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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 07:11 GMT

UK: Scotland

McConnell under water pressure

MSPs want an explanation of the rescue package

Scotland's Tories have demanded answers from Finance Minister Jack McConnell over a rescue package for North of Scotland Water Authority.

They allege the minister has moved £20m from two other water authorities but has also given a further £20m of government cash.

[ image: Jack McConnell will be quizzed]
Jack McConnell will be quizzed
The party's environment spokesman, Murray Tosh, said the parliament must be told where the money has come from.

The move by the Tories comes in the wake of calls for a full inquiry into why North of Scotland Water Authority (NOSWA) plans massive increase in charges next year.

The Scottish Executive has already asked NOSWA to carry out an internal investigation.

The authority serves just over a million consumers in an area covering 60% of Scotland.

Extra charges

It has reviewed its investment programme and said a substantial increase in charges was required, but has refused to comment on reports consumers could pay as much as £55 a year extra.

The reported increase has been much greater than that expected in Scotland's other two water authorities.

Some MPs and MSPs in the area have called for a public inquiry.

Scottish Executive ministers were reported to be less than happy with the performance of NOSWA directors and feared consumers would face even higher charges had the government not intervened with its funding package.

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