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 Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda 12:00 am, 16th March 1977

I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. At the sixth sitting the right hon. Gentleman, announcing that it would not be possible to implement the Bill for the next financial year, said: The Secretary of State and I have reluctantly had to conclude that it will not be possible to get the Bill on the statute book in time to present an order to Parliament for the effects of the Bill to be implemented for the financial year 1977–78. Then, in a most revealing remark, the right hon. Gentleman said: The Government very much regret that situation, which has been brought about by the lack of expedition with which we have applied our minds to these matters."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 17th February 1977; cc. 307–8.] That reflects the circumstances in which the right hon. Gentleman allowed himself to be put.

What, in fact, he did was to try to introduce this legislation too late in the day to give it a reasonable chance of full discussion. It is no real credit to say that the Bill came back unamended. I recall that when we had Divisions the right hon. Gentleman, quite properly, saw that his side of the Committe was Whipped. That is how the Bill got through unscathed. We did not vote the same way all the time, as Labour Members did.

It is therefore no credit to say that the Bill came through unscathed. In fact, the argument was won on a number of occasions by my right hon. and lion. Friends. The right hon. Gentleman has yet to answer the rate support grant objection. I am glad that the Secretary of State has joined—