HL Deb 19 March 1981 vol 418 cc855-6

3.3 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 when they expect to complete their review of the position of consumers and the nationalised industries; and whether this review will be published as a Green Paper for circulation among interested organisations or as a White Paper for discussion in Parliament, or both.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, there will be consultations before the review is completed, and we are currently considering what form of consultation would be most appropriate.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, does the noble Lord recall, or does he have a note of it in his brief, that his noble friend Lord Trenchard told me on 22nd October that the Minister expected the report by the end of the year? His noble friend said then that it had taken rather a long time. Could the noble Lord say how much longer we shall have to add to that long time?

Lord Trefgarne

I am afraid I cannot be precise, my Lords, but I can tell the noble Baroness that it will not be very long.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, I was not clear from the Answer whether the paper will be published and whether we shall then have an opportunity to discuss it in Parliament as well as outside. If not, what is the procedure to be?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the Government have not decided what form this document should take and how it should be published, but whatever we decide I have no doubt the noble Baroness will find a way of raising it in your Lordships' House.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the consumer councils attached to the nationalised industries are of vital importance? Having been a member of one, I know that the main way in which consumers of nationalised industry products can make their position felt is through those consumer councils. Is my noble friend aware, therefore, how vital it is that these councils should be kept in being, and will he take note of this point?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I certainly agree with my noble friend that it is vital that nationalised industries should be made aware in the most effective way possible of the views of their consumers. It was with a view to improving arrangements for this that this inquiry was originally set in train.