Water Bill [HL]
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat)
My Lords, I have an amendment grouped with the one we are discussing to which I should like to speak. I want to hear the Minister say a little more about the threshold limits. They are set at a level which results in competition not being a reality for most consumers. There is a vast amount of water regulation relating to competition when that is not a reality.
What happens when a 50 megalitre user becomes more efficient in his use of water and becomes a 10 megalitre user? Does the Bill provide for that? We have talked a lot about efficiency and we have heard some good examples of companies that have saved vast amounts of water but does that mean that they can no longer enjoy the possibility of choosing between suppliers? At the moment we are dubious that the current proposals will stimulate any energy savings or produce innovations. The proposals certainly allow new entrants to cherry pick the larger use customers that they will supply.
Under the proposals in the Bill there is a perverse incentive for new entrants to select customers that are cheap to supply so, far from benefiting all customers, that may well have a negative effect on existing suppliers' finances and increase customers' bills. I should like to hear the Minister's comments on those issues. I have become more concerned about the matter as the Bill has progressed through its stages.