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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Water charges law delay forced
Water jug
Plans to reform the Water Service have proved controversial
The government has been forced to delay controversial legislation to introduce water charges in Northern Ireland.

The news came at the High Court after a legal challenge by the Consumer Council which claims the consultation period was too short and the order is flawed.

The government proceeded to put the legislation through parliament even though the Consumer Council was granted leave to apply for a judicial review.

It will now have to delay the order until the legal row is resolved.

The Department for Regional Development said in a statement that water charges remain scheduled to be introduced on 1 April next year.

This is an issue which should be dealt with and decided on by the local Assembly, when it is re-established
Alban Maginness
"Parliamentary debates have been put back to allow time for the outcome of the judicial review hearing," a government spokesperson said.

Consumer Council chairman Steve Costello said they believed there were "clear procedural defects in relation to the development of this draft Order".

"The Consumer Council believes that we must get this legislation right for consumers, rather than to just get it done as it will affect every household and business here now and in the future," he added.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness, who attended the hearing, said the issue should be determined by local politicians.

"During the first part of the hearing, we were informed that the parliamentary debate on water rates was immutable but today we were told the timetable was moveable.

"This is an issue which should be dealt with and decided on by the local Assembly, when it is re-established."

Mike McKimm reports on the change

Legal challenge to water charges
06 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Water tax 'hastening devolution'
03 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland
Rallies to oppose water charges
26 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
Levels of water charges announced
13 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland

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