My right hon. Friends and I are in frequent contact with the Chairman of the National Water Council. We met him and the chairmen of the water authorities recently to discuss the problems of the water shortage. Future meetings will be fixed whenever necessary.
As the right hon. Gentleman has been meeting the chairmen and other senior representatives weekly for several weeks, has he any news for the nation about the situation in the drought areas? Is he proposing that the coordinating body should give any guidance to industry and domestic consumers about saving water?
I know that the hon. Gentleman has a special interest in this matter. We are maintaining a close contact at official levels and receiving weekly reports from various water authorities. We are monitoring the situation closely. On the present state of play I think that I am still right to confirm that there is not a national problem. However, there is a problem in certain water authority areas, but even there it is localised. We are looking to the future and anticipating both a normal and a dry summer.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, although there may be local problems, there will be a growing shortage of water in future years? Will he look with urgency at experiments for providing cisterns that do not need major flushes on each occasion that they are used and thus save water? Such experiments have been conducted in other countries.
I am glad to take whatever technical advice is offered on these matters, but I hesitate to offer any myself. On the larger question of the increased use of water by industry and domestic consumers in the longer term, the Water Council was set up to keep the matter under review and the larger water authorities were established with that in mind. We are not yet satisfied with the arrangements and we have issued a consultative document to elicit further views on this important matter.