Water debate: Tories bottle it…

IN tonight’s debate on the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, Lord Trimble’s attempt to delay the introduction of water charges failed after Labour packed its peers into the House of Lords and the Conservatives caved in and allowed the Government to steamroller ahead – despite having offered to back Trimble’s amendment previously. Lord Glentoran’s argument was that the poor Tories had been put in the invidious position of having to back an Order in its entirety, or have it thrown out. But since water charges are “necessary”, and Lord Glentoran had been given a letter of comfort from the NIO (which he might reveal), the Tories did not oppose the Government. I’m sure they will be reminded of this come next year’s Assembly election.

  • Butterknife

    Where were the DUP peers?

  • David Ford

    Interesting voting list for the ‘contents’, ie supporting Trimble against the Order.

    Nearly all the NI peers – most of the UUP, Browne, Morrow, (but not Lady Paisley), Alderdice, May Blood, Rana – and at least one with strong NI connections – Lady O’Neill. Apart from that overwhelmingly Lib Dem, with only one recognisable Tory, Tebbit.

    Enough Tories voted wtih Government to have made the difference.

  • slug

    Its this sort of thing that is bad for the local conservatives – the impression that the national party does not actually take into account electoral realities in NI.

    There is no way that potential NI tory voters will be encouraged by this.

  • I Wonder

    ..where indeed were the representatives of our largest party, when these undemocratic taxes were being debated in the “mother of parliaments” ?

    Why, they were arguing against civil rights for gays and lesbians. Priorities, huh?

  • Julian Robertson

    You might want to conside the following from Lord Glentoran. Note last para. Practical politics perhaps?

    I wish to clarify the Conservative Party’s position on the Water and Sewerage legislation that passed through the House of Lords on Monday, 11 December.

    The reason my Party abstained on the Order was as a result of significant concessions and assurances, given both before and during the debate, which satisfied a number of serious concerns shared by both us and the Northern Ireland Consumer Council.

    While most of these were of a technical nature, taken as a whole they will ensure that the new Government owned Water Company will be properly regulated and any proposed sale of Water Company assets will be fully scrutinised. The changes we secured will directly benefit consumers in Northern Ireland – of which I am one.

    If we had voted down the Order, then these improvements to the legislation would have been lost. The Government would simply have re-tabled the Order and forced it through Parliament in its original form, leaving people in Northern Ireland worse off. It would certainly not have prevented the introduction of charging.