The sooner the powers over the water industry and water resources are devolved to the Senedd the better. The bottom line being that the Welsh people should be able to profit from the sale and development of our natural resources. The ‘not-for-profit’ social enterprise model instituted in Wales by Glas Cymru shows that for once our country is ahead of the curve when it comes to managing its water resources.
Water is a valuable asset in Wales and while many of the regulatory powers relating to Water in our country are in the hands of the Welsh Government, the water clauses in the Government of Wales Act 2006 (thanks for that Mr Hain!) actually prevent us from taking financial advantage of our natural resources to our benefit.
The Con Dem’s Water Bill is decidedly ideologically driven and aims to introduce more market competition into the water industry. Whatever the Con Dem’s do in England for once should have little effect in Wales, as for most of us our largest water supplier Glas Cymru, which is a not-for-profit company – something that could be used as a successful social enterprise and a business model elsewhere.
One thing that we don’t need to do (and we probably won’t despite the party formerly known as New Labour’s ideological commitment to the nominal ‘free market’) is turn the clock back in Wales by moving from a not-for-profit system which puts customers first to one sees boosting the shareholders’ dividends and profits as the prime motivation. Meanwhile the draft Water Bill slowly grinds its way through the House of Commons will continue to makes progress and no doubt the outcomes of private discussions between the Welsh and UK Governments will no doubt eventually emerge.
The Senedd, in so far as the clauses in the Draft Bill (now at the Second Reading Stage in Westminster) affect Wales is at least partially involved in the process. The National Assembly for Wales’ Environment and Sustainability Committee is currently engaged in an inquiry into water policy in Wales. Amongst other things the committee is remitted to ‘Assess the implications of the Draft Water Bill for Wales, particularly with regard to competition in the non-household market.’
We need to ensure full transparency with detailed debates in the Senedd about what exactly the Welsh Government’s plans for the water industry. Water in our country has always been sensitive issue and Plaid has been consistently calling for the devolution of powers over water resources so that our country can tap the potential of our natural resources.