HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc19-20W
Mr. Martlew

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to increase competition in the United Kingdom water industry. [138616]

Mr. Mullin

On 6 November 2000 the Government published a consultation document on a draft Water Bill. The draft Bill would give the Director General of Water Services in England and Wales a new duty to protect the interests of consumers in relation to water and sewerage services including, wherever appropriate, by promoting effective competition.

In April this year, my Department published, jointly with the National Assembly for Wales, a consultation paper on the broad options for extending competition in the water industry in England and Wales. There have since been a number of proposals within the industry for restructuring. In the light of the responses to the consultation exercise and these other recent developments in the industry, we are carrying out further work to examine options for increasing competition. We will consider what legislative changes may be needed to promote competition as part of this work, and will make a statement setting out our conclusions early next year.

The Scottish Executive is responsible for the water industry in Scotland.