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New Clause 22 - Disputes about the provision of public sewers: premises in Wales

Water Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 12th December 2013.

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‘(1) Section 101A of the Water Industry Act 1991 (further duty to provide sewers) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (7)—

(a) for “Any dispute” there is substituted “Subsections (7A) and (7B) apply where there is a dispute”;

(b) the words following paragraph (c) are repealed.

(3) After subsection (7) there is inserted—

“(7A) The dispute is to be determined by the appropriate person and may be referred to the appropriate person for determination by either of the parties to the dispute.

(7B) If the dispute is between a sewerage undertaker and an owner or occupier of premises in Wales, the NRBW must provide advice in relation to any of the matters mentioned in subsection (7)(a) to (c) if so requested by—

(a) either of the parties to the dispute, or

(b) the appropriate person.

(7C) Any advice provided by the NRBW under subsection (7B) must be provided to both parties to the dispute and to the appropriate person.”

(4) In subsections (8)(a) and (9), for “subsection (7)” there is substituted “subsection (7A)”.

(5) In subsections (8), (9), (10) and (11), for “appropriate agency”, in each place those words occur, there is substituted “appropriate person”.

(6) In subsection (11), in paragraph (b)—

(a) for “the NRBW” there is substituted “the Welsh Ministers”;

(b) at the end there is inserted “, or such person as the Welsh Ministers may from time to time appoint as the appropriate person in relation to such disputes.”

(7) After subsection (11) there is inserted—

“(12) A person may be appointed as the appropriate person under subsection (11)(b) only if the person is independent of the NRBW.

(13) A person is independent of the NRBW for the purposes of subsection (12) if the person is—

(a) an individual who is not a member of the NRBW or the NRBW’s staff, or

(b) a body none of whose members is a member of the NRBW or the NRBW’s staff.’.—(Dan Rogerson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

After that little flurry of democracy in action, we may continue democratically—perhaps more consensually, but we shall see.

The new clause amends section 101A of the Water Industry Act 1991 as it applies to Wales. Owners or occupiers of properties served by private sewers that are not connected to a public sewer may apply to the incumbent water company for connection to a public sewer under section 101A.

The new clause removes the statutory duty for determining disputes under section 101A(7) of the Act from the Natural Resources Body for Wales and places it with Welsh Ministers. It confers a power on the Welsh Ministers to appoint a person or body to determine disputes on their behalf.

The new clause also imposes a duty on the Natural Resources Body for Wales to advise, when requested, sewerage undertakers, owners, occupiers and those  determining disputes under section 101A(7) in relation to premises in Wales. Welsh Government Ministers want to preserve the role of the Natural Resources Body for Wales as the environmental regulator in Wales while enabling it to offer advice and guidance that is independent of the decision-making process to sewerage undertakers and owners or occupiers considering provision of a public sewer under section 101A of the Act.

Photo of Thomas Docherty Thomas Docherty Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I shall be brief, Mr Gray, as I do not want to hold up the Committee. I welcome this move as a sign of further devolution being conducted in a sensible and pragmatic way. I also welcome the fact that Welsh Ministers are being given greater control of water and sewerage in Wales.

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

Just a point of clarification: this is about certain duties and whether they are carried out by the Natural Resources Body for Wales or Welsh Ministers. The arrangement has been consulted on heavily and those in the Welsh devolved areas are happy with it. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 22 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(John Penrose.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 17 December at five minutes to Nine o’clock.