Water Meters

Question Time — Scottish executive — Environment and Rural Development – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 9th December 2004.

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Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative 2:00 pm, 9th December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive how many households have had a water meter installed. (S2O-4472)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

That is an operational matter for Scottish Water, but it advises me that the current figure for the number of households with a water meter is 610.

Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

That figure is disappointingly low. Does the minister agree that meters provide an excellent incentive for measuring and managing water usage and thereby conserving that resource? Will he challenge Scottish Water's unreasonable charging policy, which, because of high standing charges, effectively means that only people in council tax band H can make financial and environmental savings by having a meter?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I do not agree with Margaret Mitchell that the number of households with a water meter, which I indicated in my reply, is disappointing. It is entirely appropriate that we should link the water charges that individuals pay with their council tax liability, because that reflects the value of the property that they occupy. In that sense, the charges are appropriate, manageable and predictable. However, I agree that a case for metering can be made for non-domestic users, because their water usage, unlike that of private households, can be very varied. Indeed, meters have already been installed in many thousands of business premises and allow them to pay for their water as they use it. The critical issue is that household charges should be affordable.