|Plaid Cymru criticises Labour water nationalisation plans|
Labour's plans do not say whether policy control of water will be devolved to the Assembly, or whether the nationalisation will actually remove powers from Wales.
Crucially, they do not say whether English companies, operating in Wales and using Welsh reservoirs, such as Severn Trent, would be taken under English public ownership, leading to Welsh consumers having to pay the English public to use their own water resources.
Water has a specific resonance in Welsh politics as an issue of contention. Controversial decisions in the past have been made by governments and local authorities outside of Wales with no regard to Welsh opinion.
Jonathan Edwards, seeking re-election as MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has previously called a number of votes in the House of Commons on giving the National Assembly and Welsh Government the ability to regulate Wales' water and other natural resources. A vote in the House of Commons on a Plaid Cymru amendment to remove the UK Government’s veto over Welsh water policy was defeated thanks to the Tories voting against and the Labour Party abstaining.
The recently enacted Wales Act allows the removal of the UK Government’s veto only to replace it with a “protocol” which would require the Welsh Government to seek the agreement of the UK Government before making any changes that would impact on water supply in England.
Mr Edwards said that both Labour and the Tories must stop interfering in the water industry in Wales and allow it to be determined by elected Welsh Governments. He further added that Plaid Cymru had a positive vision for the future of the water industry in Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards said:
"Labour's plans show a complete lack of understanding of the water industry in Wales. I doubt they have consulted their own Labour Welsh First Minister, who is on record as wanting these powers devolved. It demonstrates how the Labour Party is totally London-centric.
"Plaid Cymru agrees in principle with public ownership of water, but this must be implemented by Wales, for Wales, not imposed on us by a Westminster government.
“Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water is already constituted as a not-for-profit company and Labour's plans would not be completely relevant here. But much of Wales’ water resources are owned by England-based multi-national companies, not Dwr Cymru. Nationalising English water companies could potentially mean Welsh consumers being forced to pay another country to use our own water. That would be wholly unacceptable.
"There are three water companies operating in Wales and any plans to merge them into a single entity, if that would benefit our citizens, must be taken by a Welsh Government, not a British Government.
"Plaid Cymru will vote in favour of any nationalisation plans which also transfer policy control to elected Welsh Governments. But we will oppose any plans which keep those powers at Westminster.
"In order to promote a positive vision for water in Wales, whereby communities and citizens benefit from the stewardship and care of our own resources, we must have the power to do this in Welsh hands. No longer should we tolerate decisions on water being made outside of Wales, without any regard for our country's needs.
“Labour’s policies for England need to respect devolution not muddy the waters further.
"Plaid Cymru is fed up of this total cluelessness from the Labour party about devolution. The country deserves better."
Hansard details the debate on “Clause 44” to remove the UK Government’s veto over matters relating to water, here: