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Lord Whitty: It is no different from other circumstances: it is whoever took the decision. Either the decision was in line with a decision of the directors, in which case the board is responsible, or it was taken outwith any instructions from the board by an individual employee, in which case it would be that individual employee.

The second amendment relates to the issue of Crown exemptions. The provision relates to how, given the peculiar circumstances of the Crown and the possible very peculiar circumstances of Crown property in a national security context, such property can, in most circumstances, be made to comply with the rest of the regulations. The certification is to cover a situation in which there might be an exception.

Baroness Byford: I thank the Minister again, but I am still not entirely happy with his response on who would be likely to go to prison. It could be an individual who has failed to do whatever they should have done or done something that they should not. If something is done at the direction of, say, the board, does the whole board go to prison?

I have raised the issue, and I would be grateful if it could be given a little more thought. Perhaps, the Minister could write to me and we could consider the matter a little further. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 [Crown application]:

[Amendment No. 179C not moved.]

Clause 75 agreed to.

29 Apr 2003 : Column GC143

Clause 76 [Water conservation]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 180:

    Page 88, line 20, at end insert—

"( ) The Secretary of State shall require appliances using water to be labelled so as to be clear to the purchaser the volume of water they may expect the appliance to require in order to fulfil the purpose for which it is purchased."

The noble Baroness said: The amendment is aimed at exploring what the Government expect to be done with regard to the labelling of water use by appliances. I was pleased at the steps that they took recently with regard to the labelling of electrical appliances and cars. I remind the Government that, in Directing the Flow, they said:

    "We are putting more weight on improving product information on water consumption for consumers".

I would have hoped that the Government might have considered a clear labelling scheme of the sort brought forward—albeit with a lot of encouragement from Europe, as the move did not start nationally—for the labelling of electrical appliances.

I am sure that I need not remind the Minister of the useful statement that he made. He said:

    "What is needed is to make it easier for consumers and citizens to make the positive choices they now know they should make. That includes issues such as product specification, low energy household products and better labelling of all consumer goods, so that we can make the minimal energy use choice".

We are discussing water. Water use choices are equally important, and it often takes a lot of energy to produce clean drinking water.

My amendment is necessary to highlight the fact that water appliances have been left out of the considerations on labelling of water use. Recently, there has been an increase in the use of products such as power hoses. They may make washing the car easier, but I suspect that whereas people used to use a bucket or two, with a power hose they will use—I guess, for I do not own one—about 20 to 40 buckets full. I must declare that I own a power shower. The Minister is right to shake his head; it is reprehensible. I must take it out and get a dribbling shower back in. We should know what sort of water consumption choices we are making. I have not heard the Government mention that, so this probing amendment seeks to explore what action they are taking. I beg to move.

Baroness O'Cathain: The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, spoke about power showers during our previous day in Committee, before the Easter recess. I was appalled, as I use a power shower daily. This morning, I thought to myself that I would do an experiment, so I put the stopper in the bath, while I used the power shower, to see how much water it used. I washed my hair and had a good shower, and there was no more than two inches of water in the bath. Power shower may be a misnomer.

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Someone using a dribble shower will have it on for about 20 minutes, whereas a power shower need be on for only three or four minutes. We should not exaggerate to make the point.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am fascinated by these ablutionary details, but I shall not get into the subject. The matter is not covered in any other legislation, and there is a serious point that is worth supporting.

What we might call the "white goods industry"—those who produce washing machines, dishwashers and so on—are used, nowadays, to having to put on the label the energy requirement. This is a minor extension of that principle and would be worthwhile. A machine that uses five gallons of water, as opposed to six, to do the washing-up or to do a batch of washing is to be commended, provided it still gives things a good clean. Having to put that information on the label of the machine would be a considerable incentive to people to use water more responsibly. We support the proposal in principle, and I hope that the Minister will do so too.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I have some sympathy for the amendment, which would introduce the labelling of products to indicate water efficiency. As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, said, product labelling policy is well established in the energy sector as one element of the integrated product policy approach. As a matter of fact, there is a marked correlation in many cases—most cases, but not all—between the energy efficiency and the water consumption. There is a compatibility issue there.

Since 1992, the regulations, which noble Lords welcomed, have resulted in the appearance of the A to G appliance labels in shops. The labels offer details about washing machines and dishwashers. Of course, the most effective way of conserving water is not to have a dishwasher. I confess to being absolutely marvellous, as I do not clean my car. I had never thought of it as a good reason.

In 2001, the market transformation programme was extended to include domestic water-using products. The programme is consulting on a range of policy options, including product labelling, that could achieve and help to deliver the resource efficiency that the noble Baroness seeks. However, the cost/benefit and technical and legal feasibility of introducing a mandatory labelling scheme for water-using projects have yet to be established. I know that the noble Baroness will understand that, because of the implications for trade, it may be necessary to pursue that through the EU, as opposed to in one country. There is clear potential for environmental product information in general and labelling in particular, and we shall actively encourage the development and provision of reliable consumer information on the water efficiency of products, including labelling, via voluntary schemes in the first instance. As I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, could confirm, in areas where water is metered, customers will demand that information from producers.

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When we have undergone that process, it will enable us to establish the need for mandatory measures and put us in a good position to press for, not respond to, action by the EU, if necessary. I hope that that reassurance will encourage the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness O'Cathain: Perhaps I may ask the Minister about water-efficient products. I understood her to say that details about them would be collected and made available.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The idea would be to encourage manufacturers to provide the information through a voluntary scheme and see how effective that was. Running alongside that would be the cost/benefit and technical feasibility study. After that, we should be in a better position, if it was felt necessary at that point, to press for the EU to take up the issue, because of its trade implications.

Baroness O'Cathain: Perhaps I can help the noble Baroness. Instead of not washing her car, she could have it Teflon-ed. Then, she needs only to put two buckets of water on it a week. That is what I have done. I used to use a hose on my car. One can now get one's car Teflon-ed—it costs about £400, but it saves all that water.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I have a cheaper option. When I sell the car, I wash it.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Members of the Committee who took part in the debate, whether to discuss showering habits or Ministers' ability to use Teflon to good effect. It was a useful debate and I thank the Minister for her encouraging words. I hope that manufacturers will be encouraged to take further steps themselves in labelling goods. I certainly undertake to test both my consumption and that of teenagers, which is much more relevant to showering in my household, by comparing a power shower with one when the power is switched off. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 76 agreed to.

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