Water Bill [Lords]

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The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 328 to 333.

Miss Johnson: The amendment arises from our better appreciation of the relationship between the boundaries of the water distribution systems and the strategic health authorities. There are 24 water companies in England and 28 strategic health authorities and inevitably there are instances in which a water distribution system overlaps, as we have discussed before. There are also overlaps in Wales. There could be a case in which two strategic health authorities, or a strategic health authority and the National Assembly for Wales, would have to co-operate to undertake joint consultations of the population served by the water distribution system. If the populations were supportive, those bodies would have to co-operate in negotiating agreements. We discussed some of those matters earlier, in passing, and I am happy to discuss them in further detail, if hon. Members wish to do so.

Amendments Nos. 328 to 333 provide for the situation in which a water distribution system spans the border between England and Wales. In that situation, it would be necessary for an English strategic health authority and the National Assembly for Wales to collaborate, where possible, on the making of arrangements. Amendments Nos. 328 to 331 are consequential on amendment No. 332.

Mr. Wiggin: The Minister is talking about consultation and making arrangements. Could she tell us more about the arrangements, and how she envisages that co-operation taking place?

Miss Johnson: Given that, in some circumstances, two strategic health authorities will need to co-operate—the same would be the case if the National Assembly for Wales were involved, although obviously it is a different sort of body—provision is made for establishing arrangements for collaboration.

We want to avoid conflicting determinations holding up the implementation of a scheme that populations support on both sides of a border. Amendment No. 329 gives the Secretary of State and the Assembly the powers to appoint a third party to determine the fluoridation arrangements. We have in mind, for example, someone such as a retired engineer or a lawyer from a water company without any

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connection with the undertaker involved in any dispute, so that such matters can be dealt with as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

At present, we are not aware of any proposals for cross-border fluoridation schemes, but as I mentioned earlier, the west midlands relies on Wales for much of its drinking water, so it makes sense to provide for such an eventuality, even though we are not anticipating the issue coming to the fore. I commend the amendments to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 324, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 20, at end insert—

    '(8D) Before carrying out the consultation required by subsection (1) of section 89 below in relation to a step mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (2) of that section, a relevant authority shall consult the water undertaker in question as to whether the arrangements which would result from taking that step would be operable and efficient (or, where it is proposed to terminate the arrangements, as to whether it would be reasonably practicable to do so).'.

No. 325, in

    clause 61, page 77, leave out lines 21 to 27.

No. 326, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 27, at end insert—

    '87ZA Target concentration of fluoride

    (1) Arrangements under section 87(1) above shall include provision for securing that, so far as reasonably practicable, the concentration of fluoride in the water supplied to premises in the specified area is maintained at the general target concentration of one milligram per litre.

    (2) But the arrangements may provide for the concentration in the specified area (or any part of it) to be lower than that if the relevant authority considers that it is not reasonably practicable to achieve the general target concentration in the specified area (or that part of it).

    (3) Any such lower concentration must still be as high as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

    (4) If, in relation to any area (''area A''), an order under section 88A(1) below specifies a general target concentration lower than that for which any arrangements effective there provide (or, by the previous operation of this subsection, are taken to provide), the arrangements shall have effect from the coming into force of the order as if they provided for the general target concentration specified in the order (subject to the operation again of subsections (2) and (3) above).

    (5) If the result of the operation of subsection (4) above in relation to arrangements in area A is that in an area adjoining area A (''area B'') it is not reasonably practicable to maintain the concentration of fluoride in the water supplied by virtue of arrangements made in area B with the same water undertaker, the order shall be taken to extend also to area B so far as those arrangements are concerned, and subsection (4) above shall apply accordingly.

    (6) An order under section 88A(1) below which in relation to any area specifies a general target concentration higher than that for which any arrangements effective there provide (or are taken to provide by virtue of subsection (4) or (5) above) does not have effect to increase the concentration for which the arrangements provide (or are taken to provide).

    (7) In this section, ''specified area'' means the area specified in arrangements under section 87(1) above.'.

No. 327, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 30, leave out from 'agree' to end of line 31 and insert '—

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    (a) the terms of arrangements requested by the relevant authority pursuant to subsection (1) of section 87 above; or

    (b) a variation in the terms of those arrangements following a request by the relevant authority pursuant to subsection (7)(c) of that section.'.

No. 328, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 32, after 'England', insert

    '(except where subsection (3A) below applies)'.

No. 329, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 35, leave out from 'State' to end of line 36 and insert 'may—

    (i) determine the terms of the arrangements as he sees fit; or

    (ii) refer the matter for determination by such other person as he considers appropriate; and'.

No. 330, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 37, after 'State', insert

    'or, as the case may be, the other person'.

No. 331, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 38, after 'Wales', insert

    '(except where subsection (3A) below applies)'.

No. 332, in

    clause 61, page 77, line 45, at end insert—

    '(3A) Where the Assembly is one of the relevant authorities which has made a combined reference under section 87(8A)(b) or (8C) above—

    (a) the terms of the arrangements shall be determined by a person appointed by the Secretary of State and the Assembly acting jointly; and

    (b) the determination of that person shall be final.'.

No. 333, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 3, at end insert—

    '( ) But (except where it is reasonably practicable to terminate the arrangements separately), arrangements to which section 87(8A)(a) or (b) applied may only be terminated by the relevant authorities acting jointly.'''.

No. 334, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 8, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appropriate authority'.

No. 335, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 9, leave out '87(5)' and insert '87ZA(1)'.

No. 336, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 15, after 'made', insert

    'by the Secretary of State (or by the Secretary of State and the Assembly acting jointly)'.

No. 337, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 16, at end insert—

    '(4) In subsection (1) above ''appropriate authority''—

    (a) in relation to an area which is partly in England and partly in Wales, means the Secretary of State and the Assembly acting jointly;

    (b) in relation to an area which is wholly in England, means the Secretary of State; and

    (c) in relation to an area which is wholly in Wales, means the Assembly.

    (5) An order amending or revoking an order under subsection (1) above made by virtue of subsection (4)(a) above must also be made by the Secretary of State and the Assembly acting jointly.''.'.

No. 338, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 22, leave out 'Secretary of State' and insert 'appropriate authority'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Column Number: 481

Amendment proposed: No. 158, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 22, at end insert

    'then if public opinion is clearly in favour of such an addition'.—[Norman Baker.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 11.

Division No. 14]

AYES
Baker, Norman Doughty, Sue Drew, Mr. David Key, Mr. Robert Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian Osborne, Mr. George Swire, Mr. Hugo Wiggin, Mr. Bill

NOES
Ainger, Mr. Nick Brennan, Kevin Burden, Richard Iddon, Dr. Brian Johnson, Miss Melanie King, Andy
Knight, Jim Morley, Mr. Elliot Organ, Diana Palmer, Dr. Nick Tipping, Paddy

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 339, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 23, leave out 'any prescribed requirements' and insert

    'the requirements set out in regulations made by the appropriate authority'.

No. 340, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 33, leave out from beginning to 'requirements' in line 36 and insert—

    '( ) Regulations—

    (a) under paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above shall include provision about the process which relevant authorities are to follow for the purposes of that paragraph;

    (b) under paragraph (b) of that subsection shall include provision about the'.

No. 341, in

    clause 61, page 79, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 80 and insert

    'if the appropriate authority so directs by an instrument in writing (and such a direction may apply either generally or in relation to a particular proposal).'.

No. 342, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 2, at end insert—

    '( ) In this section ''appropriate authority''—

    (a) in a case where two or more relevant authorities (one of which is the Assembly) propose to request a particular water undertaker to take a step mentioned in subsection (2)(a), (b) or (c) in respect of arrangements in adjoining areas, means the Secretary of State and the Assembly acting jointly;

    (b) in relation to England (except in a case to which paragraph (a) applies), means the Secretary of State; and

    (c) in relation to Wales (except in a case to which paragraph (a) applies), means the Assembly.'''.

No. 343, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 9, at end insert—

    '(1A) The Secretary of State may also, with the consent of the Treasury, agree to indemnify any licensed water supplier in respect of liabilities which it may incur—

    (a) in supplying water to which fluoride has been added by a water undertaker by virtue of any such arrangements;

    (b) (if the licensee is introducing water into the water undertaker's supply system) in complying with any obligation imposed on it by the undertaker in consequence of the arrangements.'.

Column Number: 482

No. 344, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 13, after '(1)', insert 'or (1A)'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

 
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