HC Deb 05 December 1984 vol 69 cc190-1W
Sir Michael Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the Yorkshire water authority will be published.

Mr. Fletcher

The report is published today. The commission was asked to report on the efficiency and costs of, and the service provided by, the Yorkshire water authority.

The authority was reconstituted on 1 October 1983 as a result of the Water Act 1983 and a new chairman and board appointed. The commission note organisational and structural changes since put in hand and commends the effect which these, combined with the setting of challenging performance targets, are having in improving efficiency.

The commission identifies scope for further improvement, for example in the need for the authority to develop a structured approach to the assessment of manpower needs, but recognises that the Authority is making great efforts to improve its efficiency and effectiveness by implementing a wide range of management techniques.

The commission has indicated which of its suggestions for improvements should have priority.

The commission notes the extent to which there is a need to improve the standards of service to acceptable levels particularly in relation to water supply and sewerage. It suggests that the time has now come for the authority to work towards a more transparent link between levels of efficiency, minimum acceptable standards of service and future performance aims.

The commission was asked how changes in quality of service would affect costs and the report includes illustrative calculations. The Commission noted that the authority saw such studies as beneficial in assessing priorities and relating its decisions to customers' views on the costs of improvements in services.

Finally, the commission was asked to consider whether the authority is pursuing a course of conduct which operates against the public interest. It concludes that it is not.

The authority will be publishing its preliminary response to the commission's findings within three to four months, in the light of which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will make a statement.