HC Deb 26 May 1978 vol 950 cc788-9W
Mr. Ron Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider the setting up of local advisory boards, in connection with the respective water authorities.

Mr. Denis Howell

No. Water authorities already have a majority of members nominated by local authorities in their areas. The White Paper on the Water Industry—Cmnd. 6876—recorded the Government's intention to increase the number of these local representatives and to take other steps to enhance the water authorities' responsiveness to consumers' needs.

Mr. Corbett

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has had concerning the establishment of consumer councils or similar bodies to be attached to water authorities, similar to those which exist in the gas and electricity supply industries: whether it is his policy to seek to establish such bodies; if so, when; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Denis Howell

The matter of consumer councils has been raised from time to time since 1974. The Government considered this during the recent review of the industry. The water authorities, unlike the gas and electricity industries, have a majority membership representing elected local authorities, thus ensuring that they are subject to a measure of local democratic control; and the White Paper on the industry—Cmnd. 6876—foreshadowed other ways in which the water authorities' responsiveness to local needs is to be enhanced—including the appointment of one member to each authority to cover consumer interests.