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Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I thank the Minister, but the amendment concerns drought planning purposes. That is really the problem. As I explained several times during the passage of the Bill, one cannot plan for drought or for over-rainy conditions. It is a real problem in the South East. We have been very fortunate in the past few years and have been able to just about cope when there has not been a lot of rainfall, but in the past the drought has been very serious. Without this sort of sleeper licence the water companies are not able to cope.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, if the non-use of a licence was a precautionary measure against drought, or contributed to a precaution against drought, there would be no grounds for the Environment Agency to intervene. Therefore, the issue of compensation would not arise. The Environment Agency must act reasonably. If it does not, there is the possibility of appeal to the Secretary of State or a judicial review of

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the decision. The amendment seems to envisage a situation in which a licence is revoked when the non-use is for a valid reason. That would not arise.

There are also technical problems with the amendment, if the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, is tempted to pursue it. It misconceives the situation in the first place. It is certainly not the intention of the Environment Agency to revoke licences simply because they have not been used and certainly not in circumstances when non-use contributes positively to water resource management or to a precaution against adverse water resource development.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady O'Cathain for her contribution and I thank the Minister. If my amendment has technical problems—at this stage of the Bill I cannot do anything about that—my colleagues in another place may be able to look at it again. If the Minister is saying the Environment Agency will not intrude or misinterpret the situation in the wrong way, I must return to what I have said throughout the Bill. The Minister will be well aware of what I am going to say. I cannot find that anywhere in the Bill. It is not there. I do not think that I am asleep or too far past it.

One of the grievances that we have with the Bill is that too much is given to the Environment Agency. The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, is in her place. There is no personal animosity at all in the matter. There is a question over whether the Environment Agency is responsible or reliant on having to come back to Parliament to explain its decisions. It is at arm's length from Parliament. Therefore, it is important that, if there is an opportunity in a Bill to do something positive, we should take it.

Having said that, although I do not know whether I feel any better for having said it, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 [Withdrawal of compensation for certain revocations and variations]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 27 and 28:

    Page 33, line 25, leave out from "protect" to end of line 26 and insert "from serious damage—

(i) any inland waters,
(ii) any water contained in underground strata,
(iii) any underground strata themselves,
or any flora or fauna dependent on any of them." Page 33, line 28, at end insert—

"( ) Expressions used in sub-paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of subsection (1)(d) are to be construed in accordance with section 221 of the WRA, and "waters", in relation to a lake, pond, river or watercourse which is for the time being dry, includes its bottom, channel or bed."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 30:

    After Clause 35, insert the following new clause—

(1) The relevant WRA provisions apply to (or in relation to) the following sections of this Act (the "applicable sections") as they apply to (or in relation to) Part 2 or, as the case may be, Chapter 2 of Part 2 of the WRA—
(a) section 5(existing impounding works),
(b) section 6(existing impounding works: works notices), and
(c) section 12(orders under section 33 of the WRA, etc).
(2) Accordingly, in the relevant WRA provisions—
(a) references to Part 2 of, or to Chapter 2 of Part 2 of, the WRA are to be read as if the applicable sections were included in that Part or that Chapter,
(b) references to the related water resources provisions are to be read as if those provisions meant, in relation to the applicable sections, the relevant WRA provisions other than section 222 of the WRA, and
(c) references to the Secretary of State are to be read as references to the appropriate authority (as defined, in each case, in the applicable section in question).
(3) The "relevant WRA provisions" are the following provisions of the WRA—
(a) section 120 (contributions between the Agency and certain other authorities),
(b) section 158 (works agreements for water resources purposes),
(c) section 201 (power to require information in respect of water resources functions), as substituted by section 70 of this Act,
(d) section 216 (enforcement: powers and duties),
(e) section 222 (Crown application), as in force immediately before the substitution made by paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 21 to the Environment Act 1995 (c.25) and for so long as the substituted section 222 does not apply to Part 2 of the WRA.
(4) Section 220 of the WRA (provisions relating to service of documents) applies to documents required or authorised by virtue of any of the applicable sections to be served on any person as it applies to documents required or authorised to be served by virtue of the WRA.
(5) References in the WRA to the functions (generally) of the Environment Agency are to be read as including the Agency's functions under the applicable sections."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 37 [Consumer Council for Water]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 31:

    Page 39, line 20, at end insert—

"( ) In the exercise of its functions the Council shall have regard, where relevant, to any benefits to consumers from the achievement of sustainable development."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the four amendments in the group respond to points made on Report about the sustainable development duty on the consumer council for water, a duty to consult the council and the allocation by the Competition Commission of the costs connected with appeals against price limits.

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One amendment relating to the consumer council and licensees was overlooked on Report. I think it is the final amendment in the group. The other amendments respond to anxieties expressed at earlier stages. I beg to move.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank the Government for tabling the amendments. I am particularly pleased to see Amendment No. 31, which gives the consumer council the ability to have regard to sustainability duty. When the council is formed, it will be grateful for the opportunity to be able to have that duty within its remit.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, on these Benches, we thank the Minister for considering the issues raised at length on Report and for tabling the amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 32:

    After Clause 41, insert the following new clause—

After section 5 of the WIA there is inserted—


(1) In this section the Agency, the Authority, the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water and (if separately appointed) the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water for Wales and the Consumer Council for Water shall together be referred to as "the regulators".
(2) The Secretary of State, the Assembly and the regulators shall consult and cooperate with one another in those matters which affect the water industry and where there is or may be an overlapping or conflicting interest.""

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment is an abbreviated form of the amendment that we moved on Report. The Minister greeted that amendment with the immortal words:

    "This amendment is better than the previous one, but it is not quite there yet".—[Official Report, 24/6/03; col. 183.]

The amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 36, which, I hope that the Minister will say, is the one that, he thinks, is "there".

I am not sure that the Minister's amendment is as broad in scope as ours, but, to the extent that it meets much of what we have asked for, I am grateful to see it. The Minister may wish to speak to it himself. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, pre-empts me. Amendment No. 36 is intended to be an improvement on his amendment and to be more workable. It is directed at the same objective. The need for the regulators to co-operate with each other has been emphasised at several stages of the Bill's passage.

The point that I have made in qualification of that is that each regulator has distinctive duties. We consider that it is better that they use bilateral and multilateral memoranda, rather than having an all-embracing

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duty, as the noble Lord's amendment would impose. Our amendment will achieve the kind of co-ordination that the noble Lord and others have sought.

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