Clause 12 - Arrangements for water undertakers to take water from other persons

Part of Water Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:15 pm ar 5 Rhagfyr 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:15, 5 Rhagfyr 2013

My hon. Friend expresses a view on behalf of the farming community, which I think was uttered tongue in cheek.

Potential suppliers of water will be empowered to sell water to the public supply, building resilience. We firmly believe that the Bill presents valuable opportunities for the Canal & River Trust in many areas.

We are aware of the concerns that the Canal & River Trust had about clause 12, and to address them we have tabled amendments to exclude historic agreements from  the scope of future regulations. For the market to work most effectively, we need to create a level playing field where new water entrants have clear expectations, rights and responsibilities, transparent pricing and fair rules. Everyone must be subject to the same rules.

It would not be appropriate for regulations to confer functions on the Canal & River Trust. In line with our commitment in the Bill to a level playing field, we do not want to benefit any one party above any other. Similarly, it is unnecessary to make the Canal & River Trust a statutory consultee. Like many other stakeholders, the trust is an important stakeholder in the process of developing clause 12 and any future regulations made under it. I am happy to commit to working closely with the trust to ensure that it is fully involved in the process of developing the detail of the regulations and market codes. Please be assured that we intend the regulations to be proportionate, fair and acceptable to all parties, including the Canal & River Trust, and as clear and easy to use as possible.

Regarding the concerns further raised in writing by the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston, it is important to put on the record that we understand the Canal & River Trust’s concerns and that we are in ongoing dialogue. The Chief Secretary was at the meeting with the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife which I attended and it was a very helpful discussion. We will continue to work with the trust on the detail of the regulations and market codes under clause 12.

Our intention is not to cause harm to the financing of the trust through this clause. It is very much against our policy aims, as the hon. Gentleman assumes. I can make clear that our objectives with the clause are as I have described: a level playing field for all participants, but one that is transparent and provides clarity, which protects suppliers and new entrants. Renewals of existing agreements can be included within the scope of the regulations and the Government’s amendments make that absolutely clear. I hope in that spirit, and in the helpfulness which the hon. Gentleman extends, he will feel willing not to press his amendment.