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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 42:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 42, which changes the wording relating to self-laid sewers, I should like to refer to Amendments Nos. 43 and 46. Amendment No. 43 achieves three inter-related aims. It ensures that the undertaker and non-domestic customers can enter into agreements equivalent to the self-lay provisions, and in such agreements the undertaker can agree to make a

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declaration for the vesting of such water mains or service pipes. It allows the detailed provisions of the self-lay regime to apply to domestic supplies only.

Amendment No. 46 clarifies the prohibition in the Bill on the connection of pipes laid by parties other than the undertaker. The prohibition is that pipes cannot be connected to the undertaker's network unless the pipes concerned are vested in the undertaker. These are sensible precautions to bring self-lay provisions into the main network. I beg to move.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I welcome the amendments, which relate to my Amendment No. 54. These proposals improve the situation considerably, and I welcome them.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 90 [Self-lay and adoption of water mains and service pipes]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 43 to 53:

    Page 102, leave out lines 1 to 3 and insert—

"( ) Subsection (1) above shall not apply in the case of water mains or service pipes which are to be used (in whole or in part) for the purpose of supplying water other than for domestic purposes, but—
(a) nothing in this section shall prevent a water undertaker from agreeing apart from this section to declare any such water main or service pipe (or a part of it, as specified in the agreement) to be vested in the undertaker; and
(b) such a declaration shall take effect as a declaration made under this Chapter." Page 102, line 5, after "pipe" insert "to which subsection (1) above applies"

    Page 103, leave out lines 36 to 41.

    Page 105, line 28, at end insert—

(1) Where a person (other than a water undertaker) constructs a water main or service pipe which is to be used, in whole or in part, for supplying water for domestic or food production purposes, no water undertaker may permit that water main or service pipe to become connected with its supply system unless it vests (to the relevant extent) in a water undertaker.
(2) In subsection (1) above, "the relevant extent" means the extent specified in the agreement for the vesting in the undertaker of the water main or service pipe in question.
(3) The prohibition imposed on a water undertaker by subsection (1) above shall be enforceable under section 18 above by the Authority." Page 105, line 30, leave out "51C" and insert "51D"

    Page 105, line 39, leave out "mentioned in subsection (2) above" and insert "specified for those purposes in the relevant vesting agreement."

    Page 105, line 44, leave out "51A(11)" and insert "51D(1)"

    Page 106, line 5, leave out "51A(11)" and insert "51D(1)"

    Page 106, line 25, leave out "under section 51A above"

    Page 106, line 30, leave out "under section 51A above" and insert "to make such a declaration."

    Page 106, line 34, leave out "51D(3)" and insert "51E(3)"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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Clause 91 [Requisition and adoption of sewers]:

Lord Livsey of Talgarth moved Amendment No. 54:

    Page 108, line 19, at end insert—

"(5) The Secretary of State shall, within 2 years of the coming into force of this section, make regulations providing that the ownership of private sewers connected to the public system shall be transferred to sewerage undertakers or local authorities.
(6) Regulations may not be made under subsection (5) unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the regulations has been laid before and approved by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for coming back to this issue. I welcome the correspondence I have had from the Minister as he is on the verge of carrying out a consultation. I tabled the amendment because it quantifies the situation on unadopted sewers. In fact, I would describe this as the unadopted sewers and cowboy builders' amendment. It underlines what a serious matter this is to many people throughout the country.

I shall quote briefly from a letter that I received from Councillor Ken Harris of Knighton on the Welsh borders. He describes the situation in the town, saying:

    "The sewers in this particular part of the town consist of a pitch fibre system installed by the firm of Dorcas Engineering about 30 years ago. The firm went out of business about 15 years ago. The system was never adopted and the Water Authority—Severn Trent—maintain that they will never adopt such a system! In fact, one officer of the company 'threatened' me that if I created too much trouble over the problem, the Environment Agency could come in, close down the present system and force Severn Trent to install an adoptable sewer but at direct cost to the present residents. The Water Authority of the day when the system was installed declined to adopt it and subsequent Authorities right up to the present one—Severn Trent—have all followed the same line.

    The result is that no-one will accept responsibility. Should any problems occur, then no Authority, certainly not Severn Trent, will accept any responsibility. This despite the residents having continuously paid charges over 30 years . . . Severn Trent, in their refusal to accept unadopted sewers, argue that it is not their responsibility to transport effluent to their treatment works. They say that the payments made by householders are only for the treatment of effluent when it reaches the Treatment Works. If this is the case, why do they accept responsibility for faults that occur in adopted sewers long before they reach the Treatment Works?"

Indeed, sums of money from householders have been asked for in certain instances that I know of to pay for that situation.

I do not want to pre-empt the Minister's consultation. However, I want to put it on record that I believe that a transfer of the unadopted sewers would address the question and would be the most satisfactory answer in this case, certainly from the point of view of strategy, pollution and the environment. There are other possibilities connected to management of systems, but not transfer of ownership, which is very important. Whatever comes out of the Minister's consultation, I hope that transfer will be the final solution. The issue of management is best resting with ownership in an integrated system. I would certainly advise this course when the time comes to make the final decision, and I believe that it would solve the problem.

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Obviously, at this time of night, discussing such matters as sewers is not very desirable. We are nearly at midnight. None the less, I cannot underestimate the importance of the issue, and I am pleased that the Minister has written to me about his proposals for the consultation to take place. I hope that that is expedited very soon and that there will be a satisfactory outcome. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I recognise the noble Lord's views. It is one of the main options on which we are proposing to consult, but he is doing what he said that he would not do: trying to pre-empt the consultation by inserting the amendment in the Bill. Indeed, there would be a number of consequentials in terms of funding and responsibilities that would have to be faced, were we so to do. I cannot accept his amendment, but I accept his contribution towards the consultation.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. I believe that it is to the advantage of those who will be consulted to read the proceedings that have just occurred. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 55:

    Page 118, line 2, at end insert—

"( ) in the paragraph relating to functions under section 67, for paragraphs (a) and (b) there is substituted—
"(a) for the making of regulations concerning water supplied using the supply system of a water undertaker, the function is transferred in relation to the supply system of any water undertaker whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales;
(b) for the making of regulations concerning water supplied other than using the supply system of a water undertaker, the function is transferred in relation to Wales.","

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 55 and 56 are technical and relate to the regulation of standards of wholesomeness of water. They make amendments to the order that transfers functions to the National Assembly for Wales. The aim is that licensed water suppliers should be regulated on the same basis as the undertakers whose systems they use. The National Assembly will continue to set standards for any water put into the public water supply system, whether by licensees or undertakers or any water undertaker whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales.

Paragraph (b) of Amendment No. 55 ensures that regulation of private water supplies, which is a local authority function, still follows national boundaries. I beg to move.

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