HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 c729W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what plans he has to change the responsibilities of water authorities whose customers have had their properties damaged because of the failure of the water authority properly to safeguard their plant and equipment; and if he will make a statement; [149081]

(2) if he will introduce legislation to give Government powers to prosecute water companies which fail to protect their equipment from the effects of flooding. [149515]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth

Water and sewerage undertakers already have a statutory duty to maintain their systems (including plant and equipment). Their performance is put under scrutiny by the Office of Water Services and, as part of this, checks are made on the serviceability of their networks. The undertakers are also required to have plans in place to deal with any failure in the system.

Where waste water from a company's sewer enters a customer's property, customers are entitled to the return of a years sewerage charges up to £1,000 under the guaranteed standards scheme. If sewer flooding is caused by severe weather (eg widespread flooding), payment is not due. These provisions are in addition to individuals rights under common law.

We have no plans at present to make changes to these responsibilities or make any failure a criminal offence.

Forward to