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I had previously asked the Secretary of State when each scheme would be started, when it would be completed and to what standard discharges would be improved. The answer that I received to all those questions was that the Department did not know. I thought that, given the Minister's claims that the regulations improve matters, we should find something in the regulations to deal with this. But the Government do not know and they do not care. To talk about meeting standards and then to take no interest in the method or the cost of doing the job is a failure. The Government are not demanding the appropriate records to be kept on the meeting of derogations and the schemes of work that are needed. That is a failure.

Let me deal with water supply and water quality, on which the Joint Committee's remarks are devastating. There is no doubt that in this case the regulations require elucidation. On the presence of coliforms, the Department's witnesses admitted that the drafting of the regulations was not successful. They admitted that the drafting of regulation 6(2) was "defective" and "confusing".

Mr. Cash : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Michael : The Government's regulations are defective and confusing. The accusation has not been answered by the Minister and I certainly shall not give way to hon. Members who cannot be bothered to be here for the debate when the Minister has failed in his task tonight.

Mr. Cash rose --

Mr. Howard rose --

Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) is not giving way.

Mr. Michael : Two weeks ago the Secretary of State took the word "wholesome" out of the Bill and, across the Dispatch Box, told me that that word meant nothing. It appears in the regulations. In addition, paragraph 3 of the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations represents an attempt to back off from the EC's 100 per cent. criterion on water quality. Paragraph 11 states :

"a water undertaker shall determine, in respect of each of its water supply zones, such number and location of sampling points as will in its opinion secure that analysis of samples obtained from those points in respect of the parameters listed in Tables A to E will, so far as is reasonably practicable, produce"

the data needed. The undertakers decide, and that is the weakness in the regulations.

Paragraph 23 contains the phrase

"so far as is reasonably practical the appropriate requirements shall be satisfied".

Again, the requirements will not be enforced or pressed on water authorities. Paragraph 28 suggests that it should be a defence for an undertaker to show that it took

"all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence".

Who will decide? Subsection (4) says :

"Proceedings for an offence shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of the Secretary of State or the Director of Public Prosecutions."

The Director of Public Prosecutions cannot enforce the regulations ; nor can a local authority ; nor can consumers. What sort of regulations are these?

Tonight the Minister and his Back-Bench Members have followed the old Tory maxim, "If your case is weak shout a lot and be insulting," together with the new Thatcherite maxim, "If you are in trouble, pretend that the


Column 433

last 10 years did not exist." I shall make one point in response to questions asked by the Minister and others about Labour's record. From 1974 to 1979, average capital expenditure on water authorities was £1,254 million per annum. From 1979 to 1987, the Conservatives achieved an average of only £922 million. That is not a good record. That is a cut. In each debate the Minister has tried to move the goal posts and--

It being three hours after commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to the Order [14 July] : --

The House divided : Ayes 207, Noes 310.

Division No. 309] [9.32 pm

AYES

Allen, Graham

Anderson, Donald

Archer, Rt Hon Peter

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashley, Rt Hon Jack

Ashton, Joe

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Beckett, Margaret

Beggs, Roy

Beith, A. J.

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

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

Bermingham, Gerald

Bidwell, Sydney

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buckley, George J.

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Cartwright, John

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Crowther, Stan

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Doran, Frank

Douglas, Dick

Duffy, A. E. P.

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eadie, Alexander

Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fatchett, Derek

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

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

Fisher, Mark

Flannery, Martin

Flynn, Paul

Foot, Rt Hon Michael

Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)

Foster, Derek

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Garrett, John (Norwich South)

Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)

George, Bruce

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Gould, Bryan

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Haynes, Frank

Heffer, Eric S.

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)

Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Home Robertson, John

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)

Howells, Geraint

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kennedy, Charles

Kilfedder, James

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil

Kirkwood, Archy

Lambie, David

Lamond, James

Leadbitter, Ted

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Livsey, Richard

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)


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