Section 1: Water Industry Commission for Scotland
4.Section 1 establishes a corporate body, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, to take on the functions of the Water Industry Commissioner.
5.Subsection (1) of section 1 replaces section 1 of the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”) with a new section 1 establishing the Water Industry Commission for Scotland. Subsection (2) of the new section 1 of the 2002 Act gives the Commission the general function of promoting the interests of persons whose premises are connected or might reasonably become connected to the public water supply and/or sewerage system (as defined in sections 28 and 29 of the Act respectively). This ensures that the Commission will promote the interests of both Scottish Water’s direct customers, and the customers of licensed providers of retail services. It is a duty to promote the interest of customers as a whole which might be relevant, for example, where the interests of different categories of customers conflicted.
6.Subsection (3) of the new section 1 of the 2002 Act gives Scottish Ministers power to direct the Commission with regard to the financial management or administration of the Commission, having first consulted it. This ensures that the Commission is accountable to Ministers for these matters, while at the same time functioning independently with regard to its technical functions of calculating Scottish Water’s required revenue, and charge determination and the other substantive functions conferred on it by or under the Act. Subsection (4) introduces schedule A1 which makes detailed provision as to the appointment of the Commission and as to the Commission's staff, status and accounts and its procedures for carrying out its functions. This schedule is inserted into the 2002 Act by schedule 1 to the Act.
7.Subsection (2) of section 1 replaces section 4(2) of the 2002 Act (power of the Commissioner to require information), with the effect that the Commission may not require Scottish Water to disclose anything which a person would be entitled to refuse to disclose on grounds of confidentiality in proceedings in the Court of Session. This enables Scottish Water to treat as confidential legally privileged information. Subsection (2) also adds a new subsection (3) to section 4 of the 2002 Act, which requires Scottish Water to inform the Commission in writing if it considers that it is entitled to withhold information which the Commission has requested. This removes Ministers from having a role in resolving conflicts between the Commission and Scottish Water as to whether the information requested by the Commission is reasonable.
8.Subsection (3) of section 1 adds a new subsection (4) to section 5 of the 2002 Act (annual reports by, and information from, the Commissioner), requiring Scottish Ministers to lay before Parliament a copy of the Commission’s annual report, detailing the Commission’s functions during that financial year.