HC Deb 26 June 1997 vol 296 cc603-4W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress he has made in establishing a review of the Scottish water industry. [5872]

Mr. Dewar

In my Parliamentary Answer of 6 June I set out the steps I would take to fill the vacancies on the Boards of the Water Authorities. I also announced that I had asked my officials to conduct a review of the further steps I might take to strengthen local democratic control. The review will consider a wide range of options for the water authorities. It will also consider any possible implications for the Scottish Water and Sewerage Customers council.

My officials have now begun work on this review of the Scottish water industry. Through the review, they will seek a structure for the water industry that meets the Government's policy of returning the Water Authorities to local democratic control, while ensuring any solution is consistent with maintaining the essential continuity of water and sewerage services, facilitating investment, promoting efficiency, and complying, as appropriate, with the Nolan procedures for public appointments.

I have asked my officials to consult extensively with all interested parties. My officials will in particular keep the Water Authorities, the Scottish Water and Sewerage Customers Council and COSLA closely informed of progress during the review, and seek their views and advice at all appropriate points.

In addition, my officials will have regard to Government policy on the regulation of utilities, on financial accountability, and on public/private partnerships. They will take account of the need to meet statutory requirements and to secure customer service levels, and will consider international models for the structure of utility industries.