Equalisation Payments to Be Made to Certain Water Authorities

Part of Orders of the Day — Water Charges Equalisation Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1977.

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Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Merioneth 12:00 am, 16th March 1977

I intervene briefly to express my concern that, although the Bill is a response to the public outcry in Wales and the areas of other authorities that suffered substantial increases in 1974 and 1975, it has been so delayed that it will not benefit them in the coming financial year. I still do not understand precisely why it cannot be implemented and I hope that the Minister will give us a full explanation. If the Bill has a Third Reading now and goes through another place rapidly—and I understand that the billing by water authorities does not take place until May—I fail to see why it would not be possible to implement the Bill and to have, if not full, at least part equalisation during the coming financial year.

I am concerned that the fact that the Bill will not be implemented this year will mean a £3 million loss to ratepayers in Wales. I am also concerned that having seen two major reports on the issue—the Daniel Report and that of the working party—the Government took so long to prepare legislation and to bring it before the House.

In Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) raised the matter of industrial equalisation. We consider this to be of major importance to industry in Wales and we are not satisfied that the Bill—although it is limited in scope—should not have contained proposals for industrial as well as domestic equalisation. We hope that the next major Bill on the issue—and we are apparently to be offered such a Bill—will include such a provision.

We still think that it would have been simpler to adopt the programme that we have advocated for many years—that the Welsh water authority should be empowered to make a clear economic charge for the transfer of water resources from Wales.