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Volume 940: debated on Wednesday 30 November 1977

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11.53 p.m.

With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House, I beg to present a humble petition on behalf of the National Association of the Launderette Industry and users of launderettes. This petition has been signed by nearly 200,000 customers of launderettes, many of them single people and pensioners without washing machines in their own homes, who, as a result of newly introduced effluent charges on launderettes by regional water authorities under a reclassification of launderettes as a trade rather than a service industry, will be paying a double charge for their water treatment, since they already pay the same sewerage and environment charges, based on rateable values, as other householders.

The petition showeth
That the implementation by the water authorities of the provisions of the Water Act 1973, Section 40 and Schedules 8 and 9, causes your humble petitioners great concern because the imposition of effluent charges will involve additional new costs to launderette users, many of whom, if they could afford washers or had the facilities at home for washing, would pay no extra charge for discharging their washing water into the drains.
Wherefore your humble petitioners pray that your Honourable House pass such legislation as will: restore immediately the exemption granted to launderettes by virtue of Section 4(4) of the Public Health (Drainage of Trade Premises) Act 1937 and Section 65 of the Public Health Act 1961, which exemptions were accepted by the Armour Committee Final Report of Trade Effluents Sub-Committee of the CAWC (1960) paragraphs 122–124, 175(19). And further that your humble petitioner would by reason of the charge be paying twice for discharging their effluent, once through the rates, and once in the launderette, despite the provisions of the Water Act 1973 Part III, Section 30(6) directing the water authority not to show undue preference to or discriminate unduly against any class of person, as they consider the charge discrimination against themselves.
The petitioners are looking to Parliament to redress this anomaly. Those who have signed the petition come from all parts of the country and represent, in addition, many people who use self-service coin-operated launderettes and who may not have had an opportunity to sign the petition. The total number of persons represented by the petition could be more than 600,000, and I would advise the House that this service industry employs 20,000 people.

The petitioners feel very strongly on this matter and, as regular users of launderettes, have given their support to launderette owners by signing this petition.

I am grateful to the Minister for being present tonight, and I conclude with the words of the petition:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.