HC Deb 24 June 1982 vol 26 cc496-7

33A.—(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide that, in such cases and subject to such exceptions and modifications as may be prescribed by the order, section 33 of and Part II of Schedule 6 to this Act shall apply to premises occupied by private suppliers for or in connection with the supply of gas through pipes to consumers' premises.

(2) In this section— 'gas' has the same meaning as in Part III of the Gas Act 1972; 'private supplier' means a person authorised by a consent given under section 29 of that Act, or by section 29A of that Act, to supply gas through pipes to consumers' premises.

(3) Any statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."."

Mr. John Moore

I beg to move, That this House cloth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take Lords amendments Nos. 57 and 58.

Mr. Moore

Amendments Nos. 50, 57 and 58 confer enabling powers to amend rating law in so far as it relates to property occupied in connection with the supply of gas. The Bill creates a new position in the supply of gas, in which private suppliers may compete with the BGC and may gain access to BGC pipelines. In the new situation it is possible to conceive of circumstances in which the application of existing rating principles might disadvantage BGC, or private suppliers, or, indeed, individual local authorities. The purpose of the amendments is therefore to ensure that powers are available to correct any such anomalies that may arise and permit equal competition between BGC and private suppliers.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

We are endeavouring to achieve swift progress. We are intrigued to know why privilege is involved. Amendment No. 58 was a clever move. Had we been in Committee we would have taken three days to discuss it.

Mr. Moore

I am sure that the House would not like me to try to respond to the last point. The other point with regard to privilege relates to the degree to which the Lords might have had a presumption relating to money and the extent that that presumption has to be overridden by the House's powers. We have to draw attention to the privilege point.

Question put and agreed to.[Special Entry.]

Lords amendments Nos. 51 to 54 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 55 in page 54, line 28, leave out paragraphs 11 to 13.

Mr. Moore

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The amendment deletes the provisions in schedule 3 that would have enabled the remit of the gas consumers' councils to be restricted in areas where competition in the supply of gas is allowed by the Bill. The Government originally proposed these provisions because the origins of the councils lay in the need for a body to represent the interests of consumers faced with a monopoly, whereas, for the future, the Bill allows competition. Similar provisions were included in the British Telecommunications Act 1981. The Government made it clear that they would have exercised these powers only in cases where they were satisfied that the consumers concerned had alternative choices of gas supply, and then only after consulting the National Gas Consumers Council and BGC.

However, following the Committee stage of the Bill in the other place, the Government reconsidered these paragraphs and recognised that in the particular case of the gas industry there was a feeling that at this particular stage it would be at least premature to contemplate a reduction in the remit of the gas consumers' councils. As a result, the Government accepted this amendment removing these provisions from the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 56 to 59 and 61 to 65 agreed to.

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