§ Mr. Goodlad
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the level of charges being made by the North-West water authority for connection charges for private fire-fighting equipment.
§ Mr. Fox
I discussed this matter with the chairman of the authority. The authority has decided to introduce a revised scale of charges for this service. From 1 April 1980 the method of charge will be related to the size of the connecting water supply pipe but the level of charge be discounted by 70 per cent. from the charge for a normal measured supply. For a supply which uses a supply pipe of 6 in or more the charge will not exceed £300. I hope that this decision will be welcomed by all who have written to me complaining about these charges. While I fully appreciate the need to take every precaution to reduce the risk of loss of life or damage to property through fire, consumers who have these facilities do impose additional costs on the authority from maintaining the system and ensuring that water is available to extinguish a fire. In such circumstances water authorities are under a statutory obligation162W to ensure that they do operate cost-related and non-discriminatory charges.