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 Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Daventry 12:00 am, 16th March 1977

I shall give way in a moment. The very fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman felt that he should engage himself so earnestly and noisely in the debate this evening is an indication that his anxiety for devolution was equal to his concern for the partial equalisation of water charges.

All the endeavours that Opposition Members have made have been directed towards improving the Bill. Some useful suggestions have been made—[Interruption]. Labour Member are denying that, but their copybook is not blotless in that respect. One cannot be right every time. I would have thought that the Minister would have been wise to give way once or twice on some of the propositions that we submitted, because there is no credit in winning every time. The right hon. Gentleman continually refers to the support that there is for the Bill in some parts of the House. He will be the first to recognise that the support comes mainly from those who will benefit. One usually receives support from those who will benefit from an arrangement.

The Minister was wrong to chide my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Hodgson) for being the only Members in the Chamber who spoke against the Bill who would be in a position to benefit from the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I am in the area of the Anglian Water Authority myself. I am against the philosophy behind the Bill, as opposed to trying to accept the immediate benefits flowing from it which fundamentally are misguided.

The acrimony that has been evident since some senior members of the Government arrived tonight does not reflect the relationship that we enjoyed in Committee. Senior Ministers are trying to pump poison into that relationship.