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Mr. Leigh : The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) spoke most eloquently against the guillotine on the Bill. Will my hon. and learned Friend speculate on whether she spoke as eloquently against the guillotine on the Wales Bill when she was an assistant Whip on 18 July 1978? Her right hon. Friend the Member for Iswlyn (Mr. Kinnock), who is now the leader of the Labour party, said at the time : "We are faced with an abbreviated guillotine on a runt of a Bill. The only reason why this Bill exists is in order to legitimise the panic that the Government"--[ Official Report, 18 July 1978 ; Vol. 954, c. 448-49.]

find themselves in.

Mr. Howard : I am relieved that my hon. Friend relieves me of the necessity to speculate on the hon. Lady's attitude on that occasion. I am sure that the leader of the Labour party will bear in mind the contrast-- [Interruption.] I was not paying the Leader of the Opposition that accolade, but I am sure that he will comment on the contrast between his attitude and that of his hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon) : Will the Minister accept that in Committee many beneficial points have been made upon which the Government have given assurances on questions relating to disablement, the environment and the Secretary of State for Wales? Had such a guillotine motion affected the first part of our deliberations in Committee, we would not have given such attention to the benefit of the Bill.

Mr. Howard : The hon. Gentleman deserves an accolade for having spoken longer than anyone else in Committee. I will happily pay him that tribute, if tribute it is.

Yes, of course, the Government have taken note of many of the observations made in Committee. We have

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said that it will be appropriate to reflect on some matters. However, in almost every instance, the Government responded in that way to short debates that were relevant and to the point. Those debates secured the objectives that the Committee was entitled to see achieved ; they were not achieved by the verbose meandering and irrelevant debates which repeated points that it was clear would not be accepted.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made a sour little speech at the opening of the debate, and asked for a number of answers that had already been given in Committee--and some of his questions were repeated during the debate. The hon. Gentleman asked about the golden share. There is no mystery about it--I made the position abundantly clear in Standing Committee. We do not anticipate any difficulty whatsoever in relation to the golden share, as we have said more than once.

Mr. Dobson : Are we to give as much weight to the hon. and learned Gentleman's anticipation concerning the value of the golden share as we are asked to give his anticipation that water prices will rise by about only 7 per cent. this century?

Mr. Howard : I will not take any criticism about water prices from a party that in 1975-76 presided over average water price increases of 42.8 per cent. That is the truth of the matter, and Labour Members will do well to reflect on their own record before questioning water prices.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras also spread the calumny that Opposition Members are so fond of spreading in his allegation that the Government have been taken to the European Court on water matters more often than any other member of the European Community. I do not know why Labour Members are so fond of spreading that falsehood. It is entirely untrue. The fact is that the United Kingdom has not been taken to the European Court on a single occasion in respect of water matters. If Labour Members took more care over this country's reputation, they would desist from spreading that self-evident falsehood.

Many matters in the Bill are worthy of the Committee's time. They go far wider than questions of privatisation. Provisions in parts II and III of the Bill will establish a new statutory framework for controlling drinking water quality, river quality and other standards affecting the control of pollution. We are also amending and improving the law in respect of a wide range of matters relating to water supply, sewerage services, water pollution, management of water resources, flood defence, and fisheries. I hope that all those matters will receive the proper and serious consideration that they deserve in the Committee's remaining sittings. The motion's purposes is to ensure an even pattern of debate for the remaining sittings and that important issues gain the attention they merit.

The Bill will result in a more efficient water industry and a much-improved water environment. It will give the customer a more responsive service, and it will free the industry from political intervention of the kind that, in the past, delivered a triple achievement of massive price rises, more employees, and declining investment in sewers and infrastructure. I look forward to proceeding with the Bill in an orderly manner so that, with proper debate and

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consideration, the industry can take its place in the private sector by the end of the year. I commend the motion to the House.

Mrs. Ann Taylor : Mr. Speaker, there is still one minute left.

Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Lady has spoken.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : She may speak with the permission of the House, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker : She may, with the permission of the House--but not now. Time is up.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Speaker-- proceeded to put the Question necessary to dispose of them, pursuant to Standing Order No. 81 (Allocation of time to Bills.)

The House divided : Ayes 272, Noes 199.

Division No. 75] [6.52 pm


Adley, Robert

Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Allason, Rupert

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Aspinwall, Jack

Atkins, Robert

Atkinson, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Batiste, Spencer

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, Vivian

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Benyon, W.

Biffen, Rt Hon John

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Body, Sir Richard

Bonsor, Sir Nicholas

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Buck, Sir Antony

Budgen, Nicholas

Burt, Alistair

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Cash, William

Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chope, Christopher

Churchill, Mr

Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Colvin, Michael

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Cormack, Patrick

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Curry, David

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Dicks, Terry

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Eggar, Tim

Emery, Sir Peter

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Evennett, David

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey

Fishburn, John Dudley

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

Franks, Cecil

French, Douglas

Fry, Peter

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodhart, Sir Philip

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Gow, Ian

Gower, Sir Raymond

Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Grylls, Michael

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hampson, Dr Keith

Hanley, Jeremy

Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')

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