'The new water authorities still have to produce their charges schemes for 1996-97 and have to get them through the Customers Council. Council chairman, Dick Douglas, has already served notice that he will take a lot of convincing to accept increases in the region of 15%, as some have speculated.
'The new water authorities will be expected to keep charge rises to a minimum and deliver a quality product to their customers. They are a public service in the public sector working for the public as a whole. I am confident they will do a first class job.
'Of course costs will increase - there is a massive investment programme to finance. Indeed, water charges in Scotland have already gone up 76% in the last six years whilst under local government control as a part of this programme.
'Of course, the huge investment programme can be funded through additional public expenditure and the value for money option of private finance ignored. But this would inevitably mean cuts in other services like health and education. This government is not prepared to expose the Scottish people to that sort of Russian roulette.'