When he expects to publish guidance on the transfer of ownership of private drains and sewers to water companies.
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We have previously made clear our intention to consult on proposals for regulations to implement the transfer of private sewers before the summer, setting out the detailed arrangements for transfer. I am pleased to announce that we have made further progress and that we will be able to bring forward proposals for consultation on the regulations a little earlier-by the end of May.
That will be of some encouragement to my constituents in the village of Codsall who fear flooding every time there is torrential rain. Can the Minister give me an absolute guarantee that we will have action within the year?
Yes, indeed. I am greatly encouraged by the hon. Gentleman's comments.
We have made clear our commitment to the transfer of private sewers. We will provide enough time for consultation, and we will begin the transfer in 2011.
This will be my last appearance at DEFRA questions. Members will be pleased to learn that I shall not be asking about fish, otters or cormorants. The session has, however, been enhanced by the notion of Sunday walk-by shootings in Bogota.
The Minister will be aware of the 10-year campaign that I have waged on behalf of my constituents on the Haddocks estate in Tilehurst for the adoption of their drains by the water companies, as recommended by the excellent Pitt review. Can the Minister assure them that he has managed to secure cross-party agreement for that very necessary measure, so that whoever wins the next election, my constituents will not face the horror of a hike in their bills as a result of the failure to adopt their drains many years ago?
I commend my hon. Friend on his campaign on behalf of people living on the Haddocks estate and elsewhere. I also commend others who have campaigned long and hard. I think-I am now looking across at the Opposition Front Bench-that we have a consensus on the transfer of private sewers from 2011. That will be good for my hon. Friend's constituents, and for tens of thousands of people throughout the country. It will be good for Norman and Sheila Jewell of Pencoed, Mike Edwards of Sarn, Brian Whitmore of Brynna and many others. It will save them from the horror of facing bills for, in some instances, tens of thousands of pounds when their private or lateral drains collapse.