HC Deb 17 May 1994 vol 243 cc694-741

'.—(1) The Secretary of State shall, before 1st April 1996, establish Joint Boards for the Local Government areas comprised in each of the combined areas set out in the Table at the end of this subsection for the provision in the combined area of the services required by the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968.

Grampian Aberdeenshire, Moray, City of Aberdeen
Tayside Angus, City of Dundee and Perthshire and Kinross (except for water purposes the former County of Kinross)
Central Clackmannan and Falkirk, Stirling
Lothian City of Edinburgh, West Lothian, Mid and East Lothian
Strathclyde Argyll and Bute, Dumbarton and Clydebank, City of Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire.
(2) The provisions of Sections 62A and 62C of the 1973 Act shall apply to a Joint Board established by an Order made under this Schedule as they apply to a Joint Board established by an order made under the said Section 62A. (3) The Water and sewerage areas mentioned in subsection (1) above and in column 1 of Schedule (Water and Sewerage Areas) to this Act comprise the areas for the time being respectively described in column 2 of that Schedule.'.—[Mr. George Robertson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.30 pm
Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss also the following: Amendment (a), in line 1, leave out 'The Secretary of State' and insert The local authorities in the areas concerned'.

Amendment (b), in line 17, at end insert— '(1A) The members of the Joint Boards shall be elected councillors appointed in accordance with Schedule 7.'.

New clause 15—New water and sewerage areas

'-With effect from 1st April 1996 there shall be established

  1. (a) a body, to be known as the Borders Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Borders water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Borders sewerage area;
  2. (b) a body, to be known as the Central Scotland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Central Scotland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Central Scotland sewerage area;
  3. (c) a body, to be known as the Dumfries and Galloway Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
  4. 695
    1. (i) the water authority for the Dumfries and Galloway water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Dumfries and Galloway sewerage area;
  5. (d) a body, to be known as the Fife Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Fife water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Fife sewerage area;
  6. (e) a body, to be known as the Grampian Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Grampian water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Grampian sewerage area;
  7. (f) a body, to be known as the Highland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Highland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Highland sewerage area;
  8. (g) a body, to be known as the Lothian Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Lothian water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Lothian sewerage area;
  9. (h) a body, to be known as the Strathclyde Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Strathclyde water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Strathclyde sewerage area;
  10. (i) a body, to be known as the Tayside Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Tayside water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Tayside sewerage area;
  11. (j) a body, to be known as the Orkney Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Orkney water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Orkney sewerage area;
  12. (k) a body, to be known as the Shetland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Shetland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Shetland sewerage area; and
  13. (l) a body, to be known as the Western Isles Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Western Isles water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Western Isles sewerage area.'.

New clause 20—Constitution and proceedings of water and sewerage authorities'.—(1) Schedule 7 to this Act shall have effect with respect to the constitution and proceedings of, and other matters relating to, each of the bodies established by section (New water and sewerage authorities) above (those bodies being, in this Act, collectively referred to as the "new water and sewerage authorities"). (2) The water areas and sewerage areas mentioned in section (New water and sewerage authorities) above and in column 1 of Schedule (Water and Sewerage Areas) to this Act comprise the areas for the time being respectively described in column 2 of that Schedule.'.

New clause 25—Water supplied by meter to domestic consumers'Without prejudice to section 41A of the 1980 Act, no meter shall be installed in any domestic premises unless it has been requested by the occupier, and also has been consented to by the owner of the premises.'.

New clause 26—Determination of disputes'(1) It shall be the duty of the Customers Council to refer to the Secretary of State for determination any complaint which the Customers Council has investigated under section 66(2) above, but is unable to resolve. (2) The practice and procedure to be followed in connection with the reference to the Secretary of State shall be such as he considers appropriate. (3) Where the Secretary of State determines any dispute under this section he shall give his reasons for reaching his decision with respect to the dispute. (4) On making such determination under this section the Secretary of State may make such incidental, supplemental and consequential provision (including provision requiring either party to pay a sum in respect of the costs or expenses incurred by the Secretary of State) as he considers appropriate. (5) A determination under this section—

  1. (a) shall be final; and
  2. (b) shall be enforceable as if it were a judgement of court in so far as it included such provision as to costs or expenses as is mentioned in subsection (4) above.
(6) The Secretary of State shall not determine any relevant dispute which is the subject of proceedings before, or with respect to which judgement has been given by a court. (7) In including in any determination under this section any provision as to costs or expenses, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the conduct and means of the parties, and any other relevant circumstances.'.

New clause 30—New water and sewerage authorities (No. 2)'-(1) There shall be established—

  1. (a) a body, to be known as the Borders Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Borders water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Borders sewerage area;
  2. (b) a body, to be known as the Central Scotland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Central Scotland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Central Scotland sewerage area;
  3. (c) a body, to be known as the Dumfries and Galloway Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Dumfries and Galloway water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Dumfries and Galloway sewerage area;
  4. (d) a body, to be known as the Fife Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Fife water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Fife sewerage area;
  5. (e) a body, to be known as the Grampian Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Grampian water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Grampian sewerage area;
  6. (f) a body, to be known as the Highland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Highland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Highland sewerage area;
  7. (g) a body, to be known as the Lothian Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Lothian water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Lothian sewerage area;
  8. (h) a body, to be known as the Strathclyde Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Strathclyde water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Strathclyde sewerage area;
  9. (i) a body, to be known as the Tayside Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Tayside water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Tayside sewerage area;
  10. (j) a body, to be known as the Orkney Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Orkney water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Orkney sewerage area;
  11. (k) a body, to be known as the Shetland Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Shetland water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Shetland sewerage area; and
  12. (l) a body, to be known as the Western Isles Water Authority, which as from 1st April 1996, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Western Isles water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Western Isles sewerage area;

(2) The Secretary of State shall, before 1st April 1996, establish Joint Boards for the Local Government areas in each of the combined areas set out in the following table:

Grampian Aberdeenshire, Moray, City of Aberdeen
Tayside Angus, City of Dundee and Perthshire and Kinross
Central Scotland Clackmannan and Falkirk, Stirling
Lothian City of Edinburgh, West Lothian, Mid and East Lothian
Strathclyde Argyll and Bute, Dumbarton and Clydebank, City of Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire.

(3) The Water and Sewerage areas mentioned in subsection (1) above and in column 1 of Schedule (Water and Sewerage Areas) to this Act comprise the areas for the time being respectively described in column 2 of that Schedule.'.

No. 1, a new schedule-'Water and Sewerage Areas'—

Water or Sewerage Area Area by reference to existing or former administrative areas
Borders Water Area Borders Region
Borders Sewerage Area Borders Region
Central Scotland Water Area Central Region
The former county of Kinross
Central Scotland Sewerage Area Central Region
Dumfries and Galloway Water Area Dumfries and Galloway Region
Dumfries and Galloway Sewerage Area Dumfries and Galloway Region
Fife Water Area Fife Region
Fife Sewerage Area Fife Region
Grampian Water Area Grampian Region
Grampian Sewerage Area Grampian Region
Highland Water Area Highland Region
Highland Sewerage Area Highland Region
Lothian Water Area Lothian Region
Lothian Sewerage Area Lothian Region
Strathclyde Water Area Strathclyde Region
Strathclyde Sewerage Area Strathclyde Region
Tayside Water Area Tayside Region except the former county of Kinross
Tayside Sewerage Area Tayside Region
Orkney Water Area Orkney Islands
Orkney Sewerage Area Orkney Islands
Shetland Water Area Shetland Islands
Shetland Sewerage Area Shetland Islands
Western Isles Water Area Western Isles
Western Isles Sewerage Area Western Isles'.

No. 24, in page 53, line 32, clause 61, leave out from beginning to end of line 11 on page 54.

No. 260, in page 53, line 41, leave out 'and'.

No. 263, in page 54, line 1, at end insert—

  1. '(d) a body, to be known as the Orkney Water Authority which, as from that date, shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority for the Orkney Islands water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority for the Orkney Islands sewerage area;
  2. (e) a body, to be known as the Shetland Water Authority which, as from that date, shall be—
  3. 698
    1. (i) the water authority of the Shetland Islands water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority of the Shetland Islands sewerage area; and
  4. (f) a body, to be known as the Western Isles Water Authority which, as from that date shall be—
    1. (i) the water authority of the Western Isles water area; and
    2. (ii) the sewerage authority of the Western Isles sewerage area; '.

No. 274, in page 138, line 17, schedule 7, leave out lines 17 to 23 and insert—'Membership of Water and Sewerage Authorities 3. The members of an authority shall be—

  1. (a) elected councillors from the Joint Board area reflecting the votes cast for each political party or independent grouping at the most recent local government elections.
  2. (b) appointed by those councils (hereafter referred to as the "appointing authorities") within the area of the Water and Sewerage Authorities.
  3. (c) such number of elected councillors as the councils in the area covered by the authority shall by agreement determine.'.

No. 10, in page 138, leave out lines 18 to 23 and insert— '3. The members of an authority shall be—

  1. (a) such number of elected councillors as the councils in the area covered by the authority shall by agreement determine and shall be appointed by those councils (in this schedule referred to as the "appointing authorities"),
  2. (b) the person who is for the time being the chief executive of the authority.'.

No. 259, in page 138, line 22, after 'authority', insert 'provided that in making appointments to the North of Scotland Water Authority, he shall appoint at least one person who appears to him to have knowledge or experience specifically relevant to the discharge of the Authority's functions in the Islands Area;'.

No. 11, in page 138, leave out line 24 and insert— '4. The appointing authority shall be satisfied-'.

No. 12, in page 138, line 25, leave out 'he' and insert 'it'

No. 257, in page 138, line 29, at end add— '(c) before the appointment of any person under paragraph 3(a) above comes into effect, that the person has declared in a form which the Secretary of State shall prescribe and make public, current membership of any political party, and details of any financial contribution to a political party in the previous five years; (d) from time to time, and at no longer than yearly intervals, that each person so appointed has updated the declaration of party political interests required in sub-paragraph (c) above.'.

No. 13, in page 138, line 30, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 14, in page 138, line 31, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 15, in page 138, line 32, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 16, in page 138, line 33, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 17, in page 138, line 38, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 18, in page 139, line 1, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appointing authority'.

No. 19, in page 139, leave out lines 13 to 18 and insert— '8.—(1) The members of an authority shall appoint one of their number, other than their chief executive, to be chairman and may appoint another to be deputy chairman; and a chairman, or as the case may be deputy chairman, shall hold and vacate the office in question in accordance with the terms under which he is appointed to that office.'.

No. 279, in page 139, line 13, leave out

'The Secretary of State shall appoint one of the members of an authority, other than their chief executive,' and insert 'Water Authorities shall appoint one of their members'.

No. 20, in page 139, line 20, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'authority'.

No. 21, in page 139, line 24, leave out 'Secretary of State may vary the terms of the instrument' and insert 'the authority may vary the terms'.

No. 23, in page 140, leave out lines 2 to 9 and insert— '11. An Authority shall appoint its Chief Executive on such terms and conditions as it may determine; and the authority may make subsequent appointments to the office of Chief Executive on such terms and conditions as they may determine.'.

No. 22, in page 140, line 34, after 'committees' insert 'comprising solely of persons who have been elected to serve as councillors in local authorities which lie within the geographical area of the water authority.'.

No. 243, in page 141, line 32, at end insert— '17A (1) All Water Authority meetings shall be held in public with the exception of confidential items agreed by a majority of Board Members, with suitable notice and publicity given to them and minutes of meetings shall be available on request and at reasonable cost to members of the public, (2) Water authorities shall prepare and publish annual plans and arrange for public consultation on them.'.

No. 9, in page 142, schedule 8, leave out lines 1 to 42.

No. 261, in page 142, line 38, leave out 'The Islands Area'.

No 262, in page 142, line 42, leave out 'The Islands Area', and insert—

'Orkney Water Area Orkney Islands
Orkney Sewerage Area Orkney Islands
Shetland Water Area Shetland Islands
Shetland Sewerage Area Shetland Islands
Western Isles Water Area Western Isles
Western Isles Sewerage Area Western Isles.'.

No. 82, in page 56, line 2, clause 64, after 'access' insert '(including access for recreational purposes)'.

No. 266, in page 56, line 11, at end insert— '(3) The new water and sewerage authorities shall consult the Customers Council established under section 66 below on such matters as appear to effect the interests of the customers or potential customers of that authority.'.

No. 267, in page 86, line 33, clause 65, at end insert— '() An authority shall publicise its procedures for dealing with complaints in such manner as may be agreed with the Customers Council.'.

Government amendment No. 184.

No. 268, in page 143, line 19, schedule 9, leave out 'and' and insert— '(ab) customers and potential customers who are disabled; and'.

No. 258, in page 143, line 20, at end insert 'provided that, where appropriate, there shall be at least one representative of customers living in the Islands Area;'.

No. 269, in page 143, line 20, at end insert 'provided always that a majority of the Members shall be representative of the interests of domestic customers.'.

No. 252, in page 143, line 20, at end insert— '(4) Each local authority shall appoint one councillor to the Customers Council.'.

No. 256, in page 143, line 27, after 'him', insert— 'which terms shall include a requirement that the member shall declare and keep up to date, in a form prescribed and made public by the Secretary of State, any current membership of a political party and the details of any financial contribution to a political party in the previous five years;'.

No. 253, in page 144, line 41, leave out 'with the approval of the Secretary of State'.

Government amendments Nos. 83 to 88.

No. 265, in page 61, clause 75, leave out lines 8 and 9 and insert— 'except that the same basis for charging shall apply throughout the area served by the authority.'.

No. 264, in page 61, line 50, at end insert— '(8) A draft charges scheme shall be presented in a form to be specified by the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Customers Council.'.

Government amendments Nos. 89 to 95, 158 to 161, 96, 162, 98, 148 and 149.

Mr. Robertson

I confess that this is a difficult day on which to resume our debate on Scottish water, one of the most contentious issues in Scottish politics today, because our proceedings are inevitably overshadowed by the death of and mourning for John Smith.

First, I should like to express publicly my gratitude and that of the whole Labour party to the Secretary of State for Scotland for the sincerity and feeling of his reaction in Inverness last Thursday to the news of John's death. Many people throughout Scotland have remarked on the honesty and frankness of the Secretary of State's instinctive comments, which were deeply moving and clearly came from the heart. We were also touched by the decision to suspend the Conservative party conference as a mark of respect. Scottish politics can often be noisy and tough, and its passion mirrors the strength of feeling on the issues that divide us. But in Scotland, too, we know when to separate the person from the message. Last week, uniquely, our whole nation put aside its political differences to grieve together for one of Scotland's greatest sons.

Although this debate takes place in tragic and unique circumstances, the subject of the new clause—Scotland's water and sewerage services—still represents one of the most important and divisive issues in Scotland today. The issue is divisive not just between the parties. How water is to be controlled, administered and financed drives a wedge right down the Conservative party as well. In the present atmosphere of non-combativeness, I shall not labour the fact that what the Government propose for water and sewerage is simply not acceptable in Scotland. To put it in the gentlest and most diplomatic way possible, what the Government are doing in relation to water is unpopular, unnecessary, impractical and just plain undemocratic.

After 150 years of municipal control and administration—a century and a half in which local, close, accountable control was deemed both efficient and effective for delivering such fundamental services—the Government are handing over the service to three new super-quangos which are unelected, centralised, remote and as unaccountable as all the other quangos have turned out to be.

It need not be like that. New clause 1 and amendment No. 10, together with the consequential amendments, offer the House a practical and implementable solution to the future of Scotland's water which should attract the support of all Members of the House. There would be 12 joint water boards—exactly the same number as currently run Scotland's water services—based on the new local authorities concerned, and there would be a clear legal injunction that their members should be elected councillors from the areas that they serve. This is a practical and workable proposal. It would provide for local, open, efficient and effective delivery of these council services. Most importantly, the administration would be close to the citizens involved.

Having, in the interests of decency and moderation, put forward a way in which the Government could satisfy public demands concerning water, I want to put a number of questions to Ministers. I do so in all innocence. How have the Government reached a position in which the once-mighty Conservative and Unionist party in Scotland languishes in fourth position and enjoys the support of fewer than 14 per cent. of the Scottish people as expressed through the ballot box?

First, why do the Government continue to insist that their own plan for three quangos is the only course of action that is open following this proposed reorganisation? After all, we have in new clause 1 a perfectly sensible and practical plan for Scotland's water. It is perfectly in tune with the alternatives that the Government themselves laid out in the consultative document, "Investing for Our Future", which was published two years ago. That document makes the position quite clear: Over the years local authorities, of various sizes and configurations, have shown that they can effectively deliver water and sewerage services. I could not put it better, and nor could any Scottish councillor, of whatever political view.

Under option (b)—the joint board option—which the Government themselves explore, the document says: The creation of joint boards to undertake services which require a larger area of operation than the structure of local government units is precedented; and it is acknowledged in the local government consultation paper as a positive way of providing certain services in the future. That is what "Investing for our future" has to say about the alternative that I am putting before the House. In any event, the argument about how the Government can deal with the issue of water and sewerage following their proposed reorganisation has been adopted in relation to police and fire services in Scotland. These services, the importance of which is undeniable, will continue to be delivered and administered by eight joint boards.

While we are on the subject of delivery quangos and the number of organisations that will be required, may I ask why the Government have settled on the figure three? Why is three the optimum? In the consultative document it is not so. Why should not the number by six, eight or 12? The consultative document refers even to 15 as being perfectly feasible. With three centralised boards, areas will be so big that they will cease to be logical. Power and control will be taken well away from the people. We shall have three quangos, unelected and remote.

The Opposition's solution would not in any way contradict the Government's stated objective with regard to water and sewerage. It would have no effect at all on the raising of capital that might be required over the next 15 years. It would have no more impact than would the three quangos themselves on the public sector borrowing requirement, and it would have no effect whatever on the future price of water, but it would provide the important reassurance that people's views matter and that their water supplies will still be controlled locally by individuals answerable to and removable by the people themselves.

The second innocent question in my pursuit of knowledge is why the Government will not acknowledge that the principle of close, open, local, accountable control of water, which has governed for 150 years the administration of that basic service, is now being compromised?

The principle of municipal control of water and sewerage is hardly new. It goes back some 150 years, when far-sighted, public-spirited and far from ideological council leaders realised that public health could be guaranteed, not by a fragmented shambolic private sector, but by public control of water and sewerage supplies. Generations of civic leaders in Scotland embracing all political complexions invested public funds, bought land and lochs, constructed reservoirs, laid the pipelines and made the regulations. Their legacy today—a century and a half later—is a water supply safer, healthier and cheaper than possibly anywhere else in the world.

The Government do not have to listen to the 97 per cent. of the Strathclyde electorate in the water referendum, although they certainly should; they need only look at the history books and learn the lessons of municipal water over the years. Even if, with the recklessness and disdain that cost them dearly in the regional elections, they continue to ignore the crushing verdict of the people, and even if they can somehow rationalise their dismissal of opinion polls which regularly and relentlessly show massive rejection of their plans, even by Conservative supporters, and even if they are daft enough, or deaf and blind enough to do all that, will Ministers not listen to the message that comes loud and clear from their own political families?

A pretty plain view is being given to the Government by many sections of their own party in Scotland. They should listen to the words of Councillor Ian Hutchison, the leader of Eastwood district council, one of the last outposts of the Conservatism in Scotland and the local authority of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart). They are close associates, but friends would be to stretch the meaning of the word slightly too far. If one had to pick out of the 5 million people in the Scottish population anyone who is not likely to be a member of the three super-quangos, Councillor Ian Hutchison is probably at the top of the list.

Mr. Stewart

Quite right.

Mr. Robertson

The Minister says, "Quite right," and Hansard will record it. However, he may not have anyone else to appoint, so perhaps he should not block off his options.

Councillor Ian Hutchison said: The board members should be directly responsible to the local electorate. I do not believe it is good enough for the Secretary of State to say they are responsible to him and through him to Parliament". They are not my words or those of the Labour party, but the words of one of the last few Conservative activists in Scotland.

What about listening to the views of the now decimated Tayside region Conservative group? Alan Powrie wrote to me in April to explain its view: For your information I quote from an unsuccessful amendment which we proposed at the Water Services Committee and which … said 'The Secretary of State be urged to consider that the appointments to the new Water Authorities should be elected accountable councillors, who would be nominated by their Constituent Councils."' That is the view of one of the significant Conservative groups in the country at that time. It was a view shared by the Conservative groups on Edinburgh district council and Stirling district council.

Perhaps all those I have quoted and more in the Conservative party are misinformed, too. Perhaps they have all been converted by Labour propaganda and leaflets. Perhaps they are all deluded, diverted and confused, like everyone else identified by the Government as being opposed to their proposals, or—and I ask the Secretary of State in all sincerity—could it be that they, like everybody else in Scotland, have got it right and that the Government have got it wrong?

4.45 pm

My third question is why Ministers do not understand the fears in Scotland about water privatisation. Why do they continue to denigrate the genuine fears that exist? Why do Conservative politicians of seniority and apparent intelligence not comprehend that words and promises are simply not reassurance enough to a electorate which is not convinced by mere words and promises from the Government?

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), is not here this afternoon. His wife suffered a heart attack yesterday and we send him the strongest sympathy and deepest good wishes of everybody in the House. He made a real stab at putting some meat behind the words of the new clause, which will now underline the illegality in Scotland of disconnections from water supplies. It was an honourable effort and 56,000 disconnected families south of the border will look on with envious astonishment, but it was still not enough to convince people.

The electorate of Scotland, including Conservatives, look at what happened in England and Wales and ask themselves the following question, and it is not a naive question: if the Government thought it so brilliant in England and Wales to privatise water, why stop at Gretna Green and Berwick-upon-Tweed?

The bemused public seeking reassurance will recall the words of the Prime Minister at the Dispatch Box on 9 March 1993: Privatisation means a better, more efficient service for the consumer and no more subsidies from the taxpayer. I have no reason to doubt that water privatisation in Scotland will be effective and efficient, as elsewhere".—[Official Report, 9 March 1993; Vol. 220, c. 783.] We were told afterwards that it was a slip of the tongue and that he had simply wrongly anticipated the result of the consultation. But people outside here will remember the words of the Prime Minister and not necessarily those of junior Ministers in the First Scottish Standing Committee on the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill.

People will also look at that revealing consultative document again, and it is well worth reading. They will look at the way in which the Government outlined the different options for the future prospects for water in Scotland. I venture to suggest that they will find it significant that the option that the Government are defending in the House of Commons today, the option chosen by the Government after the consultation exercise, is described in the document in a mere 15 lines while the privatisation option, the full privatisation in accordance with England and Wales, takes up 218 lines. When people compare 15 lines with 218 lines, they come to a conclusion. One can call them misled or misinformed, but very often they are much cleverer than those who seek to hoodwink them. It is no wonder that suspicion grows.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way; I am following his argument with care and I agree with it. Does he agree that one factor which heightened the suspicions to which he rightly draws the attention of the House was the fact that the Government have steadfastly refused, against all odds, to publish the Quayle-Monroe report, which looked into the background of the options available to the Government?

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to that issue, which has added to the secrecy of the exercise. The decision has simply fuelled the suspicions that I identified and that Conservative Members must have taken into account and must be finding on their doorsteps. The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) and the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), are intimately familiar with the strength of people's suspicions. There has been a vote on the specific issue to remind them of the fact. All Conservative Members—representing, as they now do, only 13.7 per cent. of the Scottish electorate—cannot but be riveted by the fact that people do not believe the way in which the Government have put forward their position.

I have offered the Government a way out. My hon. Friends and I have tabled the proposals contained in new clause 1 and amendment No. 10 which, if adopted today, would give the reassurance that privatisation is not an option.

Mr. George Kynoch (Kincardine and Deeside)

The hon. Gentleman seems once again to be raising the spectre of privatisation, despite the fact that in Committee my hon. Friends clearly said that that was not on the agenda. How can he reconcile his own comments on the BBC television programme "Scottish Lobby"—made after the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), had introduced in Committee his amendment to prevent water supplies from being cut off —that it was now virtually impossible to privatise Scottish water?

Mr. Robertson

It is not I who am seeking to persuade the electorate, but the electorate who have not been persuaded by the assurances given. I have already made it clear—I think that I have been more open than many of the Government spokesmen—that the amendment tabled by the Under-Secretary of State valuably underlined the state of the existing law and attempted to put some meat on the promise. But he did not manage to make a convincing case because of the other aspects.

However, the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch) has a means of doing so: if the Government accept new clause 1 and amendment No. 10 today, I shall appear on "Scottish Lobby" or any other programme and say that it now looks as though the Government mean what they say and do not intend to privatise Scottish water. That is the test and I hope that, if the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside considers it important—for his own political future and for Scotland as a whole—he will take up that challenge today.

I now come to my final innocent question for today. Why will not the Secretary of State, in one simple sentence today, unite his party and—if only for one fleeting moment —the whole of Scotland, by welcoming, recognising and saluting the overwhelming view of the people of Scotland? The vast majority of the people do not see water as merely another commodity to be traded in the marketplace. They know that it is expensive, even when plentiful; they also know and believe that it is precious, natural and life-giving.

The Secretary of State for Scotland faces a test, and no small one. He can either plough on, driving the new quango structure through this House and the House of Lords in the face of hostility and rejection unprecedented on any issue in modern times, hoping and praying that it will all come right in a blinding revelation just before the next election—the politics of the tooth fairy—or he can put the interests of his country and its people, which on this issue happen to coincide with the interests of the survival of the Conservative party, before the unpopular and ideological model for Scotland's water. In this unique week of remarkably reflective politics, the Secretary of State should not heed me or any other politician who gives him advice: he should just listen to the people.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

I shall be relatively brief. When we talk of privatisation we must recognise—as I did in Committee—that the Government's original intention was to see the privatisation of the water and sewerage systems. I do not dispute that; I feel that we were given a guide to Government thinking when the Prime Minister made his remarks about the privatisation of Scottish water. But the Secretary of State went out to consultation and the massive response from Scotland showed that privatisation was not wanted there. It was to the Government's credit that they listened to that message and found a means of treating water and sewerage so as to achieve the objectives of providing water and sewerage services under a new local government structure that would be of benefit, in terms of cost in the longer term, and in terms of quality.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

I am closely following the hon. Gentleman's argument. Can he name any body of opinion in Scotland that supports quangos or the expansion of quangos and the quangoisation of water?

Mr. Gallie

Given the Labour party's record of establishing quangos and the fact that the Government have recently set up so-called quangos, with enterprise companies and other organisations, with people becoming involved and giving so much of their time and effort, does not the hon. Gentleman believe that those who have given so much would argue the benefits of quangos? The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs is looking into the position of Scottish Enterprise, which is basically a quango, and it is finding much support throughout Scotland for the efforts of the enterprise companies. I see no reason to doubt that the water and sewerage authorities, providing that they deliver the goods—I have every reason to believe that they will—will achieve widespread support in the future.

Mr. Kynoch

Does my hon. Friend agree that those were choice words from the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths), as there are significantly fewer quangos now in Scotland than there were under the Labour Government?

Mr. Gallie

I agree with my hon. Friend. I also made that point when I suggested past Labour Governments had created many organisations, perhaps in many cases for good reason.

I believe that the three structures envisaged for the new water authorities, given their size, are just about right. The geographical requirements of the system have been recognised, especially with regard to the requirements for fairly large catchment areas. The fact that the scale of water treatment is also an important element has been recognised. Transmission and distribution are major features that can benefit from the reasonable scale and geographical basis of the authorities that are to be established.

People have concentrated on the water issue in Scotland; perhaps people have tended to forget about that other important service, sewage treatment and disposal. Local authorities do not have as good a record on that as they should have. I believe that when the bodies with sole responsibility for looking at water and sewerage provision, or sewage treatment and disposal, are concentrating their minds on those issues it will almost certainly result in their giving the people of Scotland a better service.

I must tell the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) that I spoke on that subject at the Conservative party conference and at a fringe meeting organised by the Glasgow Herald, and at that meeting I did find hostility within the Conservative party, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, on the issues of water and sewerage. But I have to say that, by the time the meeting had finished—[Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman laughs, but the editor of the Glasgow Herald was there. His reporters were there. They saw exactly what happened and heard the remarks.

Quite honestly, even within the Conservative party, to our discredit, the real situation with water and sewerage, the real arguments for my right hon. Friend taking the steps that he has—despite the massive amount of information that was given, and despite the consultation paper and the detail behind it—have just not got out. But I suggest to my right hon. Friend that, if he pursues the objective as currently set out in the Bill, the people of Scotland will come to appreciate why he took that line.

5 pm

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

Does the hon. Gentleman recall the night of 5 May, when he and I were in the Dam Park hall in Ayr and saw Labour votes piling on Labour votes, and when the people of Ayr made it quite clear that they rejected the Conservative party and its policies on water and sewerage, just as they did in the Strathclyde referendum? Would not the hon. Gentleman be well advised to start thinking about the possibility of representing the views of his constituents, which were so clearly expressed, when he speaks in the Chamber?

Mr. Gallie

I can remember back to the regional elections in 1990 in Dam Park. I can think back to the general election in 1992. I can think back to the district elections in 1992, when the Labour party was minimalised; it was almost wiped out, but not sufficiently. But having said that, what Members of Parliament must do is stick by their principles and strive towards their objectives. I believe that the best interests of my constituents will be served by adopting the line that my right hon. Friend has taken. I welcome that. I would also like—

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Gallie

Well, finally, because I do not want to delay the House.

Mr. Graham

Is the hon. Gentleman rejecting the people of his constituency who voted overwhelmingly against the Government's privatisation of water in Scotland and the road that the Government are going down to force privatisation? If the hon. Gentleman is saying that he listens to his constituents, he will support us tonight.

Mr. Gallie

I do listen to my constituents. I believe that there were issues other than water. What happens in regional elections—very sadly for local authorities—is that people do not judge, nor do they vote on, the issues that are before them, such as regional handling of local government affairs. In that regional election, they forget that. They created a protest atmosphere and went down that line. I am sad about that, because it undervalued local government, which many Conservative Members value.

We particularly welcome two issues: the commitment not to have disconnections in Scotland; and the commitment, so strongly given by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), to stand out totally against privatisation in Scotland.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

I agree entirely with the apparent assessment of the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) of the local government election results in Scotland—that it was a massive vote of no confidence in the economic policies of the Tory Government, their policies on local government reorganisation and their disastrous plans for water, sewerage and everything else.

I support new clause 1, which was moved so ably by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), and associate myself with the other new clauses and amendments standing in the names of my hon. Friends.

The Government's declared aim in the Bill is to make local services more accountable to the people of Scotland. Whatever we think about the rest of the Bill—many of us know that it is a charter for gerrymandering and nothing else—if we measure the Government's proposals on water and sewerage services on that test of accountability, they fail. Instead of making those services more accountable to the people of Scotland, the Government are proposing to do the opposite.

Water and sewerage are currently administered by authorities consisting of the elected representatives of the people, who are directly elected by the people and are directly accountable to the people. That measure of democratic accountability will be lost entirely if the Government's proposals go ahead, because the Government are saying that, instead of those elected representatives administering water and sewerage, there should be three over-centralised quangos, which, in effect, would remove any local accountability.

New clause 1 is a very sensible proposal. If the Government are hell-bent on going ahead with the rest of the local government carve-up, as proposed in the Bill, they could at least keep an element of local accountability in water and sewerage, if they accept new clause 1. The proposals contained in it are modelled by and large on a body that already exists in Scotland—the Central Scotland Water Development Board. Some people might not know about it. It consists of representatives from the various local authorities that it covers.

If the Government are hell-bent on going ahead with the carve-up of Scotland, they could still retain some local accountability if they accepted new clause 1 and accepted the water areas envisaged in it. Members of those water boards would be elected representatives of the people. That solution, perhaps, is not as good as the one at present where the representatives are directly elected by the people on to the regional and islands councils, but at least it would offer an element of indirect election and therefore indirect accountability.

I ask the Secretary of State to consider that and bear in mind what my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton said about the history of municipal enterprise regarding the provision of water and sewerage services to the people of Scotland. It has never been one of nationalisation. It has never been one of an over-centralised, bureaucratic style of public ownership. The reason why the initiative was taken—on what has turned out to be one of the most successful pieces of public enterprise in the country—was not because of any Marxist, or even socialist, doctrine. People realised that, if they were to have adequate standards of public health, representatives elected at local level would have to take the initiative that private enterprise was unwilling, indeed unable, to take. The initiative grew up from grass-roots level, rather than being thrust on people by the state.

Before previous reorganisations of local government, many small towns and burghs had their own reservoirs and pipe systems to provide a good, reliable, clean water supply. As people in third-world countries know, water is one of the basic essentials of life: it is an even more fundamental necessity than food. What is true in third-world countries is just as true in so-called developed countries such as ours.

My grandfather was a Labour councillor on Cowdenbeath town council back in the 1920s. I remember that one of his proudest possessions was a photograph of him and other councillors at the annual inspection of the town's reservoir, which was Loch Glow at the time. I am sure that many councillors throughout Scotland had similar experiences. It was not just an annual outing; the annual inspection of one of the most important services they provided for their people was something they took very seriously.

No doubt my hon. Friends from Glasgow could speak more eloquently than I about the initiative that was taken by their city fathers back in Victorian times. Many were right-wing Tories; indeed, their economic policies may have been even more right-wing than those some of the Ministers who are present today. But they took the initiative—a public-enterprise initiative—in launching that wonderful project to provide the people of Scotland with water piped from Loch Katrine and other parts of the country.

They may have done it for selfish reasons. Perhaps they realised that public health was universally important: if the poor people in their slum housing or work places became sick, they too might be affected. Disease is no respecter of persons; it can spread like wildfire through a whole community, regardless of whether the people in that community have money. Even if self-preservation was the motive, however, I must give those city fathers and other pioneers the credit for initiating one of the most successful examples of public enterprise that Scotland has ever seen.

Mr. Graham

As my hon. Friend may know, our Scottish water is, on average, £70 a year cheaper than English water. Wales pays an average of £233 a year for its water. Our forefathers certainly gave us a good deal—and these folk want to get their grubby hands on it.

Mr. Canavan

My hon. Friend is quite right. I shall deal with water prices shortly.

I suppose that, at the time of the last local government reorganisation, with the advent of regionalisation, a certain amount of merging of water authorities was necessary. Now, however, the Government are proposing a gross over-centralisation—and the boards will not consist of locally elected representatives, accountable to the people directly or indirectly. The Government may claim that the privatisation threat is just a bogey man created by us; they may say that they have no intention of privatising. They should ask the people of Scotland, who have already given their verdict in the Strathclyde referendum.

We need only observe the effects of privatisation south of the border and the number of disconnections resulting from massive price increases. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) mentioned prices. The Government's own consultation document points out that Central region has the cheapest water in the United Kingdom—possibly the cheapest in Europe—costing £20 per annum for domestic consumers. There may have been a modest price increase since, but Central regional council can nevertheless be justly proud of its record.

5.15 pm
Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

The Government have said that they will not privatise Scottish water in the foreseeable future. We should give them some credit for that; after all, it is similar to what they said about the extension of VAT just before the general election. No one foresaw any such extension—but VAT is now charged on fuel.

Mr. Canavan

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I have said, people can see what has happened south of the border as a result of privatisation, with increased charges and disconnections. They have had a drastic effect on public health: huge percentage increases have been reported in cases of dysentery. I believe that, in south Staffordshire, one in seven households in one particular multi-storey block were disconnected, and people were throwing excrement out of the windows. No wonder there is a serious threat to public health as a result of privatisation.

The Government should listen to the people. The people are afraid of privatisation; they do not trust the Government and they reject the Bill's proposals—as the Strathclyde referendum clearly showed. The Minister may say that the referendum did not cover the whole of Scotland. Well, the recent local government elections covered the whole of Scotland—and, as I have said, they produced a massive vote of no confidence in the Tory Government, in regard to water and everything else.

I plead with the Government to listen to the voice of the people. The people of Scotland want Scotland's water to remain their property and they want democratic accountability through the elected representatives of the people. If the Government are hell-bent on destroying the status quo, they might at the very least accept my hon. Friend's new clause.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

Let me say to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) that the loss of John Smith has had an impact on all of us. This is another sad case of a man of great intelligence and ability being taken from us far too young. Although his loss is felt most acutely by the Labour party, I think that Labour's feelings are shared by all. On behalf of the Scottish National party, let me extend our thoughts and condolences to John Smith's family and wish them all strength and courage at what must be a trying time.

I will be brief, as I know that hon. Members who were not on the Standing Committee wish to speak. Brevity, however, will not lessen my anger at the Government's proposals. Quite simply, no change is wanted in Scotland. The people of Scotland do not want water services to be taken out of local government; they want to retain local accountability and local control.

The Government had no mandate for this move at the last general election. On the contrary, the people of Scotland rejected their policy. They certainly had no mandate at the recent local government elections: indeed, they were specifically rejected, gaining less than 14 per cent. of the Scottish vote—about 6 per cent. of the electorate. There could be no greater rejection of any Government, yet this Government are intent on forcing through their proposals for water, against the wishes of the people.

That is not fair or democratic; in fact, it is the opposite of democracy. Scotland is powerless. The system will be run by Unionist-created quangos. It is just not good enough for three unelected quangos to meet secretly, behind closed doors, especially when they are commandeering, indeed stealing, Scotland's water assets, which were created not by central Government but by generations of local taxpayers.

The SNP wants water to be provided as a local authority service run by democratically elected councils in the public interest and for the public good. The Bill should be dumped. The message given to the Government at local elections was simply that. They should take the hint and keep water services a local authority provision. Sadly, I do not think that that will happen.

If the Government go ahead, our amendments propose an SNP alternative organisation for water and sewerage services in Scotland—water authorities organised on a regional basis with the minimum disruption of staff or services, with maximum continuity of water services provision. There would be no extra financial cost and no extra bureaucracy, which is inherent in the Government's proposals.

Our amendments outline a sensible solution, but regrettably it is not the Government's solution. The water authorities that we propose would be chosen not by the Secretary of State but by democratically elected local authorities in proportion to votes cast, following the democratic will of the people and not the will of the Secretary of State. Their chairpersons would be chosen not by the Secretary of State but by democratically elected local authorities.

Our amendments seek to reduce the Secretary of State's role and to increase the powers given to local authorities elected by the people. Meetings of the water boards should be held in public, apart from obvious safeguards in cases of exceptionally confidential matters, and minutes of their meetings should also be publicly available. There should be local authority representation on the customers council, as well as representatives from consumer and other interests, such as the disabled.

Such an open, accountable system contrasts starkly with the closed, remote and unaccountable organisations proposed by the Government. Their three giant quangos will provide at most minimal accountability.

There is an unanswered paradox in the Government's proposals. They attack regions as remote and unaccountable, yet the Government are creating even larger non-accountable water boards, and no doubt fattening them for eventual privatisation. The Government are providing no real safeguards to the general public in respect of an essential, monopolistic service that is used by everyone daily. The public cannot avoid using water services, yet there will be no public control or accountability over those assets, which generations of local taxpayers created. Now they will be commandeered or stolen by central Government and handed to quangos.

I have no questions for the Government because their minds are clearly closed on that issue, but I have a message for them: dump this unwanted stealing of Scotland's water assets. It is unwanted, unnecessary, unfair and undemocratic. They should dump their proposals, because that is what the people of Scotland want the Government to do.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Ian Lang)

I thank the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) for his opening remarks, for which I am grateful. This is of course a difficult day to join battle across the Floor of the House on Scottish issues. Nevertheless, the future of Scottish water and sewerage is a controversial and important matter. It is no less controversial because our debate today may be a little more muted, but I hope that thereby we may shed more light in place of some of the heat that has gone before.

I will begin by speaking to the Government amendments in the group. Amendment No. 82 stems from an undertaking given in Committee that we would introduce a specific reference to access for recreational purposes in clause 64. That was not by way of changing the intention behind the clause as originally drafted, but by way of making that intention clearer. The amendment fulfils the undertaking that was given.

Amendments Nos. 158 to 161 also stem from an undertaking given in Committee, to re-examine clause 109 —formerly clause 105, which deals with the vesting of certain supply pipes. We looked again at the clause and have concluded that some change is required to ensure that apparatus, such as pumps, used in connection with a pipe is covered by the clause. Those amendments make the necessary changes.

Amendment No. 184 is a small change suggested to us by the Scottish Consumer Council, which put in a power of work on this Bill, to ensure that authorities' complaints procedures and other features of their codes of practice are brought to the attention of customers—the potential beneficiaries of the codes. I am happy to table the necessary amendment, which I am sure is acceptable.

Amendments Nos. 83 to 92 and amendment No. 96 are purely drafting amendments, to remove any possible ambiguity from the term "sewerage services". Amendment No. 93 is a technical amendment, the effect of which is to make explicit that disconnection for non-payment of charges for domestic supplies cannot take place, whether those charges are demanded by the water authorities under clause 73 or by the local councils acting under a clause 78 order. I am sure that that is welcome.

Mrs. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Has the right hon. Gentleman held discussions with the team of the Secretary of State for the Environment, with a view to extending his welcome amendment to the Bill to the Water Act 1989, so that that provision will apply also to England and Wales?

Mr. Lang

I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Lady, but I have held no such discussions. It is open to the hon. Lady to draw that matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Her question allows me to emphasise that we do things differently in Scotland, according to our priorities there. I am happy to reiterate that disconnections will remain illegal in Scotland.

Amendment No. 95 is a drafting amendment that makes clause 92 refer specifically to clause 96, which was introduced at Committee stage, rather than generally to chapter 2 of part 1. Amendments Nos. 94, 148, 149, 98 and 162 are purely drafting amendments, to insert appropriate definitions into the Bill. I commend those amendments to the House.

I refer now to the Opposition amendments. As the hon. Member for Hamilton said, new clause 1 would establish five joint boards of the new unitary authorities, to provide water and sewerage services in the areas of the current Grampian, Tayside, Central, Lothian and Strathclyde regional councils.

New clause 15 and amendment No. 1 would establish 12 new water authorities, to provide water and sewerage in the areas of the current regional and islands councils. Amendment No. 10 would ensure that the members of the new water authorities were elected councillors appointed by the new unitary authorities in the water authority areas.

The Labour party's proposals would result in water and sewerage being delivered by 12 new authorities effectively run by the new unitary local authorities, or by a mixture of such authorities and joint boards of the new unitary authorities where the water authority areas cover several unitary authorities. I hope that that sets them out succinctly. New clause 20 and amendments Nos. 9 to 24 are consequential on or secondary to those main proposals.

The Scottish National party's amendments to new clause 1, together with their new clause 30 and amendment No. 274, would ensure that members of authorities and joint boards were elected councillors appointed by the appropriate councils themselves, with the appointment in the case of those coming from joint board areas reflecting the relative strength of the political parties.

There was extensive debate in Committee on those points. Consideration of clause 61, dealing with the new structure for the water and sewerage services, began at 6.45 pm on 24 March and clause 61 was agreed to just before 10.30 pm on 29 March. That gave some nine hours of debate. The arguments were fully examined and comprehensively answered.

The current structure fits the current organisation of local government into regional, district and islands councils. Those councils, however, are, for good reasons, to be replaced by the new unitary authorities. In those circumstances, it does not make sense to perpetuate the current areas for the provision of water and sewerage alone.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

The arguments were not comprehensively answered in Committee. One particular problem was referred to at length yesterday, at a briefing by Lothian purification board at Clearwater house in Livingston which I attended, and at which the Scottish Office was represented at senior level. Who will take responsibility for the problem of pumps that no longer pump water from coal mines into rivers such as the Almond? There is a real, massive, urgent ferruginous problem of which the Scottish Office is well aware. The unanswered question is, who will pay for the investment created by the problem of pits no longer working and pumping, and all the difficulties that arise therefrom for the water of central Scotland?

Mr. Lang

I have no doubt that the Coal Board and the existing water authorities will have some responsibility in that direction, but that is not the subject of these amendments.

Mr. Wallace

Of course, the islands councils have not changed, so what is the argument for incorporating them into much larger water authorities, when, for the past 20 years, they have had their own water and sewerage authorities?

Mr. Lang

If I may, I shall come to the islands councils later in my remarks.

The issue that has dominated the debate, however, is the question of privatisation.

Mr. Eric Clarke (Midlothian)


Mr. Lang

I really must make some progress, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me.

Mr. Clarke

It is central to that point.

Mr. Lang

All right, I give way briefly on that point.

Mr. Clarke

It is on the same point as that made by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). During the privatisation of coal in the Coal Industry Bill, an unsatisfactory answer was given to us on the same subject. It is a serious problem, not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom, especially in Northumberland, Durham and other places of that nature, to which hon. Members have drawn attention. It is very important, because if that problem is not addressed, it will pollute all the waterways and even the water that sinks into the reservoirs from where we draw water.

5.30 pm
Mr. Lang

I envisage that the responsibility on that matter lies with the Coal Board and if I find out that there is a problem that takes that matter outside its responsibility, I shall certainly write to the hon. Gentleman and to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and clarify the position.

The present debate has been dominated by the question of privatisation. I welcome the opportunity that the debate gives me to say yet again to the House that privatisation is not part of the Government's proposals. The hon. Member for Hamilton raised the question of the Government denigrating the fears of those who suggested that water was to be privatised. I do not denigrate those who have fears about those matters, but I denigrate those who have placed those fears in people's minds without foundation.

The hon. Gentleman quoted the Prime Minister in March last year, but those remarks of the Prime Minister were before the Government had consulted and considered and decided on their way forward in Scotland. Now, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has confirmed, along with others in the Cabinet including myself repeatedly, that we are not privatising Sottish water, nor are we planning to privatise it.

May I go back—

Mrs. Helen Jackson


Mr. Welsh


Mr. Lang

I have already given way to the hon. Lady, so I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Welsh

I understand what the Minister is saying, but does he understand the scepticism with which the remarks are greeted? People believed his Government colleague in England, Neil Macfarlane, the then Under-Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, when the boards were created and he gave a clear assurance that there would be no privatisation. Yet, two years later, another ministerial colleague said that the boards were perfectly placed for such privatisation. Does the Secretary of State understand the scepticism when such clear assurances were given in the past and were clearly broken?

Mr. Lang

The assurances that I am in a position to give are regarding water and sewerage in Scotland.

May I trace some of the history of the matter? As long ago as 1991, we consulted on the matter and we indicated that the new organisations for water and sewerage may need to be separated from local authorities. In June 1992, we appointed financial consultants to secure advice on the basis of which we framed a number of optional proposals, which we included in our consultation paper published in November that year. That paper canvassed eight options in an entirely evenhanded way. The fact that it took longer to explain some of those options than it took for others is entirely irrelevant to the underlying attitudes of the Government and relates solely to the novelty or the complicated nature of the proposals being canvassed.

The option that we decided on was similar to option D in that consultation paper. Having listened to the views that were submitted, we specifically rejected the privatisation option and chose instead three publicly owned water authorities. We were told at the time that it would be the acid test of the Government's ability to listen to public opinion in Scotland whether we chose a separate Scottish solution from that which had been chosen south of the border. We met that acid test. Indeed, the solution that we brought forward thereafter was welcomed by the Opposition a year ago. They even claimed credit for the fact that they had secured a success in persuading us not to privatise Scottish water. What a difference a year makes.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

The Secretary of State knows that the Scottish nationalists were not that gullible a year ago. With respect, he has not answered the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh). My hon. Friend made the obvious analogy that assurances were given south of the border which were subsequently broken by Ministers. There has been some speculation over the past few days about the Secretary of State's position in Scotland. Can he tell us the most recent estimate of the opinion on water privatisation held by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)? For example, if that hon. Member became Secretary of State for Scotland, could this Secretary of State be absolutely certain that his successor would hold the same opinion?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Gentleman is being frivolous. I assure him that my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling, like all other members of the Government, strongly and fully supports the proposals that the Government have brought forward. What we have brought forward—

Mr. Graham


Mr. Lang

I must make some further progress, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me. I know that the House is keen to make progress.

We have brought forward a solution that specifically meets Scottish requirements and that is durable for the long term. As some references to the history of water and sewerage have been made in the debate, it is worth pointing out that at the end of the second world war, there were no fewer than 210 water authorities in Scotland. The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) is right to point to the civic pride with which the city fathers in various cities around Scotland and the provosts and councils in various towns took pride in the quality of their water and the provision that they made for it. I understand and respect that. My own great-grandfather was provost of Greenock about 100 years ago and I have no doubt that he took the same pride in the quality of the water there.

In 1946, with the Water (Scotland) Act, introduced by a Labour Government, central Government took powers that were more far-reaching and dramatic than anything that we have contemplated since then to rationalise and improve the handling and the delivery of water services for the future. That Act first provided the basis for most of the powers and duties of local authorities today. In 1967, there was a 13–board structure. In 1975, the present structure came into being. As recently as 1973, there were no fewer than 234 separate sewerage authorities.

We are not proposing some dramatic and sudden change in something that has been in position and unchanged for one and a half centuries. Rather, it is a further progression down the road of rationalisation and improved efficiency which dates back to former times, with the major legislation of the Labour Government of 1946 forming one of the most pivotal landmarks along the way.

Mr. George Robertson

The one continuing thread which goes right through that century and a half and through the period when the Secretary of State's great-grandfather was provost of Greenock is absolutely fundamental to the debate. Those water authorities, however numerous they were, whatever form they took, were run by local councillors, who were elected by the people and were removable by the people. Does not he understand that that is what the people of Scotland are saying today, as they have said over all those years? They are saying: let control of water and of all commodities be left in the hands of people who are close and accountable to the people of Scotland.

Mr. Lang

The point that I have just made to the hon. Gentleman is that it was a Labour Government, in 1946, who took the power to rationalise and reorganise and establish their clear authority over the handling of water services.

Let me emphasise the nature of what we are discussing. We are not only talking of a service, but about a substantial industry that employs some 6,000 people in Scotland. That industry supplies about 2.3 million cu m of water each day. It services some 2.2 million households. The water is supplied through some 28,000 miles of water mains. It is collected from some 800 or more sources, including 350 lochs and reservoirs, and there are some 17,500 miles of public sewers. There are 603 or more water treatment plants and more than 900 sewage treatment works.

Sewage treatment produces sludge-80,000 dry tonnes in 1990, which is expected to rise to 140,000 dry tonnes by 1999. That is a major industry which would incur colossal expenses in future development and maintenance and therefore it is vital that it is handled in the most efficient way.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East)


Mr. Lang

I must make further progress and then the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to take part in the debate. I want to emphasise the scale of the industry and the increase in expenditure that is necessary to upgrade it if we are to meet our targets for the high quality of water and sewerage services that we now rightly regard as important.

I must point out to the House that capital expenditure provision for 1996–97 will be almost 80 per cent. higher than it was at the beginning of the decade. Present plans provide some £740 million of capital provision for the three years to 1996–97, but about £5 billion is needed in the next 15 years or so—some £2 billion for water services and £3 billion for sewerage. Of that £5 billion, around half will be needed to meet the requirements of EC directives and the balance to provide water and sewerage services to housing and industrial developments and to maintain and improve the existing infrastructure.

We are talking about a major industry which must be run efficiently. We need to take the opportunity afforded by the reform of local government to put in place for water and sewerage the structure that is best tailored to meet the needs of those services, the structure that will most readily accomplish the massive investment programme that lies ahead and the one that will do so in a way that gives best value for money to the customer. That is the structure that we are proposing: three new water authorities.

I was asked earlier why there should be three new water authorities. The answer is that that number will provide the most efficient system and the most coherent and comprehensive size of unit. The proposal is based on advice that we have received from our consultants. We need larger units to capture the economies of scale that will be so important in addressing a large investment programme at least cost.

The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) said that we were over-centralising. I have to tell him that we are not a Government who are keen to centralise—[Interruption.] Opposition Members may laugh, but centralisation and control are fundamental to socialism and are the exact antithesis of our philosophy. Our philosophy is one of decentralisation and that is inherent throughout our local government reforms.The exception is the water and sewerage service, where we believe that the overriding need to improve the efficiency of the system requires the establishment of three large units. Not for us a separate Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to draw powers into the centre from local authorities in Scotland.

The trend of water and sewerage services over the past century or more has been to form larger units to exploit increasingly sophisticated technology.Today is no exception and we would miss an important opportunity to take a further step along that road if we were to perpetuate the current area divisions out of regard, understandable though that may be, for the record of the regional and island councils.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) asked about the islands. The practical alternative to inclusion in the northern authority is to establish island water authorities legally quite separate from the councils.That proposal was discussed in detail with representatives of the islands, including the convenors of Orkney and Western Isles, earlier this year.We listened to those arguments carefully and with some sympathy. However, the implications for charges if the islands were separate authorities are severe.That is particularly so in the Western Isles, where the price of being a separate authority is likely to be more than double what it could be within the northern authority and in Orkney, the difference could be more than 50 per cent.

I know that the island authorities are anxious to know whether, if they become part of the northern authority, they would be guaranteed to benefit from a smoothing of prices across the northern area. However, I repeat what was said in Committee: we would fully expect the new authorities to move rapidly to uniform pricing. The Bill now also stipulates that the needs of rural areas should be paid regard to by the new authorities and the Secretary of State and the membership of the customers council area committees has been increased from a maximum of eight to a maximum of 12. That will allow a better spread of representation, including from the islands.

I understand the desire of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland to ensure that an islands representative is a member of the northern authority. I am sure that the claims of any suitable candidate from the islands will be considered very seriously. However, it would be wrong to pre-empt the choice of members in the way that the amendment seeks. The paramount requirement in a small membership is to get the best people for the job.

The hon. Member for Hamilton asked why our plan was the only plan open for Scotland's water and sewerage. It is not the only plan open for the future of water and sewerage in Scotland, but it is the best one. The Government have considered very carefully all the alternatives. We have consulted and considered. We have decided on our policy and we are now asking Parliament to support it. We do that believing that efficiency and cost are vital for those very significant and large industries in Scotland. We are proposing a Scottish solution for the future of those important Scottish industries. I urge the House to reject the new clause.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

I associate myself with the remarks that have been made about the background against which this debate takes place. On behalf of my party in Scotland, I extend to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) and, through him, to his party and the family of John Smith, our deepest sympathy at their loss. John Smith was a great Scot and his contribution to Scottish politics, as well as to British politics, was immense. As has already been said many times, his loss is felt across the party divide.

I understand that the hon. Member for Hamilton also referred to the wife of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), who is unwell. I was born and brought up in Dumfrieshire and I have known Lady Monro for many years. I hope that our good wishes can be conveyed to the hon. Member for Dumfries.

5.45 pm

It would be wrong if we did not fully explore and thrash out the important arguments when we debate the future of our water and sewerage services. Those services have been the key issue in Scottish politics over the past 12 months or more. The Secretary of State said that the issue was not one of privatisation and, as he is a right hon.Gentleman, we must take him at his word.However, he is in no position to say what a future Administration might do.

If people are afraid of something in politics, that is a reality. It is not something that we can discount. People fear that, as a result of the Bill, we are placing our water and sewerage services in a position where they can be more readily privatised in future by a future Administration who may have a change of heart from the current Government's policy. If those services were to remain in local authority hands, that threat would at least be one stage removed. The fear that I have described cannot simply be blamed on speeches made by Opposition politicians.

I have always tried to be very careful about what I have said. No doubt I will be tried if I have, at any stage, misrepresented the position. However, the position was set out quite clearly in the Strathclyde regional referendum. The Government propose to set up three boards which will be appointed by the Secretary of State.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

They will be quangos.

Mr. Wallace

As the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood) rightly points out, they will be quangos.

The people of Strathclyde overwhelmingly voted against that proposal. While the percentage of people who voted against the proposal was exceptionally high and not surprising, the percentage of people who actually returned their ballot papers was perhaps the most striking point about the referendum. Those people have been angered because the Government have refused to heed the message that those people delivered in the referendum.

The people in Strathclyde and elsewhere in Scotland voted again on 5 May and they gave the Government their verdict on that important regional council service. The Government again tried to use the excuse that people were voting on national issues. It was a national issue, but it was a national issue about a regional council function. It was not unreasonable for people to take that into account when they cast their votes.

In the aftermath of those elections, I heard the Secretary of State say that he thought the verdict of the Scottish people on 5 May was one of not proven. Of course, "not proven" is a matter of current political debate. The Secretary of State must know, as well as anyone knows, that not proven is a verdict of acquittal.

However, in no way was the Tory party in Scotland acquitted on 5 May. The Tories were found guilty by the jury by a large majority. If I may say so, at some risk of extending the legal metaphor, they have been given a deferred sentence. The jury and the court will meet again on 9 June. If the Secretary of State has not learnt his lesson and has not committed himself to good behaviour, a suitable penalty will surely be imposed then.

Regrettably, it seems from the Secretary of State's responses today that he has not learnt the lessons. He maintains that his proposal for three quangos is, in his words, the best solution.

It has been the position of my party throughout that the responsibility for water and sewerage services in Scotland should remain in the hands of people who are democratically elected and accountable to their electorate. That is why we support the amendment to that effect. I accept that if we are changing local government boundaries, it might not necessarily be efficient or sensible to have as many local water and sewerage authorities as there are going to be new local councils. However, if joint boards comprising elected councillors are an acceptable way to run our police and fire services, why are they not an acceptable way in which to run our water and sewerage services?

The Secretary of State was on weak ground when he tried to give us his history lesson. He referred to what a Labour Government did in 1946, but he missed the obvious point—which was put to him, but which he refused to accept—that, throughout all the reorganisations, authority and responsibility has rested with those who are electorally accountable. He said that water and sewage had to be handled in the most efficient way by people with the most experience.

I have yet to hear anyone on the Government Front Bench suggest that our local authorities—our regional islands councils—have done anything other than discharge their responsibilities with regard to water and sewage in a responsible and efficient way. Who are the people in Scotland who will be able to run an efficient water and sewerage service? They are all the employees of the existing regional and islands councils. They are the people who have the expertise and experience which have been built up over many years.

Nor have the Government made it clear how the new water authorities will have an easier financial route to raise the money that is needed. I understand that the strict Treasury rules will apply to the new water authorities—because they will be within the public sector—as much as they will apply to local authorities. It should be remembered that since 1989, our local authorities have had to have separate water accounts—indeed, they have managed those accounts—and most of the investment and loan charges have been covered by charges directly on the customer through meter charges, originally through the community water charge and now through council tax payments, and through the non-domestic water rate.

Our argument is that that should continue. Indeed, if something must be sacrificed, surely it is better if the Treasury rules are sacrificed, rather than local democracy. We have not yet had any suggestion of why that course cannot be adopted, other than the fact that the Treasury rules are there and, because they are there, we must abide by them. Perhaps it is time that we examined the merit of the Treasury rules.

I should like the Secretary of State to give us his estimate of the amount that will have to invested in water and sewerage services to bring them up to EC requirements —and, indeed, what the time span will be. I understand that the time span has lengthened somewhat since the argument was put forward for adapting and changing the new structure of our water services.

Why is it that, unlike the water authorities in England and Wales, Scottish water authorities have not had their debt written off? That would ease their position considerably. Nor have the Scottish water authorities had the benefit of a green dowry. That raises the question whether large-scale water users—industrial water users —in England and Wales have been put at a competitive advantage to large-scale water users in Scotland, which have not had the benefit of such a massive capital investment.

I acknowledge that the Secretary of State has clearly considered the question of the islands areas. Indeed, he admitted to having some sympathy with it. Before this part of the Bill is debated in another place, I hope that he will think again because there are important arguments for the islands areas to be treated separately. My ideal position is that proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) in Committee—keeping those areas within the control and responsibility of local authorities, the islands councils.

If that is not possible, I would argue for a separate water board for each of the islands areas because we would get a better integrated approach if we had a separate authority. After all, there is no link with any part of the North of Scotland water authority, other than the sea itself. If we are looking at a development involving water services, sewerage services, roads, harbours and quarries, it is obvious that an integrated approach, where we can have the other existing responsibilities in the islands, would make it much easier to plan and develop water and sewerage services.

My concern is that if the North of Scotland water authority has a target for the percentage of houses that it must reach and is faced with a proposal to provide a water and sewerage scheme for a small housing development on the western side of Shetland, which might serve only those houses, and a scheme for a housing development in Aberdeen, which would serve 60 houses, the Aberdeen scheme would inevitably take precedence. However, until the water and sewerage facilities are put in place, it may not be possible to proceed with a much-needed housing development—with very few houses, but nevertheless an important one for the community.

If that means that there is a slightly higher price to pay —I should like to see the detailed figures to discover how the Secretary of State comes up with 100 per cent. more in the case of the Western Isles and 50 per cent. more in the case of Orkney—and if we will not get the service at the level price, we must ask whether it is a price worth paying because we will not get the level price for some time. The Secretary of State said that he hoped that the authorities would move to it quickly, but there is the implication—and, of course, the provision for it is in the Bill—that there can be differential pricing, including pricing based on localities. There is a serious possibility that not only will we not get priority, but we will have to pay a higher price, compared to other parts of the north of Scotland area. I hope that the Secretary of State will reconsider the matter.

I also hope that the Secretary of State will accept my amendment, which would oblige him to appoint a member from the islands area. It is all very well for him to say that he has it in mind to do so if a suitable candidate appears. There is nothing better than obliging him to do so. I am sure that if he does not appoint a member from the islands area, he will always find some plausible excuse for why he has not been able to do so on this occasion.

With regard to the western Scotland area and the many islands there, I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Argyle and Bute (Mrs. Michie) is also concerned that the expertise of someone with some experience of the delivery of water services in the islands areas should be used in terms of the customers council and the water authority.

The House will note that there are amendments in my name and the names of my hon. Friends which would require those who are appointed by the Secretary of State to the water authority or the customers council to make a political declaration—either a direct declaration of membership of a political party or a declaration stating whether any financial contribution has been given to a political party recently. That would be a welcome step in opening up quangos.

It is not simply a question of quangos being established; there is an unhealthy scepticism that those who are appointed to them are not always appointed on the basis of their expertise but because they happen to wear the right party colour. Hon. Members are obliged to make many declarations—obviously, our political affiliations are already known. It would not be a bad thing if we knew the political lights by which those who will be appointed to the quangos are guided.

Finally, I must make it clear that on this Bench we do not have knee-jerk reactions and say that we will immediately want to repeal anything that is done. However, after listening to all the arguments, it is certainly our conclusion that if we have any part of, or influence in, Government after the next election, it would be our intention to find ways of restoring water and sewerage services in Scotland into the hands of locally elected and accountable people.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

It is interesting to note the Tory Members representing England who have listened to most of the debate. Obviously, one of them is here because he is a deputy Government Whip and must be here. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Coombs) is here because he is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland and he must also be here. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) was here for more than one hour because the Tory Benches are so empty that it is one of the few quiet places where hon. Members can read in the House of Commons.

It will be interesting to note that when we vote on the new clauses and amendments, out of every opening in the buildings and the palace of Westminster will pour Tory Members who have not listened to the debate and who do not know what the issues are about, but who will guarantee that the amendments and new clauses tabled by the majority parties in Scotland are defeated and that the Government's proposals, which have been rejected overwhelmingly by the Scottish people, will be passed by the House. If ever I have seen a case for a Scottish Parliament, it is the debate taking place in the House tonight.

Mr. Stewart

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way with his customary courtesy. Where are all the absent Scottish Labour Members of Parliament?

Mr. McAllion

I can guarantee that if the Bill were being debated in a Scottish Parliament by people directly elected by and accountable to the Scottish people on Scottish issues, the Chamber would be packed and every Member would be held to account by the Scottish people. The first requirement of any democracy is that where a Bill only affects the people of a single country, it should be accountable to the people of that country and should not be decided by hon. Members from any other part of the UK.

Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie (Glasgow, Pollok)

Where are their lot?

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Seated interventions are not helpful. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to catch my eye later, he should be a little quieter now.

Mr. McAllion

The Secretary of State said that it was not a part of the Government's proposals for Scotland to privatise Scotland's water. He said that they had consulted on the issue and, having consulted the Scottish people, they had listened. Does he really expect us to believe that? That comes from the same Government who consulted on the poll tax and, having listened to the Scottish people's objections, went ahead and legislated for the poll tax.

6 pm

Does not the Secretary of State understand that, on Thursday 5 May, there was a massive consultation in Scotland on his proposals to introduce three new super-quangos, and that his party got less than 14 per cent. of the vote? Does not he understand that the people of Scotland have said no to the three super-quangos? If he had really consulted and listened to the people of Scotland, the Bill would have been scrapped and we would have gone back to a system where regional councils are the water authorities in Scotland—the way it should be.

Nobody believes the Government when they say that they do not intend privatising Scotland's water industries. The same Tory Government continually preaches to Opposition Members that this is a unitary Parliament and a unitary state, and that every part of the UK is treated exactly the same. If privatisation is good enough for England and Wales, the message is that, in the long run, it will be good enough for Scotland as well.

If people in England and Wales can be disconnected from the domestic water supply, sooner or later people in Scotland will be disconnected also. That is the lesson which one draws from the unitary Parliament and unitary state which is supported on the Government Benches, and is supported there only.

For that reason, nobody believes for a minute the Government's protestations on the issues. The Government are not retreating from the principle of privatisation, but there has been a tactical retreat. The Government, under pressure in Scotland, have been forced to withdraw. But when the circumstances allow, they will be back with a vengeance and will be looking to privatise the Scottish water industry. Everybody in Scotland knows that—even the Government's own supporters.

Mr. Gallie

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that Conservative Members believe in the Parliament that represents the Union, but which recognises that there are different legal systems in Scotland and England and that there are different customs between the nations? Is not that one of the strengths of a Unionist Parliament?

Mr. McAllion

The hon. Gentleman—as always—is compeletely unconvincing in trying to intervene on an hon. Member.

Opposition Members remember what happened in England and Wales. What was the first stage towards privatisation there? Water was taken away from local authority control, and quangos were set up as the water authorities. A number of years later, when the situation had quietened down, those quangos were privatised. That pattern will be repeated exactly in Scotland if the Government are allowed to remain in office and to carry out their long-term plan for the Scottish people.

I served on the Standing Committee that considered the Bill, and I remember that the hon. Members for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) and for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) made it absolutely clear that water in Scotland should be privatised. I know that, deep down, the Minister believes that water should be privatised, although he will not say so publicly. We know that every Conservative Member representing English and Welsh constituencies believes that there should be privatisation in Scotland, because they have accepted it in their own constituencies. Why should they not accept it for Scotland? The Prime Minister has said from the Dispatch Box that he wants water in Scotland to be privatised.

Therefore, we do not believe for a second the protestations of the Secretary of State or Scottish Office Ministers. They may say, "Us? No, we would never dream of it." But they do dream of it. Their innermost hope is that, in the long run, they will not have to use public money to fund the investment that is required in the Scottish water industry in the next 10 or 15 years, and that the private sector will come in and supply that money for them. The private sector will supply that money only if it can get the profits back out of the water industry, and it can only do that under privatisation. Nobody is fooled by the Government's arguments.

I was not impressed in the least by the hon. Members for Ayr and for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch)—who have at least sat through most of the debate—and the pantomime which they had between them. They tried to suggest that there were fewer quangos in Scotland now than ever before. Hon. Members know fine well that if the Bill gets on the statue book, more people will be appointed to quangos in Scotland than we will have elected councillors in Scotland. That is the state to which the Conservative party has reduced Scotland. It is undermining every aspect of democracy in our country.

There is no democracy in this House or at local government level. We have quangos, centralisation and authoritarian decisions which are taken here by people who do not represent the Scottish view. The Conservative party wonders why it does so badly at elections in Scotland. If it were prepared to listen to the Scottish people, it might understand why it does so badly.

The hon. Member for Ayr thinks that, in a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference with a 10 or 15-minute speech, he convinced Tory activists of the strength of the Government's case. The hon. Gentleman has had two years since 1992 to convince his own constituents, and I am sure that I do not need to remind him of the result in Ayr in the Strathclyde referendum on water. Ninety-three per cent. of his constituents voted against the Government's proposals. He supports those proposals and tried to sell them to the people of Ayr during that period. He failed to convince them that the proposals are right.

For the Secretary of State to tell us that his proposals are the best possible for Scotland is absolute nonsense. It is not for the Secretary of State to tell the people of Scotland what is best for them. It is not even for me or for my hon. Friends on the Front Bench to tell the people what is best for them. The people tell us what is best for them, and that is how democracy works. But so divorced from democracy has the Tory party become that it no longer recognises when it has been completely undemocratic and has done things which, in the long run, can only destroy the Tory party in Scotland.

I speak in support of new clauses 1, 15 and 20 because they seek to re-establish regional councils, through bringing together the new, single-tier authorities into joint boards. I do not see any difference between the Scottish National party's amendments and the new clauses proposed by my hon. Friends. Under the joint board provisions, those will be bodies corporate which are covered by statute. Therefore, under the requirements placed on bodies corporate such as joint boards, it will not be the Secretary of State who appoints people to those boards but the constituent councils. In reality, the SNP amendment and the new clauses tabled by Labour are the same.

In the circumstances, the idea that joint boards could be the new water authorities is not the best that can be achieved for Scotland, but it is the best that can be achieved through this place. The best would be that the Government for once actually listened to the Scottish people, and what the people are saying came across loud and clear on Thursday 5 May. The Conservative party was reduced not to fourth place, but to fifth place in Scotland—if one includes the independents—with less than 14 per cent. of the vote.

I and the hon. Member for Tayside, North come from Tayside, and the Conservative party held Tayside beyond challenge, it was thought, in the early 1980s. When I came on to the council in 1984, the Tories held 28 of the 46 seats, and there was no party within touching distance of them. Ten years on, the Tories hold four seats out of the 46 in Tayside regional council and they received one in five of the votes cast in the Tayside regional elections. An area that was once regarded as the jewel in the Tory crown in Scotland is now almost absolutely anti-Tory. Even the Tory councillors in Tayside do not agree with what the Government are doing to the people of Scotland.

The Conservative party is so remote from the Scottish people that those people go to the ballot box with one view in mind—"How do we get at this Government?" In some areas, that means voting for the SNP, while in others it means voting for the Liberal Democrats or Labour. Wherever the opposition to the Tories is, that is where the Scots go and that is how they vote.

If Conservative Members cannot see that, they are terminally in decline. I look forward to the day when every single one of them who represents a Scottish constituency is wiped from the face of the electoral map in Scotland, and we can have a Scottish Parliament in which we will decide things for ourselves.

Mr. Dalyell

It may not be entirely their fault, but do Ministers realise how much senior Ministers in our system are deferred to and become cocooned? I wonder whether the Secretary of State realises how doubly friendless he is on this issue.

First, the right hon. Gentleman is friendless among those who understand the water and sewerage industries. I went to a meeting yesterday of the Lothian purification board in Livingston when water experts from right around Scotland were present. He did not have friends there, other than the loyal representatives of the Scottish Office. When people such as Dr. Jean Balfour say how terrible the policy is, it confirms the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion).

I think that I was the only Opposition Member who, rightly or wrongly, did not sign the "Claim of Right". I have a particular political history, which entitles me to say this to the Secretary of State. In view of the election results and the fact that the Scottish people can see that such a huge percentage are against water privatisation, which is an emotional, central and important issue, if he cheerfully overrides those views—saying that they are of no account —it will go far beyond water. The issue will become the attitude of people in Scotland towards the Union. Because of political history I, of all people, am empowered to tell him that if he goes ahead he must not start lamenting when the Union turns sour.

Mr. Graham

I was born in Glasgow. When I was a young boy, there were wells in every part of Glasgow and if people felt like a drink they just had to turn the water on —it was free. We have all seen animals—cats, dogs or whatever—supping the free water.

I also lived in Govan when I was a kid—in Elder park. There was a rumour that people became Govanites if they fell in the water in the park. It was a great honour to be called a Govanite. If someone falls in the water there now, under the Tory proposals, they would not only get a scolding from their mother but they would probably have to pay for the water that they used in the pond.

I am astounded at the Government's reluctance to accept the referendum that was held by the people of Strathclyde and their elected members and adjudicated by a neutral body. The figures that I am holding here are the result of one of the most democratic decisions ever reached by a huge proportion of the population of Strathclyde; 1,194,667 people voted no to the Government's proposals.

The Government have tried to run roughshod over the opinions of those people, as if to say that 1.2 million people are kidding, or that they have no brains and canna get it right—as if to say that the Government are the only ones to get it right. That is absolute nonsense.

I see that the Secretary of State has a pencil in his mouth. Perhaps because of this Government, some day when he is putting a glass of water to his mouth it might cost him about 10p.

If the referendum had taken place throughout Scotland the floodgates would have been opened. I am sure that the result would have been the same throughout Britain and that a higher percentage would probably have been against in the highlands, which are awash with water. The people there certainly would not want it to be privatised in the fashion that the Government propose.

I am appalled that the Government are continually trying to water down the Strathclyde results. They are trying to push them under the carpet and it will cause one great fountain. A huge eruption will take place at the general election.

6.15 pm

I do not call those three bodies quangos, Madam Deputy Speaker. I call them "langoes". Do you know what the headlines will be in the Scottish papers? "Lang goes—drowned by the people of Scotland." I am sure that that is what will happen.

Earlier, we heard the Secretary of State say that there was no way that they would privatise water and we have heard other hon. Members repeating old statements to the House. I will remind him. In December 1984 Neil Macfarlane, then Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment said:

We have absolutely no intention of privatising the water industry".—[Official Report, 19 December 1984; Vol. 70, c. 457.] By February 1986, the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker), then Secretary of State for the Environment, was telling the House that the Government were ready to privatise water. In December 1984 it was, "No privatisation", by February 1986 it was "Yes, privatisation" and by 1990, it was privatised.

Last week, in an interview with The Courier and Advertiser, the Prime Minister did not rule out water privatisation in Scotland completely. He said: It's not going to be privatised in this Parliament. It's not going to be privatised for a long time. It's gone into public bodies. Whether we will ever return to that in the future we don't know. No one ever says never in politics if they are wise, but there are no plans whatsoever to privatise water in Scotland". Is that the same sort of promise as Neil Macfarlane's promise that the Government had no intention of privatising English water? It is no wonder that the Scottish people do not believe the Government when they promise that they have no plans to privatise Scottish water.

We are sick and tired of seeing Government promises broken. One broken promise that got my goat was when they said that they wouldna increase prescriptions charges. Look at the price of prescriptions now, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a punishment—an absolute evil—to be ill under this Tory Government. Their punishment of putting VAT on fuel is horrific. They do not understand the world that we live in.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

The hon. Gentleman should know that, under the United Kingdom's unwritten constitution, no Parliament can bind a succeeding Parliament to anything other than matters within the jurisdiction of the European Union. Thus far, water does not come under the European Union.

Mr. Graham

I find that hilarious. We have had Conservative government for nearly 15 years. They have kidded the folk on at every election, saying "We'll not do this" or "We'll not do that" and then they have done it. They said, "The lady's not for turning" and they said, "We'll go on and on." I am sick and tired of it. I do not have water on my brain, but perhaps they have. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman believes it when the Government say that they will not privatise water in Scotland. They are up a gum tree—the biggest gum tree that has ever grown.

I want the Secretary of State to dump this Bill. He should not foist what is happening in other parts of the world on to us. We have an efficient water service—a service into which local authorities have channelled their energies, to make it one of the best and cheapest in the country. They have given us water that we can drink proudly and boast about.

I will bring you a glass of water from my house, Madam Deputy Speaker. You would probably have to pay 30p a glass for it, but I do not pay that in Scotland, where every woman, child and elderly person can turn on the tap and have a damn good drink. They are not paying through the nose or into the private coffers of some entrepreneur who has decided to buy a few shares in water. Water is owned by us, and drunk by us, and I want it to be kept by us.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) for breaking through the sense of melancholy and sadness which pervades the Opposition Benches just now. Clearly, there is a sense of shock on this side of the House, but we have to come to grips with the issues. We have to tell the Government that this type of legislation is not tolerable and that they will not be allowed to get away with it in Scotland or anywhere else.

The Secretary of State for Scotland prefaced his remarks by saying that we had to return to the issues of state in Scotland today and consider this controversial issue. I have news for the Secretary of State for Scotland: this is not a remotely controversial issue. It is one of very few issues about which it would be impossible to start an argument in the streets, households, pubs, clubs or anywhere else in Scotland today. There is no support anywhere in Scotland for the proposal to take the water and sewerage industries out of the control of democratically accountable local authorities.

We all knew that. If the Secretary of State required proof of it, he received that proof from Strathclyde regional council. In a 71.5 per cent. turnout of electors in Strathclyde, 97.2 per cent. gave a very clear answer to a very simple, straightforward question. There was nothing obtuse or convoluted about the question on the ballot paper that was put before the people of Strathclyde.

It explained what the Government wanted to do. There was no mention of privatisation; it was simply explained that the Government wanted to transfer control of the water industry from democratically accountable local councillors to nominated quangos. What did the people think of that? Some 97.2 per cent. said that they wanted their water and sewerage industries to remain under the control of their local authorities.

Frankly, the result did not surprise me. What surprised me was the massive turnout of electors. I am amazed that even this Government think that they can shrug it off. As Sir Michael Hirst would say, it was a "poke in the eye" for the Government. That is how he dismissed the recent regional election results. How many more pokes in the eye do the Government require before they understand what is going on?

I have no doubt that the result would have been exactly the same if the question had been put to my constituents and those of my hon. Friends in the Lothian region. It is no wonder, because the service is provided very well by democratically accountable local authorities and their staff in every part of Scotland. People value their right to influence decisions in this essential industry.

I am very proud that an elected local councillor from my constituency, John Ross from Musselburgh, recently took the chair of the water and drainage committee of Lothian regional council following the recent elections. He and his colleagues, elected by the people of the Lothian region, have a mandate to take decisions which affect that industry. He conducts surgeries so that people from his ward and other parts of the Lothian region will be able to go along and say, "We don't like the way in which you are managing these services; do something about it." That is what happens at the moment. There is plenty of evidence that the water and sewerage industries are being operated in a responsive, as well as responsible, manner.

What is the alternative offered by the Secretary of State for Scotland? He proposes that there be three monster quangos, nominated and appointed by him personally. They will not be accountable to the people of Scotland in any sense of the word. Will they hold surgeries for people to come to see them? There is no chance of that. They will hold meetings behind closed doors like the rest of the quangos in Scotland and they will not be accountable to anyone.

We have been through all the issues over and over again in Committee and they have been discussed plenty in Scotland. Whatever else this issue may be, it is certainly not controversial. There is no support from any quarter for what the Secretary of State proposes.

If they are established, the quangos will be unjustifiable and intolerable. I agree, for once, with my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) that it raises a particularly dangerous constitutional issue. If we impose this sort of rubbish legislation on Scotland, it raises fundamental questions about the credibility of the Union and the Parliament.

I welcome, above all, the statement made in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) in his capacity as shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. He said that, if the legislation is forced through and the quangos are appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, one of my hon. Friend's first acts upon assuming his responsibilities as Secretary of State for Scotland following the next general election will be to demand the resignation of the quangocrats so that we can replace them with directly elected local councillors. That is what the people want, and that is what they will have.

Mr. Jimmy Wray (Glasgow, Provan)

Thank you for calling me, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that we are short of time and that quite a number of hon. Members wish to speak in the debate.

It is absolutely disgraceful that we are debating an issue that takes democratic control away from the people of Scotland and that the House and the Scottish people are being misled.

I do not know how any Government could talk about privatising boards, quangos or any other system after looking at the evidence from down south—the disconnection of meters, the extortionate charges and so on. All those systems have failed; they have created only misery. I remember very well being told in debate that the private sector would invest the money needed to provide the services. We know from the media where the money went and who invested it. The private sector has not paid for the services; the people who are paying the bills have paid for them. Charges have increased by possibly as much as 70 per cent.

The Secretary of State for Scotland and the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) said that, as far as they were concerned, the problems could be solved by this system. No one wants quangos or privatisation in Scotland, but the Government never paid any heed to that at all. It is remiss of the Secretary of State for Scotland to mislead the House as he did today. He said that there would be a great deal of investment as far as local government water and sewerage industries were concerned. That is nonsense, and the Secretary of State for Scotland knows it.

I will take the right hon. Gentleman back through the years to a paper that he knows very well. In 1991 the Clyde river purification board and the sewerage department of the Strathclyde regional council formed a working party. The Secretary of State for Scotland was well informed about the proposals that were put forward at that time. The working party talked about a number of schemes and a plan that would stretch over 15 years and cost £920 million. It maintained that the profile of the plan would be £42 million in 1994, £90 million in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and so on to the year 2003. The amount would then be reduced to £55 million in 2004.

Eight projects were proposed. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ayr has left the Chamber, because his project in Ayr was affected, which is important. As a result of the lack of response from the Department of the Environment and the Scottish Office, the Dalmuir sewage works will be delayed until 2001; the Ayr sewerage scheme will be delayed until 1999. Those eight projects will cost £102 million, £41 million, £59 million, £350,000, £1.15 million, £1.05 million, £225,000 and £1.5 million. Only one project has been started—the Kelvin valley project.

6.30 pm

The Secretary of State knows about those works that the EEC asked us to implement, the incentives that it was going to give and the directives that were issued in a 15–year period, with a deadline date in 1997 that will never be met. The Scottish Office Environment Department sent a letter in January 1991 and another in July 1992, when the warning bells were sounded by the River Clyde purification board. It said that it could never implement any of the directives because there was a shortfall of £8 million. The Secretary of State has known that for some time.

Let us suppose that the shortfall of £8 million in one year continues throughout the 15-year plan. The document, "Investing for the Future" emphasised that the private sector would then come in and give the money. However, the Secretary of State for Scotland never mentioned the private sector and its investment, because very little investment is coming from the private sector, and I shall tell hon. Members the reason. It is a result of the referendum, which was a result of the opposition of Labour Members to boards, quangos or any type of privatisation.

I shall not forget the time when the Prime Minister, at Question Time in the House, said that, yes, the Government would privatise Scotland's water. Every Member of the House knows that, unless that investment is forthcoming, we can forget about Upper Clyde estuary improvements; we can forget about Scottish coastal waters and bathing waters. There is no way that we shall ever meet the deadline and there is no way that the Government will supply the money.

Every local authority has a responsibility under the Water (Scotland) Act 1946 and the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 to make water wholesome for drinking for the public.

We already know how many people oppose the proposals for quangos and the dishonesty. We could go back to 1992, when The Herald published an editorial entitled, "Yet Another Fine Mess". The proposals were called "Laurel and Hardy" proposals.

Mr. McAllion

The minority in Scotland.

Mr. Wray

The Government.

The Strathclyde regional council sent a letter to the Scottish Office, saying that the estimated cost was £45 million for water and £45 million for sewerage. Also, £60 million per year would be needed to implement the EC requirements. The letter also mentioned the shortfall. The 15–year plan would take about £750 million, and £900 million would be needed to implement the requirements of the Government. The council also said that the total sewerage bill would be £990 million, but that £1,300 million would be needed to implement the EEC directives.

The Secretary of State told us at great length how much would be done, but he never told us about the total expenditure and that he will never be able to meet that target.

I shall give the House one piece of information that is relevant and important to Scotland. It is said that the total bill that must be met for Scotland's water is £4.5 billion in a 15-year period, and the Government have proposed to give only £3 billion. That leaves a shortfall of £1.5 billion. When the River Clyde purification board and the sewerage department wrote to the Scottish Office, they were told that Strathclyde regional council would be responsible and that they would have to take the money from current revenue or cuts in other services or capital receipts from selling off assets. That is important because, in answer to a question, the Secretary of State for Scotland told me that the boards will have the responsibility for selling off the assets when they take over, and that that is the way that they will make them pay.

In the last letter that was sent, the policy and resources committee of Strathclyde regional council asked the sewerage department to give it the minimum legal requirement over a five-year period. It sent the estimated cost, and the Scottish Office was notified that it was £500 million. The council was told to cut it to £225 million. The result was a delay in 53 proposed schemes of from four years to three months.

The Secretary of State for Scotland never told the Opposition how the plans for the sewerage and water departments were being wrecked. The type of revenue that has been proposed and the allocation that is supposed to be coming from the Scottish Office will never meet the requirements. We shall meet those requirements only by keeping water in public control.

Mr. Salmond

As often happens, the hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) put his finger on one of the buttons of the debate when he mentioned the admission by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) that one Parliament cannot bind another Parliament. That is absolutely true. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Tayside, North holds himself for a few seconds, he may intervene later.

Obviously one Secretary of State cannot bind another Secretary of State. We know, as I said earlier, that there is speculation about the Secretary of State's position. He may or may not be Secretary of State for Scotland in a month's time. If it holds true that one Parliament cannot bind another, it also holds true that the current Secretary of State cannot bind the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), or the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) if the honour fell on him. He could not bind the hon. Member for Tayside, North, if he was called to serve as Secretary of State in a few weeks' time.

It is absolutely reasonable for Opposition Members—

Mr. Wallace

That would be very unreasonable.

Mr. Salmond

That would not be absolutely reasonable, but it is certainly reasonable for Opposition Members to ask—given the history of the assurances that were given south of the border in 1984, which were then transformed two years later into an intention to privatise south of the border—why on earth should not that happen in Scotland in 1994, and why cannot that be translated, as one Secretary of State cannot bind another, into something quite different in 1996? Opposition Members do not need a crystal ball to fear that the measure will facilitate privatisation. All we need to do is to look at the book south of the border.

It was also reasonable for Opposition Members to point out what the Prime Minister said in March 1993. That was before the consultation period on Scottish water, but it also showed clearly that the Prime Minister's own mind was that he was sympathetic to privatisation. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde read a more recent quotation from The Courier and Advertiser, in which the Prime Minister said that no one ever says never in politics. Usually when people say never, they mean that certainly they will do it at some time in the future, but it would be too embarrassing to admit it now.

A more recent quotation comes from the magazine supplement of the Scottish Sunday Express last Sunday. Mr. Bruce Anderson, the biographer and, I understand, confidant of the Prime Minister, which makes him one of a small, select band at present, wrote an article advocating the privatisation of Scottish water.

Mr. Lang

indicated dissent.

Mr. Salmond

The Secretary of State for Scotland shakes his head. That article appeared last Sunday.

Mr. Lang

I did not wish to put the hon. Gentleman off his stride. I wanted to indicate not that the journalist in question did not say that but that he was wrong.

Mr. Salmond

The journalist was wrong to advocate the privatisation of Scottish water. The point that I was making was that Mr. Anderson is rumoured to be close to the Prime Minister. He is certainly his biographer and I think that he is a confidant. Therefore, the Secretary of State cannot pretend to us that the privatisation launch has been eradicated from the Conservative Benches. Given that we have already explained that he cannot commit his successor or a future Parliament, what assurance do we have that privatisation will not rear its ugly head again when the political temperature is different? The Secretary of State can give no assurance that will satisfy Opposition Members or Scottish public opinion.

I wish to deal with the Secretary of State's argument about efficiency. He said that his solution was the most efficient of the various permutations. It is more efficient than the privatisation option. There is huge disquiet south of the border about the efficiency of and public interest being served by privatised water companies. Only a few months ago, I received a letter from Thames Water informing me that, for the sum of £60, I could water my garden. I was surprised, as I live in a second-floor flat in Westminster. There is huge concern in all areas of England about the performance of private water companies.

The Secretary of State said that his solution was the most efficient. Most Opposition Members would argue that the municipal way of managing Scottish water assets has proven itself, over more than a century, to be the most efficient way of handling those assets. Even if we agree that creating three water boards is an efficient solution, why should the Secretary of State appoint members of those boards? Why should Secretary of State appointees be more efficient than people elected by local authorities and directly accountable to the people? That is the acid test for democracy and autocracy.

Regardless of whether the Secretary of State's appointees are excellent people, and even if he appoints some councillors, as he has said he is mindful to do, the proposal cannot be democratic. For example, if Councillor Brian Meek were appointed to one of the three water boards in Scotland—probably to all of them, given his track record of obtaining appointments—it would not make them democratic simply because he is one of the few remaining Conservative councillors in Scotland. The key to democracy is not who is appointed but who appoints. The only solution that would satisfy Opposition Members and the people of Scotland would be to allow that election to be by the democratic local authorities, which have a mandate directly from the people.

Will the Secretary of State consider his mandate, not just for the water proposals but for the whole Bill? It is a subject that we have discussed many times in Scottish politics. I remember the Secretary of State arguing in 1979 that, although a majority voted in a referendum for devolution, it constituted only 33 per cent. of the total electorate, which was no mandate to proceed with substantial change.

By the same argument, this Bill was tested last Thursday before the jury of the Scottish people. The result was that less than 14 per cent. of them voted. But only 6.3 per cent. of the total electorate—one in 15 of the adult Scottish population—went to a polling place and cast a vote for the Secretary of State's proposals.

Mr. Bill Walker

The hon. Gentleman is wrong about a legal fact. He is making some interesting debating points but the referendum on the Scotland Bill was a legal measure brought about as a direct result of an Act of Parliament that was in place. Moreover, last week's vote was not under similar conditions, so the two cannot be compared.

Mr. Salmond

"Clutching at broken reeds" might be the best way to describe that intervention. The comparison that I made is reasonable. The Conservative party's argument in 1979 was that there was not a sufficient mandate to proceed because only a third of the population could be bothered to vote for that proposal, although it received the majority vote of those who voted. By comparison, a week past Thursday, the Conservative party managed to motivate and mobilise one in every 15 members of the Scottish population to go to a polling place and cast a vote for the proposals before us tonight.

To put the matter another way, the Conservative vote in the Strathclyde region was 82,862 a week past Thursday. Compare that to the 1.2 million who voted against the proposals in the Strathclyde water referendum. I do not accept the nonsense that people did not understand, or were too silly to realise, what the measure was when they voted in that referendum.

During the local government campaign, I did a party trick at public meetings around the Strathclyde region. I would ask people to raise their hands if they had voted in the Strathclyde water ballot. The vast majority of people at those meetings raised their hands. I would ask them to put down their hands if they had not understood the question. Every hand at every public meeting stayed up. People knew exactly what they were voting on in that ballot and, by a massive number, they gave the thumbs down to the Government's proposals.

6.45 pm

The Secretary of State should therefore consider his mandate and look at the facts and figures with at least a degree of humility. He caused enormous offence in Scotland by parachuting five Conservatives from English constituencies on to the Standing Committee and by deciding each of the 102 Divisions by using those five Members. It will cause even greater offence in Scotland if the forecast of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) comes true, as I suspect that it will, that people will pour out of the dark recesses of this place—hon. Members who have not even bothered to attend or listen to this debate—and once again the issue will be decided against Scottish interests.

The Secretary of State has already heard from the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), who has been a far more consistent Unionist than him over the past 20 years of Scottish politics, of the repercussions and implications of the actions that he has taken on this Bill. It may be acceptable to the Secretary of State for Scotland to behave in that manner. It may even be acceptable to the empty Conservative Benches. It is not acceptable to the people of Scotland.

Mr. Connarty

I wish to set the record straight regarding some of the misinformation given to the Committee by the Minister responsible.

First, may I pass on, through his Front Bench, to the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), my best wishes to him and his wife. I hope that she gets better and that he is relieved of his troubles which prevent him from being here.

In Committee, the Minister consistently said that no alternative was put forward when the consultation took place on the Government's paper on securing a future for the water industry. But people wrote in, and Ministers kept quoting the Government's own summary of those responses to the consultation paper, which said: Most responses (84 per cent.) came from individuals. Preponderantly they expressed opposition to privatisation. The Minister consistently said that, as people did not give an alternative, no alternative was on the table to be discussed.

We quoted back to the Minister and English Conservative Members from the same Government analysis of the submissions: Sixty-four per cent. of all respondents, and 67 per cent. of those opposing privatisation, preferred a solution which kept the services in local authority control". The Minister then gave the impression that only those who bothered to write a letter—4,834 letters were received—had troubled to suggest an alternative.

In an earlier parliamentary question, I asked for an analysis of all submissions. In fact, as is shown in page 7 of the summary, 60,000 preprinted postcards were returned. With my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), I delivered some 25,000 postcards signed in his constituency and mine. The rest came mainly from mid-Scotland, Fife and some constituencies in Strathclyde. People said quite specifically that they wanted water and sewerage services to remain under the direct control of elected councils.

Despite that, the Government continued to misrepresent the position in Committee. That was very sad, as it enabled the Prime Minister to be deluded. Some people may say that the Prime Minister is easily deluded about many things. He stands at the Dispatch Box quoting from briefs that do not provide sufficient facts to enable him to deal with the subject at hand.

I put to the right hon. Gentleman a parliamentary question about what he thought of the results of the Strathclyde referendum. As these matters are on record, I shall not go into any detail. In reply, the Prime Minister said: Since Strathclyde wilfully misrepresented the Government's proposals"—[Official Report, 22 March 1994; Vol. 240, c. 131.] That was the Prime Minister's defence. It is quite clear that he had been briefed by the Secretary of State for Scotland or one of the right hon. Gentleman's ministerial colleagues.

I sent the Prime Minister a copy of the ballot paper, which says: Parliament is presently considering the proposals for the future of water. The Government proposes that from April 1996 water and sewerage services should be provided by a West of Scotland water authority, with a separate customers' council. The members of both bodies will be appointed by the Secretary of State. A quango—or a "Lango"—would be appointed, and a "Lango" or a quango would be appointed to oversee it. The people of Strathclyde knew what they were voting on. They voted overwhelmingly not to make the Government do anything but to tell them that they did not want what was being proposed. That was the view of people throughout constituencies, regardless of political colour.

The party piece of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond)—as it was called by the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing)—became a piece of street theatre. The Labour party leadership, my hon. Friends the Members for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) and for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) and others went down to Eastwood. They took with them a letter, which people who had voted in the referendum were asked to read and sign. People of all political colours said that they had understood the process.

The letter says: We deeply resent being told by you"— "you" being the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart)— and the Prime Minister that we did not understand the question that we had been asked or that we were misled by propaganda. Everyone queued up to sign. People told us that they had been lifelong Tories but they would not be Tories much longer. They had found the party out and realised that voting for representative democracy in respect of water and other local authority matters did not mean voting Conservative. They volunteered many other comments about the Government's misguided principles.

What is it all about? It is about jobs for the boys—boys of the right political colour and creed. The Government will probably take a side step and appoint a few councillors, including—if the individuals in question are foolish enough to accept—a few of non-Conservative ilk. I hope that non-Conservatives who are offered positions will have the guts to say no, as they would not be representing anyone.

This is all about what we have seen in England and Wales—the appointment of people who fit the bill. During the Standing Committee's deliberations, we were told to have a look at the Yorkshire Post. There we saw what Ofwat and Mr. Ian Byatt were up to in sacking people who did not take the right political line and in appointing friends, golf partners—this is rather like Mr. Peterken and the Secretary of State—old school chums and people known through previous employment, as well as the wives of individuals who had been Treasury colleagues.

Mrs. Helen Jackson

I wonder whether my hon. Friend has heard the disgraceful news that, despite the revelation that the Director General of Ofwat recognises expressly that his first duty is not to the customers but to the water industry, subject to the interests of the customers, and despite the fact that his performance in Yorkshire is such that he must have put his position in jeopardy, he was reappointed yesterday for a further two years. That ought to fill the Scottish people with fear as to what might happen if their interests were put in the hands of so-called regulators.

Mr. Connarty

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson) is a great campaigner. In fact, she set up the all-party group on the water industry. It must be recognised that many people are worried about what is happening to the privatised water industry in England and Wales. Just as many people in Scotland are worried about the Government's long-term aim for the water industry there.

There is a financial agenda here. I refer to the £5 billion that the Secretary of State has said will be required over 15 years to bring water and sewerage services up to. the standard required by the European Community. In Committee, it was agreed that £3 billion of that amount would come through the public sector borrowing requirement if the Government were to continue the present funding level of £340 million a year under PSBR.

The other £2 billion is already earmarked to be raised through capital finance through current revenue. In their submissions, many local authorities have said that they are capable of getting the £2 billion from the consumers, who are willing to pay in order to balance the accounts. The Government have not been able to demonstrate that I ought not to be worried that the Treasury will lower its PSBR target and that the £3 billion for water and sewerage services in Scotland will be withdrawn slowly but surely.

Our concern is that we shall end up in the same situation as people in England and Wales, where 60 per cent. of all capital is provided from current revenue—in other words, through consumers' bills. In Scotland, the current figure is only 25 per cent. That is the Government's real agenda.

They intend to mug the people of Scotland and make them provide the capital that is required to keep the services going.

My final message to the Tories is "Stop, thief. The people of Scotland know what you are up to." Maybe they are not thieves; maybe they are water fascists—people who can take from Scots by passing laws in this Parliament. That is what water fascism is about. But the Tories will not succeed. The Scots will not allow them to succeed. We are not the mugs. This time, the Tories on the Government Front Bench are the mugs, and the people of Scotland will send them, with the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) —and I should like to see them bald and tied to a mule —down south to seek seats after the next election. But, as last week's elections demonstrate, there are not many seats down here for Scots scurrying south in an attempt to secure their future. Perhaps it is time for the pipe and slippers. Redundancy is coming.

Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central)

Most hon. Members are conscious of the rather sombre mood that pervades the Palace and the Chamber. None the less, this has been a very good debate. Points have been well intentioned, and we have highlighted what most people regard as one of the key scandals of Scottish politics—the Government's pursuit of changes in our water services when there is no public support for them.

What dismays Scots is that, despite the Strathclyde referendum, in which more than 1 million people said no to the Government's proposals, and despite the regional council elections, in which the Government were decimated on the ground and humiliated in spirit, Ministers are still hell-bent on pursuing the most unpopular policy to have been adopted in Scotland since the war.

Let me put it in context. Mine is probably one of the only Conservative-free local authority areas. In addition, it must be unique in Europe in having more Communist party seats that Conservative party seats. That is a measure of how this party of the past is being dealt with by Scots.

Tonight, there is a simple test for the Government. The Opposition do not have to be complicated about what they are trying to say. Our message is simple. First, we have argued that water should be retained in public ownership. The Opposition parties agreed to that, but the Government only grudgingly accepted—up to the next election.

Secondly, we have argued that the three super-quangos should be scrapped and replaced by 12 water authorities, which is essentially the status quo. Of course, we have argued that the members of all the 12 water boards should be councillors. Why do the Government not accept that?

The Secretary of State, who must have been suspended from the real world, suggested that the Government have found the best solution in the circumstances, but no Opposition Member has heard a case to justify why it is the best solution. The simple test for the Secretary of State and the Minister is to tell Scotland loudly and clearly why they will not accept 12 boards comprising all councillors.

Of course there is a precedent for that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) said: they are doing it with police and fire services. This local government reorganisation is such a half-baked measure that we shall end up not with a single tier but a multi-tier. If it is good enough for the police and fire services, why is it not good enough for the future of Scotland's water industry?

The Government have also argued that we need investment. If so, what is the essential difference between from 12 water authorities working in the marketplace, borrowing in the marketplace and delivering a service and three super-quangos operating in the marketplace but still subject to the same PSBR constraints as the current regional authorities in Scotland? If the Secretary of State were being honest, he would tell us that there is no difference.

There is an ideological preference for three super-quangos with appointees from the Secretary of State, but it makes no sense in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money for Scottish consumers, who currently enjoy all three qualities in great abundance.

7 pm

The Government can end the water torture and we can end the Tory turmoil. Far be it from the Opposition to give the Government a way out, but we are telling the Government, on behalf of the Scottish people, that there is a way out; they can start to resurrect their political fortunes in Scotland if they merely accept the wisdom of our advice.

Let me state again—before the Minister, who is desperate to get on his feet, rises to finish the debate—the simple proposition: why not have 12 water authorities, comprising elected members whom we trust with £7.5 billion-worth of expenditure every year on vital services such as education, police, fire and every other service? Are we really saying to the Scots and to elected councillors that we simply cannot trust them to run water and sewerage services? Surely not.

I hope that the Secretary of State remains conscious of the figures imprinted on every Conservative mind—that in the Strathclyde water referendum 1.1 million people did not say no to privatisation; they said no to the crazy, half-baked proposals for three super-quangos and a grudging acceptance of councillors. We will certainly have none of that. The Scots agree with us, and that is why we will divide the House on this important new clause.

Mr. Stewart

First, on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), may I thank Opposition Members for their best wishes to Lady Monro? Secondly, I welcome the debate, in which a number of important and constructive points have been made.

We shall return to the particular point raised by the hon. Members for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and for Midlothian (Mr. Clarke) about the water pollution problems caused by abandoned coal mines.

We have heard a number of rumbustious speeches, including that of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish). He will forgive me if I regard his advice on how the Tory party should increase its vote in Scotland with a wry smile. I am not sure that he is the best source of advice on these matters.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray) put the case for what the Government were proposing extremely well. We need extra finance for water and sewerage in Scotland. There needs to be a partnership between the public and the private sector in order to achieve that.

It is a practical problem, not a problem of ideology. Hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), have talked about privatisation and asked for an assurance that there will be no privatisation of water and sewerage in future. I say simply that the answer that the Government are proposing to the practical problem of the need for extra finance in water and sewerage—the problem is sewerage, not water—means that there is simply no need for privatisation in Scotland in future. There is clearly a need for a new structure which maximises the benefits of economies of scale.

What is the essential difference then between the two sides of the House, given acceptance by Opposition Members that the new amendments on disconnections clear that matter up without any equivocation? It is about the number of councillors on the new water authorities. Opposition Members take the view that all members of the new authorities should be councillors, but we believe that there should be a partnership and that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries reassured the Committee, there should be a significant number of councillors on the new authorities, but that it would be unreasonable to bind the Secretary of State on specific numbers, and that other people also have the right to be considered on merit for the new authorities.

I believe that we are putting forward a practical solution to a practical problem, and I therefore recommend that the House does not accept new clause 1.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 244, Noes 278.

Division No. 240] [7.06pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Adams, Mrs Irene Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ainger, Nick Corbett, Robin
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Corbyn, Jeremy
Allen, Graham Corston, Ms Jean
Alton, David Cousins, Jim
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Cox, Tom
Armstrong, Hilary Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Austin-Walker, John Dalyell, Tam
Barnes, Harry Darling, Alistair
Barron, Kevin Davidson, Ian
Battle, John Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Benton, Joe Dixon, Don
Bermingham, Gerald Dobson, Frank
Berry, Roger Donohoe, Brian H.
Blair, Tony Dowd, Jim
Blunkett, David Dunnachie, Jimmy
Boyes, Roland Eagle, Ms Angela
Bradley, Keith Eastham, Ken
Bray, Dr Jeremy Etherington, Bill
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Burden, Richard Fatchett, Derek
Byers, Stephen Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Caborn, Richard Fisher, Mark
Callaghan, Jim Flynn, Paul
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foulkes, George
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Fraser, John
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Fyfe, Maria
Canavan, Dennis Galloway, George
Cann, Jamie Gapes, Mike
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Garrett, John
Chisholm, Malcolm George, Bruce
Clapham, Michael Gerrard, Neil
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Godsiff, Roger
Clelland, David Golding, Mrs Llin
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Graham, Thomas
Coffey, Ann Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Connarty, Michael Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mullin, Chris
Grocott, Bruce Murphy, Paul
Gunnell, John Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hain, Peter O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Hall, Mike O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hanson, David O'Hara, Edward
Harman, Ms Harriet Olner, William
Harvey, Nick O'Neill, Martin
Heppell, John Parry, Robert
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Patchett, Terry
Hinchliffe, David Pickthall, Colin
Hoey, Kate Pike, Peter L.
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Pope, Greg
Home Robertson, John Powell, Ray (Ogmora)
Hood, Jimmy Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hoon, Geoffrey Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Prescott, John
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Primarolo, Dawn
Hoyle, Doug Purchase, Ken
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Raynsford, Nick
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Redmond, Martin
Hutton, John Reid, Dr John
Ingram, Adam Rendel, David
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Janner, Greville Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Johnston, Sir Russell Rogers, Allan
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Rooker, Jeff
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Rooney, Terry
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Rowlands, Ted
Keen, Alan Ruddock, Joan
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Salmond, Alex
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Sedgemore, Brian
Khabra, Piara S. Sheerman, Barry
Kirkwood, Archy Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lewis, Terry Short, Clare
Livingstone, Ken Simpson, Alan
Llwyd, Elfyn Skinner, Dennis
Loyden, Eddie Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lynne, Ms Liz Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
McAllion, John Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McAvoy, Thomas Snape, Peter
McCartney, Ian Soley, Clive
Macdonald, Calum Spearing, Nigel
McFall, John Spellar, John
McKelvey, William Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Mackinlay, Andrew Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
McLeish, Henry Stevenson, George
Maclennan, Robert Stott, Roger
McMaster, Gordon Strang, Dr. Gavin
McNamara, Kevin Straw, Jack
MacShane, Denis Turner, Dennis
McWilliam, John Tyler, Paul
Madden, Max Vaz, Keith
Mandelson, Peter Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Marek, Dr John Wallace, James
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Walley, Joan
Martlew, Eric Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Maxton, John Wareing, Robert N
Meacher, Michael Watson, Mike
Meale, Alan Welsh, Andrew
Michael, Alun Wicks, Malcolm
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Milburn, Alan Wilson, Brian
Miller, Andrew Winnick, David
Moonie, Dr Lewis Worthington, Tony
Morgan, Rhodri Wray, Jimmy
Morley, Elliot Wright, Dr Tony
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tellers for the Ayes:
Mowlam, Marjorie Mr. John Cummings and
Mudie, George Mr. Peter Kilfoyle.
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Durant, Sir Anthony
Aitken, Jonathan Dykes, Hugh
Alexander, Richard Eggar, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Elletson, Harold
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Amess, David Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Arbuthnot, James Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Evennett, David
Ashby, David Faber, David
Aspinwall, Jack Fabricant, Michael
Atkins, Robert Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fishburn, Dudley
Baldry, Tony Forman, Nigel
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Forth, Eric
Bates, Michael Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Batiste, Spencer Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Bellingnam, Henry Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Bendall, Vivian French, Douglas
Beresford, Sir Paul Gale, Roger
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gallie, Phil
Blackburn, Dr John G. Gardiner, Sir George
Body, Sir Richard Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Garnier, Edward
Booth, Hartley Gill, Christopher
Boswell, Tim Gillan, Cheryl
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowden, Andrew Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bowis, John Gorst, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)
Brandreth, Gyles Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Brazier, Julian Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bright, Graham Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Grylls, Sir Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Browning, Mrs. Angela Hague, William
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Budgen, Nicholas Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burns, Simon Hampson, Dr Keith
Burt, Alistair Hannam, Sir John
Butterfill, John Hargreaves, Andrew
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Harris, David
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Haselhurst, Alan
Carrington, Matthew Hawkins, Nick
Carttiss, Michael Hayes, Jerry
Cash, William Heald, Oliver
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Heathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, Sydney Hendry, Charles
Churchill, Mr Hicks, Robert
Clappison, James Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Horam, John
Coe, Sebastian Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Colvin, Michael Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Congdon, David Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hunter, Andrew
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Jack, Michael
Cormack, Patrick Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Couchman, James Jenkin, Bernard
Cran, James Jessel, Toby
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Day, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Deva, Nirj Joseph Key, Robert
Devlin, Tim King, Rt Hon Tom
Dickens, Geoffrey Knapman, Roger
Dicks, Terry Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knox, Sir David
Dover, Den Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Duncan, Alan Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Dunn, Bob Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Legg, Barry Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leigh, Edward Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Shersby, Michael
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lidington, David Soames, Nicholas
Lightbown, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham) Spink, Dr Robert
Lord, Michael Spring, Richard
Luff, Peter Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Steen, Anthony
MacKay, Andrew Stephen, Michael
Maclean, David Stern, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stewart, Allan
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Streeter, Gary
Malone, Gerald Sumberg, David
Mans, Keith Sweeney, Walter
Marland, Paul Sykes, John
Marlow, Tony Tapsell, Sir Peter
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Mates, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Merchant, Piers Thomason, Roy
Mills, Iain Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moate, Sir Roger Thurnham, Peter
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moss, Malcolm Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Needham, Richard Tracey, Richard
Neubert, Sir Michael Tredinnick, David
Nicholls, Patrick Trend, Michael
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Trotter, Neville
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Twinn, Dr Ian
Norris, Steve Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Viggers, Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Ottaway, Richard Walden, George
Page, Richard Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Patnick, Irvine Waller, Gary
Pawsey, James Ward, John
Pickles, Eric Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Waterson, Nigel
Porter, David (Waveney) Watts, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Whitney, Ray
Redwood, Rt Hon John Widdecombe, Ann
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Richards, Rod Willetts, David
Riddick, Graham Wilshire, David
Robathan, Andrew Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'fld)
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Wolfson, Mark
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wood, Timothy
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Yeo, Tim
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Sackville, Tom Tellers for the Noes:
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Mr. Timothy Kirkhope and
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Mr. Bowen Wells.
Shaw, David (Dover)

Question accordingly negatived.

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