Well-off homeowners are refusing to pay their water bills because they have discovered that water companies are not allowed to cut off their supply, and are reluctant to take them to court.
They are abusing a law brought in six years ago to protect vulnerable families who could not afford to pay - and adding as much as £10 to other customers' bills.
But in future, non-payers could discover that when they turn on their taps, all that comes out is a trickle of water - just enough for their basic health and safety needs.
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee wants British suppliers to follow the example of Yarra Valley Water, the Melbourne-based firm that uses flow restrictors to penalise households that have not paid their bills.
The Lords' report, Water Management, was also scathing about the failure of John Prescott's former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and other government departments to plan for water shortages, and about water companies that have failed to keep their pipes properly repaired.
Lord Selborne, the Tory chairman of the committee, claimed that people who ran into difficulties with household bills were advised by debt counsellors: "Don't pay the water bill because they can't do anything about it."
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