House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Water Industry Bill [H.L.] - continued          House of Lords

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ANNEX B

Extracts from the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, referred to in paragraph 17 of the Notes. The amendments proposed in the Water Industry Bill are shown in bold. These extracts have no authoritative status.

By reason of the amendments made by this Bill, sidenotes referring to the Customers Council are no longer accurate.

Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994

Alteration of water areas and sewerage areas

63. (l) Subject to subsection (4) below, the Secretary of State may from time to time by order amend column 2 of Schedule 8 to this Act so as to alter water areas or sewerage areas of the new water and sewerage authorities.-

(2) A statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.-(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) above charges are enforceable in a manner specified in this subsection against a person if-

(3) An order under this section may include such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as the Secretary of State may consider necessary or expedient for the purposes of the order.

(4) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State shall prepare a draft of the order, shall consult with every new water and sewerage authority whose area would be altered by the order and with the Commissioner (established under section 67A(1) of this Act) and shall publish in the Edinburgh Gazette, and in one or more local newspapers circulating in the geographical area affected by the order, a notice

    a)     stating the general effect of the order; and

    b)     specifying the places where copies of the draft order, and of any maps relating to it, may be inspected, free of charge and at all reasonable times, during a period of not less than twenty-eight days which begins with the date on which the notice is so published; and

    c)     stating that any person affected by the order may within that period, by intimation in writing to the Secretary of State, object to the proposed making of the order

(5) The Secretary of State shall serve a copy of a notice published under subsection (4) above on every body which he has, in accordance with that subsection, consulted.

(6) The Secretary of State shall have regard to any objection made by virtue of subsection (4)(c) above and timeously received; and he may then proceed to make the order, either in the form of the draft order or as amended by him

(7) For the purposes of subsection (6) above, an objection is timeously received if received by the end of the specified period of not less than twenty-eight days which begins with the latest date on which is published an issue of the Edinburgh Gazette, or of a local newspaper, in which the notice mentioned in subsection (4) above appears by virtue of that subsection.

.........

Codes of Practice for new water and sewerage authorities

66.-(1) A new water and sewerage authority shall draft a code of practice which shall make provision

    a)     as to their standards of performance in providing services to their customers;

    b)     for procedures for dealing with complaints by their customers or their potential or former customers;

    c)     as respects the circumstances in which they will pay compensation if or in so far as those standards are not attained; and

    d)     as respects such matters as are incidental to the provision made under paragraphs (a) to (c) above;

and the code may include such supplemental provisions as appear to the authority to be appropriate.

(2) [This subsection is to be repealed by the Bill.]

(3) The authority shall endeavour to comply with their code of practice as for the time being approved by virtue of this section; but contravention of that code shall not of itself give rise to any criminal or civil liability.

(4) Subject to subsection (1) above, the authority may from time to time-

    a)     vary; or

    b)     revoke and replace,

their code of practice as so approved; and the varied or new code shall be sent forthwith by them in draft to the Commissioner.

(5) Subsections (4) to (6) of section 76 of this Act shall apply as respects a draft sent under subsection (4) above as they apply to a charges scheme made under that section.

(6) The authority shall take such steps as appear to them appropriate to inform customers and potential or former customers of the contents for the time being of their code approved by virtue of this section.

(7) The Commissioner-

    a)     shall monitor the compliance by each authority with their code of practice as so approved.

    b)     may advise the Secretary of State on such compliance, and

    c)     may request an authority to review their code of practice, or any provision of it, in such respects as the Commissioner may specify.

67. [This section is to be repealed by the Bill.]

The Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland.

Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland and Consultative Committees

67A-(1) There shall be a Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland (in this Part of this Act referred to as "the Commissioner"), who shall have the general function of promoting the interests of customers of the new water and sewerage authorities.

(2) In respect of each new water and sewerage authority there shall be a Water Industry Consultative Committee, which shall have the general function of advising the Commissioner on the promotion of the interests of customers of that authority.

(3) In exercising his functions in relation to an authority the Commissioner shall have regard to any advice given to him by the Consultative Committee in respect of that authority.

(4) The Secretary of State may, after consulting the Commissioner, give him directions of a general or specific character as to the exercise of his functions; and the Commissioner shall comply with those directions.

(5) Schedule 9A to this Act (which makes further provision about the Commissioner and Water Industry Consultative Committees) shall have effect.

Functions of Customers Council

68.-(1) [This subsection is to be repealed by the Bill.]

(2) The Commissioner shall investigate any complaint made to him, or to the appropriate Consultative Committee, by a current, potential or former customer of a new water and sewerage authority, as respects a function of that authority (whether as a water authority or as a sewerage authority).

(2A) The Commissioner need not investigate such a complaint if-

    a)     the complainer has not pursued the complaint with the authority, or

    b)     it appears to the Commissioner that the complaint is vexatious or frivolous.

(3) where the Commissioner considers it appropriate to do so in connection with a complaint investigated by him under subsection (2) above, he shall make representations on behalf of the complainer to the authority in question about any matter-

    a)     to which the complaint relates; or

    b)      which appears to him to be relevant to the subject matter of the complaint.

(4) The Commissioner shall advise the Secretary of State on any matter which appears to either of them, to relate to -

    a)     the standard of service provided by a new water and sewerage authority to their customers; or

    b) the manner in which any such authority conduct their relations with their customers or potential or former customers.

(5) The Commissioner shall have power to do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is incidental or conducive to, the performance of any of his functions under this Act.

Power of Customers Council to require information

69. A new water and sewerage authority shall, on being requested to do so by the Commissioner, supply the Commissioner with such information held by them as he may reasonably seek in the exercise of his functions under this Act; but where the authority and the Commissioner cannot agree as to whether the information is sought reasonably, either of them may refer the matter to the Secretary of State, whose determination in that regard shall be final.

Annual reports by, and information from, Customers Council

70.-(1) Without prejudice to subsection (3) below, the Commissioner shall, as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, submit to the Secretary of State a report on his exercise of his functions during that financial year.

(2) The Commissioner shall arrange for the report to be published in such manner as he considers appropriate.

(3) The Commissioner shall furnish the Secretary of State with such information regarding the exercise, or proposed exercise, of his functions under this Act as he may from time to time require.

Funding of Customers Council

71.-(l) The Secretary of State may, to such extent as may be approved by the Treasury, defray or contribute towards the expenses of the Commissioner.

(2) Any sums required by the Secretary of State for the purposes of subsection (1) above shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament.

(3) A new water and sewerage authority shall contribute towards the expenses of the Commissioner by making payments of such amounts, and at such times, to the Commissioner as the Secretary of State may direct.

.........

Commissioner's advice on charges

75A.-(1) The Commissioner shall, when required by the Secretary of State, advise him on the matters to be taken into, or left out of, account by the new water and sewerage authorities in fixing charges in charges schemes (within the meaning of section 76(1) of this Act).

(2) The advice-

    a)     shall, as the Secretary of State requires, relate to authorities generally or to a particular authority,

    b)     shall apply in relation to charges schemes made during such period as the Secretary of State may specify (in this section referred to as "the period of the advice").

(3) In preparing his advice the Commissioner shall have regard to-

    a)     the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which authorities are using their resources in exercising their functions,

    b)     the likely cost to each authority, for the period of the advice, of exercising the functions mentioned in subsection (4) below,

    c)     the likely borrowing capacity of each authority for the period of the advice,

    d)     any guidance issued to authorities by the Secretary of State, and

    e)     any directions issued under section 116 or 117 of this Act.

(4) The functions referred to in subsection (3)(b) above are-

    a)     complying with any duty to which an authority are subject by virtue of any enactment,

    b)     complying with any such duty to which they will, or are likely to, become subject during the period of the advice, and

    c)     providing services to their customers at the same standard, and protection of the environment at the same level, as those at the time when the advice is given, or at such other standard or level as the Secretary of State may specify.

(5) The Secretary of State shall, within three months of receiving from the Commissioner advice under subsection (1) above--

    a)     accept the advice, with or without modifications; or

    b)     reject the advice and substitute his own advice for it.

(6) Where the Secretary of State accepts the Commissioner's advice with modifications or rejects it, he shall give reasons for doing so.

(7) The Commissioner shall arrange for the publication, in such manner as he considers appropriate, of advice as accepted, modified or substituted under subsection (5) above, together with any reasons given under subsection (6) above.

Charges Schemes

76.-(1) A new water and sewerage authority may, in accordance with this section, make a scheme (in this Part of this Act referred to as a "charges scheme") which (either or both)-

    a)     fixes the charges to be paid for any relevant services provided by them;

    b)     makes provision with respect to the times and methods of payment of the charges fixed by the scheme.

(2) Services are relevant for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) above if they are provided by the authority in the course of carrying out their functions and are not services as respects which conditions as to payment may be imposed under section 29(3)(j) of the 1968 Act (conditions relating to the reception, treatment and disposal of trade effluent).

(3) A charges scheme may-

    a)     make different provision for different cases, or classes of case, including different provision in relation to different circumstances or localities;

    b)     contain supplemental, consequential and transitional provisions for the purposes of the scheme;

    c)     revoke or amend a previous charges scheme.

(4) A charges scheme shall not come into force before-

    a)     it has been sent to, and approved by, the Commissioner, such approval being to the scheme having effect either- the consumer-

      (i) without modifications; or

      (ii) with such modifications as, after consulting with and obtaining the agreement of the authority, the Commissioner thinks fit to make; or

    b)     where the Commissioner is not prepared to give approval under paragraph (a) above, or cannot obtain the agreement of the authority to some or all of the modifications which he would make under sub-paragraph (ii) of that paragraph, the scheme (with any modifications to it which may have been agreed between the Commissioner and the authority) has been sent by the Council to, and approved by, the Secretary of State, such approval being to the scheme having effect either-

      (i) without modifications (or further modifications); or

      (ii) with such modifications as, after consulting with the authority, he thinks fit to make, and the scheme shall have effect accordingly.

(5) Where three months have elapsed since the Commissioner has received a charges scheme by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (4) above and the Commissioner has neither given approval under that paragraph nor sent the scheme to the Secretary of State under paragraph (b) of that subsection, the new water and sewerage authority which made the scheme may require the Commissioner so to send it to him.

(6) Where, under-

    a)     paragraph (a) of subsection (4) above, the Commissioner gives approval to a charges scheme he shall send a copy of the scheme as so approved to the Secretary of State;

    b)     paragraph (b) of that subsection, the Secretary of State gives approval to such a scheme he shall send a copy of the scheme as so approved to the Commissioner.

(7) A new water and sewerage authority in making a charges scheme, and the Commissioner and the Secretary of State in considering whether to give approval to such a scheme, shall-

    a)     endeavour to ensure that no undue preference is shown, and that there is no undue discrimination, in the fixing of charges, and

    b)     have regard to any advice published under section 75A of this Act in force at the time of the making of the scheme under subsection (1) above.

(8) Nothing in any charges scheme shall affect any power of a new water and sewerage authority to enter into such an agreement with any person in any particular case as determines the charges to be made for the services provided to that person by them.

 
 
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Prepared: 12 february 1999