HC Deb 29 November 1990 vol 181 cc463-4W
Mr. Carrington

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he proposes to exlude from the application of United Kingdom restrictive trade practices legislation the contracts entered into between the successor companies to the Scottish electricity boards for the restructuring of the Scottish electricity industry prior to privatisation.

Mr. Redwood

Scottish Power plc and Scottish Hydro-Electric plc are required by the terms of their licences to enter into certain restructuring contracts, which are designed to give the companies access to a balanced portfolio of generating assets on a long-term basis and to govern the operation of their transmission assets. The Government intend that these contracts should, in view of their fundamental importance to the restructuring of the Scottish electricity supply industry for the purpose of privatisation, be excluded from the ambit of United Kingdom restrictive trade practices legislation. Yesterday, I therefore laid before the House an order made under section 100(2) of the Electricity Act 1989, exempting the contracts from the ambit of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976.

For the future, the Government are proposing to introduce new legislation on restrictive trade practices, in implementation of the proposals outlined in the White Paper "Opening Markets: New Policy on Restrictive Trade Practices"—CM 727—published in July 1989. It is our intention that the exemptions granted to the Scottish restructuring contracts under current restrictive trade practices legislation should be carried forward by means of an exclusion from the proposed prohibition on restrictive agreements. The proposed legislation will be introduced when parliamentary time permits.