HC Deb 17 April 1991 vol 189 cc417-8
18. Mr. Andrew Welsh

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what meetings have taken place between the Scottish Office and the European Commissioner for the Environment on compliance with EC directives.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The Scottish Office is in contact as necessary with the Commissioner over the whole range of environmental issues.

Mr. Welsh

Will the Government provide a supply of clean, wholesome drinking water for the Scottish population? Is not it disgraceful that millions of Scots are daily drinking water which fails to meet the basic minimum European standards for safety regarding materials such as aluminium and lead? Why were the Government willing to throw billions of pounds as a sweetener for water privatisation at one of the smaller English water boards when less than that amount would solve our problems and supply clean drinking water for the whole of Scotland? Why is the Minister discriminating against his own country?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

First, I must point out to the hon. Member that, unlike in England where water restructuring took place in advance of privatisation, that process is not taking place in Scotland, where the water service is in the public sector. We take seriously our determination to do everything possible to comply with the directives. We have increased expenditure on water and sewerage programmes to an all-time high of £620 million. The hon. Gentleman asked about aluminium and lead. As regards aluminium, most supplies will comply by 1994; as regards lead, only one of the treatment schemes remains to be completed after this year, and it is programmed for 1992.

As for our record of compliance, only three countries —Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands—are expected to show fewer complaints pending against them. Of some 90 court cases launched by the Commissioner in the past 10 years, only two have been against the United Kingdom and they have been defended vigorously.

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