Clause 33 - Operation of register

Water Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 10 December 2013.

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

Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a practised routine, Mrs Riordan. Clause 33 introduces a requirement on Ofwat to publish a notice specifying the times at which its register will be made available for public inspection, along with any  charges that may be incurred. The notice must also specify the fees that are payable to Ofwat for producing a certified copy of the papers in the register. Ofwat must ensure that the contents of the register are made available in accordance with that notice.

The clause removes the power of the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers to issue an order specifying the arrangements that must be put in place to make the register available to the public. It implements a red tape challenge commitment to remove unnecessary regulation by repealing the Director General of Water Services’ Register (Inspection and Charges) Order 1989. The original provision was made before the general public were given rights to request information held by public bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and environmental information regulations.

The public can now freely access the information on Ofwat’s website, and the clause reflects a similar provision placed on Ofcom to ensure that the public can still carry out a physical inspection of the register and obtain a certified copy of the items included in it. As a non-ministerial Government Department, Ofwat is subject to general Treasury and Cabinet Office guidance on making information available and charging for services. That will ensure that Ofwat sets appropriate fees under the new provisions. I ask that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 33 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.