Report on the Water and Sewerage Services (Amendment) Bill

Committee: Committee for Regional Development

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Reference: NIA 85/11-15

ISBN: Only available online

Mandate Report Number: 2011-15 Third Report

Together with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report, Minutes of Evidence, and Written Submissions

Powers

The Committee for Regional Development is a Statutory Departmental Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly established in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of strand one of the Belfast Agreement, section 29 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and under Standing Order 48 of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Department for Regional Development and has a role in the initiation of legislation.

The Committee has the power to:

  • Consider and advise on departmental budgets and annual plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
  • Consider relevant secondary legislation and take the Committee Stage of relevant primary legislation;
  • Call for persons and papers;
  • Initiate inquiries and make reports; and
  • Consider and advise on matters brought to the committee by the Minister for Regional Development.

The Committee is appointed at the start of every Assembly, and has power to send for persons, papers and records that are relevant to its inquiries.

Executive Summary

1. The Committee for Regional Development (the Committee/CRD) received the Water and Sewerage Services (Amendment) Bill into the Committee Stage on 27th November 2012.

2. Sign posts were placed in the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish News and the Newsletter inviting written submissions. In addition, the Committee invited the following organisations to provide written evidence:

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI NI);

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (CCNI);

The Department for Regional Development (DRD);

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Northern Ireland Committee (ICTUNI);

The Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR)

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA); and

Northern Ireland Water (NIW)

3. Oral evidence sessions were held from 9 January 2013 until 23 January 2013 from all of the above except NICVA and FSB who respectfully declined the Committee invitations.

4. Members were content with the clauses contained within the Bill and with the policy direction which put into place the Programme for Government PfG Priority Two commitment of no additional water charges for households during the PfG period, 2011 – 2015. The Bill extends the initial period until 31 March 2016.

5. Whilst witnesses did support this policy commitment, there was universal concern with regards to the current governance structures within NIW, in that they were overly bureaucratic and restrictive. Witness believed that the current model impeded strategic planning and that the absence of end year flexibility constrained meaningful infrastructural investment.

6. Members and witnesses are aware that the Executive is currently considering an Options Paper around governance within NIW and all were keen to become involved in a wider debate on the matter as soon as was possible.

7. The relevant extracts from the Minutes of Proceedings are included at Appendix 1. Minutes of the evidence sessions are included at Appendix 2. The Committee would wish to thank all those who provided both written and oral evidence.

Download the full report here

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