§ Mr. Harry Greenway
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the financial benefits to the Exchequer of the privatisation of the water industry; and if he will make a statement.19W
§ Mr. Atkins
[holding answer 2 March]: Privatisation allowed the water industry access to private sector funds, removing its dependence on the Exchequer. This has enabled a much increased investment programme of around £3 billion each year since 1989 to improve drinking water quality and the water environment as well as allowing the necessary maintenance of infrastructure. For example, in England and Wales in 1993, 99 per cent. of 3.5 million tests met the drinking water quality and between 1990 and 1993 there was a net upgrading in quality of nearly 16 per cent. of river length—the proportion of rivers in the highest quality class increased and the proportion in the lower classes reduced.