HC Deb 06 February 1984 vol 53 cc596-7
60. Mr. John Morris

asked the Attorney-General whether he will introduce legislation to consolidate the law regarding directions given to nationalised industries.

The Attorney-General

No, Sir.

Mr. Morris

Is the Attorney-General aware that there is anxiety in the nationalised industries about the difference between a direction given under statute and a ministerial instruction? Will he consider with the Minister, in accordance with page 434 of "Erskine May", whether it is expedient for him to make known to the House any opinion that he may have given regarding the direction to dispose of Wytch farm, which was laid before Parliament on 12 October 1981, and the Minister's instruction on 30 March 1983 to carry forward negotiations with the Dorset group of companies? In particular, if the powers of direction under section 7 of the Gas Act are limited merely to a power to dispose—and not as to whom or as to what offer should be accepted — what will be the constitutional and fiduciary position of the British Gas Corporation if it misguidedly disposes of that asset at a price that it regards as below value?

The Attorney-General

I had no notice of that question, but I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if the Minister needs my advice after I have considered the matter, he will receive it.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Has the Attorney-General considered the point that the Regional Transport Bill contains a proposal to remove the right of individuals to sue London Transport for any breach of duty? If not, will he undertake to do so and to bear in mind its effect on the general structure of administrative law, in that the Bill seeks to remove a fundamental right of citizens to be able to enforce the duties of a public authority.

The Attorney-General

That cannot be a matter for me. It is a matter for my right hon. Friend.

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