July 1, 2009
Nick Hurd calls on the Government to at very least implement a moritorium on the so-called ‘rain tax’ until the ‘crippling hikes’ in water bills faced by community organisations such as church and scout groups can be addressed.
Mr. Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): May I press the new Minister for a better answer to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Robert Key)? Church groups, scout groups and sports clubs face crippling hikes in their water bills as a result of the proposed changes. Three months ago, I asked the previous Minister whether he would consider a moratorium, at least until an impact assessment was carried out. He said that he would speak to colleagues across Government, but we have heard nothing and time is running out. In welcoming the members of the new team, may I ask them what their view is? Will they consider a moratorium or the idea of a special social tariff, or will they continue the policy of doing nothing?
Angela E. Smith: That is an interesting question from the party that privatised the water industry, which has had a direct impact on the bills that are being seen today. After three weeks in office, I do not have a final answer for the hon. Gentleman and I am sure that he will understand that I want to look into the matter. We understand the concerns that have been raised and we are talking to colleagues in Government and the regulators about the issue.