HL Deb 03 December 1981 vol 425 cc1124-5

3.13 p.m.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their intention to make a statement on the report dealing with the position of consumers and the nationalised industries.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, we intend to publish a consultative document before Christmas on the options for NICC reform.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, is the Minister aware that I am so taken aback by a positive reply that I hardly know what to say? May I, rather unusually perhaps, ask him whether he is aware that I am grateful for the affirmative Answer he has managed to get from the obscurity of the department concerned, but this has taken up to date 14 months? Can he give us the exact date when we shall have the document?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I cannot give the noble Baroness the precise date for which she asks, but I am happy that she is content with the Answer that I have given, in general terms. I did contemplate teasing the noble Baroness by dragging out my Answer a bit before including the nugget at the end, but I think perhaps I was wise not to do that.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, will the Minister tell us whether the proposed management audit of the nationalised industries to be undertaken by the Monopolies and Mergers Committee will include some reference to the rights and protection of consumers within the management of these industries?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the report which the noble Baroness has inquired about in her Question relates to the role of consumer councils in respect of the nationalised industries, and therefore does not cover all the wide-ranging matters to which the noble Lord refers.