The hon. Gentleman understands the system that resulted from the Water Act 1973 and that which is proposed in the Bill before the House. It provides for different charges to be levied in different areas. The way to reduce those charges, as we have repeatedly said, in Wales as elsewhere, is by increased efficiency and productivity. We are trying to achieve that through a new, more businesslike authority.
Will the Minister link up with both the farmers organisations and the Welsh water authority to discuss leaking pipes on farms? Is the Minister aware that a farmer in my constituency received a bill for £800, which is about 10 times his normal bill, because a pipe was leaking on his land and he was charged for the water that had disappeared without anyone noticing? Will the hon. Gentleman raise that point with the authorities?
The maintenance of a water supply pipe beyond the water authority's communication pipe is the responsibility of the owner or occupier. Regular checks of the meter and the supply pipe should lead to early detection of leaks.
If the water workers, in threatening to endanger the health of the public, can obtain for themselves the substantial pay rise for which they are striking, will that make it any easier for the Welsh water authority to keep down water charges?