Clause 12 - Orders under section 33 of the WRA, etc

Water Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 16 September 2003.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 5:00, 16 September 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in

clause 12, page 14, line 9, at end insert

'or partly in England and partly in Scotland'.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 28, in

clause 12, page 14, line 11, at end insert—

'(iii) the Scottish Parliament, in relation to the Scottish part,'.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

This is a probing amendment, to find out exactly how much water flows from Scotland to England—and perhaps the other way.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is nearly time.

The amendment deals with the first part of cross-border problems. This is an English and Welsh Bill, yet obviously we must recognise that droughts do not respect boundaries in the way that we might like. The important point relates to water that runs across the border, or to issues between the Scottish Parliament and the northern part of England. This useful amendment will certainly tease out from the Government how they are going to deal with the problem.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is an easy one for me because the hon. Gentleman states that he tabled this probing amendment to find out exactly how much water comes from Scotland into England for water use, and the answer is none. There are no existing section 33 exemption orders that partly affect England and Scotland, and the abstraction provisions of the Water Resources Act 1991 do not apply in Scotland, nor does any part of the exemption arising under the

Northumbria Water Authority Act 1981 extend to geographical areas of Scotland. I hope that that is the answer for which he was looking.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I am most grateful to the Minister. That answer solves the problems that I had, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I beg to move amendment No. 26, in

clause 12, page 14, line 36, leave out subsections (7) to (9).

This is another probing amendment. An order made under subsection (1)(b) revokes the exception order wholly or wholly in so far as it is not already revoked. The order under subsection (1)(b) may also repeal so much of the local or private Act as constitutes the power to make the exception order. As I read that, I had one of my little English crises, and things do not get much better as we continue. Once again, we are looking for clarity in legislation, and I do not wish to delay the Committee unduly if the Minister can give a proper and helpful explanation. I seek his guidance.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We considered clause 12 when we dealt with amendments Nos. 27 and 28. Amendment No. 26 would remove provisions that are needed satisfactorily to deal with the revocation of existing exemption orders. For example, the amendment fails to recognise the need for powers in primary legislation to allow the Secretary of State to protect waters in England, if the National Assembly for Wales repealed an exception order in Wales, because there might be a knock-on impact. If those provisions were not contained in primary legislation, an equivalent provision would need to be made separately in each order to remove the 12 existing exemption orders and one local Act. It is therefore appropriate that provisions dealing with the revocation of existing exemption orders are in the Bill.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I am grateful to the Minister. If the current legislative structure is simply being amended, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Ainger.]

Adjourned accordingly at fourteen minutes past Five o'clock till Thursday 18 September at five minutes to Nine o'clock.