HC Deb 11 November 1992 vol 213 c876
14. Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much funding the National Rivers Authority received in 1990–91 and 1991–92.

Mr. Maclean

The National Rivers Authority's grant in aid from my Department was £103.9 million in 1990–91 and £83.85 million in 1991–92 towards total expenditure on grant-aided functions of £168 million in the first year and £197 million in the second.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Those figures mean that the administrative costs of the National Rivers Authority will progressively have to be borne by agricultural and industrial users. That will impact severely on fish farmers, who are large upstream and downstream volume users of water. I believe that my hon. Friend the Minister had a meeting with the British Trout Association yesterday. Will he give a resume of the discussions and state whether any concessions were made?

Mr. Maclean

I must point out that the NRA is receiving substantial grant in aid from my Department, but I am concerned about the proposed NRA charges as they impact on trout farmers and met the British Trout Association yesterday. I think that we would all agree that although all those who take water from rivers must pay for it, there should be an equitable regime. I see no environmental benefit in unfairly putting 400 small trout farmers out of business. I have undertaken to look again at the NRA's proposed charges to see whether we can devise an equitable regime for all involved, including trout farmers.