Clause 99 - Requisitioning and adoption of lateral drains: supplementary

Water Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 21 October 2003.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:30, 21 October 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 212, in

clause 99, page 123, line 46, after 'building', insert

'and is outside the curtilage of that building'.

Welcome back to our chilly Committee Room, Mr. O'Brien. You will be amused to know that my wife has just rung to say that the boiler at my home has broken down, so this Room is home from home.

The amendment would ensure that the previous debate, which the Minister just summed up, does not extend to the gap between the curtilages of people's property and home. The definition of a ''lateral drain'' in the Bill could be interpreted as meaning the whole of the drain, from the building that it drains to the public sewer, and not from the boundary of the property of which the building forms a part.

The purpose of this enabling amendment is to clarify the exact meaning of ''curtilage of a building'' and the situation that people would face if the lateral drain between their house and the public drain were damaged. Obviously, if it is in their garden, it is their property and they must deal with it, but we are trying to tighten up the wording so that there is no misunderstanding.

If, as the hon. Member for Sherwood wants, all sewers are taken into the ownership of the water companies, a small section between the public sewer and the house will still be the responsibility of the homeowner. That is my understanding of the drafting, and I want to tighten up the wording so that there are no grey areas about who owns what.

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

The hon. Gentleman is correct. The definition of a ''lateral drain'' in the Bill makes it clear that it is the part of the drain that runs from the curtilage of a building to the sewer, so it is outside the ownership of the property. The Bill deals with the fact that new drains will come under the responsibility of the sewerage undertakers. The definition already makes it clear that a lateral drain runs outside the curtilage of the building and from the curtilage to the sewer. I hope that that clarifies the matter.

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

The Minister has given way, but my intervention may be prolonged. Lateral drain means

''that part of a drain which runs from the curtilage of a building (or buildings or yards within the same curtilage) to the sewer with which the drain communicates or is to communicate''.

I understand that the wording attempts to define the garden—that which is outside the curtilage of the building but within the curtilage of the property.

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

The curtilage is the boundary of the property, and is usually the edge of the garden. The drain will be the responsibility of the householder up to that boundary. Nothing will change on that. The lateral drain runs from beyond the boundary line of the property to the main sewer.

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

The matter has been properly examined. If there is ever a dispute in the future, the Minister's clarification is on record. We have a fair

amount of business to deal with, so I will not delay the Committee further. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 99 ordered to stand part of the Bill.