Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a case for suggesting a cap, which would not allow the 8% rise to apply in the south-west?
Dr Wollaston: I agree completely. If Ofwat were doing its job properly, it would see that that is inherently fair. It is completely unreasonable to expect anyone to deal with a rise of more than 5%. Near 10% is totally outrageous, particularly given that our constituents have no choice whatever in the matter.
Anne Marie Morris: I support what the hon. Gentleman is saying, because the heart of his argument is about fairness. Everything that we have heard to date has been about affordability. As crucial as that is, I would be concerned if any future review or consultation did not address fairness. The points that he is making are absolutely right.
Andrew George: I know that Ministers are wrestling to produce a fair and equitable solution, and I know that this Minister has been engaging constructively and is well seized of the problem and the challenges that we in the south-west face-I have no doubt that he understands the issue fully. Discussions with other Departments, especially the Treasury, will inevitably be involved. I hope that the issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of the long-suffering water rate payers of the south-west. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that any solution must emphasise fairness.