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Water Service: Northern Ireland

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why recruitment advertisements were placed in the Belfast Telegraph on 17 November for the reorganised Water Service in Northern Ireland before the outcome of a current judicial review is known. [HL206]

The chief executive of the Water Service, Mrs Katharine Bryan, has written to the noble Lord in response to this Question.

Letter from Mrs Katharine Bryan to Lord Laird

You recently asked Her Majesty's Government a Parliamentary Question about why recruitment advertisements were placed in the Belfast Telegraph on 17 November for the reorganised Water Service in Northern Ireland before the outcome of a current judicial review was known (HL206). As this issue falls within my responsibility as chief executive of the Water Service, I have been asked to reply.

The outcome of the judicial review on the water reform legislation would have had no effect on the need for the posts advertised in the Belfast Telegraph on 17 November 2006. These posts are considered crucial to the delivery by the Water Service of the improved efficiency and cost reductions required under the water reform agenda. The successful applicants will assist the Water Service in providing a value-for-money service, which will ensure that charges to customers are kept to a minimum.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the business strategy for the Water Service in Northern Ireland has been agreed; and, if so, by whom it was agreed, when it was agreed, and after what consultation. [HL207]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the cost to the Department for Regional Development of the review on water charges in Northern Ireland. [HL366]

The legal costs to the Department for Regional Development arising as a result of the application for judicial review brought by the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland have been estimated at £125,000.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the figure of £85 million to £90 million which would be lost if the water charges reform in Northern Ireland is not implemented by next April (as outlined in a press release from the Department for Regional Development on 21 November) was calculated. [HL368]

The estimate of £85 million to £90 million which would be lost in 2007-08 was based on the latest available estimate of the revenue to be recovered directly from customers through the new charges.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they propose to accept the advice of the Committee on the Preparation for Government in Northern Ireland to leave the issue of water charging to the Northern Ireland Assembly to be elected in March 2007. [HL369]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland wrote to the Committee on the Programme for Government on 28 November advising that he did not accept its recommendation for a deferral in the passage of the draft water and sewerage services legislation. He has advised the committee of the fundamental importance of water reform to the Government’s ongoing radical programme of investment and reform of Northern Ireland's public services, and of the Government’s intention to proceed with plans to introduce the new arrangements, including domestic water and sewerage charges, from 1 April 2007.