05 July 2001 | Robin Parker
The shelving of water industry deregulation has been blamed by Michael Meacher, the environment minister, on a large response to consultation.
Speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs' annual water conference, Meacher said the need to consider the 150 responses to the draft bill had forced water industry legislation out of the Queen's speech.
Meacher said he would not be tied to a timetable for new water legislation and could only commit to introduce a bill "as soon as parliamentary time allows".
Ian Dobson, chairman of the CIPS energy committee, said the sidelining of deregulation by the government meant buyers would have to put up with uncompetitive water prices for longer than they anticipated.
"This means competition is going to remain nothing like it is in gas and electricity for some time to come," he added.
Philip Fletcher, director general of water regulator Ofwat, pledged to support an initiative by Severn Trent Water to form a single access code for suppliers under the proposed "common carriage" initiative.