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Baroness Byford: My Lords, I support my noble friend's amendment, which I hope the Government will be able to accept. Even if they cannot accept the current wording, I hope that they recognise the desire behind the amendment and what we hope to achieve. We all agree that we want prudent management. We have also talked about conservation and many other matters today. Joined-up government is essential.

If we are to have sustainable development in the future, we need to look at all aspects of water resource and water resource plans, particularly with regard to drought conditions that could occur. In the past, we have been quite lucky and there have been very few years when we have been so troubled. But that does not necessarily mean that in future years we will not be so troubled. I hope that the Minister will look at this

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amendment sympathetically. My noble friend has brought an important amendment before us today. I have pleasure in supporting it.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, there are two issues with this amendment. Turning first to the issue of the drought and water resource management plans, it is important that water companies develop such plans but it is also important to recognise that those plans do not themselves have a statutory basis. As circumstances change, companies will undoubtedly adjust and modify their plans.

The problem with Amendment No. 157 is that it would have the effect of making Ofwat and the Environment Agency enforce plans which may be out of date and on which a company may have changed its mind. It is primarily for water companies to act on their plans and adjust them in the light of changing circumstances. The regulators must take a considered view based on the general management approach and the circumstances that prevail at the time of any change, taking into account their statutory duties.

The second effect of the amendment would be to ask Ofwat and the Environment Agency to co-ordinate their functions in respect of drought plans and water resource management plans. While joined-up government is highly desirable, the comments I made earlier on the rather blanket requirement on co-ordination also apply here. The two regulators have different functions and to co-ordinate every decision, particularly in this area, could lead to confusion as to their respective roles.

While the Government expect the regulators to work together, they have separate duties in this respect. Water regulators need to co-ordinate their activities, and in respect of the earlier more general amendment we said that we would look at ways of setting this out on a less issue-by-issue basis. But this is a matter where, because the respective roles can differ, prescribed co-ordination is difficult to write into this clause.

Clearly, there are other forms of co-ordination. The regulators are jointly committed to the code of practice, and so forth. As I indicated earlier, we recognise the need for greater co-operation between the various regulators, but I do not think that this form of words would be helpful in clarifying the legal duties of the regulators in this particular clause.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, he said that he wants to have joined-up government but on the other hand the regulators have different duties. But the Water Bill should bring all the regulators and all the agencies together. Is the Minister suggesting that there should be a water Bill for drinking water; a water Bill for sustainability of the environment; or a water Bill for anything else? It just does not make sense. I cannot understand the reaction to this amendment. The Minister could have said, "Look, it is flawed because it is written in the wrong way". Surely, the amendment makes plain common sense. I am very upset about it and I need to test the opinion of the House.

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9.54 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 157) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 34.

Division No. 3


Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Barker, B.
Blatch, B.
Byford, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Dixon-Smith, L.
Geddes, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mancroft, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Montrose, D.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B. [Teller]
Palmer, L.
Razzall, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Rogan, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.


Acton, L.
Andrews, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B. [Teller]
Davies of Coity, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Jones, L.
Parekh, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Thornton, B.
Warner, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

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10.4 p.m.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting moved Amendment No. 157A:

    After Clause 63, insert the following new clause—

After section 16 of the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25) there is inserted—
(1) This section applies in relation to any regional flood defence committee which satisfies (or, upon the coming into force of an order made under Schedule 4 to this Act, will satisfy) both of the conditions in subsection (2) below (a "Welsh committee").
(2) The conditions are—
(a) the whole or the greater part of the committee's area is in Wales; and
(b) no local flood defence scheme is in force in relation to the area of the committee.

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(3) The National Assembly for Wales may by order made by statutory instrument make provision determining—
(a) the total number of members of a Welsh committee; and
(b) the method of selection and appointment of the chairman and other members of the committee (including who is to appoint them).
(4) An order under subsection (3) may—
(a) apply either to Welsh committees generally or to a particular Welsh committee;
(b) include such supplemental, consequential and transitional provision as the National Assembly for Wales considers appropriate.
(5) In relation to a Welsh committee whose area is not wholly in Wales—
(a) the power to make an order under subsection (3) above may be exercised only with the agreement of the Secretary of State; and
(b) a statutory instrument containing an order under that subsection shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
(6) An order under subsection (3) above shall not be considered local in nature for the purposes of section 58(6) of the Government of Wales Act 1998 (definition of "Assembly general subordinate legislation").
(7) Section 15 above (or, where the order is being made in conjunction with an order under Schedule 4 to this Act, that Schedule) shall not apply for the purposes of making an order under subsection (3) above.
16B Effect of order under section 16A
(1) Sections 15 and 16 above and section 18A(3) below shall not apply to a regional flood defence committee in respect of which an order under section 16A above is in force.
(2) In relation to any such committee, section 18 below shall have effect as if—
(a) paragraph (b) of subsection (4) read "other members appointed in accordance with and subject to the terms of the local flood defence scheme"; and
(b) paragraph (c) of subsection (4), and subsection (5), were omitted.
(3) In relation to any such committee whose membership does not include any member appointed by or on behalf of a constituent council, Schedule 5 to this Act shall have effect as if—
(a) in paragraph 1(1), the words "other than those appointed by or on behalf of one or more constituent councils" were omitted;
(b) sub-paragraphs (2), (3) and (4) of paragraph 1 were omitted; and
(c) paragraphs 2 and 9 were omitted.""

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendments will provide the National Assembly for Wales with the power by order to reform the composition of regional flood defence committees in Wales. The present composition is established by primary legislation. In Wales committees comprise local authority, Environment Agency and Assembly appointees with the local authorities providing the majority.

Flood defence functions in Wales are devolved to the National Assembly, which is the democratically accountable body for Wales. The Bill separately provides powers which will enhance the Assembly's ability to make changes to the structure of flood defence committees and their funding arrangements. It is logical that in considering this the Assembly should be able to determine the membership of its committee(s) which have a key role in delivering flood defence for the people of Wales.

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Making the power available to the Assembly does not prejudge how that power will be exercised. If, however, the Assembly decided to exercise this power, any proposed change would be subject to the Assembly's scrutiny and approval procedures.

As current committee boundaries follow river catchment rather than political boundaries, there are parts of England which are served by Welsh committees and vice versa. To safeguard the interests of those living in England and being served by Welsh committees the amendment includes the requirement for the Secretary of State's agreement to changes proposed by the Assembly which impact on England.

Clause 92 is consequential on the introduction of Sections 16A and 16B. I beg to move.

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