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Column 593

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Mitchell, Sir David

Montgomery, Sir Fergus

Moore, Rt Hon John

Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Morrison, Sir Charles

Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Neale, Gerrard

Nelson, Anthony

Neubert, Michael

Newton, Rt Hon Tony

Nicholls, Patrick

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley

Page, Richard

Paice, James

Patnick, Irvine

Patten, Chris (Bath)

Patten, John (Oxford W)

Pawsey, James

Porter, Barry (Wirral S)

Portillo, Michael

Powell, William (Corby)

Price, Sir David

Raffan, Keith

Raison, Rt Hon Timothy

Rathbone, Tim

Redwood, John

Riddick, Graham

Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas

Rossi, Sir Hugh

Rost, Peter

Rowe, Andrew

Rumbold, Mrs Angela

Ryder, Richard

Sackville, Hon Tom

Sainsbury, Hon Tim

Sayeed, Jonathan

Scott, Nicholas

Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Shelton, Sir William

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Shersby, Michael

Sims, Roger

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Squire, Robin

Stanbrook, Ivor

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Steen, Anthony

Stern, Michael

Stevens, Lewis

Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)

Stradling Thomas, Sir John

Sumberg, David

Summerson, Hugo

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman

Thurnham, Peter

Tredinnick, David

Trotter, Neville

Wakeham, Rt Hon John

Walden, George

Walker, Bill (T'side North)

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Yeo, Tim

Younger, Rt Hon George

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory


Mr. John Mark Taylor.

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 20

Special agreements with respect to supply

Amendments made : No. 17, in page 16, line 29, after 19', insert

and ( Additional terms of supply )'.

No. 18, in page 16, line 47, after 19', insert

and ( Additional terms of supply )'.--[ Mr. Michael Spicer. ]

Clause 21

Determination of disputes

Amendments made : No. 19, in page 17, line 7, after to', insert 19, ( Additional terms of supply ) and 20'.

No. 20, in page 17, line 16, after to', insert

19, ( Additional terms of supply ) and 20'.

No. 21, in page 17, line 18, leave out from section' to may' in line 23 and insert

the Director may give directions as to the circumstances in which, and the terms on which, the supplier is to continue to give the supply pending the determination of the dispute.

(3) Where any dispute arising under section 19(1) above fails to be determined under this section, the Director may give directions as to the security (if any) to be given pending the determination of the dispute.

(3A) Directions under subsection (2) or (3) above.'.-- [Mr. Michael Spicer.]

Column 594

Clause 23

Orders for securing compliance

Mr. Michael Spicer : I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 18, line 3, leave out

has contravened and is likely again'

and insert is likely'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos 23 to 25, Government amendment No. 27 and amendment No. 191, in clause 46 page 35, line 45, at end add--

(e) include a financial statement surveying costs for each area board during that year.'.

Mr. Spicer : I merely want to say, by way of proposing the amendments, that there was some discussion about these issues in Committee. I believe that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) in particular argued that the director general should have powers to take action if he has clear reasons for believing that action contrary to licence conditions is likely to be taken. If the amendments are acceptable to the House that point will be met. The director general will be able to take action if he has legitimate reasons for believing that action contrary to licence conditions is likely to be taken.

Mr. Tony Blair (Sedgefield) : The purpose of amendment No. 191 is to ensure that, when the director general makes a report to the Secretary of State--as under clause 46 of the Bill he will be obliged to do--on his activities during the year, he includes a financial statement surveying the costs for each area board during that year. It is entirely appropriate on this day, when we will be debating a series of amendments concerning the rights and needs of consumers, that we ask what price the consumers will be required to pay for this legislation. At the end of the day--no matter how many discussions that people who are fond of debating the industry structure may wish to have--what the ordinary consumer will ask is, "Will privatisation improve the service and will it bring down bills?"

The boast of the Secretary of State about this legislation was that this privatisation is somehow different from gas and British Telecom because there is no monopoly. The criticism that was implicitly acknowledged by him was that gas and British Telecom had gone wrong as privatisations because there was a monopoly element in relation to consumers. However, for the vast majority of consumers, that is exactly what has happened here. The consumer will deal with the same electricity board as now, with no ability to transfer custom if he is dissatisfied with the service, and with no opportunity to hold the electricity board publicly accountable, because it will no longer be publicly owned.

4.45 pm

If we have learnt anything from privatisation, it is surely that, when one turns a public monopoly into a private monopoly, one combines in the worst way possible public service and private profit. One has the need to use without the right to choose. That will exactly describe the plight of Britain's 22 million electricity consumers following privatisation.

When we examine what the Bill includes for consumers, we must point out first that there will be no choice in relation to the area board used and that, of course, the grid system will be a monopoly owned by those area boards.

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