asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether the Government are studying any methods of charging for water rates other than the existing one; and, if so, what they are;(2) whether he has received the report he requested from the National Water Council on the methods of raising water charges and their impact on consumers; and, if so, what its conclusions were.
I have received the National Water Council's advice on water charges policy. More work still needs to be done, but briefly the council's general conclusion is that section 30 of the Water Act 1973 provides the right long-term charging philosophy, and that there is no need to extend the 1 April 1981 deadline set in section 30(5) of the Act. The council also endorsed the principle that industrial and commercial consumers should be offered the option of receiving measured supplies and paying for those services by measure.These moves will go some way towards the elimination of present crosssubsidisation of the domestic consumer by the industrial and commercial consumer. The council estimates that on average the impact on domestic charges would be, to raise them by 10 per cent. over four years: I am seeking more detail on this in the light of the transitional arrangements proposed by the individual water authorities.