The National Water Council has concluded that the best way to alleviate the present sense of unfairness about the charging system is to extend optional metering to domestic households. Where this option does not exist at present the council recommends that water authorities should draw up a timetable for its introduction in the next few years.
The council also concluded that, despite the representation which both it and the Government had received, the present legislation does not allow means related rebates for water services, and it reaffirms its belief that assistance to consumers should remain with the social security system.
Finally, I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) for not advising him of the bracketing of his question.