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Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that measured reply, which I think was a better reply than the one I received last time. I am always suspicious about the "not the right vehicle" argument. The vehicular argument is always over-used. I have done it myself. It is very convenient. The Minister will appreciate that I thought it appropriate that we should express some concern about what has happened. I understood that the Minister would not accept the amendment and that is why I did not intend to call a Division on the matter. However, when he says that the Government want to achieve the independence of the regulator, I hope that that will be exemplified rather more overtly than seems to have been understood by the Home Secretary in relation to prisons.

It is also not satisfactory simply to say that this is only a very small element in relation to costs. The cost was expressed to be about 1p. by the Minister dealing with the matter in another place. That does not address the issue at all. It is not a question of how large a benefit consumers would have received if they had had some compensation for what had happened. It is a question of

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addressing the whole issue of outrage which has occurred. The Minister has still not done that but he has expressed his views in very modulated terms.

On the question of transparency, I accept that the Minister is right about that and that the Stock Exchange has suggested that there should be strong guidelines to deal with the matter. We shall have to look with care in the future as to what the experience is. However, having regard to what has been said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Licensing of public gas transporters]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 13:


Page 5, line 49, after ("effect") insert—
("(a)")

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 13 perhaps I may speak also to Amendments No. 14 and 15. This is the first group of a rather large number of technical government amendments which I need to move today. If I describe them from time to time as technical or drafting amendments I hope that that view will be accepted. However, if any noble Lord wishes me to elaborate on any of them, now or at a later date, I threaten that I shall do so. But I believe that they are essentially technical amendments. That is certainly the case with Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Peston: My Lords, perhaps I may reassure not only the Minister but your Lordships generally that I tried to plough through some of the amendments and I entirely accept that they are technical. I beg him not to go through each one of them in great detail. If he insists, and writes to me, I give him my word that I shall read everything. However, I do not think that any of your Lordships would regard it as remotely discourteous on the part of the Minister if he were simply to say on these technical amendments, "I beg to move".

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 14 and 15:


Page 5, line 50, after ("licence;") insert—
("(b) in the case of a licence under subsection (2)(a) above, as if it were also a licence under subsection (2)(b) above and any pipe-line system specified in the direction were specified in the licence; or
(c) in the case of a licence under subsection (2)(b) above, as if it were also a licence under subsection (2)(a) above and any area specified in the direction were specified in the licence,").
Page 6, line 12, leave out from ("months") to ("within") in line 14 and insert ("or, in the case of an extension, such shorter time as may be prescribed)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 16 to 18:


Page 6, line 48, after ("10(2)") insert ("or (3)").
Page 7, leave out lines 15 to 18 and insert (" 'relevant main' has the same meaning as in section 10 below and").
Page 7, leave out lines 26 to 30 and insert—

18 Oct 1995 : Column 770


("(11) Any reference in this Part (however expressed) to activities authorised by a licence under this section shall be construed without regard to any exception contained in Schedule 2A to this Act.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, these amendments are similarly technical. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 6 [Licensing of gas suppliers and gas shippers]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 19:


Page 8, line 17, at end insert—
("(4A) Subsection (4) above shall not apply in relation to a licence under subsection (1) above which authorises only the supply to premises of gas which has been conveyed to the premises otherwise than by a public gas transporter.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 19 perhaps I may speak also to Amendments Nos. 28 and 29. These are technical amendments to disapply the requirement to include the standard conditions in a supply licence. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 8, line 37, leave out ("an undue proportion of").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is in response to a point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Peston, at the Committee stage. Although we gave no formal commitment to look at the point, we wanted to reflect on it.

The provision in question is in Clause 6 of the Bill. It currently says that the director shall not grant licences if he thinks that the description or area of the licence has been so framed as artificially to exclude an undue proportion of premises likely to be owned or occupied by persons who are disabled or pensioners or likely to default on bills. The noble Lord objected to the words "an undue proportion". He argued that suppliers should never be allowed deliberately to choose licence areas which excluded these vulnerable groups, whether or not "an undue proportion" were excluded. We accept the validity of what he said and I invite your Lordships to delete the words.

Lord Peston: My Lords, I wish to thank the noble and learned Lord. This is another example—it is not the only one—of the constructive spirit in which all noble Lords have approached the Bill. I thank the noble and learned Lord for what I take to be a sensible amendment to the Bill and I warmly support it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 21:


Page 8, line 38, after ("are") insert ("chronically sick,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 22:


Page 9, line 7, at end insert—
("and in that subsection 'contract' does not include any contract which, by virtue of paragraph 8 of Schedule 2B to this Act, is deemed to have been made").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

18 Oct 1995 : Column 771

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 23:


Page 9, line 14, leave out ("subsection (10) above to the carrying on of") and insert ("this Part (however expressed) to").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 18 I intended to speak to Amendment No. 23. I think that I may not have been heard. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 24 to 26:


Page 9, line 37, after first ("Act") insert ("—
(a)").
Page 9, line 37, at end insert—
("(b) treated as so granted by virtue of a scheme made under paragraph 15 of Schedule 5 to this Act, or
(c) treated as so granted by virtue of paragraph 16 of that Schedule.").
Page 10, line 11, at end insert—
("( ) An order under this section may—
(a) provide for anything falling to be determined under the order to be determined by the Director; and
(b) make such supplementary or incidental provision as the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 7 [Licences: general]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 27:


Page 10, line 46, after ("are") insert ("chronically sick,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8 [Standard conditions of licences]:

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendments Nos. 28 and 29:


Page 12, line 31, leave out ("subsection (2)") and insert ("subsections (1A) and (2)").
Page 12, line 41, at end insert—
("(1A) Subsection (1) above shall not apply in relation to a licence under section 7A(1) above which authorises only the supply to premises of gas which has been conveyed to the premises otherwise than by a public gas transporter.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 19 I spoke also to Amendments Nos. 28 and 29. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 30 not moved.]

Clause 11 [Amendments of Part III of 1986 Act]:


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