§ Mr. Blunkett
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment at the time of privatisation, what guidance he gave to water companies with regard to the companies offering consumers alternatives to water metering; and what discussions took place with local authorities on plans to provide alternative systems of valuation in new premises.
§ Mr. Trippier
We have not given any guidance to water companies or held discussions with local authorities about methods of charging for water services. Each company has had to decide how to charge customers in new or converted properties, in the light of the abolition of domestic rates from 1 April 1990, and I understand that most companies have decided to meter such properties. The Director General of Water Services is responsible for protecting customers' interests and for ensuring that companies do not show undue preference or discrimination in their charging policies.