Yesterday we debated water in the Commons. Only the UK and the monopoly left overs from a nationalised industry could conspire to turn such a plentiful resource into something expensive and precious in short supply. Were we ever to have a couple of hot dry summers again doubtless the industry and its regulator would be out there again with hosepipe bans, exhortations for us to go around in dirty cars and requests for us to share a shower.
So I asked whether we could have some competition for retail water, as they now have for large quantities of industrial water. The latter policy has brought the price down as you would expect, whilst the regulated price of householder water has continued its inexorable rise. I am pleased to say I got an encouraging answer for a change. It is true it was from the Conservative spokeswoman rather than from the government, but we live in hope.
The Minister did agree with me that the best way to help those on low incomes afford their water was to cut the price. He, however, wanted to cut the price of water for those on the lowest incomes by increasing its price for everyone else. What we want is a policy to lower the price for all. Competition would probably take 20% off the water price, and create an industry keen to supply more and sell more. After all, most of the time there’s plenty of it about. So much so that the current authorities have difficulty in preventing it flooding all too many homes too often.