Utilities Bill — General duties of electricity distributors — 19 Apr 2000

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 4.

measures consequential on the separation of electricity distribution and supply, including provision for transfer schemes for public electricity supplies?

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill .

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst):

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 28, in clause 48, page 48, line 36, at end insert--

We do not believe that this moratorium on section 36 . . . consents . . . will assist the coal industry in the short run . . . we look to the Government to ensure that . . . the moratorium is lifted as soon as practicable.

The obligation to maintain an efficient distribution system potentially conflicts with the proposed obligation to facilitate competition in generation and supply . . . distribution networks have been laid down in a co-ordinated fashion over many years . . . each proposal for embedded generation must be considered individually and on an economic basis, rather than under any kind of blanket obligation.

In the medium and longer term

encourage distribution companies to design networks so as to facilitate the accommodation of future embedded generation.

a working group of representatives from the Government, Ofgem and the industry is examining the issues that surround embedded generation.--[ Official Report, Standing Committee A , 14 March 2000; c. 486.]

5 per cent. of UK electricity requirements should be met from renewables by the end of the year 2003 and 10 per cent. by 2010.

the extent to which we are moving towards fulfilling our manifesto commitments, and our commitment to ensuring a proper foundation and strong future for the renewable energy industry.

The Government have every intention of using the new powers to meet the declared target of 10 per cent. of renewables by 2010--

provided that the cost to consumers--

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 6, line 15, leave out "wherever appropriate".

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord):

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 29, in page 7, line 6, leave out "Subject to subsection (2)," and insert "In performing that duty".

to ensure that all reasonable demands for electricity are satisfied . . . to ensure that licence holders are able to finance . . . activities . . . to promote competition in the generation and supply of electricity.

The principal objective of the Secretary of State and the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority . . . is to protect the interests of consumers . . . wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition.

The proposed wording of the change here may be positively unhelpful as it puts an additional obstacle in the way of regulators promoting competition. The duty to promote competition will no longer be unqualified. This will have to be demonstrated to be the most appropriate way to protect customers.

to protect the interests of consumers by promoting effective competition.

As hon. Members will know, the Government are committed to modernisation and reform in a whole range of important areas of public life. The Utilities Bill is part of that agenda of modernisation and reform. It will deliver efficiency and fairness, bringing together social justice and fairness, two sides of the same coin . . . It puts consumers first and provides a basis for effective competition and a stable framework for regulation.--[ Official Report , 31 January 2000; Vol. 343, c. 782.]

we do not expect that there will be a dramatic upheaval--a revolution indeed--in utility regulations . . . The regulatory and economic environment in which utility companies operate will not be turned upside down.--[ Official Report, Standing Committee A , 29 February 2000; c. 234.]

outside the Conservative party . . . it is barely in issue that prices will rise because of privatisation.--[ Official Report , 12 December 1988; Vol. 143, c. 681.]

It is time pre-payment meter consumers benefited from the liberalised gas market.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 24, in page 8, line 2, after "Parliament", insert--

'together with an impact assessment of the extent to which any additional costs incurred by the Authority, Council or licence holders consequent on implementing the guidance will be passed on to consumers.'.

Ofgem has also appointed a 10 member review panel bringing together consumer groups, Government and representatives of the energy and banking industries. Regular reports on progress against the plan will also be published.

There are many customers who either because of low income or poor housing find it difficult to afford heat and light for their homes. This is a big and complex problem which requires many parts of Government and the industry to contribute to solutions. Through the social action plan Ofgem will concentrate on taking effective action to tackle this problem to make a difference for low income and disadvantaged customers.

If the Government concludes that its social and environmental policy objectives require action which would have significant financial implications for consumers or for the regulated companies, such action should be taken forward by means of new specific provisions in primary or secondary legislation rather than through guidance to the regulators.

significant financial implications for consumers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 35, in page 14, line 17, leave out "or body".

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 36, in page 14, line 18, leave out from beginning to "or" in line 19.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 1, in page 34, line 34, at end insert--

'( ) In subsection (6), after "this section" there is inserted "or in carrying out functions under section 14A", after "the investigation" there is inserted "or the carrying out of those functions" and after "such investigation" there is inserted "or such functions".'.-- [Mrs. Liddell.]

Amendment made: No. 2, in page 35, line 42, at end insert--

' "(5) After considering any representations or objections made in response to proposals set out in a notice under subsection (3), the Authority shall give notice to the Competition Commission--

(a) setting out the modifications it proposes to make to remedy or prevent the adverse effects specified in the report; and

(b) stating the reasons for making the modifications.

(6) The Authority shall include with the notice under subsection (5) a copy of any representations or objections received in relation to the notice under subsection (3).

(7) If the period of four weeks from the date on which the notice under subsection (5) is given elapses without a direction under section 14A(1)(a) having been given to it, the Authority shall--

(a) make the modifications set out in the notice; or

(b) if a direction under section 14A(1)(b) has been given, make the modifications which are not specified in the direction.'. -- [Mrs. Liddell.]

Amendment proposed: No. 28, in page 48, line 36, at end insert--


(c) to facilitate the development of embedded generation;

(d) to support the achievement of the Government's national renewable energy targets by facilitating small-scale renewable generation through net metering.'.-- [Mr. Stunell.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 31, Noes 261.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 000.0%
Lab260 (+2 tell) 0063.1%
LDem0 27 (+2 tell)063.0%
PC0 1025.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
UUP0 2020.0%
Total:260 31046.0%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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