HL Deb 20 April 2004 vol 660 cc270-2

In section 105 of the Utilities Act 2000 (c. 27) general restrictions on disclosure of information)—

  1. (a) in subsection (1)(a) for "or Part I of the 1989 Act" substitute ", Part 1 of the 1989 Act or section 178(5) or 179(5) of the Energy Act 2004"; and
  2. (b) in subsection (3)(a) after "1989 Act" insert ", sect ion 178 or 179 of the Energy Act 2004"."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the House will recall that we agreed to consider a very similar amendment on the subject after it was put forward by the noble Baronesses, Lady Miller of Hendon and Lady Byford, and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding. I should say that I am sorry that he has not been here today to enjoy the final jousting sessions on the Bill. We are grateful to them for raising the issue, and I hope that I have addressed their concerns with a slightly different drafting approach.

The amendment simply provides for the protection of information provided under the hydro-benefit replacement scheme and the adjustment of transmission charges for the renewable generators scheme through the application of Section 105 of the Utilities Act 2000. The addition of the proposed new clause will make it an offence to disclose information provided under the respective schemes, except in those circumstances specified under that section.

Several circumstances would allow for disclosure of information under Section 105 of the Utilities Act; for example, disclosure made with the consent of the individual who is, for the time being, carrying on the business, or disclosure for the purposes of facilitating the performance of any of the functions of the Secretary of State, the authority or the Competition Commission under the 1986 Act, the 1989 Act or the Utilities Act 2000. But in other respects we believe that it meets the substantive objections that were made to the original drafting. Therefore, I beg to move.

Baroness Miller of Hendon

My Lords, as the Minister said, throughout the discussions on the Bill noble Lords on this side of the House argued strongly for confidentiality and I am pleased to welcome the government amendment, which was tabled in response to our amendment at Report. We thank the Minister for that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 183 [Applications of general duties to Part 4 functions etc.]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 27: Page 142, line 10, leave out from "under" to "as" in line 11 and insert "Chapters 2 to 4 of Part 4 of this Act

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 27, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 28. Both amendments are technical. Amendment No. 27 relates to functions conferred by the Secretary of State or GEMA under Chapters 2 to 4. The amendment makes it clear that these functions will be subject to the principal objectives and general duties set out in the Gas Act 1986. Amendment No. 28 relates to powers in the Bill conferred on the Secretary of State to amend the licence conditions. Clause 184 makes various provisions about those powers, but, as it stands, it is incomplete. Amendment No. 28 corrects that omission and maintains consistency. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 184 [Supplementary provision about licence condition powers]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 28: Page 142, line 33, leave out from "under" to "with" in line 34 and insert "Chapters 2 to 4 of Part 4 of this Act

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 29: After Clause 188, insert the following new clause—