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Schedule 5

Transitional Provision on Termination of Appointments

Mr. Moynihan : I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 198, line 9 leave out from provision' to end of line 11 and insert

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which corresponds in relation to any enactment mentioned in Schedule 23 to this Act to any provision made by that Schedule or makes similar provision in relation to any other enactment ;'. Schedule 5(6) enables the Secretary of State, in connection with the making of a replacement appointment or variation of area under clause 11, to make transitional provisions and savings, if he thinks it appropriate, by order. The paragraph as drafted allows any provision corresponding to one made in relation to the transfer date by schedule 23.

The purpose of this technical amendment is simply to broaden schedule 5(6) so that, following the making of a replacement appointment or variation of area, it will be possible to make transitional provisions which correspond not only to the provisions made in respect of the legislation mentioned in schedule 23 but also to other, for example future, legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 8

Sewerage Functions

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle) : I beg to move amendment No. 145, in page 208, line 9, at end insert--

Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 (c. 26) (1) In section 1(1) of the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 (government contributions towards expenses of water authorities for the purposes of rural water supplies and sewerage) the words "subject to such conditions as the Treasury may determine," shall be omitted. (2) For the words "may, in any case in which it appears to him to be desirable so to do, undertake to make a contribution" there shall be substituted the words "shall make a contribution of at least 50 per cent.".

(3) The words "provided that the Minister shall not undertake to make a contribution towards the expenses of making provision for the sewerage, or the disposal of the sewage, of a rural locality unless he is satisfied that the need for making the provision is due to anything done or proposed to be done, whether before or after the passing of this Act, to supply, or increase the supply of, water in pipes in that locality." shall be omitted.'.

As I represent a rural constituency, I am moving this probing amendment so that I may ask the Minister some questions which are of interest to those who live in rural areas.

At present, local Government meets about 50 per cent. of the cost of the schemes to which my amendment refers and I am wondering how much of present legislation is a legacy of the past. In 1989, sewerage services should be available in all areas, except in really isolated places where provision would be uneconomic. Under current requisition procedures, rural sewerage facilities are not being provided adequately, and it would seem that the Government should adopt a totally different approach to this issue.

When I raised the matter in Committee I said that, while the problem affected only about 5 per cent. of households, it was serious problem nevertheless. I am not suggesting the schemes should apply to isolated houses or hamlets, but, as I said in Committee, some quite large villages can be without sewerage schemes. For example, Wormley in Surrey is a semi- urban area with about 400 houses, and Claxby in my constituency is a relatively large village which has been campaigning for some time to have a sewerage scheme.

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Under existing legislation, water authorities have a general duty to provide such a scheme, but the local authority must requisition the scheme. As the local authority pays about 50 per cent. of the cost, there is no incentive for the authority to do that. That results in much buck-passing among local authorities, water authorities and the Government, so that schemes of this type rarely come to light.

I do not suggest that my amendment is the only way forward or that the Government should necessarily pay as large a contribution as I suggest. I hope, however, that the Government will look into the problem which, while small in national terms, is important to rural communities.

Mr. Wigley : I support the amendmemt because the circumstances described by the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) obtain in many rural areas. They certainly do in mine, and I would not belittle scattered hamlets, which also have the right to modern facilities.

It is important for us to consider how financial assistance of the type that we are discussing will be available once the Bill becomes law. In that context, the amendment may not go far enough, but it would be a move in the right direction, and considering that it has been proposed by a Government Member, we in the Opposition should support it.

The hon. Gentleman described it as a probing amendment. I regard it as stronger than that. It should be added to the Bill ; and if the Government say that it is too untidy as drafted, they could accept the principle involved in it and tidy it up in another place.

Mr. Moynihan : Clause 69 gives owners, occupiers and certain public bodies, including local authorities, the right to require a sewerage undertaker to provide a public sewer. The person requisitioning the sewer is required to pay over 12 years any difference between the charges for the use of the sewer and the cost incurred by the undertaker in providing it.

Rural sewerage grant is available under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1944 to reduce the cost which would otherwise fall on those requisitioning a public sewer. It is paid to the undertaker on condition that it is used to reduce the deficit payments required from the local authority or the owners and occupiers requisitioning schemes. The grant is paid at the rate of 35 per cent. of the eligible cost of a scheme or 35 per cent. of £3,310 per property served, whichever is the lower. In 1987- 88, grant totalling £4 million was approved in respect of 68 sewerage schemes.

The purpose of amendment 145, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) pointed out, is to require the Secretary of State to pay grant at a rate of at least 50 per cent. of the cost of the works. I believe that it would be unfair and undesirable to increase the rate of grant in the way my hon. Friend suggests and to compel the Secretary of State to pay grant in all cases at a particular minimum level.

Mr. Wigley : Why?

Mr. Moynihan : Because it would favour those areas where provision of necessary first-time sewerage had been slow in comparison with areas where the water authority and the local authorities between them had made good progress. It would be undesirable because higher rates of

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grant would remove to some extent the financial discipline on both water undertakers and local authorities to ensure that requisitioned schemes were both justified and economically designed.

I hope that what I have said will reassure my hon. Friend about the arrangements and that he will agree to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Leigh : I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Hon. Members : No.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : In that case, I must put the Question.

Question put, That the amendment be made :--

The House divided : Ayes 172, Noes 310.

Division No. 136] [5.59 pm


Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Archer, Rt Hon Peter

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashley, Rt Hon Jack

Ashton, Joe

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Beith, A. J.

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Bidwell, Sydney

Blair, Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Buckley, George J.

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Dr John

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Doran, Frank

Duffy, A. E. P.

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eastham, Ken

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fatchett, Derek

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fisher, Mark

Foot, Rt Hon Michael

Foster, Derek

Fyfe, Maria

Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Hardy, Peter

Haynes, Frank

Heffer, Eric S.

Henderson, Doug

Hinchliffe, David

Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Hood, Jimmy

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)

Howells, Geraint

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Janner, Greville

Johnston, Sir Russell

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kennedy, Charles

Kilfedder, James

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil

Lambie, David

Leighton, Ron

Lewis, Terry

Lofthouse, Geoffrey

Loyden, Eddie

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

Macdonald, Calum A.

McFall, John

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

McKelvey, William

McLeish, Henry

McWilliam, John

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Marek, Dr John

Marshall, David (Shettleston)

Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Meacher, Michael

Michael, Alun

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)

Morgan, Rhodri

Morley, Elliott

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