Utilities Bill - continued        House of Lords
PART III, FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL - continued

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Investigations by the Council.     23. - (1) For section 33 of the 1986 Act there is substituted-
 
 
"Power of Council to investigate other matters.     33. - (1) The Council may investigate any matter (not being a matter which it is its duty to investigate under this Part) which appears to it to be a matter relating to the interests of consumers in relation to gas conveyed through pipes.
 
    (2) The power to undertake an investigation under this section includes, without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), power to investigate any matter relating to or to anything connected with gas fittings (or their use) or the use of gas supplied by authorised suppliers.
 
      (3) In subsection (2), "gas fittings" means gas fittings used or intended to be used by persons supplied with gas by authorised suppliers.
 
      (4) Where the Council has investigated a matter under this section it may make a report on that matter to the Authority, the Secretary of State, the Director General of Fair Trading or any other public authority whose functions appear to the Council to be exercisable in relation to that matter.
 
      (5) Subject to subsection (6), the Council may-
 
 
    (a) send a report on any matter investigated under this section to any person who appears to the Council to have an interest in that matter; and
 
    (b) publish any such report in such manner as the Council thinks appropriate.
      (6) Information which relates to the affairs of any particular individual or body of persons (corporate or unincorporate)-
 
 
    (a) shall not be included in a report which is to be sent to any person under subsection (5)(a), unless one or more of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (7) applies; and
 
    (b) shall be excluded from any such report which is to be published under subsection (5)(b), unless one or more or paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (8) applies.
      (7) Information relating to a particular individual or body may be included in a report to be sent under subsection (5)(a) if-
 
 
    (a) that individual or body has consented to the disclosure;
 
    (b) it is information that is available to the public from some other source; or
 
    (c) it is not information the disclosure of which would or might, in the opinion of the Council, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that individual or body.
      (8) Information relating to a particular individual or body may be included in a report to be published under subsection (5)(b) if-
 
 
    (a) that individual or body has consented to the publication;
 
    (b) it is information that is available to the public from some other source; or
 
    (c) it is not information the publication of which would or might, in the opinion of the Council, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that individual or body.
      (9) Before deciding to include in such a report any information relating to a particular individual or body in pursuance of subsection (7)(c) or (8)(c), the Council shall-
 
 
    (a) consult that individual or body; and
 
    (b) have regard to any opinion expressed by the Authority as to the application of subsection (7)(c) or (8)(c) to the information or as to the desirability or otherwise of its inclusion in the report;
       and paragraph (b) applies whether the opinion is given in relation to the information itself or to information of a description which applies to that information."
 
      (2) After section 46 of the 1989 Act there is inserted-
 
 
"Power of Council to investigate other matters.     46A. - (1) The Council may investigate any matter (not being a matter which it is its duty to investigate under this Part) which appears to it to be a matter relating to the interests of consumers in relation to electricity conveyed by distribution systems.
 
    (2) Where the Council has investigated a matter under this section it may make a report on that matter to the Authority, the Secretary of State, the Director General of Fair Trading or any other public authority whose functions appear to the Council to be exercisable in relation to that matter.
 
      (3) Subject to subsection (4), the Council may-
 
 
    (a) send a report on any matter investigated under this section to any person who appears to the Council to have an interest in that matter; and
 
    (b) publish any such report in such manner as the Council thinks appropriate.
      (4) Information which relates to the affairs of any particular individual or body of persons (corporate or unincorporate)-
 
 
    (a) shall not be included in a report which is to be sent to any person under subsection (3)(a), unless one or more of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (5) applies; and
 
    (b) shall be excluded from any such report which is to be published under subsection (3)(b), unless one or more or paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (6) applies.
      (5) Information relating to a particular individual or body may be included in a report to be sent under subsection (3)(a) if-
 
 
    (a) that individual or body has consented to the disclosure;
 
    (b) it is information that is available to the public from some other source; or
 
    (c) it is not information the disclosure of which would or might, in the opinion of the Council, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that individual or body.
      (6) Information relating to a particular individual or body may be included in a report to be published under subsection (3)(b) if-
 
 
    (a) that individual or body has consented to the publication;
 
    (b) it is information that is available to the public from some other source; or
 
    (c) it is not information the publication of which would or might, in the opinion of the Council, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that individual or body.
      (7) Before deciding to include in such a report any information relating to a particular individual or body in pursuance of subsection (5)(c) or (6)(c), the Council shall-
 
 
    (a) consult that individual or body; and
 
    (b) have regard to any opinion expressed by the Authority as to the application of subsection (5)(c) or (6)(c) to the information or as to the desirability or otherwise of its inclusion in the report;
       and paragraph (b) applies whether the opinion is given in relation to the information itself or to information of a description which applies to that information."
 
Provision of information to the Council.     24. - (1) The Council may direct-
 
 
    (a) the Authority; or
 
    (b) the holder of a gas licence or an electricity licence,
       to supply to it, in such form as it may reasonably specify, such information specified or described in the direction as it may require for the purpose of exercising its functions.
 
      (2) A person to whom a direction under this section is given shall comply with it as soon as is reasonably practicable.
 
      (3) Before giving a direction under this section and in specifying the form in which any information is to be supplied, the Council shall have regard to the desirability of minimising the costs, or any other detriment, to the Authority or licence holder.
 
      (4) If the Authority fails to comply with a direction under this section it shall, if so required by the Council, give notice to the Council of the reasons for its failure.
 
Publication of notice of reasons.     25. - (1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, the Council may publish a notice given to it under section 24(4).
 
      (2) Information which relates to the affairs of any particular individual or body of persons (corporate or unincorporate) shall be excluded from any notice published under subsection (1) unless one or more of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (3) applies to the information.
 
      (3) Information relating to a particular individual or body may be published if-
 
 
    (a) that individual or body has consented to the publication;
 
    (b) it is information that is available to the public from some other source; or
 
    (c) it is not information the publication of which would or might, in the opinion of the Council, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that individual or body.
      (4) Before deciding to publish any information relating to a particular individual or body in pursuance of subsection (3)(c), the Council shall-
 
 
    (a) consult that individual or body; and
 
    (b) have regard to any opinion expressed by the Authority as to the application of subsection (3)(c) to the information or as to the desirability or otherwise of its publication;
       and paragraph (b) applies whether the opinion is given in relation to the information itself or to information of a description which applies to that information.
 
      (5) The publication by the Council of information under this section does not contravene section 105.
 
Provision of information by the Council to the Authority.     26. - (1) The Authority may direct the Council to supply to it, in such form as it may reasonably specify, such information specified or described in the direction as it may require for the purpose of exercising its functions.
 
      (2) The Council shall comply with a direction under this section as soon as is reasonably practicable.
 
      (3) Where the Council refuses to supply any information under subsection (1), it must give notice to the Authority of its reason for the refusal and the Authority may publish that notice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
 
      (4) In publishing any notice under this section the Authority shall have regard to the need for excluding, so far as that is practicable, any matter which relates to the affairs of a particular individual or body of persons (corporate or unincorporate), where publication of that matter would or might, in the opinion of the Authority, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of that person or body.
 
Sections 24 to 26: supplementary.     27. - (1) The Secretary of State may make regulations prescribing-
 
 
    (a) descriptions of information which the Authority, a licence holder or the Council may refuse to supply under section 24 or 26; or
 
    (b) circumstances in which the Authority, a licence holder or the Council may refuse to comply with a direction under section 24 or 26.
      (2) The Council may, if no person is prescribed for the purpose under subsection (3), refer a failure by a licence holder to comply with a direction under section 24 to the Authority.
 
      (3) The Secretary of State may make regulations for the purpose of enabling a failure to comply with a direction under section 24 or 26 to be referred by the person who gave the direction to such person (other than the Authority) as may be prescribed by the regulations.
 
      (4) A person to whom such a failure is referred (whether under subsection (2) or regulations under subsection (3)) shall-
 
 
    (a) consider any representations made by either party;
 
    (b) determine whether the person failing to comply with the direction is entitled to refuse to do so and, if not, order him to comply with the direction; and
 
    (c) give notice of his determination and any order under subsection (4)(b), with reasons, to both parties.
      (5) A notice under subsection (4) may be published by either party to the reference; and subsections (2) to (5) of section 25 apply to the publication of such a notice as they apply to the publication of a notice under section 24(4).
 
      (6) Section 60 of the 1989 Act (powers to make regulations) applies to regulations under this section as if they were made under Part I of that Act.
 
      (7) The power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
 
 
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