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Lord Haskel: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reassurance. However, I must confess that I am somewhat confused. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, drew a comparison with the telecommunications business as regards price lists. As I understood the Minister, once a gas supplier has published its prices it cannot offer any special deals. However, if it is to be similar to the telecommunications business, I should point out that the latter is offering special deals all the time; for example, there are special deals depending on what time one telephones and how often one telephones and special deals regarding calls to Europe or the United States. I cannot imagine that the same will not apply to the gas business because that is one of the few ways in which gas suppliers will be able to compete with one another.
I accept the Minister's assurances that, if there is any change, it will only take place with the Minister's approval and that that will not be done unless Parliament is sitting. I thank the noble and learned Lord for that assurance, but perhaps another way of dealing with the matterand one which will satisfy everyonewould be for the Government to put the provision for the publication of prices into the licence rather than into the legislation. Perhaps, therefore, the Minister would consider dealing with the matter by including the amendment in a subsection of the Bill which would allow for this part of the legislation to fall by order. That would be no more bureaucratic than the process that he suggested. It would deal with the modifications of the standard licence conditions and satisfy the consumer concerns. I hope that the Minister will give the suggestion some consideration. The proposal came from an organisation which is quite concerned about the matter. Can the Minister reply on that latter point?
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I shall certainly consider what the noble Lord has said and came back to him, but he does place me in somewhat of a difficulty. I have given him as clear an indication as I can why I believe it is right that this should be a condition of the licence. I hope that I have given a clear and unequivocal statement of what the intention of the Secretary of State would be should the director at some unknown point in the future decide that it would be appropriate to remove that qualification.
Page 41, line 24, at end insert ("by regulations").
Page 41, line 28, at end insert ("so").
Page 41, line 35, after ("State,") insert ("by regulations").
Page 41, line 41, at end insert ("so").
Page 42, line 8, after ("Regulations") insert ("under this section").
Page 43, line 1, at end insert ("under this section").
Page 45, line 3, leave out ("signal") and insert ("signify").
Page 45, line 5, at end insert ("to the premises" ").
Page 45, line 16, leave out from ("for") to end of line 18 and insert ("paragraphs (a) and (b) there shall be substituted the words "any reference to a gas operator were a reference to the relevant authority" ").
Page 45, line 33, at end insert
("(11) Except in cases of emergency, no officer shall be authorised by a public gas transporter to exercise any powers of entry conferred by regulations under this section unless the transporter has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that he is a fit and proper person to exercise those powers." ").
Page 46, line 5, after ("(7)") insert ("and (11)").
Page 46, line 10, leave out ("and").
Page 46, line 13, at end insert ("and
(d) the reference in subsection (11) of that section to regulations under that section were a reference to regulations under this section.").
Page 48, leave out lines 46 to 48 and insert ("the difference between
(a) the cost of carrying out the modifications (including a reasonable element of profit); and
(b) any contributions towards that cost which the transporter will or may be able to recover from other persons."").
Page 50, line 10, after ("above") insert ("the").
Page 52, line 6, leave out ("a standard condition") and insert ("standard conditions").
Page 52, line 7, leave out ("its") and insert ("their").
Page 54, line 18, after first ("above") insert ("the").
Page 54, line 35, leave out ("a standard condition") and insert ("standard conditions").
Page 54, line 36, leave out ("its") and insert ("their").
Page 54, line 41, leave out paragraph 25 and insert
("25. For section 27 of the 1986 Act there shall be substituted the following section
"Modification by order under other enactments.
27.(1) Where in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (3) or (4) below the Secretary of State by order exercises any of the powers specified in Parts I and II of Schedule 8 to the Fair Trading Act 1973 or section 10(2)(a) of the Competition Act 1980, the order may also provide for the modification of
(a) the conditions of a particular licence; or
(b) the standard conditions of licences under section 7 above, licences under subsection (1) of section 7A above or licences under subsection (2) of that section,
to such extent as may appear to him to be requisite or expedient for the purpose of giving effect to or of taking account of any provision made by the order.
(2) Where at any time the Secretary of State modifies under subsection (1)(b) above the standard conditions of licences under section 7 above, licences under subsection (1) of section 7A above or licences under subsection (2) of that section, he
(a) shall also make (as nearly as may be) the same modifications of those conditions for the purposes of their incorporation in licences under that section or, as the case may be, that subsection granted after that time; and
(b) may, after consultation with the Director, make such incidental or consequential modifications as he considers necessary or expedient of any conditions of licences under that provision granted before that time.
(3) Subsection (1) above shall have effect where
(a) the circumstances are as mentioned in section 56(1) of the said Act of 1973 (order on report on monopoly reference), or in section 10(1) of the said Act of 1980 (order on report on competition reference); and
(b) the monopoly situation exists in relation to, or (as the case may be) the anti-competitive practice relates to
(i) the carrying on of activities authorised or required by a licence; or
(ii) the storage of gas on terms which have been, or could have been if he thought fit, determined by the holder of a licence under section 7 above.
(4) Subsection (1) above shall also have effect where
(a) the circumstances are as mentioned in section 73(1) of the said Act of 1973 (order on report on merger reference); and
(b) at least one of the two or more enterprises
(i) which ceased to be distinct enterprises; or
(ii) in the application of that provision as it has effect by virtue of section 75(4)(e) of that Act, which would cease to be distinct enterprises,
was or, as the case may be, is engaged in the carrying on of activities authorised or required by a licence.
(5) Where at any time the Secretary of State modifies standard conditions under subsection (2)(a) above for the purposes of their incorporation in licences granted after that time, he shall publish those modifications in such manner as he considers appropriate.
(6) In this section expressions which are also used in the said Act of 1973 or the said Act of 1980 have the same meanings as in that Act." ").