§ Sir John Stanley
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the acquisition of United Kingdom statutory water companies by foreign-domiciled companies; and if he will list which foreign companies have acquired majority or controlling interests in which United Kingdom statutory water companies since 1 January 1988.
§ Mr. Howard
The following foreign companies have acquired controlling interests in United Kingdom statutory water companies since 1 January 1988:
Foreign company Statutory water company Lyonnaise des Eaux East Anglian Essex Newcastle and Gateshead Sunderland and South Shields Generale des Eaux (through its subsidiary, General Utilities) Folkestone and District Lee Valley North Surrey Tendring Hundred SAUR Eastbourne Mid Southern Mid-Sussex West Kent
We do not discriminate against foreign investment in the water industry. An important objective of privatisation is to enable English and Welsh water undertakers to compete with foreign companies in the world-wide market for water services. It would be contrary to our EC obligations to discriminate against investment by nationals of other member states.
§ Mr. Howard
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave on 14 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) and to the reply that I gave today to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Sir J. Stanley).