Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary Memorandum by the DETR (DWB 35(a))

  Please find enclosed the further information requested by the Environment Sub-committee in your letter of 15 February. The papers cover:

    —  abstraction (proposals put forward in Taking Water Responsibly but not included in the draft Bill; and the proposal that the Environment Agency give precedence to abstraction for statutory domestic supply purposes);

    —  the extent to which the bills of non-metered customers are rising in order to cover the cost to water companies of customers switching to meters;

    —  the impact on low-income families of the current arrangements for charging for highway drainage;

    —  responsibility for supply pipes; and

    —  adopted sewers for new properties.

  We also agreed to clarify the proposals in the draft Bill relating to flood defence. A note on this is also enclosed.

Claire Jenkins

ABSTRACTION

  The Committee requested an explanation of why those provisions raised by the Environment Agency in their evidence were included in Taking Water Responsibly, but were not in the draft Water Bill. Each provision identified by the Agency is addressed in turn.

    —  To require applicants for abstraction authorisations to submit details of the means by which the abstracted water returns to the environment.

    Clause 47 of the draft Bill meets the commitment in Taking Water Responsibly to give the Agency the power to require information necessary to meet its duty to secure the proper use of water resources. Clause 47 strengthens the Agency's powers to require information about abstractions, impounding and "any related matter". It is already possible, under section 38(2)(a) of the Water Resources Act 1991, for the Environment Agency to grant abstraction licences containing provisions about return of abstracted water.

    —  Power for the Agency to waive the requirement to advertise applications which seek to vary the terms of existing licences.

    —  Removal of the need for the advertisement of the conversion of a licence to a time limited status.

    —  To make impounding authorisations, subject to a "de minimis" exemption, into consents for the life of the works authorised and transferable against any person owning or operating the works.

    —  To impose conditions on existing unlicensed impoundments where damage is occurring, subject to rules of compensation.

    We will be adding appropriate provisions for these items to the Bill before introduction.

    —  To amend Section 189 Water Resources Act 1991 to include abstraction return data as on public registers.

    We will consider whether this section needs amendment to make specific provision for publication of information obtained under the expanded powers which would be provided by clause 47 of the draft Bill.

    —  To amend section 204 so as to minimise any permission required for disclosure and ensure consistency with the Agency's policy to operate in an open and transparent manner.

    Clause 47 of the draft Water Bill meets the commitment in Taking Water Responsibly to give the Agency the power to require information necessary to meet its duty to secure the proper use of water resources. Clause 47 strengthens the Agency's powers to require information about abstractions, impounding and any related matters. Section 204 does not prevent the disclosure of any information that is required by the Agency in order to carry out its statutory functions.

  The Committee also asked whether, in the context of the new abstraction licensing system, the Environment Agency should be required to give precedence to abstraction for statutory domestic purposes over abstraction for "non-domestic purposes" (ie in a comparable provision to that set out in the Water Industry Act 1991 with respect to supply undertakers).

  Under section 15(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991, the Environment Agency has a duty to have particular regard to the duties imposed on water and sewerage undertakers by Parts II to IV of the Water Industry Act 1991. Those provisions include precedence of domestic water supplies over supplies for non-domestic purposes.

METER SWITCHING

  The Committee asked for further information on the extent to which bills for remaining non-metered customers were rising due to customers switching to meters.

  Unmeasured household water and sewerage bills have tended to rise more steeply in the past than measured bills. For example, in the final year of the previous periodic review period, between 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the average unmeasured household water and sewerage bill increased by 1.6 per cent in real terms while the average measured bill fell by 2.5 per cent.

  This divergence is caused mainly by the switching of meter optants from unmeasured to measured charging. This affects customers in two ways. Firstly, meter optants have tended to be those with below average consumption of water. This has had the effect of raising the average consumption per household of those remaining on an unmeasured basis, which in turn affects their share of the costs. The second effect is that optants have tended to come from above-average rateable value properties, so increasing the average contribution of each property in the unmeasured group. Both these effects are explored in greater detail below.

  Ofwat regulate tariffs with the objective of maintaining an equality of charging between the two groups. The costs of metering (for example, meter installation and meter reading) are recovered from metered customers alone, so that a customer with an average consumption would pay slightly more to be metered than to pay on an unmeasured basis. But, with this exception, an equivalence is set so that the overall charges paid by all unmeasured customers match their overall consumption of water services. In other words, the total bills of all unmeasured customers would be the same if they were all measured. As a result of unmeasured customers switching to meters, the average rateable value of remaining unmeasured properties falls and the average consumption of all unmeasured customers rises, so therefore the average unmeasured bill rises. So the individual bill of each customer may rise, even though the individual characteristics of that customer may not have changed.

  What actually happens from year to year between measured and unmeasured charging depends on several variables:

    —  the extent to which tariffs may have been unbalanced at whatever starting point is chosen for a comparison—in the early 1990s many companies were regarded by Ofwat as undercharging unmeasured at the expense of measured charges;

    —  the calculation of the measured/unmeasured tariff differential to allow for metering costs;

    —  the size of the fixed standing charge for measured customers relative to the variable charge; as well as

    —  the rateable value characteristics of properties where customers opt for a meter; and

    —  the consumption characteristics of switchers.

  These variables and therefore the effects of switching on charges also differ markedly from company to company. For example, companies with a high fixed charge for unmeasured customers will have an unmeasured tariff under which the difference in the bill of high and low rateable value properties is small, and the incentive for occupiers of high rateable value properties to opt for a meter is reduced. Conversely, a high measured standing charge produces lower potential savings for low-consumption optants. In the past the differences have been accentuated by differences in the meter option policies of different companies. Either having no meter option or metering properties regardless of their characteristics and the choice of the occupiers would produce very different balances between measured and unmeasured charges.

  The complex effects of these many variables produce wide variations. The average measured/unmeasured bill differential is not necessarily highest where metering has reached its highest proportion. In Anglian Water's area, for example, in 2000-02 the proportion of metered households was already 45 per cent, yet the differential between average household measured and unmeasured bills was £20, the same as in Southern Water, where metering was at 20 per cent.

  The introduction of the statutory free meter option will also have an effect on charge differentials. As the meter option takes effect on companies with very different starting points and as metering reaches higher proportions this may produce a different pattern of change. For example, once the optants who will most clearly gain have already switched, leaving a remaining unmeasured group with overall higher than average consumption and overall lower than average rateable values, the characteristics of future switchers will be necessarily different from those already metered.

  Much also depends on the rate of take-up of the free meter option. Ofwat made a provision for each company in the final price determinations for the periodic review allowing for between five and 15 per cent of households, depending on each company's starting point, to opt for meters in the five year period 2000-05. Ofwat is monitoring the take-up. The first three months of the statutory meter option, 1 April to 30 June 2000, saw requests for meters varying between 10 per cent and 528 per cent of those projected rates. It is too early to make a long-term forecast.

  The number of variables, and the fact that these are designedly subject to customer choice, makes it very difficult to project the long-term effect of metering on bills for those customers who choose to remain on an unmeasured basis. As the Minister indicated, it is an issue of which the Department is aware, and the changes will be monitored closely together with Ofwat.

HOUSEHOLD WATER AND SEWERAGE PAYMENTS IN ENGLAND BY INCOME DECILE

  Source:   DETR analysis of DSS Family Resources Survey (FRS)

BASIS 1:  BY NET HOUSEHOLD INCOME DECILE
Average water and sewarage payment (£ per week) Average water payment (£ per week) Average sewerage payment (£ per week)
Financial year:
1994-
95
1995-
96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994-95 1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995-96 1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
First income decile 3.48 3.04 3.31 3.45 3.76 1.65 1.42 1.53 1.60 1.72 1.83 1.61 1.78 1.85 2.04
Second 3.54 3.41 3.67 3.82 4.06 1.68 1.60 1.70 1.77 1.86 1.86 1.81 1.97 2.05 2.20
Third 3.66 3.66 3.74 3.94 4.21 1.74 1.72 1.73 1.82 1.93 1.92 1.95 2.01 2.12 2.28
Fourth 3.85 3.65 3.82 4.00 4.35 1.83 1.71 1.77 1.85 1.99 2.02 1.94 2.05 2.15 2.36
Fifth 4.10 3.77 4.00 4.27 4.62 1.95 1.77 1.85 1.97 2.12 2.16 2.00 2.14 2.29 2.51
Sixth 3.93 3.81 4.00 4.27 4.42 1.87 1.78 1.85 1.97 2.02 2.07 2.02 2.15 2.29 2.40
Seventh 4.08 3.94 4.29 4.41 4.64 1.94 1.84 1.99 2.04 2.13 2.15 2.09 2.30 2.37 2.51
Eighth 4.14 4.18 4.40 4.68 4.80 1.96 1.96 2.04 2.17 2.20 2.17 2.22 2.36 2.52 2.60
Ninth 4.55 4.41 4.66 4.85 5.10 2.16 2.07 2.16 2.24 2.33 2.39 2.34 2.50 2.61 2.76
Tenth 5.07 5.05 5.27 5.55 5.60 2.40 2.37 2.44 2.57 2.56 2.66 2.69 2.83 2.98 3.04
All
  households
4.04 3.89 4.12 4.32 4.56 1.92 1.82 1.91 2.00 2.09 2.12 2.07 2.21 2.32 2.47
Water and sewerage payment as a percentage of total household income* Water payment as a percentage of total household income* Sewerage payment as a percentage of total household income*
Financial year:
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
First income decile 5.8 4.8 4.9 5.1 5.3 2.8 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.4 3.05 2.56 2.65 2.74 2.86
Second 3.7 3.4 3.5 3.5 3.5 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.94 1.81 1.86 1.86 1.89
Third 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.6 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.44 1.41 1.37 1.38 1.42
Fourth 2.2 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.1 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.16 1.07 1.07 1.07 1.13
Fifth 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.7 1.7 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.97 0.88 0.88 0.90 0.94
Sixth 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.3 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.75 0.72 0.71 0.73 0.73
Seventh 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.1 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.64 0.61 0.62 0.62 0.62
Eighth 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.53 0.53 0.53 0.54 0.52
Ninth 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.46 0.44 0.44 0.44 0.44
Tenth 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.29 0.30 0.29 0.28 0.26
All households 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.68 0.65 0.64 0.65 0.64

BASIS 2:  BY DSS EQUIVALISED INCOME DECILE
Average water and sewarage payment by equivalised income decile (£ per week) Average water payment by equivalised income decile (£ per week) Average sewerage payment by equivalised income decile (£ per week)
Financial year:
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
First income decile 3.89 3.66 3.78 4.13 4.27 1.84 1.72 1.75 1.91 1.95 2.04 1.95 2.03 2.22 2.31
Second 3.55 3.60 3.83 4.05 4.34 1.69 1.69 1.77 1.87 1.99 1.87 1.91 2.05 2.18 2.35
Third 3.74 3.57 3.75 4.02 4.40 1.77 1.67 1.74 1.86 2.02 1.96 1.89 2.01 2.16 2.38
Fourth 3.60 3.64 3.79 4.02 4.40 1.71 1.71 1.76 1.86 2.01 1.89 1.93 2.03 2.16 2.38
Fifth 4.08 3.72 4.00 4.19 4.39 1.94 1.74 1.85 1.94 2.01 2.14 1.98 2.15 2.25 2.38
Sixth 4.07 3.82 4.10 4.34 4.50 1.93 1.79 1.90 2.01 2.06 2.14 2.03 2.20 2.33 2.44
Seventh 4.08 3.98 4.29 4.39 4.61 1.93 1.86 1.99 2.03 2.11 2.14 2.11 2.30 2.36 2.50
Eighth 4.21 4.04 4.44 4.52 4.74 2.00 1.89 2.06 2.09 2.17 2.21 2.14 2.38 2.43 2.57
Ninth 4.30 4.28 4.42 4.66 4.97 2.04 2.01 2.05 2.16 2.27 2.26 2.28 2.37 2.51 2.69
Tenth 4.68 4.66 4.83 5.11 5.12 2.22 2.18 2.24 2.37 2.35 2.46 2.48 2.59 2.75 2.78
All
  households
4.01 3.90 4.13 4.35 4.58 1.91 1.83 1.91 2.01 2.10 2.11 2.07 2.21 2.34 2.48
Water and sewerage payment as a percentage of total household income* Water payment as a percentage of total household income* Sewerage payment as a percentage of total household income*
Financial year:
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
1994
-95
1995
-96
1996
-97
1997
-98
1998
-99
First income decile 3.8 3.4 3.5 3.8 3.7 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.8 1.7 1.98 1.82 1.87 2.03 2.02
Second 2.8 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.45 1.41 1.46 1.49 1.55
Third 2.6 2.4 2.4 2.5 2.5 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.39 1.27 1.29 1.32 1.38
Fourth 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.9 2.0 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.07 1.07 1.06 1.03 1.10
Fifth 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.6 0.9 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.94 0.85 0.86 0.83 0.85
Sixth 1.5 1.3 1.3 1.4 1.3 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.77 0.71 0.71 0.73 0.72
Seventh 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.65 0.63 0.64 0.64 0.63
Eighth 1.1 1.0 1.1 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.58 0.55 0.57 0.54 0.54
Ninth 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.49 0.48 0.48 0.47 0.48
Tenth 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.32 0.32 0.31 0.31 0.28
All
  households
1.4 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.2 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.71 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.67

  Source:   DETR analysis of DSS Family Resources Survey (FRS).

  Notes:

  For basis 1, households are divided into deciles on the basis of household income, unadjusted to allow for differences in household size and composition.

  For basis 2, they are divided on the basis of equivalised household income. This measure takes into account differences in the size and composition of households, reflecting the fact that a larger household will tend to have larger essential demands on its resources than a smaller household with the same total income. The DSS and the Office for National Statistics recommend that where income deciles are used as a measure of household welfare, they should be based on equivalised income.

  * The income measure used for comparison with water and sewerage charges is total household income, not including income tax, NI contributions or Housing Benefit. This is the same measure used in the water affordability indicator published in "Quality of Life Counts" (DETR, 1999).

  The Family Resources Survey gives estimates of households' total water and sewerage bills, without splitting the two. The split between water and sewerage charges has been estimated using Ofwat data on average water and sewerage charges.

AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD BILLS FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
Total
water
Total
sewerage
Total all households Water as a % of total bill
2000-01102.73115.79 218.520.47
1999-00112.64134.45 247.090.46
1998-99108.67128.59 237.260.46
1997-98105.34122.40 227.740.46
1996-97102.15118.37 220.520.46
1995-9698.61111.80 210.420.47
1994-9594.68104.80 199.480.47
1994-9489.1096.57 185.670.48
1992-9382.2088.62 170.820.48
1991-9275.1481.00 156.140.48
1990-9164.7770.39 135.160.48
1989-9056.5163.54 120.050.47

HIGHWAY DRAINAGE CHARGES

  The Committee asked for further information about highway drainage charges and the distribution of their impact on customers. This note considers only households, though any change to the system of recovering highway drainage costs would also affect businesses and other non-households who pay both water charges and national and local taxation.

Current highway drainage charges

  Ofwat have information about each company's sewerage charges, but the highway drainage element is not fully separated out by every company. For example, some companies set an undivided standing charge covering all aspects of the sewerage service. The current structure of highway drainage charges varies considerably between companies, even for households. Some companies make a single flat rate fixed charge, others charge a variable amount to measured water customers based on their meter reading, with unmeasured customers paying according to rateable value, and other companies charge a tariff with both a fixed and a variable element.

  No comprehensive information on the average highway drainage charge is collected centrally. Ofwat have made an estimate of the approximate highway drainage charges of each sewerage company on the basis of the information that is available. This suggests that highway drainage will account for about £27 or 12.5 per cent of the average annual household water and sewerage bill for 2000-01.

The incidence of highway drainage bills on customers

  No separate analysis of the impact of highway drainage bills is available. However, considerable information is available on the incidence effects of total water and sewerage bills.

  The Department has just undertaken an analysis of data from the DSS Family Resources Survey (FRS). The results are included in the attached spreadsheet, as they may be of wider interest to the Committee. They show, for a run of years from 1994-95 to 1998-99, the absolute level of bills and the percentage of household income for each income decile. (Alternative tables show the income deciles on an adjusted and unadjusted basis). The bills are further subdivided between water and sewerage, though this separation must be treated with caution as it is based on Ofwat figures for actual bills applied to the FRS data for the bills of sample households.

  The results of this analysis of FRS data show, for the equivalised income deciles (the adjusted basis), an average household water and sewerage bill of £4.58 a week in 1998-99, in a range from a £4.27 average bill for the first household income decile (representing 3.7 per cent of household income) to a £5.12 bill for the tenth decile (representing 0.5 per cent of household income). If the Ofwat estimate that highway drainage charges represent 12.5 per cent of total water and sewerage charges held true evenly at all levels of bills and income, the impact would be strictly proportionate to those FRS figures: an average household highway drainage bill of £0.57 a week in 1998-99, in a range from a £0.53 average bill for the first household income decile (representing 0.5 per cent of household income) to a £0.64 bill for the tenth decile (representing less than 0.1 per cent of household income).

  It is likely that highway drainage charges are in fact slightly more regressive than the total average water and sewerage bill, so that they may represent more than 12.5 per cent of the average water and sewerage bill of lower income households. This difference is because, within the wide range of different company tariffs, several make charges for highway drainage that are entirely flat rate or include a large fixed element, whereas the major part of most water supply and foul water drainage charges is still linked to rateable value. The variation in company tariffs means that any national average has to be treated with caution.

The effect of an alternative arrangement

  It has been suggested that the burden of highway drainage charges could be moved from sewerage companies and their customers to highway authorities. Modelling has been undertaken and published on the effects of changing all water and sewerage charging from a rateable value to a council tax basis, but the results would not be applicable to highway drainage alone. Not only is the present incidence of highway drainage bills probably different from that of overall water and sewerage bills, but also the alternative would recover the costs in a different way. Insofar as highway authorities include a national Government body (the Highways Agency), part of the transferred burden would fall on national taxation as well as the part falling on local highway authorities and their council tax payers. The most noticeable change would be that the local Government share of the new burden would fall entirely on those persons who are liable to pay council tax, who might exclude a number of persons currently paying sewerage charges, giving a narrower base for the recovery of the costs.

  The Government has not supported such a change in charging arrangements because of the lack of sufficient proven benefit to warrant the costs and disruption of a change for companies and local and national government. All transitional costs would ultimately be passed on to water customers and taxpayers.

OWNERSHIP OF SUPPLY PIPES

  The Committee asked whether it would be possible for the Bill to make supply undertakers responsible for the whole of supply pipes to the first point of practicable use by the customer. They considered that this would ensure that water companies made a further contribution to reducing leakage by repairing supply pipes which at present householders were responsible for.

  The issue of statutory responsibility for supply pipes is something we will consider alongside other possible additions to the draft Water Bill. There are, however, a number of concerns about the transfer of statutory responsibility for supply pipes from customers to water companies.

  Firstly, such a transfer of responsibility would remove a property right for which compensation would not be paid, and it cannot be assumed that this would be generally acceptable. Some people might welcome it, but others would be concerned about a water company's right to dig up their garden or path to repair or replace a pipe. Were ownership to extend to "the first point of practical use by the customer," the right might even extend into people's homes.

  Second, there would also be significant cost implications for water companies, which would be passed on to the generality of customers through water bills. This would result in customers with well-maintained pipes subsidising those with poorly maintained ones. In addition, the water company would probably be expected to fund the full reinstatement of the garden or driveway; a considerable expense that would have to be met from all customers' bills. Currently, every water company has a scheme for providing a subsidy for customers who need to repair or replace their leaking supply pipe. While the precise terms of the schemes vary, this provides a flexible arrangement in which customers receive assistance with repairs while not incurring the disadvantage associated with full transfer of ownership.

  Third, transfer of ownership would also transfer responsibility for the replacement of lead supply pipes from householders to water companies. It is estimated that the cost of such replacements would run to several billions of pounds and would again have to be met from increases to the bills of all customers. Under the current system, householders have a range of options available to them to make dealing with the effects of lead pipes more cost-effective. They might decide to combine pipe replacement with general house or floor renovation; to flush the pipes by using water for something else before drawing water to drink; or to buy bottled water for any pregnant women or young children living in the household (levels of lead between 10 to 50 micros will affect only those people, and then only if drunk regularly). These options would not be available to water companies who, if responsibility were passed to them, would need to replace lead pipes at all households where the presence of lead brought about a breach of the 10 micro lead standard. So the cost of dealing with the effect of lead pipes would be greater for companies (and hence, for customers) than it is for householders.

UNADOPTED SEWERS

  The Committee asked whether it would be possible for the Bill to ensure that all new properties were serviced by sewers of an adoptable standard; and that those sewers were therefore adopted by a relevant undertaker.

  Currently there are two standards for building sewers. All sewers must satisfy the Building Regulations , which are essentially concerned with minimum standards for the health and safety of people in and around buildings. If sewers are to be adopted by the sewerage undertaker, they must be built to a higher standard, which is set by the industry. There would be cost implications for developers and home purchasers if this standard were to be applied to al new private sewers. The Department issued a consultation paper last year on "The Provision of New Drains and Sewers" and there was overwhelming support for the proposal in the paper that there should be a single standard for the construction of all new sewers, and that this should be an adoptable standard. We are considering how this single standard can be achieved by harmonising the water industry's current specification for adoptable sewers with the part of the Building Regulations that specifies the standard for new sewers. This part of the Building Regulations is also under review, and has recently been the subject of a consultation exercise. There are a number of technical issues that remain to be resolved and these are being addressed. It is not considered that primary legislation would be required to achieve a single standard for sewers.

FLOOD DEFENCE

  A number of respondents to the Department's consultation on the draft Water Bill have expressed concern about these proposals. This concern has centred on the impression given by the consultation paper that the Bill would abolish Local Flood Defence Committees (LFDCs). This is not the case.

  The Water Bill will make minor technical amendments that are necessary following consolidation of water legislation in 1991, including restoration of Internal Drainage Boards' powers to borrow to fund contributions to the Environment Agency. The Bill will also amend the Environment Act 1995 to allow the number of Regional Flood Defence Committees (RFDCs) to be increased beyond the present maximum of 10.

  These amendments would be needed if, in future:

    —  it were decided to move to a single tier of regional committees, as recommended by the Agriculture Select Committee; and/or

    —  it were considered that any of the existing regions, where there as LFDCs, would be too large to manage with a single regional tier committee.

  The Water Bill will provide an enabling power to make an order to create additional committees. It is proposed that such an order could combine other provisions to increase the number of members of RFDCs and to abolish LFDCs, for which powers already exist but which require an individual order in each case. This would avoid the need for separate orders for these purposes. Any proposal to abolish LFDCs in a particular region would be subject to full consultation.

  The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and HM Treasury are currently conducting a review of the funding arrangement for flood and coastal defence. MAFF plan to consider the committee arrangements in the light of the conclusions of that review, which will be completed in early autumn.

March 2001


 
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