, and the Director shall within two weeks of receiving any such report submit a copy of it to the European Commission"'. Lords amendments Nos. 50 to 53 and No. 58.

Mr. Ridley

I understand that it would be for the convenience of the House if we also discussed Lords amendments Nos. 62 and 64. Does the House agree that I should speak to those two amendments?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With the agreement of the House, that is in order.

Mr. Ridley

The amendments arise out of discussions that we have had with the European Commission which, I am happy to report, is now satisfied that the clause, with these amendments, is fully consistent with Community law. Essentially, the amendments place the holder of my office and the director general under a duty to make a final or provisional order if they believe that a water undertaker is breaching certain statutory duties except in the circumstances specified in subsection (5). In addition, companies will now have to give and comply with undertakings under subsection (5)(b) concerning compliance programmes instead of entering into agreements. If the Secretary of State is not satisfied with an undertaking he is obliged to take enforcement action under the clause.

There have been some rather confusing reports on this issue, and I believe that it would be helpful if I put that right. Clause 20, after all, is only one element of a wider process that also needs to be appreciated. Clause 20(5) provides a powerful and effective mechanism—which I think has no parallel in other European countries—whereby, for example, water undertakers set out in detail their programmes for meeting the standards of the drinking water directive and the Secretary of State ensures that the programmes are carried out. We are at this moment discussing with each water undertaker its long-term investment programmes for drinking water quality, including measures to comply with the EC directive. It is the Government's firm policy that those supplies that do not meet the directive's strict standards will be improved as quickly as possible. However, they involve designing and building new treatment works in some places and replacing or re-lining water mains in others. While that work is taking place, it is essential to maintain water supplies, to protect people's health and to minimise the disruption to the general public.

Provided that the water company is carrying out a compliance programme acceptable to the Secretary of State. there would be no point in his taking enforcement action against it. Nor would there be any point in the European Commission taking action against the United Kingdom Government, because the programme would be being implemented as fast as possible. The undertaker could proceed faster only if we were prepared to accept adverse consequences for water consumers and for the public generally.

7.45 pm
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

Although I agree that there is no point in persistently attacking a water authority that is trying to put right something that has been demonstrated to be wrong in a court of law, does my right hon. Friend agree that it could send the wrong signals if the consent limits were moved downwards at exactly the point where a works was undertaking investment to meet the old consent levels which were those that the public wanted it to achieve?

Mr. Ridley

Yes, but that is not what is being proposed. We are proposing to raise consent levels to the standard of the directive—and, in some cases, to higher standards. When we see a programme to implement the necessary works in the shortest possible time, it is only then that the so-called protection would arise.

Only last week, my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning had a constructive and fruitful discussion with Commissioner Ripa di Meana, during which he reaffirmed the Government's determination to comply with the drinking water directive as soon as is reasonably practicable. For his part, Commissioner Ripa di Meana said that he accepted the Government's resolve in the matter. Moreover, he accepted that these major programmes could not be carried out overnight, a view that he had previously expressed in a letter that was placed in the Library on 23 May.

The water undertakers must convince the Secretary of State that they are doing all that they can to comply speedily with the drinking water directive, and the European Commission will want to see the programmes because it has a role in ensuring that European legislation is properly implemented. The undertakers' programmes are now being drawn up and will be made public later this year, as soon as we have them. The programmes will contain the dates by which compliance with the remaining standards in the directive will be achieved. The details of those programmes will be set out in formal undertakings. The Commission will be interested to see those programmes, and I am sure that it will recognise that the United Kingdom is proceeding conscientiously and swiftly with them. No other member state complies with the drinking water directive, and no member state, as far as I am aware, has examined its investment needs in the rigorous way that forthcoming privatisation has required. Nor does it have such a powerful and effective mechanism for ensuring that the compliance programmes are carried out according to plan and date. If a water company defaults on its undertaking for no good reason, the Secretary of State will be obliged to take enforcement action, which could ultimately lead to the loss of a company's licence. That is, of course, a last resort, but the threat is there. I hope that the House will agree to the amendment.

I shall invite the House to disagree with Lords amendments Nos. 62 to 64 at the appropriate time because they are seriously flawed in a number of respects. They are the result of the famous ambush one night in another place, when Opposition peers turned up late and in large numbers, although I make no complaint about that—[Interruption.] I have organised such events in previous incarnations. However, it does not give any respectability to the argument in favour of the amendments.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

It is interesting that the Secretary of State thinks that the amendments were carried in another place only because of an ambush. If he is so confident that the other place would have agreed with his position had it known that the vote would take place, why did he not try to reverse the decision in the Lords?

Mr. Ridley

I am not skilled in the procedures of another place, but I am informed that their Lordships preferred the matter to be dealt with the other way.

Amendments Nos. 62 to 64 specify 1 September 1993 for compliance with the drinking water directive. However, specifying such a date in legislation is contrary to the directive, which set a much earlier date in 1985. The only possible legal duty must be to comply now, and the Bill provides for that through the regulations made under clause 65, setting quality standards, and under the duty placed on undertakers in clause 52 to provide wholesome water.

We propose a much tighter legal requirement than that in the amendments, as wholesomeness extends beyond the standards specified in the directive. To leave the Lords amendments in the Bill would create doubt about the undertakers' responsibility in that very important respect. We already have a perfectly adequate mechanism in the Bill to ensure that supplies that do not yet meet the requirements are brought up to standard as quickly as practicable—the enforcement duty placed on the Secretary of State in clause 20. That clause was amended in another place to put it beyond doubt that it is fully consistent with European law, and that it has the agreement of the House as well as the European Commission. Water undertakers must agree to take steps acceptable to the Secretary of State to secure or facilitate compliance with Community directive requirements. If they do not, I am bound to take enforcement action.

We are all in agreement that the necessary steps should be taken as quickly as possible, and the Government have given a public commitment to do so. On 15 May, my noble Friend Lord Hesketh made an explicit commitment in another place that I am happy to repeat. The Government are fully committed to complying with the drinking water directive and will accept undertakings under clause 20(5)(b) only if satisfied that they contain proposals for achieving compliance as quickly as possible, taking the practicalities into account.

The amendments ignore the question of practicality. Large investment programmes cannot be carried out overnight for very practical reasons that have nothing to do with the money involved. We all agree that we must avoid, for example, severe disruption of water supplies while work is carried out. We must avoid putting people's health at risk during that time, and ensure that necessary planning approvals have been obtained. We must allow time for projects to be planned and designed properly. In the case of nitrate and pesticides, we must ensure that new technology has been tested and proven. So far, it has not. Those essential factors must be taken into account, which means that timetables must be set for every individual case. A single date for compliance across the country would completely ignore that requirement. In some cases it would mean slowing down improvements, and in others jeopardising the health of customers. I am sure that that is not something that the House would want to happen.

The amendments are flawed for other reasons. Regulations made under them would automatically entitle customers to a payment if any of the quality standards was exceeded after 1993, which ignores certain scientific facts. It is not technically possible to guarantee 100 per cent. compliance with standards that have nothing to do with health but affect the taste and appearance of the water. Standards for colour, turbidity and iron can be exceeded simply because of a change in water pressure or because of an unexpectedly large demand for water, perhaps due to a fire in the area. In such instances there is no justification for making payments to customers, as the undertaker is not technically able to do anything about them—and the change in quality may barely be noticeable. Nor would there be any justification for making payments if the customer caused the breach by using, for example, excessive nitrate or pesticides on his land in the catchment area of the water source and then claimed compensation for the effect that it had on his water supply.

Amendments Nos. 62 to 64 are impracticable because they give enormous scope for dispute over whether payment is due. If the lead standard is breached there could be a dispute as to whether it was due to the customer's or the undertaker's lead pipe, or even over how the sample was taken. If the microbiological standard is breached in one sample, there could be a dispute as to whether it was due to contamination in the house or at the treatment works. If the sample was taken by the customer, for how much would it count? What if analysis showed that the water was just over the standard? Even the best analytical technique is not very precise. There are many other common instances of how disputes and injustices could arise.

The basis of our guaranteed standard scheme is that it will be simple to operate and easy for the customer to understand, and will provide a no-nonsense form of redress. The Lords amendments would produce the opposite.

I apologise for taking so much time, but it was necessary to explain the Government's position in respect of both groups of amendments. To sum up, amendments Nos. 62 to 64 are flawed, impracticable and impossible to implement. The House would be wise not to agree with them.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for agreeing to take the group headed by amendment No. 62 with that headed by amendment No. 44, because it is right to debate the effect of the directive's implementation at the same time as we discuss its transposition into our own legislation.

The Secretary of State's concluding remarks do not convince me that he is taking the problem of drinking water quality seriously enough. The problems that concern the European Community and consumers in this country are not related simply to appearance and taste but range from lead in Scotland, nitrate in Norwich and aluminium in Bradford, Calderdale and other parts of Yorkshire, to nitrate in Redbridge, and to problems in Birmingham in the west midlands as well. None of them is a minor problem, and they all usually arise when there is a breakdown in the system, because the backlog in investment has not been cleared since the directive was introduced in 1980.

Opposition amendment (a) aims at exploring and suggesting ways in which defects in water supplies can be reported. The Government amendments attempt to effect the transposition of the drinking water quality directive into our own legislation. As that is something that we suggested in Committee, we welcome it—although at that time such a provision was rejected by the Minister for Water and Planning. We all accept that the directive should be incorporated in British law, but that takes us no further forward in implementing Community standards. My noble Friends in another place were able to persuade their Lordships to accept amendments to implement the directive by 1993. The Government's amendments take us no further towards achieving that goal. That is why we learned with dismay of the Government's intention to overturn the Lords amendments.

Drinking water quality is a matter of major public concern, and one that has an added dimension in terms of Britain's relationship with the EEC. It is a matter of regret that so many individuals in this country have found it necessary to voice their concern about drinking water standards to the Community because they do not believe that they can look to the Government to protect them. That aspect has prompted some of the most remarkable statements ever uttered by the Minister in Committee. Right hon. and hon. Members who did not serve on the Committee missed a number of gems. I suggest that they read Hansard to follow the Minister's strangely convoluted logic.

In 1980 the British Government were willing parties to an EC directive—No. 80/778/EEC—on the quality of drinking water for human consumption. That directive laid down the parameters for the maximum levels of certain substances to be permitted in drinking water, and was due to be implemented some four years ago in 1985.

8 pm

In Committee we pressed the Minister of State about his plans and expectations for meeting EC standards. Throughout our proceedings his response was somewhat mixed and contradictory, and I do not think that the Secretary of State has done much better this evening. We are told that the standards will be observed, although the Government have repeatedly used delaying tactics in Brussels to put off the evil day—as they see it—when the commitment has to be met. I suspect that they have simply been playing for time to delay the day when the EC takes further legal action against this country for noncompliance, which I fear is what it will come to in the end.

The Minister of State has promoted the idea—only in this country, not in Brussels—that the parameters of the drinking water directive of 1980 are to be relaxed. In Committee he told us that relaxation was likely, and, perhaps to match his ignorance about sewage—he said that if people could not see so much sewage that they did not want to swim in the sea, there was no danger—set himself up as a medical expert on drinking water and told us not to worry about aluminium. He told Labour Members that they were "scaremongering" when they expressed concern about aluminium levels in water and about the possible link with Alzheimer's disease. The Minister's PPS—who, unlike the Minister, is here this evening—took comfort from the fact that the Minister was able to tell us that people were not dying. That was one of the rare contributions that he was allowed to make to the Committee proceedings.

EC officials in the relevant department in Brussels, directly responsible for the implementation and review of the parameters of the drinking water directive, have said that in no circumstances will a general relaxation of standards be allowed. There may be some clearer specifications of the individual parameters for certain pesticides, which are currently the subject of a general pesticide parameter, but the only change that the Commission seeks for aluminium is a tightening rather than a relaxation of standards. I had hoped that the Minister of State would pursue that in Brussels last week, but I do not believe that he did.

I cannot believe that the message from EC officials as to their attitude on relaxations has not been transmitted to Ministers by their officials. We can only conclude that the Minister has chosen to ignore the facts. I think that I accept the Commission's view that the Government are using the regulatory committee as an excuse for delaying tactics. We do not have even the standards aimed at in the 1980 directive, and we should ask what is the purpose of the Government's amendments if the Government will not agree a reasonable timetable to meet the directive. If, later this evening, the Government move to reject the Lords amendment on the 1993 deadline—as we understand that they will—we shall have made very little progress. The Government seem to think that it is easier to whip Members in this House than in the other place, which is no doubt why they have chosen to overturn the amendment here rather than there.

I believe that the reason why the Government will not allow the amendment to stand is that a privatised water industry will not wish to be saddled with such commitments and liabilities. That tells us that the Government's priorities are clearly decided. Their main priority is not to safeguard the drinking water supplies of the estimated 10.8 million people whose water does not meet EC standards, but to ensure that nothing stops the sale from proceeding. As interest, even in the City, is luke warm to say the least—as we heard earlier, and have read in The Observer and other serious newspapers—the Government want to make the British people put up with any standards to avoid damaging the prospects for the sale. If Conservative Members feel comfortable about voting for such priorities, their constituents will know where they stand. They will know that their interests are second to Conservative Members' anxiety to sell the industry and to obey the Government Whips.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

May I ask the hon. Lady two questions? First, is the Bill in its totality putting standards up or down? Secondly, what advantage would be secured by the imposition of the 1993 deadline?

Mrs. Taylor

I intend to tell the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends shortly why we need the deadline, but the totality of the Bill is certainly not intended to protect consumers or to raise standards. At an early stage we offered to support part I to establish and, indeed, strengthen the National Rivers Authority, but all our attempts were rejected by the Government. That gives a clear indication of their priorities as well as explaining their decision to vote down our proposals.

Mr. Keith Raffan (Delyn)

The hon. Lady says that the Bill will not take any steps to protect the consumer, but it makes it a criminal offence to supply drinking water that is unfit for human consumption. That has never happened before. Why does the hon. Lady not talk about the Bill instead of delivering the fiction that we have been hearing for the past 15 minutes?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman served on the Committee, although he probably did not make as many interventions in that time as he has made here. I do not think that he was taking the Bill very seriously then. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) says that the hon. Gentleman has only just come back into the Chamber. Nevertheless, he is allowed to intervene, and I gave way to him willingly. If he would care to listen, I will tell him exactly why it is important to write the 1993 deadline into the Bill.

The Government signed and agreed to the 1980 directive without dissent, and that directive should have been met in 1985. We shall vote later for the retention of the 1993 deadline not because we think it perfect, but because we wish that the Government had done more since 1980. Earlier, the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan) talked about what he saw as the faults of a Labour Government, but even he will have to admit that the Conservatives have been in power since 1980 and that all the failures to abide by the 1980 directive lie at their door.

Mr. Ridley

The directive was first published in 1975, and the Labour party negotiated for four years, supporting it all the way through. Can the hon. Lady say what the Labour Government did to begin to implement it, apart from cutting investment in the water industry by 30 per cent.?

Mrs. Taylor

I freely admit that the Labour Government who left office in 1979 did nothing to implement the 1980 EC directive, but it would have been quite remarkable if we had been able to implement a directive that had not even been written.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Taylor

Perhaps I could finish this point.

I do not know what plans the Government have made to meet future directives. The last Labour Government claimed many things, but they never claimed clairvoyance or that they could meet directives which had not at that time been written.

We shall vote for the retention of the 1993 deadline. Without the deadline, progress towards implementation will slip even further. The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), who has just left the Chamber, said that he thought that the Secretary of State was sending out the wrong signals after some of his decisions relating to consents. I think that the Secretary of State is sending all the wrong signals to the privatised water companies. They will lack any incentive—incentive and profit are what privatisation is all about—to improve the quality of their drinking water, because they will not be selling more water after privatisation. Unless we write a deadline into the Bill, the timetable will slip even further.

Mr. Riddick

The hon. Lady cleverly evaded the question about the 1975 directive by saying that the Labour Government could not take responsibility for the 1980 directive. Will she explain whether the Labour Government, who were in power between 1974 and 1979, were responsible for the capital investment cuts of 30 per cent. which took place during those years?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman was not listening to his hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan), who said that the directive was first drafted in 1975. It was not agreed until 1980.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) asked me to refer to capital expenditure, and I am happy to do so. I carry in my pocket the investment figures throughout the 1970s and 1980s. If the hon. Gentleman wants a copy so that he can pin it on the wall of his office to stop him asking such silly questions, I will gladly send him one. He is my own Member of Parliament and I think that he should be informed about the matter. I have the misfortune to live in his constituency—a nice place, though it is a pity about its Member of Parliament. Average investment under the last Labour Government was £1,254 million per year. Average investment under this Government is £922 million per year. I trust that the hon. Gentleman, who takes an interest in these matters and who has tried to defend the Government, will take that point on board.

The Secretary of State said that he would advise hon. Members to turn down the 1993 amendment. As he put it, and as the Minister of State put it to the Commissioner last week, the Government believe that they must turn down the 1993 deadline because it breaches EC law, since that standard should have been met in 1985. That is typical of the Minister of State's frequently observed convoluted logic. If that is the best that Ministers can do, the standard will not be met in the near future. It shows that they are not serious about the problem.

The Minister of State had his first meeting with the Commissioner in Brussels last week. I understand that it was a polite meeting—not surprisingly, since the Commissioner is a very charming man—but the Minister seems to have been unable to convince anyone in Brussels of his case that the Government are doing everything possible to reach the required standards. Similarly, he has been unable to convince Members of Parliament or the British people generally.

We shall be watching for further developments in the Commission. I am sure that potential investors in a privatised water industry will be reluctant to part with any money—assuming that the Government sell the industry and do not just give it away—if they believe that further action will be taken by the European Community because of the water industry's failure to reach the required standard.

8.15 pm

That brings me to the question of reporting standards. The European Community is receiving more and more complaints from ordinary consumers about the state of their drinking water. I understand that it has difficulty in processing all the complaints as quickly as it would like, at a time when most of those who are drinking sub-standard water do not even know that it is sub-standard—hence our amendment to the Government's amendment, which is designed to introduce a reporting system so that each year we shall quickly be able to find out where there are problems with supplies which are below EC standards and why they fail to meet those standards. Everyone has a right to be told about the state of their drinking water—and a right to expect action to be taken at the earliest possible moment to put it right.

The Minister of State and the Secretary of State have adopted a policy of keeping people in the dark, so far as possible, with regard to problems over drinking water. The Minister of State refused to give details of his discussions in Brussels. Ministers have even refused to put reasoned opinions in the House of Commons Library. They have also refused to publish responses to reasoned opinions. This is not a private matter for discussion between Ministers and Brussels. It concerns everyone in this country—certainly the 10.8 million people whose water supplies are sub-standard.

If the Secretary of State overturns the 1993 deadline, he will reduce the impact of his own amendments, starting with amendment No. 44. The Government's amendments will not convince anyone. I am certain that they will not convince the Commission that the Government are taking the problem seriously enough. If the Secretary of State rejects the 1993 deadline, he will be sending a very clear signal to the British people about what they can expect from the privatised water industry. We believe that water purity and drinking water standards should come first. That is why we shall try to insist that the 1993 deadline stays in the Bill.

Mr. Riddick

The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) told the House that I am her Member of Parliament and suggested that that might be a little unfortunate from her point of view. It is even more unfortunate from my point of view, because she is my Member of Parliament. She once turned down my offer, put in jest, that at the next general election I would vote for her to boost her majority if she would vote for me to boost mine. She turned my offer down, and I am very glad that she did. We had a good joke about it.

However, it worries me that the hon. Member for Dewsbury keeps coming out with a great deal of black propaganda and misleading information about water privatisation. As we are near-neighbours, we share the same local newspaper, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, and many of those misleading facts find their way into that newspaper.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

They are not facts. They are unfacts.

Hon. Members


Mr. Riddick

I am most grateful to my hon. Friends for improving my English. The word "faction" will suffice. The hon. Member for Dewsbury seems to spend a great deal of time running down Britain's water industry by portraying Britain as the dirty man of Europe and by suggesting that there has been no investment in the water industry in recent years. Yet the previous Labour Government cut capital investment in the water industry by some 30 per cent.

The hon. Lady was talking about the average investment between 1974 and 1979. When the Labour party came to power in 1974 it inherited the high investment levels set by the Conservative Government of 1970 to 1974. When the Labour Government left office in 1979 the level of investment had reduced considerably. The present Conservative Government have had to make up the lost ground as a direct result of the cuts imposed by the Labour Government in the late 1970s. As we know, the Conservative Government have been responsible for increasing capital expenditure by about 50 per cent. since 1980.

I am happy to support the Government in disagreeing with Lords amendments Nos. 62, 63 and 64. It amazes me that the Opposition are happy to get into bed with the European Commission, for reasons of political expediency, when it suits them. If ever the Opposition get into Government, they will regret that. There are already perfectly adequate safeguards in the Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, the water plcs will have to give undertakings that they will do whatever is necessary to comply with the requirements of the EC directives. If they do not, the Secretary of State will be forced to take action.

The debate about our water industry complying with the EC directives needs to be put into perspective. The British water industry has nothing to be ashamed of, although privatisation will lead to even greater improvements and more investment because the privatised industries will be able to raise, from the private money markets, more money to invest in the industry.

When comparisons are made with the rest of Europe, the British water industry comes out pretty well. Most supplies of drinking water in Britain comply with the 66 parameters of the European Commission drinking water directive covering taste and appearance as well as safety. All European countries have difficulty reaching 100 per cent. compliance with the directive. I understand that infringement proceedings are at various stages in respect of several European countries, including Germany, Italy, France and Belgium.

If one listened to the hon. Member for Dewsbury and read all her statements in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, one would imagine that rivers in the United Kingdom must be the dirtiest in Europe, but the opposite is true. In England and Wales, 66 per cent. of rivers were in class 1, the highest classification. That compares with 39 per cent. for Europe as a whole. France scored only 35 per cent. Taking classes 1, good, and 2, reasonable, together, the figures become even more interesting. The United Kingdom scored 94 per cent., bettered only by the Netherlands with 95 per cent. That is certainly a lot better than Germany at 84.5 per cent., Greece at 80 per cent. and France which is estimated to score less than 80 per cent.

The proportion of domestic sewage treated in the United Kingdom was one of the highest in Europe at 83 per cent.—bettered only by Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The water industry in Britain has nothing whatever to be ashamed of and the Government have provided a great deal of investment in the industry in the past 10 years.

Mr. Raffan

Does my hon. Friend agree that our record would be even better had the Labour Government implemented part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and if they had kept a central record of sewage discharges? They never did that, so they did not know which sewage treatment works were discharging illegally. That was the extent of their concern.

Mr. Riddick

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for that helpful intervention which is absolutely true. I suspect that the Labour Government failed to do that because of incompetence, because they could not afford to invest the appropriate money in the industry and, as my hon. Friend said, because they did not care.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

I must point out, for the elucidation of the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan), that last week when the legal notices of the relaxation for consents under the Control of Pollution Act were published in our local newspaper, I rang up the new prototype NRA office of the Welsh water authority and asked why a sewage works in my constituency—the Drope sewage works—had been mentioned. I was advised that it had been included by mistake. The following week it appeared in the legal notice in the newspaper again by mistake. They do not know what they are doing.

Mr. Riddick

That intervention added nothing to the debate.

Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)

May I inform the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) that I asked similar questions of the Welsh Office and the Minister seemed equally ignorant about what is happening on these derogations?

Mr. Riddick

I am chuffed that Opposition Members should imagine that I know all about events taking place in Wales. I do not, as I represent a Yorkshire constituency. The Labour Government's record was lamentable and nothing can hide that. Despite all their interventions, Opposition Members cannot hide the fact that when they were in government their record was absolutely appalling.

I conclude by pointing out that hon. Members and consumers in Yorkshire have a great deal to be proud of. The Yorkshire water authority is certainly concerned to improve the quality of the area's drinking water. New plants are being developed and are under construction. A new water treatment plant is currently commissioned somewhere in Yorkshire every six to nine months. That trend is expected to continue for another five years. One of the new treatment plants is in my constituency—at Blackmoorfoot.

If the Labour Government of 1974 to 1979 had not cut investment in the industry, we should be even further ahead. That is why 1993 is unrealistic. I am happy to support my right hon. Friend in the Lobby tonight and I hope that he will continue to point out that many of our problems today are a direct result of the lack of investment all those years ago. Although my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have done their best to improve matters over the past 10 years, we cannot do everything overnight. I certainly hope that by 1995 drinking water in Britain will be of a far higher quality than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

Having listened to the speech of the Secretary of State, we are under no delusions about the nature of the debate. Labour Members recognised the complacency that has been a feature of the past decade of Conservative control of the water industry. Listening to the Secretary of State, I almost thought that a problem had appeared in the past year and that suddenly, to everyone's surprise, the Commission had introduced a directive on water quality standards, without consultation, to be implemented within a short time.

The Secretary of State told us that the Government took the directive seriously, that they had a long-term programme, and that they would make improvements as quickly as possible. He then said that improvements would be made as soon as reasonably practicable. The truth is that the Secretary of State runs a mile when a deadline for work to be completed appears. His complacency is underlined by the fact that currently about 11 million people in the United Kingdom are drinking water that does not comply with European Community standards, which for some poses risks to health. The Secretary of State might not want to face that possibility, but it is true that over the past decade the Government could have complied with the directive.

8.30 pm

The Government are still insisting that 1993 is too soon to expect compliance with the directive. The Secretary of State said that the Commissioner—my former colleague in the European Parliament, Carlo Ripa di Meana—had stated that he did not expect the Government to comply with the directive overnight. The directive has been bandied about for a decade or more, and it is said that a week is a long time in politics, but I never thought that "overnight" meant four or five years, which is the Government's interpretation of the Commissioner's timescale. The Commissioner does not expect compliance overnight, or within a year or two. The date of 1 September 1993 would be acceptable to the Commission. The idea that that date cannot be included in the legislation because it is a breach of the directive is almost Jesuitical. It has not stopped the Secretary of State's colleagues giving dates in parliamentary answers, such as one that I received recently from the Welsh Office. When I asked about derogations covering the water supply in Wales, I was told: The need for most of the derogations should be removed by 1990 and all by 1995 at the latest. The Welsh Office was not shy about mentioning dates.

It is interesting to note the theme of complacency in a further answer that I received. I asked the Secretary of State for Wales to give the main population centres affected by derogation in Wales and how many people were drinking water which did not meet European Community standards. The answer was that most of the supply areas were rural parts of Wales—Gwynedd, north Dyfed and south Powys—and showed that the Welsh Office did not have a clue about the number of people who were drinking water which did not meet European Community standards. Such was and is the Government's concern. The same level of concern was reflected in the speech of the Secretary of State this evening. He said that the Government would comply with the directive one day, "but for goodness sake do not give us a deadline, even if it is four years away."

Complacency is apparent throughout the water industry in Wales. When I asked about the discharging of effluent from sewage treatment works, I simply asked the Secretary of State to list the relaxations and amendments that the Welsh water authority had requested. I was told that the applications made by the Welsh water authority will reflect the current performance of individual works". —[Official Report, 12 June 1989; Vol. 154, c. 306.] When I further asked the Secretary of State which applications would result in discharge standards being relaxed or tightened, I was told on 15 June that the Welsh Office was unaware whether applications would improve the position or worsen it and that eventually a copy of the Secretary of State's reply would be placed in the Library. To date, that reply has not surfaced.

I should have thought that it would be simple for a Government who boast so many achievements to comply with the EC directive in four years' time. I hope that even at this late stage the Secretary of State for the Environment will realise that all consumers would welcome such a commitment. Why is the Secretary of State not prepared to make such a commitment? The only argument that I could pick out from his speech was that if the directive was complied with by 1993 it would cause disruption of the water supply. He did not offer a date by which the work could be completed without disruption, but I wonder whether he knows when the directive will be complied with. If he does, he should share that secret with us, with the consumers and with the prospective purchasers of the water authorities.

The Secretary of State may have given the game away in an aside some time ago when answering my question on compliance with the directives on drinking and bathing water quality. I suggested that it might cost about £2 billion or £3 billion to comply with both directives in full. The Secretary of State said that it would probably cost much more than that. A recent estimate suggests that it could be as much as £15 billion. If the Secretary of State has a figure, I should be interested to know how much it will cost to comply with the drinking and bathing water directives, particularly the drinking water directive as it is the subject of this debate. The only reason why the Secretary of State is being a shrinking violet about accepting 1993 as a reasonable date to meet the directive is that the cost would be so exorbitant that no right-minded person would dare to invest in shares in the water authorities. If the amendment is accepted, I hope that the full costs of compliance with the directive will be published in the prospectus to be issued for the sale of the water authorities.

I do not believe that the Commission will accept a deadline beyond September 1993. That assertion is backed up by considering the experience of the Italians. The Commission maintained that, for one major scheme in the Po valley, the problems should be solved within two years. The Italian authorities decided that it would be in the interests of public health for that two-year programme to be met even though it meant a huge investment in the Po valley to deal with the nitrate problem. What is sauce for Italy will be sauce for the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ridley

Is the hon. Gentleman content with the fact that the Italians appear to be confining their activities to the Po valley and leaving the rest of the country undisturbed?

Mr. Griffiths

That is not true. The Po valley project was undertaken because it was the top priority for the Italian Government. In the coming year the Italian Government, after discussions with the Commission, will be_introducing further programmes to meet the directive before 1993.

If the Secretary of State were truly concerned about the health of some 11 million people in the United Kingdom, he would gladly grasp the date of September 1993 as a reasonable one by which privatised water companies should aim to achieve compliance.

Sir Giles Shaw (Pudsey)

I support my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in disagreeing with Lords amendment No. 63. I have not always had the pleasure of supporting my right hon. Friend in such matters. He will recall that, from time to time, we have differed on certain issues in connection with the Bill. In this instance, however, he is absolutely right to bring this matter to a halt with a vote in this House.

Much has been made of the fact that the directive in question was published in 1980 after about five years of draft status. As I recall it, much time was spent after 1980 seeking derogation from and changes to the directive. I even remember playing a modest part in that. At the time, the water industry would have found it virtually impossible to meet all the conditions laid down in the directive, and the United Kingdom water industry was not alone in that predicament. Water industries throughout the Community are still in major default of the directive as it currently stands. Litigation is under way in most Community countries, with the possible exception of Portugal.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Surely the hon. Gentleman is not advocating that because the situation is bad in other countries we should not bother to hurry up and set a deadline to meet the directive here?

Sir Giles Shaw

That intervention scarcely deserves any reply. Every country is having difficulty in meeting the directive and I commend the bravery of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who suddenly determined that the directive should be accepted in full despite the fact that the United Kingdom water industry would have extreme difficulty in achieving compliance with all its aspects.

Within the directive, 66 different elements have to be met. The vast majority, as members of the Standing Committee know, have to do with matters of appearance and colour rather than matters affecting health or toxicity. The elements which affect those two aspects, however, must be met. The vast majority of water undertakings currently meet the vast majority of the elements in the directive. We are dealing with not wholesale misapplication of the directive, but the misapplication of certain portions of the directive which cannot yet be met, in most cases because the water undertakings have been starved of capital investment for many years. I do not lay the blame for that on the Labour Administration alone. Water undertakings, whether under municipal ownership or other guises, have never had the renewal of assets so essential for a modern distribution and treatment system.

8.45 pm

The particular issue before the House now is whether the 1993 recommendation of their Lordships should proceed without further ado. That recommendation would bring forward the application of the entire directive by two years. The difference between 1993 and 1995 would be superficial at most. It would not make a great deal of difference to the investing public who, in this instance, have to look at a long-term investment in an industry which will have greater control over price, profitability and various other activities than any other industry brought into the private sector in recent years. I do not believe that it is too great an exaggeration to say that. This is hardly a privatisation of the kind that other industries have enjoyed. The water industry will be moved from the public sector into a controlled private sector. The limits on the activities of the privatised industry will be much stricter than those which currently exist in the public sector. The Opposition should recognise that.

The 1995 arrangement agreed to by my right hon. Friend in discussion with the Community is absolutely the earliest date at which all the elements in the directive can be met because of the scale of investment required and the manner in which the directive will be applied. In future, 100 per cent. of samples of water content, rather than an average sample, will have to meet the directive.

The industry has had to look with real concern at just how much would be involved not just in investment, but in the management of the undertaking while that investment is made. Because of that combination of factors, the time scale is crucial. It is not a matter of backing down from the directive, going for the sales material to support privatisation or seeking to undermine public confidence in the health of British water—rather the industry is having to embark, within a relatively short time, on an entirely new method of measurement and a higher standard of filtering and refining its products. At the same time it must supply the entire United Kingdom with potable water, day in, day out. It is not too much to ask that 1995 be the date for such a programme.

Mr. Livsey

We are deliberating on one of the key issues of the Bill. We are trying to reach across an impossible chasm. We must raise the environmental standard of drinking water and try to keep down prices to the consumer while at the same time the Government's objective is to make the industry sufficiently attractive to investors. I appreciate the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Pudsey (Sir G. Shaw) about the time limit, which is crucial in respect of the three objectives that I have highlighted. How can the gap be bridged when so much capital investment has to be made within a specific time?

The hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) mentioned a number of figures relating to the amount of investment which might be required to clean up the water industry. One such figure is £6 billion. That is an awful lot of money, but if the Government are serious about meeting EEC water standards they must set an investment target. One would have thought that the Lords amendment set a reasonable target. The problem is the history, which has been described in exchanges from the Dispatch Boxes earlier in the debate about who did what and when. The problem was caused by a lack of investment in the water industry which was part of Treasury policy. There is a maxim that one starves the industry first by not funding it adequately and then finds reasons to privatise it. That is what has happened to the water industry.

The previous investment programme has been strangled by the Treasury. The lack of investment has caused the Government to say that the only way round the problem is that, as they have saved so much money which could have been spent putting matters right, they now have to privatise the industry to try to find other sources of money for necessary investment. That is an abrogation of the responsibility of managing a public industry such as water.

Lords amendment No. 64, with which the Secretary of State disagrees, puts the Government on the hook and in this debate we must not let them off the hook. Lords amendment No. 64 says: Where no such agreement has been reached by the date referred to in paragraph (a) above, 1st September 1993. As other speakers have said, that is a perfectly reasonable date to which to adhere. If the Government put their mind to it, the industry could adhere to the EC directives by that time. It has already been mentioned that 11 million people in England and Wales have drinking water that does not meet the EC directive on drinking water quality standards. That is lamentable. I should have thought that any Government who accepted a decent amount of responsibility would seek to put that right as early as possible. Surely a date four years hence is not too close.

It is realistic to expect that Lords amendment No. 64 should be met. We must think about the quality of drinking water of those 11 million consumers. One million households are supplied with water with a nitrate content in excess of EC standards and nitrate protection zones have been identified in different parts of the country. Friends of the Earth has found breaches of pesticide limits in almost 300 water sources and samples. Those matters affect human health and should be of concern to us all.

There are ways of getting around those problems by improved technology and by overcoming the necessity to apply as much nitrogen as was applied in the past. We could produce new products less lethal than some of the pesticides which one used now or have only recently been banned. Solvents are also becoming a problem and evidence is emerging that they are accumulating in aquifers as well. Trace elements such as aluminium have become an increasing problem, with more than 40 areas of the country falling outside the EC standard. That is the challenge that would face any Government in cleaning up drinking water supplies. The House of Lords has set a reasonable target of 1993 by which the standards should be met.

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

The Lords amendments deal with standards and the date by which it is possible to achieve them. Ninety per cent. of our rivers are in the top two standards. I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) on the matter. I must ask my hon. and learned Friend the Minister whether we always get our sense of priorities right. One or two rivers are still dirty, such as the Rother, which was mentioned often in Committee, and the Mersey, but at the same time the Thames has been much cleaned up. I wonder whether my hon. and learned Friend has got matters the right way round. Many years ago, the House had to rise early for the summer recess because the Thames used to stink. Perhaps it might have been done the other way round.

I regret that the questions asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) of the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) have still not been answered. She was asked how the previous Labour Government discharged their responsibilities for monitoring pollution by sewage treatment works when they kept no records of the adequacy of their performance. He also asked why the Labour Government kept details of the discharge consent applications secret from the public and refused to let the public participate in the process of granting them.

The Opposition are determined to show themselves as green, despite an appalling record that included 30 per cent. cuts in capital expenditure. Their concern did not extend to the Committee stage. If one examines the Committee proceedings, there is barely a mention of concern about these matters—at least, at the appropriate time. It seems that the Labour party wishes to do away with the House of Lords, but in this instance and many others, unless it had had that long stop to bring up these issues, they would not have been debated at all, despite all the time available. At least the Lords raised these issues.

Mr. Michael

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that the Committee stage was guillotined, truncating debate on many matters of great importance?

Mr. Knapman

I was a member of that Committee and I would not call 180 hours of debate truncated, although the hon. Gentleman is entitled to his opinion.

Investment in water and sewerage works has always been delayed while they have been in the public sector. It is, after all, much easier to say that they have been there since Victorian times and that another year or two will not matter, so there is no need to bother. It is probably true to say that there has been some delay in those matters under Governments of all complexions. It is equally true to say that the rivers Rother and Mersey did not become polluted last week or in 1979. They have been polluted for many decades and, at long last, there is a chance that they will be cleaned and that drinking water quality will be improved.

My hon. and learned Friend the Minister has acknowledged that vast sums need to be spent and he has never hidden the fact that water charges will need to rise above the rate of inflation to meet that expenditure. However, I remind their Lordships that passing an Act in this place does not take any practical steps towards achieving better standards. Our discussions do not take any practical steps towards modernising one sewage works, one water works, any old pipes or faulty stop cocks. It is little use to pass Acts if they cannot be complied with and passing Acts that cannot be complied with can only bring this place into disrepute. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right to say that these matters must be determined by what is practical.

I suspect that the true costs will be measured in many hundreds of millions of pounds. New works should be not only built, but designed to the highest standards, and in some cases planning permission will have to be obtained. Even if every firm of builders and civil engineers in this country were to set about such tasks—since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has said that an extra £12 billion will be spent on the roads, it is not a likely event—complying with the standards would take considerable time. The only chance of the standards being complied with is if private funds are introduced; without them the works would not be undertaken.

My hon. and learned Friend's proposals are in line with the EEC's drinking water directive. Hon. Members can see in the Library a letter from Carlo Ripa di Meana, which states: We had expressed concern about the provisions of clause 20(5)(b) and the scope it gave the Secretary of State to allow water companies to continue to supply water which did not meet all the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive. I am pleased to say that these discussions have now come to a satisfactory conclusion. The amendments which you have tabled to clause 20, along with the statement which I understand to have been made when introducing these amendments in the House of Lords, satisfy me that the UK Government intends to rectify any deficiencies in water supplies as quickly as possible taking certain practicalities into account. That is the crux of the matter and that is the view of the European Commission. The letter is in the Library for all hon. Members to see.

9 pm

In Committee my hon. and learned Friend said that he was not seeking merely to comply with the European Commission's directive. At column 1045 he stated: The Commission has proposed the setting up of a committee of adaptation to review standards, which were drawn up without any proper toxicological basis. Indeed, some concentrations are standard across the board. The changes that the United Kingdom Government seek to achieve relate to the toxicological properties of different substances."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D; 14 February 1989, c. 1045–46.] We seek to achieve even higher standards than has been suggested by the European Commission.

Can my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State confirm that, as regards the wholesomeness of water, we propose a much tighter legal requirement than that proposed in the European directive? I am sure that the Bill contains a perfectly adequate mechanism for ensuring that the supplies that do not yet meet the requirements are brought up to standard as quickly as possible. I believe that my right hon. Friend has said that, but I did not catch exactly what he said. Will he confirm that that enforcement duty will be placed on the Secretary of State by clause 20?

With those points in mind, I say to my right hon. Friend, "Keep on being practical and at long last standards will he improved."

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle)

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Pudsey (Sir G. Shaw) has left the Chamber because he referred to the bravery of the Secretary of State and that reminded me of the first occasion when I met the hon. Gentleman. He had just finished swimming in the sea off Sellafield after a major radiation leak. The personal bravery of the hon. Gentleman is therefore not in question, but obviously his judgment must be. However, I must admit that he is looking well and repeat that I am sorry that he is not in his place at the moment.

I shall concentrate on the issue of drinking water quality and compliance by 1993 or by another date agreed by the EEC. Tonight the Government are trying to overturn sensible and well-thought-out amendments that have been put forward by their Lordships. The Lords amendments propose that drinking water in the United Kingdom should conform to standards required by EC directive 80/778 by one of two dates: either 1 December 1993—on which we have tended to concentrate this evening—or by a date agreed mutually between the Secretary of State and the EEC Commission.

By their actions this evening it seems that the Government are saying that the EEC have told them that it is not prepared to wait any longer for the Government to take action and that they cannot come to a mutually agreed date before 1993. The inference is that the EEC is telling the Government to get on with compliance immediately, or at least quickly. If that is a wrong interpretation, I am sure that the Secretary of State or the Minister of State will tell us so. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what the EEC Commissioner has told him because the Government are refusing to put in the Library answers to our questions.

It is important that Britain's water is cleaned up. The directive was agreed in 1980. We have heard a lot about the Labour Government not agreeing to the directive, but we were not in power then. The directive became law in 1982 and its standards should have been achieved by 1985. What faith can we have in a Secretary of State who tells the House that at some time in the future the Government will comply with the directive when the Government have been breaking the law for nearly five years?

The Government have not been able to convince the EEC Commissioners or the people of this country. Indeed, a substantial minority of our population now has to put up with suspect water. It was only recently that Mr. Michael Carney, the secretary of the Water Authorities Association —who will probably be Sir Michael before too long—admitted that 10.8 million consumers are affected by water that does not meet the standards required by the EEC. Some of that water contains dangerous levels of lead, nitrates, aluminium and pesticides—a list to which we must now add protein, as I understand that people in the Thames area had to put up with worms coming through their taps. That situation was described yesterday evening on the television programme, "Spitting Image", on which a worm said that the only danger lay in drinking the water.

It is not only the Thames area that suffers. My own region, the North-west water authority region, has similar problems. According to a parliamentary answer of 7 February, areas whose water supplies currently failed to meet the standards set out in the European Community directive on the quality of drinking water included parts of Chester, parts of Congleton, all of Southport, Formby, the High Peak district, Stockport, Bolton, Tameside, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Burnley, Hyndburn, Carlisle district, excluding the city, the Eden district, Osmotherley, Urswick, Barrow in Furness, Lancaster, Ribble valley, Fylde district and Fleetwood. It would have been easier to name the areas that were getting satisfactory water. We have some terrible problems in the north-west.

On 5 June my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) and I were in a valley called Mungrisdale in the Lake District. There we were in the most beautiful part of the country on a beautiful early summer's day, yet we realised that, according to EEC standards, the water in that area is not fit for villagers to drink. That was during the European election campaign. In Cumbria, as in the rest of the country, water privatisation was a matter of major political controversy and I believe that it was water privatisation that brought down the Conservative majority in Cumbria and North Lancashire from 23,000 to 2,000. When that swing is repeated at the general election, the Labour party will capture the town of Barrow and the city of Lancaster.

Mr. Pike

My hon. Friend has referred to the European constituency of Cumbria and North Lancashire. He will know that there was considerable concern among those living on the Fylde coast about the proposed long sewer outfall proposed at Rossall point. Having addressed a public meeting there, I feel sure that my hon. Friend's claim that concern about water was one of the reasons why we considerably reduced the Conservative's majority is correct.

Mr. Martlew

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I should not be surprised if we took Fylde at the next general election if the Government continue as they are.

No doubt Conservative Members would argue that the fact that there was a debate and falling out among leading Conservatives helped to lose the Conservatives the European elections. But it was not the washing of dirty linen in public that caused the problems; it was the fact that they left the dirty water for the people to drink.

The Prime Minister has been saying at the Royal show at Stoneleigh that the Government propose to introduce a food Bill to try to cope with the country's epidemic of food poisoning. Does she not realise that it is no good getting that part of the chain right if, when the food goes into people's kitchens, it is washed with polluted water?

I hope that the Government will have the sense to accept the Lords amendments or, better still, decide that for the sake of the country and the Conservative party they should abandon the Bill altogether.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) suggest that the Government were complacent in some way. It seems to me that the Bill shows precisely how seriously the Government take the water standards—indeed it introduces the most major programme this century to improve water standards. I still have not heard the answers to the horrible questions about the horrible record of the Labour Government. Perhaps the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael)—who is not very good at answering questions, as we discovered in Committee, although he is pleasant enough—will do his best to answer them later.

When we consider Lords amendments Nos. 62 to 64, we must distinguish between willing the end and willing the means. I fear that among those who have proposed 1993 as the date there might be a category of people who wish simply to advocate a futile gesture and the idea that we should simply include 1993 in the Bill and that, Parliament having spoken, it will somehow happen. That is not worth taking seriously.

Another category of people may want 1993 to be included in the Bill as a flabby obligation. Contrary to what we have heard from Opposition Members, such a date will cause legal difficulties. We have no right under EEC rules to introduce that date. What will be the effect of doing so? An EEC directive already exists on this matter. What will happen if we try to put our own EEC directive date into our legislation? Can we approve or gain EEC approval for parts of the water industry which comply with the 1980 directive if we include 1993? Those are questions which Opposition Members should consider seriously instead of being devoted to creating work for lawyers like me.

I fear that there is a third category of people who want to include that date in the Bill. If they get their way, including such a date would be a recipe for short cuts by the water industry. That would be very serious. It is wrong even to suggest including that date in the Bill if we do not will the means as well as the ends.

My colleagues have referred to the practicalities of this provision. My hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning will not be surprised to learn that I am not prepared to support any measure which suggests that we can short-cut our planning procedures, soggy as they are. The House should not support such provisions. The projects required to implement the directive must be properly designed. That is an important step which has been taken in many parts of the water industry, but it remains to be taken in other areas.

We are told by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment that new technology in respect of nitrates and pesticides must be proven. It is no use laughing those matters off because the use of chemicals in water is highly dangerous and delicate. For example, I have been promoting efforts in my constituency to deal with scivalium posticatum—as Mr. Speaker will know, that is the Blandford fly, which has been causing serious problems in the rivers of my constituency. The answer to that problem apparently lies in the use of a chemical called bacillus thuringiensis, which may have serious implications. It must be tested, and that takes a great deal of time. Similarly, the problems with nitrates and pesticides, which we should have discussed at greater length in this debate, must be considered seriously. A deadline of 1993 might be acceptable if we could be absolutely certain that compliance could be achieved and all the practicalities dealt with. Otherwise, the present position is much more in favour of high standards and ensuring that the practicalities are observed.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) said that we should not let the Government off the hook. The Government are and will remain on the hook because of the existence of the directive. It could be argued that introducing the 1993 deadline would let the Government off the hook. I accept the present obligations, and I accept that, like every other EEC country, we are late in doing what should be done. It is up to the House to ensure that the Government do their job in keeping the momentum going. That is a far better way to proceed than trying to introduce an artificial date and ignoring the real practicalities involved in achieving the high standards that we all want.

9.15 pm
Mrs. Mahon

I am disgusted at the way in which the Government have consistently guillotined any debate on the Bill. If we had had a chance to debate it properly, we might have considered clause 60, which refers to private water supplies and is of particular interest to me. With the aid of a European Commission study contract, Calderdale environmental health department, which is in my local authority area, investigated the quality of water provided by private supplies in the district. It appears that 5,164 properties in Calderdale were using private supplies at the time of the study. That is 2.7 per cent. of the population. For obvious reasons, the Government were not very pleased with us for doing that study.

The environmental health department in Calderdale found that many problems relating to the quality of water in private supplies were caused through a lack of maintenance, investment and knowledge. The parameters that were considered of relevance to the water quality study in Calderdale were the main ones that are applied everywhere. They are copper, lead, and microbiological parameters—total coliforms and faecal coliforms. The sampling programme was organised to ensure that at least one sample was obtained from each private supply. It was found that 91 per cent. of samples failed to comply with the directive. They even found a dead cow in one supply.

It is obvious that the quality of water from those supplies was well below the south-east standard. Our public water supply problems, particularly that of aluminium, are not nearly as bad as those of private supplies. The most effective method of achieving compliance with the directive would be to take private supplies into the public sector. Of course, with this Bill, it will not he possible to do that.

I should like the Minister to spend a couple of minutes explaining what will happen to private supplies. Who will pay for them? What will he do? Clause 60 tells us a little about his intentions for private supplies but, because the matter has not been debated in great detail, we are not sure what will happen. What programme will the Government bring forward to ensure that those 5,164 properties in Calderdale receive water that complies with EEC regulations?

Mr. Leigh

I will keep my remarks brief as other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. From a practical point of view, the more I listen to the debate the more I am convinced about the lack of wisdom in enshrining Community directives in our legislation. We have heard about the riser Po— [Interruption.]I ask the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) to allow me to continue my remarks.

They say that Italians do not mind signing Community directives because they have no intention of carrying them out. They say that the Germans like to sign up because they have already done it. They say that Mediterranean countries do not mind signing them because they want us to pay for them. We are the only people with the problem. We will comply with and pay for Community directives. It was a Labour Government who spent five years getting the thing ready, and the Community directive sums up so much of what is wrong with the Community. There are great intentions hut, as we have heard, not one country has succeeded in carrying out that directive nor, I suspect, will they. It is one thing to sign a directive for the sake of guidance, which is what we have done, but to enshrine it in legislation is something different.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Leigh

No, because I shall draw my remarks to a rapid conclusion so that other hon. Members can contribute.

The debate has been going on for an hour and a half. Is it not extraordinary that, with the exception of my right hon. Friend who spoke first, we have heard nothing from Opposition Members about clauses 20, 52 and 60? That is part of the black propaganda that the Labour party is trying to put out about the Bill. It is ignoring the fact that the Bill will achieve environmental safeguards that we have never had. We have never had anything akin to clause 52. We have never laid down in legislation that we will insist on wholesome water. We have never had legislation such as is contained in clauses 60 and 65 in which we insist on quality standards, or clause 20, where we insist on enforcement. Undertakers will have to go to the Secretary of State and say how they intend to comply with the EEC directive. All those matters are contained in the Bill. Lord Hesketh made it clear in the other place that we intend to hold water undertakers to account.

So much of what we have heard does not relate to what is contained in the [Interruption.] Of course, it is good politics. The Labour party is trying to convince the British people that we will privatise the water authorities so that profit will be put before people—[Interruption.] They are all cheering. Opposition Members are rising to the fly cast over the Benches, as happened during 180 hours in Committee. As they try to mislead the British people into believing this nonsense, they are ignoring what is in the Bill. For the first time we are setting up a national environmental protection agency and enforcement procedures. We are taking practical and sensible steps to comply with the EEC directive. That is what we intend to do, and why we should resist this Lords amendment.

Mr. Morley

I have heard nothing in the debate to convince me that the Government cannot reach those standards by the date set down in the EEC directive. It is insulting to the Members in the other place to suggest that they have not taken into account the arguments and the practicalities of achieving those standards. I do not doubt that, because of the gross underinvestment in the water industry in the past 10 years under the Government, it will be difficult to achieve those standards. Under the last Labour Government, on average more money was invested in the industry than in the past 10 years. Conservative Members should hang their heads in shame at being party to such figures. It is a disgrace. Why is it that in the past 10 years the actual increase in water prices has been higher than the rate of inflation? Where has that profit gone? It does not seem to have been invested in the water industry, where it was needed. It seems to have gone to the Government as a form of taxation.

It may be that to achieve the required water quality standards by 1993 enormous resources will have to be switched to the task. For example, there may have to he zero profits for those years while resources are directed towards ensuring that our drinking water quality standards meet the directive, but that is not possible in a privatised industry. That is why we have been arguing that those standards will not be achieved by privatisation, because profits will always be put first. That is the main criterion.

I have not heard anyone, apart from the Government and the Water Authorities Association, say that those standards cannot be met. Of course, all the chairmen of those authorities have been appointed by the Government and they stand to do very nicely out of privatisation, as chairmen of other former public industries and public service sectors have done. I do not believe that the association's letter to every Member of Parliament has any credibility because its members have a completely vested interest. It is trying to defend the political direction of those who put the chairmen where they are today and should be disregarded.

The important issue is that my constituents should be assured that problems such as high nitrate levels in the water supply will be tackled by the Government. We know that for any progress to be made in tackling nitrate levels, the Government have to be dragged along, kicking and screaming, by the EEC. That had to happen before they were prepared to do anything at all. I want to see action in tackling water supply standards and eradicating pesticides in our water supply. That is why we need a target date. A directive was agreed in 1980, but the Government know that if they try to meet the required standards they will not attract investors to buy the water authorities. They are placing their ideology of selling off the water authorities into the private sector before quality standards and the safety of our people.

Mr. Raffan

I am glad that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) has returned to the Chamber. I wanted to say to her face that her opening speech in this debate was the most disreputable that I have ever heard throughout our consideration of the Bill, whether in Committee or in the Chamber. She said, as a statement of fact, that the Government do not care at all about the quality of drinking water. She contended that the Government care only about selling off the water authorities.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I stand by that.

Mr. Raffan

Opposition Members dance to the bait that is thrown to them. The hon. Lady presented a complete distortion of the truth, and she knows it.

Like the hon. Member for Dewsbury, I was a member of the Committee which considered the Bill. I was asked at one stage to comment on a radio interview that she had given. She did not know that that would happen. The interview that she gave bore no relation to anything set out in the Bill. She has distorted the truth again this evening in impugning the Government's motives. The Government have incorporated the drinking water directive in legislation for the first time and made it a criminal offence to supply drinking water that is unfit for human consumption. Under the Government, the water authorities are embarking on a massive capital spending programme of £1 billion to improve water infrastructure and thus water quality.

This evening we saw the hon. Lady draw from her handbag the scruffy piece of paper that she brought out every so often in Committee. She prefers to give average spending figures for obvious reasons. The fact is that the Labour Government cut capital spending on water infrastructure by 30 per cent. in the last three years they were in power. The hon. Lady cannot get away from that.

Mrs. Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Raffan

I will give way in a moment. I have not finished yet.

However many times the hon. Lady produces that scruffy piece of paper from her handbag, she cannot get away from the fact that the Labour Government cut capital spending in the last three years they were in office.

Mrs. Taylor


Mr. Raffan

I have not finished yet. I ask the hon. Lady to restrain herself. She had a big bite of the cake earlier. She must give others a chance to contribute to the debate. Some of us want to talk about facts rather than fiction.

The Government are presiding over a massive capital spending programme. In an extremely eloquent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Sir G. Shaw) described the process that we are undertaking as moving the water industry from the public sector, where it has been loosely constrained and loosely regulated, into the private sector, where it will be subject to much tighter regulation and monitoring than ever before. That is a fact. Indeed, some Opposition Members have today acknowledged that with the setting up of the National Rivers Authority there will be much tighter control and regulation producing significant environmental advances.

Mrs. Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman help the House by defining what he regards as a "massive capital programme"? Is he aware that the Government's investment programme from 1979 to 1986 has been lower —for the most part, much lower—than even the worst years under the Labour Government? It took seven years to get back to the Labour Government's worst year. That says a great deal about the problems created by the lack of investment under this Government.

9.30 pm
Mr. Raffan

That is a distortion. The more the hon. Lady is challenged, the more she distorts.

I am glad that Welsh Members are present as they can confirm that there has been almost a doubling of capital expenditure by the Welsh water authority—

Mr. Win Griffiths

It was needed.

Mr. Raffan

It was desperately needed because of the years of neglect under the Labour Government. The Welsh water authority has the longest—

Mr. Griffiths


Mr Raffan

I am not giving way. I am finishing a sentence. I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman because he, too, has already had a bite of the cake. He should remain quiet and let me make my point. I am well aware that what I am saying is unpalatable to the Opposition. It is fit for human consumption, but I am not sure that it is fit for the Opposition consumption. After all, they do not like facts—they have been dealing in fiction all night. The fact is that the Government have massively increased public spending by 50 per cent. since they came to power and have a programme stretching years ahead—

Mr. Griffiths


Mr. Raffan

I have made it clear that I will not give way again—[Interruption.] I was generous in giving way earlier —[HON. MEMBERS:"Give way."] All right, I will give way, but I do not want to take up too much time.

Mr Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman claims to have close knowledge of the Welsh water authority. If so, he must know that one of the major arguments put forward by its chairman for accepting privatisation is that it will release him from the constraints of capital spending imposed by the Government—a view that he has expressed many times.

Mr. Raffan

It is not that at all. The hon. Gentleman is wrong again. I have talked often to Mr. John Elfed Jones, the chairman of the Welsh water authority, who wants to be released from the possible nightmare—although it is a fantasy—of a future Labour Government. He does not want a repeat of what happened in the last three years the Labour party was in power. Because the Labour Government so feared electoral unpopularity, they took the easy way out and cut capital rather than current spending when they had to crawl, humiliated, to the International Monetary Fund in 1976. The chairman of the Welsh Water Authority knows the position. He knows that he will be able to borrow more money, more cheaply on the money market as a result of the Bill and thus accelerate the authority's capital programme.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

What about the Conservatives' Euro-seats?

Mr. Raffan

The hon. Lady brings in Euro-seats as a distraction. I do not remember the Labour candidate in north Wales mentioning the Bill. Indeed, he did not mention much to do with Europe at all. I doubt whether he even knew that the European drinking water directive existed.

As usual, I wish to be constructive, and in the few minutes remaining to me I shall refer to some of the points to which the hon. Lady failed to respond in my right hon. Friend's opening speech My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made an important point about the practical problems of specific dates due to the varying programmes for capital works. We cannot expect all of them to be completed or finalised at the same time. My right hon. Friend mentioned the possible disruption of water supplies which would occur if there were an acceleration of the programmes. The hon. Lady did not respond to that point.

Another important point is what has been referred to as dynamic changes. That refers to the long-term leaking of nitrates, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Baker), the introduction of new herbicides and pesticides and the problems that they will create. Water supplies which currently comply with the directive might not comply in future due to the long-term leaking of nitrates.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey pointed out that no EEC country complies with the directive—all are guilty of infringements except Portugal, which has had an extension of the time in which it has to comply. Most water suppliers in this country comply with the health-related aspects of the directive. Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey said, of the 66 requirements in the directive most are related to appearance and turbidity and are not health-related. We are breaching the directive mainly on appearance and turbidity. The drinking water of the 11 million people touted around by the Opposition —the lingering remnants of the SLD members and the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths)—is not unsafe, but merely not up to standard terms of appearance and turbidity. Yet the Opposition toss around a figure of 11 million people's health being adversely affected by their drinking water. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Win Griffiths

I did not say that.

Mr. Raffan

That was the clear inferencee to be drawn from Opposition speeches. I listened very carefully, as I always do, to the hon. Members for Bridgend and for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey).

Mr. Griffiths

Then the hon. Gentleman got it wrong again.

Mr. Raffan

From the point of view of public health, the directives' key sections concern bacteria and toxic substances. Water in England and Wales has always enjoyed very high standards of bacteriological purity. There remain only three very small water supplies which are adversely affected in that regard, and they are being quickly dealt with.

The Government propose to incorporate in their regulations under the Bill tighter standards governing lead than exist in the directive and are requiring water authorities to do even more by introducing additives in water treatment to reduce lead content. Nitrate pollution is probably the trickiest area, and the main problem is of long-term leakage of nitrate into the water supply as a result of the use of fertilisers and intensive farming. I do not understand why Labour Members go on about static dates for compliance with the Community directive when maintaining quality is a continuing process which will not end in 1993 or 1995. There may be areas where water supplies are currently free of nitrates but may be adversely affected in the future. Much research is being undertaken by water authorities in respect of denitrification processes, some of which are very complicated. My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Baker) made an important point about the care that must be taken when adding chemicals to the water supply. This is particularly true when dealing with nitrates. The Government's proposals for the creation of water protection zones and nitrate-sensitive areas must be considered further. The Government are making considerable progress, but solutions cannot be conjured up overnight.

Aluminium pollution is constantly mentioned by Opposition Members, although it is pure scaremongering. They fail to point out that a cup of tea contains 20 to 200 times as much aluminium as the water used to make it.

Throughout the progress of the Bill, and particularly today, the Opposition have distorted the truth. The Government, through the effective provisions of the Bill—by the establishment of the National Rivers Authority, and by incorporating the Community directive into the legislation—are making clear their determination to improve the quality of our water supplies. That is something that a Labour Government never did, even when they had the chance to do so.

Mr. Michael

It is always difficult to deal with the manifest distortions introduced by the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan), and as water was such a major issue in the recent European Parliament election in north Wales I am surprised that his remarks should be so far-reaching. I shall first correct the hon. Gentleman's remarks concerning Welsh Water. We know only of an apologetic plea by Welsh Water that it would be free from the constraints of the Conservative Government in terms of investment by the private sector, but Welsh Water's main objective was clearly set out in a letter to all its employees from its chairman, Mr. John Elfed Jones. It stated: You should know that it is the unanimous opinion of the Board that the interests of both consumers and the employees of Welsh Water are best served by NOT proceeding with privatisation of the Welsh Water Authority. His letter concluded: I very much hope that the Government will heed the views of the Board of Welsh Water and that privatisation will not take place.

Mr. Raffan

When was it dated?

Mr. Michael

Mr. Jones was later somewhat pressurised by Ministers, but that letter expressed the unanimous view of the board of Welsh Water—[Interruption.]—and shouting by Conservative Members will not change the truth of that.

The debate has inevitably been narrow in its scope, btit the concerns are basic and of major importance. As has happened with monotonous consistency during the passage of this outrageous Bill, the Government failed to make their case, appeared appallingly complacent, and were made to look ridiculous in discussing the subject of water quality. To describe the Bill as a consumer measure is as ludicrous as calling Count Dracula a dependable agent of public health. To claim that the Bill has been brought in specially to improve water quality is even dafter. Labour Members are seeking to ensure decent standards of water quality and to present practical protection measures. As with so many other aspects of the Bill, the Secretary of State can defend the Government's position only by weaving a web of byzantine complexity, cross-referring clauses and asking us to put our trust in the intentions of Ministers.

Conservative Back-Bench Members have given credit to the Labour Government's work over five years, but have allowed little for the 10 years of neglect that followed and the failure to implement the standards to which we have referred. Welsh Water came out against privatisation. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) has given the facts about the Government's failure until 1986 to return to even the lowest level of investment made by the Labour Government. Clauses 52 and 20, cited in defence of the Government's measure, mean little without objective and public scrutiny. All the protections in the Bill are flawed without that.

On the evidence of the past 10 years, to trust Ministers would be foolhardy. Lords amendment No. 49 is welcome because it tightens the original wording, which would have imposed little or no obligation on the Secretary of State or the director general to take any serious action to enforce standards. We want to ensure proper monitoring of water quality, and it is sad to see that it is now the EC to which we must turn for any real safeguards and any serious intention to protect the public.

I have a feeling that a reading of Conservative Members' contributions to the debate will not reassure Commissioner Ripa di Meana about the Government's intentions. That is why our amendment to Lords amendment No. 49 is so important. Under our amendment, technical assessors would have an independent role and the EC could monitor properly. Technical reports about contraventions would have to be sent to the EC within two weeks of their coming to knowledge; problems would be brought into the open instead of being buried in bureaucracy or covered up by a Conservative Minister.

The ministerial reply that I received in response to questions to the Secretary of State for Wales on current derogation applications showed an appalling lack of knowledge of or interest in the matter. Our basic point is that if there is to be a process of letting companies off in return for investment schemes, it should be open to scrutiny and subject to objective tests. That is particularly important in view of other amendments that the Secretary of State wants to make today. If he has his way, he will delete the word "wholesome".

The fact that the Secretary of State does not want companies to be obliged to supply people with wholesome water brings home just how much we need European Commission protection. He appears not to care what quality of water comes through the tap, but we and the British public care, and we are trying to build in some protections. Incidentally, if the Secretary of State thinks it impractical to emphasise the word "wholesome", he should note that precisely that word is used in the famous water advertisements to describe quality and to define what people expect, so the water authorities must know what it means. In its version, Welsh Water's claim is Water we send your way is regularly tested to ensure it is wholesome. According to the Secretary of State, that is meaningless. I would prefer to listen to Welsh Water in this context. To delete the word "wholesome" will hardly reassure independent observers who share our justifiable fears about what the Government are up to.

Personally, I am delighted at the success of the water authorities' advertising campaign, although the result has not been quite what the Government or the water authorities intended. Millions of pounds have been spent on the campaign to soften up the British public for the great water sell-off, but the result is that the public are confirmed in their belief that water is of value, and water quality so important that the industry should not be sold off. Their reasons are many, but the simple question of what comes out of the tap takes pride of place—followed by environmental concerns and worry over prices, river quality, land use and so forth.

Among the advertisements published by Welsh Water, my personal favourite is the one that shows a rustic well miles from anyone's home and tells us that we have come a long way since Victorian times. Too right we have, especially in terms of water quality. In Victorian times the industry was in private hands, and water quality was so bad that disease was rife in our towns and cities. Today 79 per cent. of the population firmly oppose the Secretary of State and the water sell-off. My bet is that nearly 100 per cent. of the population firmly oppose the Government's bid to return to Victorian values, that nearly 100 per cent. of the population agree with our plea for safeguards and objective, open monitoring and that nearly 100 per cent. of the population support what we are trying to do in the amendments.

The City also rejects the Government's plans. Water quality is one of the factors that is putting off financiers. The City believes that privatisation should be put off until after water has been brought up to the EC standard, yet the Government are trying to put off the day of reckoning. They do not want to write in the 1993 deadline—itself a compromise—by which date Britain should reach European drinking water standards. The Secretary of State admits that those standards should have been met by 1985. That is why the City, like the public, are suspicious of the Secretary of State's motives in rejecting the Lords amendment.

9.45 pm

How can Ministers press on and ignore water quality problems and the helpful amendments that have been tabled at a time when the Director of Public Prosecutions is in the latter stages of considering criminal charges following the Camelford incident, when even public bodies have been shown to have misled the public and covered up the facts—something that is bound to be an even greater danger when water is in private hands, since company regulations require shareholders' interests and profits to take priority—and when water authorities are currently and variously being challenged over EC levels of aluminium, lead, iron and manganese? Furthermore, local authority power will be diminished by the Bill. The British Government arc defying the European Community over the timetable for improving water standards and may be taken to court by it. Microbiologists and others with direct experience of the water industry are warning the British people and the Secretary of State of the need for the independent monitoring of drinking water quality. The Welsh Office and the Department of the Environment are seen to be headed by Ministers who offer fine words but who lack the commitment to guarantee a supply of drinking water that is of a high and dependable quality.

The Bill is fatally flawed. Information that is technically in the public domain is now inaccessible to public or professional scrutiny and it will be even less accessible to consumers in the future. The Government have not told us —perhaps the Secretary of State will do so now—whether we are to have a locally based system of technical assessors and whether such a service will be provided with guaranteed resources and allowed to be independent. According to the Bill, water quality is not in the hands of the director general. His role is an economic one. Water quality is in the hands of the Secretary of State. Given his complacency earlier tonight, that will not reassure the public.

The Ministers involved want us to trust them. We do not, nor do the public at large. The Bill has been described by a senior Welsh Tory Back-Bench Member as deservedly unpopular. I hope that he and other Conservative Members who realise that the Government have got it wrong will join us in the Lobby and give some protection to the public on the key issue of water quality.

Mr. Ridley

With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, may I say that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) is fatally flawed? If he looks at clause 52 he will find that it states specifically that there will he a duty to supply wholesome water. That duty remains under any amendments on the Amendment Paper. I agree that he mentioned the Opposition amendment, but again his approach to it was fatally flawed. The need for an independent assessor is recognised elsewhere in the Bill, but the hon. Gentleman seems not to have noticed it. There will, therefore, be an independent assessor. If the Commission wants any information from the Government, it will write and ask for it. There is no need, therefore, for the amendment. The hon. Gentleman's understanding of what is provided for in the Bill is clearly inadequate.

The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) questioned whether the Government's amendments to clause 20 had convinced and satisfied the Commission. She is quite wrong about that.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Ridley

No. I have very little time and I must get on.

I can do no better than quote the Select Committee on the cuts that the Labour Government made in water investment. There are a number of reasons why water authority effluence falls short of the present consent standards. The most immediate reason is because from the mid-1970s until the early 1980s there was a steady drop in investment by the water authority in sewerage and sewage disposal. The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) and others signed the Select Committee report.

The hon. Member for Dewsbury was quite wrong when she said that the Labour Government's worst year of investment was better than the Tory average. Labour's worst year of investment was worse than the worst year of Tory investment, so the hon. Lady was absolutely wrong. The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) fails to understand that the underinvestment by the Labour Government is the problem that we all have to face.

My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Sir G. Shaw) suggested that the Bill had the year 1995 as the date for total compliance by the industry with the water directive. The Bill includes no date by which total compliance is to be achieved. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) asked me to confirm that I have the duty to enforce compliance, even for temporary waivers under clause 50. That is indeed the case. I have that duty and I shall certainly exercise it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Baker) was absolutely right when he said that it would probably be illegal to put the date 1993 into the Bill because we had to comply by 1985. The House could find itself brought before the European Court of Justice, of which the Opposition are so inordinately fond. because they had succeeded in getting the amendment into the Bill. They are advocating that the House should legislate in total contradiction with European law.

Mr. Morgan

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Ridley

No, I shall not give way.

The hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffths) said that it was as if we had suddenly discovered a new directive. He is right. It is a new directive. The directive that the Labour party and the Government negotiated and that was brought to a conclusion in 1980 was based on annual average compliance. That is what every nation in Europe thought. That is what the Labour party and the Conservative party thought it said. In 1987 the Commission gave it as its opinion, ex cathedra, that it was based on 100 per cent. compliance. That is what changed that game. In 1987 we were just about complying until the goal posts were moved. That is why it was a totally new game. The hon. Member for Bridgend does not seem to realise that.

Finally, we come to the question whether it is correct that the standards should be applied to all the parameters in the directive. I make no secret of the fact that I hope that there will be some relaxation because some of the standards in the directive are ridiculous, extravagant and unnecessary. I believe that it is absurd to put expensive requirements on us in relation to the colour and taste of water. There is no health risk. Peaty water in the north of England is not something to be ashamed of. It is absolutely absurd to insist on those standards. The standard for nitrate is higher than it need be for purely health reasons. I hope that we can persuade the Commission to relax the standards. Of course we cannot do that unilaterally. We shall abide by the standards, but it would be strange if the Opposition did not realise that there has to be some considered judgment as to whether they are the right standards.

The hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) has left the Chamber, so I need not reply to her, but clauses 57 to 59 meet her point about private water supplies, and of course the directive will apply to them.

The Labour party fails to understand that there are about 60 parameters in the directive. All drinking water in this country is wholesome and fit to drink, but of the parameters cited in the directive as being dangerous to health, we shall be in compliance with that for lead within the next few months. It will probably take about two years to comply with microbiological factors, and about two or three years to comply with the directive on nitrates. However, it might take a little longer in a few areas where denitrification plants will be necessary. We should have all the aluminium cleaned up at treatment works in two or three years, but natural aluminium is not mentioned in the directive. All the measures that matter will be completed well before 1993. Colour, iron and manganese traces in the water may take much longer because the entire pipe network will have to be replaced. If the hon. Member for Dewsbury thinks that we can do that by 1993, she should think again.

I agree with my hon. Friends about the scandalous way in which the Labour party has sought to knock the health standards of this country for short-term, cheap political advantage, and I invite the House to reject amendment (a).

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 45 to 48 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 49, in page 21, leave out lines 45 to 47.

Amendment proposed to the Lords amendment, amendment (a), at end add 'and insert "except that the Secretary of State or Director as the case may be shall have regard in any case to which paragraph (b) of this subsection applies to any report submitted to the Director by a technical assessor appointed under section 60 below in respect of the contraventions concerned, and the Director shall within two weeks of receiving any such report submit a copy of it to the European Commission".'.—[Mrs. Ann Taylor.]

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 197, Noes 308.

Division No. 274] [9.56 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Boateng, Paul
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Boyes, Roland
Allen, Graham Bradley, Keith
Anderson, Donald Bray, Dr Jeremy
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Armstrong, Hilary Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Ashton, Joe Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Buckley, George J.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Caborn, Richard
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Callaghan, Jim
Battle, John Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Beckett, Margaret Canavan, Dennis
Beith, A. J. Cartwright, John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Bermingham, Gerald Clay, Bob
Bidwell, Sydney Clelland, David
Blunkett, David Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cohen, Harry Madden, Max
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Marek, Dr John
Cousins, Jim Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Cox, Tom Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Crowther, Stan Martlew, Eric
Cryer, Bob Maxton, John
Cunningham, Dr John Meacher, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Meale, Alan
Darling, Alistair Michael, Alun
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dewar, Donald Moonie, Dr Lewis
Dixon, Don Morgan, Rhodri
Dobson, Frank Morley, Elliott
Doran, Frank Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Mowlam, Marjorie
Eastham, Ken Mudd, David
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mullin, Chris
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Murphy, Paul
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Nellist, Dave
Fisher, Mark Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flannery, Martin O'Brien, William
Flynn, Paul O'Neill, Martin
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foster, Derek Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Foulkes, George Pendry, Tom
Fraser, John Pike, Peter L.
Fyfe, Maria Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Galloway, George Prescott, John
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Quin, Ms Joyce
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Radice, Giles
Godman, Dr Norman A. Randall, Stuart
Golding, Mrs Llin Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Gordon, Mildred Reid, Dr John
Gould, Bryan Richardson, Jo
Graham, Thomas Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Robertson, George
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Rogers, Allan
Grocott, Bruce Rooker, Jeff
Harman, Ms Harriet Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Henderson, Doug Rowlands, Ted
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Ruddock, Joan
Hood, Jimmy Sedgemore, Brian
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Sheerman, Barry
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howells, Geraint Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Skinner, Dennis
Hoyle, Doug Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & Fbury)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Ingram, Adam Snape, Peter
Janner, Greville Soley, Clive
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Steel, Rt Hon David
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Steinberg, Gerry
Kennedy, Charles Stott, Roger
Kirkwood, Archy Strang, Gavin
Leadbitter, Ted Straw, Jack
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Livingstone, Ken Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Livsey, Richard Turner, Dennis
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Vaz, Keith
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Wall, Pat
McAllion, John Wallace, James
McAvoy, Thomas Walley, Joan
McCartney, Ian Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Macdonald, Calum A. Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
McFall, John Wigley, Dafydd
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
McKelvey, William Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McLeish, Henry Wilson, Brian
Maclennan, Robert Winnick, David
McWilliam, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
Worthington, Tony Tellers for the Ayes:
Wray, Jimmy Mr. Frank Haynes and
Young, David (Bolton SE) Mr. Robert N. Wareing.
Aitken, Jonathan Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alexander, Richard Dover, Den
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dunn, Bob
Amess, David Dykes, Hugh
Amos, Alan Eggar, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Evennett, David
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Fallon, Michael
Ashby, David Favell, Tony
Aspinwall, Jack Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Atkins, Robert Fishburn, John Dudley
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Forman, Nigel
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baldry, Tony Forth, Eric
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Batiste, Spencer Fox, Sir Marcus
Bellingham, Henry Franks, Cecil
Bendall, Vivian Freeman, Roger
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) French, Douglas
Benyon, W. Fry, Peter
Bevan, David Gilroy Gardiner, George
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gill, Christopher
Blackburn, Dr John G. Glyn, Dr Alan
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Goodhart, Sir Philip
Body, Sir Richard Goodlad, Alastair
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Boswell, Tim Gorst, John
Bottomley, Peter Gow, Ian
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bowis, John Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Grist, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Ground, Patrick
Brazier, Julian Grylls, Michael
Bright, Graham Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hague, William
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hanley, Jeremy
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hannam, John
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Budgen, Nicholas Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Burns, Simon Haselhurst, Alan
Burt, Alistair Hawkins, Christopher
Butcher, John Hayes, Jerry
Butler, Chris Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Butterfill, John Hayward, Robert
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heddle, John
Carrington, Matthew Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Carttiss, Michael Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Cash, William Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hind, Kenneth
Chope, Christopher Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Churchill, Mr Holt, Richard
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Howard, Michael
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cope, Rt Hon John Hunter, Andrew
Couchman, James Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cran, James Irvine, Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jack, Michael
Curry, David Jackson, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Janman, Tim
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Day, Stephen Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Devlin, Tim Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dicks, Terry Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dorrell, Stephen Key, Robert
Kilfedder, James Redwood, John
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Renton, Tim
Kirkhope, Timothy Rhodes James, Robert
Knapman, Roger Riddick, Graham
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Knowles, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knox, David Roe, Mrs Marion
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lang, Ian Rost, Peter
Latham, Michael Rowe, Andrew
Lawrence, Ivan Ryder, Richard
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Sackville, Hon Tom
Lee, John (Pendle) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Sayeed, Jonathan
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Shaw, David (Dover)
Lightbown, David 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)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shersby, Michael
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Skeet, Sir Trevor
McCrindle, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Soames, Hon Nicholas
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Speller, Tony
Maclean, David Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
McLoughlin, Patrick Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Squire, Robin
Madel, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Major, Rt Hon John Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Malins, Humfrey Steen, Anthony
Mans, Keith Stern, Michael
Maples, John Stevens, Lewis
Marland, Paul Stokes, Sir John
Marlow, Tony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Sumberg, David
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Summerson, Hugo
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mates, Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maude, Hon Francis Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mellor, David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miller, Sir Hal Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Miscampbell, Norman Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mitchell, Sir David Thorne, Neil
Moate, Roger Thornton, Malcolm
Monro, Sir Hector Thurnham, Peter
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moore, Rt Hon John Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Morrison, Sir Charles Tracey, Richard
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Tredinnick, David
Moss, Malcolm Trippier, David
Moynihan, Hon Colin Trotter, Neville
Neale, Gerrard Twinn, Dr Ian
Nelson, Anthony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Neubert, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholls, Patrick Walden, George
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Norris, Steve Waller, Gary
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Walters, Sir Dennis
Oppenheim, Phillip Ward, John
Page, Richard Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Paice, James Warren, Kenneth
Patnick, Irvine Watts, John
Patten, John (Oxford W) Wells, Bowen
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Wheeler, John
Pawsey, James Whitney, Ray
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Widdecombe, Ann
Porter, David (Waveney) Wiggin, Jerry
Portillo, Michael Wilshire, David
Powell, William (Corby) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Price, Sir David Wolfson, Mark
Raffan, Keith Wood, Timothy
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Rathbone, Tim Yeo, Tim
Young, Sir George (Acton) Tellers for the Noes:
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Mr. Tony Durant.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to order this day, to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Lords amendment No. 49 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 62 and 63 disagreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 64, in page 40, line 16, at end insert (2A) Without prejudice to the generality of the duty conferred by subsection (2) above, regulations under that subsection shall include in any standard of performance a requirement for an undertaker to achieve the levels of drinking water quality specified in EEC Directive 80/778 by a date not later than the date specified by the Secretary of State under subsection (2B) below in respect of each undertaker. (2B) The date or dates to be specified by the Secretary of State by order under this subsection shall be that or those which either—

  1. (a) Not later than 31st December 1989, have been agreed by the Secretary of State and the European Commission; or
  2. (b) Where no such agreement has been reached by the date referred to in paragraph (a) above, 1st September 1993.
(2C) Where, before the date specified in an order under subsection (2B) above, any further terms of a Directive by the European Commission relating to drinking water quality are introduced, the Secretary of State shall, in consultation with the Commission, by regulations establish the shortest timetable for compliance by each water and sewerage undertaker as he considers to be reasonably practicable."— [Mr. Alan Howarth]

Motion made, and Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 199.

Division No. 275] [10.13 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Alexander, Richard Brazier, Julian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bright, Graham
Amess, David Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Amos, Alan Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arbuthnot, James Browne, John (Winchester)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Budgen, Nicholas
Aspinwall, Jack Burns, Simon
Atkins, Robert Burt, Alistair
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Butcher, John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butler, Chris
Baldry, Tony Butterfill, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bellingham, Henry Carrington, Matthew
Bendall, Vivian Carttiss, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Benyon, W. Chapman, Sydney
Bevan, David Gilroy Chope, Christopher
Bitten, Rt Hon John Churchill, Mr
Blackburn, Dr John G. Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Body, Sir Richard Colvin, Michael
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Conway, Derek
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Boswell, Tim Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bottomley, Peter Cope, Rt Hon John
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Couchman, James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cran, James
Bowis, John Currie, Mrs Edwina
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Curry, David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Davies, Q. (Staml'd & Spald'g)
Davis, David (Boothferry) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Day, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Devlin, Tim Knapman, Roger
Dicks, Terry Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knowles, Michael
Dover, Den Knox, David
Dunn, Bob Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Dykes, Hugh Lang, Ian
Eggar, Tim Latham, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lawrence, Ivan
Evennett, David Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Favell, Tony Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fishburn, John Dudley Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Forman, Nigel Lightbown, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lilley, Peter
Forth, Eric Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fox, Sir Marcus Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Franks, Cecil Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Freeman, Roger McCrindle, Robert
French, Douglas Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Fry, Peter MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gardiner, George Maclean, David
Gill, Christopher McLoughlin, Patrick
Glyn, Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Goodhart, Sir Philip Madel, David
Goodlad, Alastair Major, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Malins, Humfrey
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mans, Keith
Gorst, John Maples, John
Gow, Ian Marland, Paul
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Grist, Ian Maude, Hon Francis
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grylls, Michael Mellor, David
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Miller, Sir Hal
Hague, William Mills, Iain
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miscampbell, Norman
Han ley, Jeremy Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam, John Mitchell, Sir David
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Monro, Sir Hector
Haselhurst, Alan Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hawkins, Christopher Moore, Rt Hon John
Hayes, Jerry Morrison, Sir Charles
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hayward, Robert Moss, Malcolm
Heathcoat-Amory, David Moynihan, Hon Colin
Heddle, John Nelson, Anthony
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Neubert, Michael
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Nicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hind, Kenneth Norris, Steve
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Holt, Richard Oppenheim, Phillip
Hordern, Sir Peter Page, Richard
Howard, Michael Paice, James
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Pawsey, James
Hunter, Andrew Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Porter, David (Waveney)
Irvine, Michael Portillo, Michael
Jack, Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Jackson, Robert Price, Sir David
Janman, Tim Raffan, Keith
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rathbone, Tim
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Redwood, John
Kellett-Rowman, Dame Elaine Renton, Tim
Key, Robert Rhodes James, Robert
Riddick, Graham Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Thorne, Neil
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Thornton, Malcolm
Roe, Mrs Marion Thurnham, Peter
Rossi, Sir Hugh Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rost, Peter Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rowe, Andrew Tracey, Richard
Ryder, Richard Tredinnick, David
Sackville, Hon Tom Trippier, David
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Trotter, Neville
Sayeed, Jonathan Twinn, Dr Ian
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, David (Dover) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Waldegrave, Hon William
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Walden, George
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shersby, Michael Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Waller, Gary
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Walters, Sir Dennis
Soames, Hon Nicholas Ward, John
Speller, Tony Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Warren, Kenneth
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Watts, John
Squire, Robin Wells, Bowen
Stanbrook, Ivor Wheeler, John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Whitney, Ray
Steen, Anthony Widdecombe, Ann
Stern, Michael Wiggin, Jerry
Stevens, Lewis Wilshire, David
Stokes, Sir John Wolfson, Mark
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wood, Timothy
Sumberg, David Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Summerson, Hugo Yeo, Tim
Tapsell, Sir Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Younger, Rt Hon George
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Tellers for the Ayes:
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Temple-Morris, Peter Mr. Tony Durant.
Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Abbott, Ms Diane Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Allen, Graham Clay, Bob
Anderson, Donald Clelland, David
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Armstrong, Hilary Cohen, Harry
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Ashton, Joe Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Corbyn, Jeremy
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cousins, Jim
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Cox, Tom
Battle, John Crowther, Stan
Beckett, Margaret Cryer, Bob
Beith, A. J. Cunningham, Dr John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dalyell, Tarn
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Darling, Alistair
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Blunkett, David Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Boateng, Paul Dewar, Donald
Boyes, Roland Dixon, Don
Bradley, Keith Dobson, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Doran, Frank
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Eastham, Ken
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Buckley, George J. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Caborn, Richard Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Callaghan, Jim Fisher, Mark
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Flannery, Martin
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Flynn, Paul
Canavan, Dennis Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Cartwright, John Foster, Derek
Foulkes, George Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fraser, John Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fyfe, Maria Mowlam, Marjorie
Galloway, George Mudd, David
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Mullin, Chris
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Murphy, Paul
Godman, Dr Norman A. Nellist, Dave
Golding, Mrs Llin Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gordon, Mildred O'Brien, William
Gould, Bryan O'Neill, Martin
Graham, Thomas Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Pendry, Tom
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pike, Peter L.
Grocott, Bruce Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Harman, Ms Harriet Prescott, John
Henderson, Doug Quin, Ms Joyce
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Radice, Giles
Hood, Jimmy Randall, Stuart
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Reid, Dr John
Howells, Geraint Richardson, Jo
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hoyle, Doug Robertson, George
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Rogers, Allan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Ruddock, Joan
Ingram, Adam Sedgemore, Brian
Janner, Greville Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Skinner, Dennis
Kennedy, Charles Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kilfedder, James Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Kirkwood, Archy Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Leadbitter, Ted Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Snape, Peter
Livingstone, Ken Soley, Clive
Livsey, Richard Spearing, Nigel
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Steel, Rt Hon David
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Steinberg, Gerry
McAllion, John Stott, Roger
McAvoy, Thomas Strang, Gavin
McCartney, Ian Straw, Jack
Macdonald, Calum A. Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McFall, John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Turner, Dennis
McKelvey, William Vaz, Keith
McLeish, Henry Wall, Pat
Maclennan, Robert Wallace, James
McWilliam, John Walley, Joan
Madden, Max Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Marion, Mrs Alice Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Marek, Dr John Wigley, Dafydd
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Martlew, Eric Wilson, Brian
Maxton, John Winnick, David
Meale, Alan Wise, Mrs Audrey
Meyer, Sir Anthony Worthington, Tony
Michael, Alun Wray, Jimmy
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Tellers for the Noes:
Moonie, Dr Lewis Mr. Frank Haynes and
Morgan, Rhodri Mr. Robert N. Wareing.
Morley, Elliott

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment accordingly disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 50 to 54 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 56 to 61 agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 65 to 116 agreed to.

Further consideration of Lords amendments adjourned.—[Mr. Alan Howarth.]

To be further considered tomorrow.