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Baroness O'Cathain: I thank the Minister and want to ask a point of clarification. The Environment Agency has the right to designate an area as a water scarcity area. We wish the Environment Agency to make the application because, coming from it, the Secretary of State would realise the seriousness of the matter, given its responsibilities in terms of water demand management, conservation and efficiency, and its links to the water undertakers. Coming from it,
Lord Whitty: If the Secretary of State is considering imposing a scarcity designation, she would be bound to consult the Environment Agency anyway as it is a statutory consultee. Its view would be pretty substantial in determining her decision. If the amendment suggested that the Environment Agency should be put on the same footing as water companies, I would at least understand that. However, the difficulty is that the amendment suggests that the designation should be solely on the basis of an application by the Environment Agency. Other people may approach the Secretary of State, who would have
Baroness O'Cathain: I thank the Minister very much. Having heard what he has said, I shall read it very carefully and then look at changing the amendment in some way to come back with on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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