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Southern Water Authority

Volume 115: debated on Wednesday 29 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received responses from the Southern water authority and the six water companies concerned, to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on water supply in the Southern water authority area; and if he will make a statement.

The Commission's report has been studied carefully by Southern Water and the six water companies. The MMC, while giving a clean bill of health of the quality of service provided, and concluding that Southern Water

is on the whole effectively managed and compares well with the general run of public sector bodies",
drew attention to a number of areas where management could be improved, particularly by the companies. Southern and the six companies broadly accept these overall conclusions although they show rather greater enthusiasm for some of the MMC's individual recommendations than others.I note that Southern Water has now completed its review of its service standards and target levels of compliance as suggested by the MMC. However, I think it does need to continue to follow up the MMC recommendations on the development of its project appraisal techniques and on the management of capital projects, management information systems, and arrangements for consumer representation.I welcome the generally positive attitude the companies have taken to the criticisms the MMC made on the way they ran their operations. They are setting more precise targets for meeting service standards and for operating costs. I like too the progress they are making to develop their corporate planning. The MMC mentioned incomplete or insufficient application of investment appraisal techniques by the companies. The companies are clearly doing something to remedy that.I shall be following up the responses Southern and the companies have made, and will expect a second response from them on action they have taken and results achieved in the autumn. I have placed their first responses in the Library.