Water Bill [Lords]

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Miss Johnson: I beg to move amendment No. 345, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 16, leave out subsection (7) and insert—

    '(7) For section 91 (pre1985 fluoridation schemes) there is substituted—

    ''91 Pre1985 fluoridation schemes

    (1) With effect from the appointed day, relevant pre1985 arrangements shall be treated for the purposes of this Chapter as if they were arrangements entered into by the water undertaker in question with the relevant authority under section 87(1) above.

    (2) The relevant authority may request such modifications to the arrangements as it considers necessary in order to give effect to subsection (1) above, for example to insert the terms mentioned in section 87(7) above.

    (3) If the relevant authority and the water undertaker fail to agree the modifications requested by the authority—

    (a) subsection (2), (3) or, as the case may be, (3A) of section 87A above shall apply as if the parties had failed to agree the terms of arrangements requested under section 87(1) above; and

    (b) following determination of the modifications—

    (i) the relevant authority shall give notice of the determination to the water undertaker; and

    (ii) the arrangements shall be deemed to have been modified as so determined with effect from the day after the date of the notice.

    (4) Sections 87(8D) and 89(1) above (which relate to consultation) shall not apply to the deemed entry into, and modification of, arrangements by virtue of this section.

    (5) References in this Chapter to arrangements entered into under section 87(1) above shall include arrangements treated as entered into by a water undertaker by virtue of subsection (1) above.

    (6) In this section—

    ''the appointed day'' means the day on which section 61 of the Water Act 2003 comes into force; and

    ''relevant pre1985 arrangements'' means arrangements in pursuance of which a scheme for increasing the fluoride content of water was being operated by a water undertaker by virtue of paragraph 1 of Schedule 7 to this Act immediately before the appointed day.''.'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 347.

Miss Johnson: I will endeavour to be quick in the hope that we will reach the last group.

Amendment No. 345 deals with existing fluoridation schemes. We have included provisions on fluoridation in the Water Bill because of the flaws in existing legislation that originated in the Water (Fluoridation) Act 1985. The flaws have prevented the introduction of any new schemes since 1985, so all current schemes are pre–1985. The amendment will provide for schemes to be treated as if they have been established under the Water Industry Act 1991 as amended by the clause. There is a lot more detail that I can go through, if hon. Members want me to do so.

Mr. Wiggin: The whole Bill is a series of amendments, so I am curious about why amendment No. 345 was not included initially.

Miss Johnson: I am not sure that I can answer that.

New subsection (1) provides schemes to be treated as if they have been established under the 1991 Act as amended by the clause. New subsection (2) provides

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for the strategic health authority to request the water undertaker to modify the arrangements under which the existing schemes operate. New subsection (3) gives strategic health authorities access to the arbitration arrangements that we have introduced in new section 87A if they are in dispute with a water undertaker about terms of modification. New subsection (4) disapplies the requirements for consultations that apply to proposals for new schemes. This is because the existing schemes were the subject of consultations prior to inception and their commencement cannot be contingent on consultation.

Mr. Wiggin: I want the Minister clarify one point. Does the new version of the consultation, which we have debated today, supersede that provision, or was it prescriptive on this initially?

Miss Johnson: I am not clear about the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. Wiggin: Was the consultation process already in legislative form? Was it provided for in a previous Bill, which means that it has not been superseded? Or was it up to the Secretary of State, as we are now legislating?

Miss Johnson: I may have to write to the hon. Gentleman. The lawyers are looking in their books, but I am afraid that I do not have the answer.

Mr. Wiggin: They are not looking very hard.

Miss Johnson: They are, but they are not looking at the right ones.

New subsection (5) provides for all references in the relevant chapter of the Water Industry Act 1991 to apply to the existing schemes as if they had been introduced under new section 87(1). New subsection (6) explains the new status of the existing schemes that will come into force. Amendment No. 347 provides for certain outstanding applications, and new subsection (11) gives the criteria for selection.

The provisions are needed because the health authorities consulted on several proposals to fluoridate their water in the 1990s that were supported by the local population, and in several instances, the water undertakers were sympathetic but could not accept the application for technical reasons. For example, they were uncertain about the indemnities available to them.

To answer the earlier question, the Water Industry Act 1991 contains consultation provisions, which are presumably being superseded by these provisions.

Mr. Wiggin: That does not answer the question, and I would be grateful if the Minister wrote to me.

Miss Johnson: I will be delighted to write to the hon. Gentleman.

It being Five o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order C [29 October 2002] and

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the Orders of the Committee [16 September and 21 October 2003], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment agreed to.

The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.

Amendments made: No. 346, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 16, at end insert—

    '( ) In section 213 (powers to make regulations), after subsection (1) there is inserted—

    ''(1A) But on the occasion of the first exercise by the Secretary of State of the power to make regulations under each of sections 89 and 90 above, the instrument containing the regulations shall not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.''.'.

No. 347, in

    clause 61, page 80, line 18, at end add—

    '(9) With effect from the commencement day, any relevant application shall have effect for the purposes of subsection (1) of section 87 of the WIA as a request made by a relevant authority under that subsection.

    (10) Any other application made before the commencement day ceases to have effect on that day.

    (11) In subsections (9) and (10)—

    ''commencement day'' means the day when this section comes into force; and

    ''relevant application'' means an application which—

    (a) was made before the passing of this Act;

    (b) has not been withdrawn; and

    (c) has not been rejected in writing by the water undertaker to which it was made.

    (12) In subsections (10) and (11) ''application'' means an application made under section 87 of the WIA as it was in force at the time when the application was made (and includes an application made under section 1 of the Water (Fluoridation) Act 1985 (c.63) and having effect as if made under section 87 of the WIA).'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 14, Noes 6.

Division No. 15]

Ainger, Mr. Nick Baker, Norman Brennan, Kevin Burden, Richard Doughty, Sue Iddon, Dr. Brian Johnson, Miss Melanie
Key, Mr. Robert King, Andy Knight, Jim Morley, Mr. Elliot Organ, Diana Palmer, Dr. Nick Tipping, Paddy

Drew, Mr. David Lansley, Mr. Andrew Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Osborne, Mr. George Swire, Mr. Hugo Wiggin, Mr. Bill

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 61, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Column Number: 485

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Brien, Mr. Bill (Chairman)
Ainger, Mr.
Baker, Norman
Brennan, Kevin
Burden, Richard
Cunningham, Tony
Doughty, Sue
Drew, Mr.
Iddon, Dr.
Johnson, Miss Melanie
Key, Mr.

Column Number: 486

King, Andy
Knight, Jim
Lansley, Mr.
Liddell-Grainger, Mr.
Morley, Mr.
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Mr. George
Palmer, Dr.
Swire, Mr.
Tipping, Paddy
Wiggin, Mr.

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