Waterloo for the British loo?

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An outbreak of loo wars was threatened last night over a Brussels directive which would force Britain to accept inferior French lavatories for the first time.

Britain has been self-sufficient in its supply of lavatories for centuries, by insisting on a "syphonic" system involving a flush using suction to draw the water up before it is released, preventing leakage.

British manufacturers of the traditional water closet claim that the French loo uses a cheaper, plug-type flushing system, which depends on simple gravity, and is prone to leakage.

Michael Fabricant, the Tory MP for Lichfield, in whose constituency WC manufacturer Armitage Shanks is based, last night called for the draft regulations to be withdrawn. He said that the sub-standard system could waste more than 50 billion gallons of water a year.

The British Bathroom Council and manufacturers are lobbying the Government to stop the importation of of "non-syphonic lavatory cisterns", and leave Mr Fabricant flushed with success.