Does the Minister accept that an increase in water rates that is double the rate of inflation is unacceptable to Welsh water ratepayers, and will he tell the House why Mr. Bernard Doyle, the chief executive of the Welsh water authority, resigned? Do the Government intend to go ahead with the privatisation of the water industry in Wales?
I am satisfied that the increase in charges was the minimum necessary to meet higher costs due to inflation and to enable the board to continue to invest in improving the quality of services, such as water supply and sewerage, and to improve the environment, including coastal waters. The increase for the Welsh water authority is within the band of increases for all water authorities in England and Wales.
The hon. Gentleman's point about the chief executive of the Welsh water authority is not a matter for me, but I understand that he resigned because of a dispute about his contract and that it has nothing to do with other matters.