Water Companies: Licence Conditions - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 3:18 pm ar 1 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Browne of Ladyton Lord Browne of Ladyton Llafur 3:18, 1 Mai 2024

My Lords, once again, your Lordships’ House is indebted to the forensic skills of my noble friend Lord Sikka. He is the one person in this House who needs no instruction about where to look for what is going on in businesses and in companies, and how important accounts are. With some assistance from him, I had a look at Thames Water’s accounts. Its accounts, directors’ reports and cash-flow statements say that it paid dividends to its parent company as follows: £37 million in 2022, £45 million in 2023, and another £37.5 million in September 2023. However, its own PR spin says that these are not dividends and that this is the way it is paying interest on its debt. That is not what the accounts are for, and the accounts are not right if that is correct. In December, a spokesperson for Ofwat said:

“Following notification that Thames Water has paid a dividend to shareholders, Ofwat is investigating whether this payment meets its licence requirements”.

The Minister is a knowledgeable man in this area, as he tells us, so he should be able to explain what is to be investigated. More importantly, does he know why Ofwat has not reported since December?