HC Deb 22 December 1981 vol 15 cc349-50W
Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he proposes that the private sector should be permitted to construct works under the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975, distribute gas through their own system and market gas without reference to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Gray

The Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill now before the House would permit the private sector to market gas to all consumers whom British Gas is not under a statutory obligation to supply on request. The private supplier would require my consent before supplying premises taking less than 1 million therms a year. Above that rate the ability to supply would be subject only to a notification procedure. It will be for the private supplier to decide whether to distribute gas by building his own pipelines or by seeking access to British Gas pipelines—or by a combination of the two. In the former case he is free to apply for authorisation under the Pipe-lines Act 1962 or the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975, as appropriate. In the latter case he will under our proposals be able to apply to me for a direction if his negotiations with British Gas are unsuccessful.