HC Deb 12 March 1984 vol 56 c10
8. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will introduce legislation preventing landlords from charging tenants more for electricity than the official rate; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Giles Shaw

This has been the subject of a recent review by the Office of Fair Trading, which will shortly be issuing a consultative document.

I shall wish to consider that report and the reactions to it before deciding whether further action is required.

Mr. Greenway

When considering that report, will my hon. Friend bear in mind the downright unfairness of people paying rent to a landlord and then being surcharged for electricity by the same landlord? Surely that is unjust and iniquitous. Should not something be done about it?

Mr. Shaw

I recognise the validity of my hon. Friend's point. We will bear it in mind. He will be aware that area boards publicise maximum retail prices in their leaflets and information, of which landlords should take note.

Mr. Anderson

Does the Minister recall that his Department killed my private Member's Bill on that subject last Session? It would have criminalised overcharging by landlords. Does he realise that the Bill now has the support of the relevant consumer councils and reflects considerable anxiety because of the widespread abuse? The Government then used the excuse of an expected report from the Office of Fair Trading. When it now reports, will the Government seek another excuse for delaying the matter?

Mr. Shaw

I cannot inform the hon. Gentleman of the Government's response to the report. He should bear in mind that the matter was examined between 1974 and 1977 and that an investigation concluded that no statutory change was required. As the new investigation was inspired by the consumer consultative councils, I assure him that we shall pay the greatest possible attention to it.