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Lord Dixon-Smith: I apologise to the Committee. I made an arithmetical error—I knew it was wrong as

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soon as I had said it—because I cannot read my own writing. In fact, 25 megalitres is 250 acre inches and not 50.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: If the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is going to set the mental arithmetic test, answer it and mark it himself, I shall be much relieved.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister for offering to help further in regard to Amendment No. 7. She seemed to support the spirit of the amendment in part, but then said that she did not support it. I would welcome further discussions on exactly what I am seeking and how it might be achieved.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, referred to a number of issues, including compensation. There is no compensation for losing the house in which you were born or the community in which you were brought up. To understand, you need to talk to someone who can tell you, "I was born there", and who points to the middle of a piece of water; who deliberately goes there in the middle of a drought to see where he or she was brought up. It is a very sensitive issue indeed.

The noble Lord referred to the new use of reservoirs in terms of compensatory flow. As the noble Baroness said, reservoirs are used already for compensatory flow. Amendment No. 8 seeks to ensure that it is on the face of the Bill that compensatory flow into rivers should be at a sustainable level and not damage the ecology. I am afraid that, so far as compensatory flow is concerned, some river systems are totally inadequate.

Perhaps the noble Baroness will write to me—or perhaps inform me in a later debate—and specify precisely where these flows are protected in existing legislation. I suspect that it is in the part of the 1991 Act which deals with the water industry.

As to Amendment No. 6, the Minister said that the Secretary of State and the Assembly can call in various applications and that there is an appeal mechanism. Again it would be helpful to know where these assurances can be found in legislation. She said that I should be reassured—I am sure she is right—but one of the reasons for the amendment is to provide reassurance to communities that mechanisms are available to protect them and that there is a proper appeals mechanism. People would be reassured if that were the case.

I did not hear what the Minister said about the environmental impact and its relationship with the local population. I shall need to read Hansard in some detail if I am to return to the issue on Report. I may wish to return to certain aspects of the amendment in the future. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Clause 2 [Restrictions on impounding]:

[Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Existing impounding works]:

The Duke of Montrose moved Amendment No. 9:


    Page 4, line 39, leave out "otherwise" and insert "in relation to England"

The noble Duke said: In moving Amendment No. 9, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 10. Clause 97(5) makes it quite clear that the Bill applies to England and Wales only. The use of the word "otherwise" in Clause 3(12)(b) makes one wonder whether we are entering the areas of cross-border and river-basin districts and all the other issues referred to earlier. Or does it hint at some future development to which the Committee is not so far privy? Perhaps the Minister will enlighten us as to the wording in the clause.

Amendment No. 10 is a probing amendment which seeks to remove the words,


    "appears to the Environment Agency"

and to more clearly define the relevant person. It would not, for example, be reasonable to serve notice on a civil engineer or a contractor who was doing work at the behest of a landowner, even though the constructor may well be "responsible" at the time of those works. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As regards Amendment No. 9, the provisions of the Bill apply to England and Wales only. The clause already defines the National Assembly for Wales as having jurisdiction over appeals in Wales and so, by definition, the Secretary of State can have jurisdiction only over appeals in England. Therefore Amendment No. 9 is not necessary.

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to the nature of the clause. Unless I am advised to the contrary before I have dealt with Amendment No. 10, the specific point raised by the noble Duke concerns cross-border river basins. I remember getting into terrible trouble banning lead shot on one side of the border between England and Scotland, so I shall await enlightenment on that issue.

As to Amendment No. 10, Clause 3 allows the agency to serve a notice on a relevant person which would require that person to apply for an impounding licence. The agency will not do this for each and every unlicensed impoundment but only for those where it believes a licence is necessary to secure the proper management of water resources or to protect the environment.

The agency may serve a notice on a number of people—landowners, tenants, those operating impounding works or benefiting from them in other ways. The wide scope of the definition of "relevant person" is to ensure that the person who is in a position to implement the required changes can be identified. Any person who is aggrieved by service of a notice can appeal against it.

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The amendment would restrict the range of persons upon whom the agency could serve notice. This could result in the agency not being able to serve notice upon the person who, in all the particular circumstances, bears responsibility for the impounding works.

The Secretary of State would be responsible for the part of a river in England and the National Assembly for Wales would be responsible for the part on the other side. This is where I got into trouble on both sides of an estuary over the issue of flying ducks with lead shot in them. The situation is clearer here because there are simple, physical boundaries.

I see that I may not have convinced the noble Duke. Perhaps I may write to him to clarify the matter.

The Duke of Montrose: I would like clarification. It is a puzzle why it should state "otherwise" in the Bill. There is another strange situation. The consultation document outlines river-basin districts. The head waters of the River Tyne begin in Scotland and then flow into England. It would appear that the river basin district will be coupled into the English side of management. If the Secretary of State can exercise his powers only up to the border, what will happen to the part of the River Tyne that is outwith England?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I shall need to come back to that question. That part of the River Tyne will stay there. Obviously there are other rivers where the same problem will apply. I can see the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, about to rise to speak about the River Severn. It is a complex issue and concerns the judgments that will have to be exercised. Quite clearly a consent in one jurisdiction would have to have regard to any impact it would have along the length of the particular river or waterway. However, before I get into deeper water, it would be wiser for the noble Duke to wait for my letter.

It will be clear cut where such a case arises in Wales because it will fall to the Assembly for resolution. In England it will fall to the Secretary of State. There is not a cross-border basin sub-text. Where the Water Framework Directive has cross-border implications, these are under consideration. The drafting will be a matter of convention.

I have now reached the stage where I am not quite sure that I have followed what I have said myself. It may be wise that we both read Hansard and for me to write to the noble Duke.

The Duke of Montrose: I thank the Minister for taking so much trouble to try to unravel this difficult problem. We shall return to the issue at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

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Clause 5 [Rights of navigation, harbour and conservancy authorities]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 11:


    Page 6, line 21, column 1, leave out—


"A supply reservoir of the authority's"

The noble Baroness said: Amendments Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14 are intended to probe why the Government believe that the water controlled by British Waterways is better left out of the regulatory system which the Bill seeks to introduce. It is water that will be caught in a catchment and the fact that British Waterways may choose to use it for a canal system, or for any other purpose, will simply mean that that water will be unavailable to other systems. That is not a satisfactory situation.

If the Water Bill intends that water will be better managed on a national basis by the Environment Agency, then to leave out a major water user—and perhaps when he replies the Minister will indicate how much water British Waterways has under its control—would seem irresponsible unless there is an extremely good reason for doing so. I cannot imagine that there is one.

If British Waterways is outwith the regime, it could choose, for example, to sell its water for commercial gain—the Minister will correct me if that is not the case—but why should it not be subject to the same rules and regulations as everyone else?


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