Clause 14 - Abolition of combined licences

Water Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 18 September 2003.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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

I am curious why the clause is necessary. What is wrong with combining abstraction and impounding licences? Those provisions will cease to have effect, but what useful purpose does the clause serve?

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

It is quite simple. The abstraction element will now be time-limited, and will expire, so there is no sense in issuing combined licences because the abstraction and impounding licences have different time scales.

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

I am grateful for the Minister's reply, but I am not completely satisfied that that is a good reason. It is a reason, and it makes sense, but it is not necessarily a good one. I do not see the advantage. If the work involved is damaging the environment, it makes sense that abstraction and impounding licences should be coterminous and expire at the same time. Will the Minister explain why they should not be coterminous?

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

The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that the principle of time-limiting abstraction licences should be extended to impounding licences. They have different functions, and different controls apply to them. We do not need to place a time limit on impounding licences. That would only increase bureaucracy for licence holders, who would then have to apply, unnecessarily, for two licences, even though the time limit applies only to abstraction licences. The purpose of the clause is simply to reduce bureaucracy for applicants.

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

The Minister has gone straight for the jugular this morning. I am allergic to the idea of adding to bureaucracy, and I would be happy to consider withdrawing my amendment. None of us wishes to add to the enormous quantity of red tape that the Government are already introducing in the Bill.

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

Of course, the hon. Gentleman does not have to withdraw anything.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.