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Session 2003 - 04
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Standing Committee Debates
Energy Bill [Lords]

Energy Bill [Lords]

Standing Committee B

Thursday 20 May 2004


[Mr. Bill O'Brien in the Chair]

Energy Bill [Lords]

8.55 am

The Minister for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services (Mr. Stephen Timms): I beg to move,


    (1) during proceedings on the Energy Bill [Lords] the Standing Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 8.55 am on 20th May) meet—

    (a) at 2.30 pm on 20th May; and

    (b) at 8.55 am and at 2.30 pm on each of 25th May, 27th May, 8th June, 15th June, 17th June, 22nd June and 24th June; and

    (2) the proceedings shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table and shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in the second column of the Table.


ProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings
Clauses 1 to 5, Schedule 1,
Clauses 6 to 14, Schedule 2,
Clauses 15 and 16, Schedule 3,
Clauses 17 to 30, Schedule 4,
Clauses 31 to 41, Schedule 5,
Clause 42, Schedule 6,
Clauses 43 to 48, Schedule 7,
Clause 49, Schedule 8,
Clause 50, Schedule 9,
Clauses 51 to 54, Schedule 10,
Clauses 55 and 56, Schedule 11,
Clauses 57 to 64, Schedule 12,
Clauses 65 and 66, Schedule 13,
Clauses 67 to 72, Schedule 14,
Clauses 73 to 78, Schedule 15,
Clauses 79 to 83
5.00 pm on 27th May
Clauses 84 to 96, Schedule 16,
Clauses 97 to 135, Schedule 17,
Clauses 136 to 138, Schedule 18,
Clauses 139 and 140, Schedule 19,
Clauses 141 to 156, Schedules 20 and 21,
Clauses 157 to 170, Schedule 22,
Clauses 171 to 193, Schedule 23,
Clause 194, new
Clauses, new Schedules and any remaining proceedings on the Bill.
5.00 pm on 24th June

Good morning, Mr. O'Brien; I warmly welcome you to the Chair of our Committee. I am pleased that you will be supervising our deliberations, not least because of your long-standing interest in the subject. I also welcome all members of the Committee.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths) for representing the Government at the Programming Sub-Committee meeting earlier this week, and for ensuring that the Committee's time is planned effectively in the interests of achieving proper and thorough scrutiny of the Bill. I am grateful also to my hon. Friend the Member for

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Staffordshire, Moorlands (Charlotte Atkins), who is here for the first part of our discussions. I do not think that she will find her duties on the Bill unduly onerous, given the high level of interest in energy policy among those of my hon. Friends who are serving on the Committee. I welcome the hon. Members for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) and for Hazel Grove (Mr. Stunell), and their hon. Friends, and I look forward to their contributions to our debates.

I was pleased that, on Second Reading, hon. Members across the House generally supported the Bill in principle. There is wide support for making provision for the future management of nuclear decommissioning and clean-up at our civil nuclear sites. We need to make brisk progress to ensure that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority can be established on time, by April 2005. That concern underpinned some of the dates in the resolution of the Programming Sub-Committee. Similarly, it will enable the new British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements to be implemented on a similar time scale.

The Committee will understand the importance of hitting those dates, but will want to ensure also adequate time for proper scrutiny of the Bill. I hope that all hon. Members will agree that the resolution represents a proper balance between those differing considerations. I commend it to the Committee.

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): I echo the Minister's remarks, not for the last time, I am sure. Indeed, I entirely agree that it is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. O'Brien; I have done so before, and I know that an enjoyable experience awaits us all.

I also echo the Minister's remarks about welcoming other hon. Members. However, I extend an apology to those who attended the Programming Sub-Committee on Monday. Due to illness, I could not attend. I apologise for my absence, and thank those who did attend.

The Minister said that the Second Reading debate was interesting, and that we agreed on many of the issues raised. We also discussed one or two of the amendments to the Bill made by Members of another place. Those matters may be slightly more contentious, but they are also important. I look forward to debating them. The Minister spoke of the need to set up the NDA and to extend to Scotland the electricity trading arrangements for England and Wales. Those are both important aspects of the Bill.

The Bill has 194
Clauses and a great many schedules, and 24 June may seem a long time away. However, given that we have one week off for the recess and a day off for the local and European elections, and especially given that we must reach
Clause 83 by 5 o'clock next Thursday, we do not have a great deal of time to debate much of the Bill. I acknowledge that there is a need to make rapid progress, but I hope that that does not mean that we cannot give the Bill the detailed consideration that these important matters deserve. That said, I am pleased to serve on the Committee. May I say again, Mr. O'Brien, that I look forward to serving under your chairmanship?

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Mr. Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove) (LD): May I, too, say that it will be a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. O'Brien, and to work with so many hon. Friends and hon. Members with whom I have discussed a succession of energy-related issues time after time? Our sittings will be very interesting.

The Government's response in informal discussions on the resolution was very helpful, as was the reduction in the number of knives. The Minister said, quite properly, that he wanted to make quick progress. That is also our wish, but I made the point that the first two or three clauses are very meaty, and I hope that it will not be taken as a breach of our undertaking to make progress if we spend some time discussing them. We hope to speed up as we get going.

The hon. Member for Staffordshire, Moorlands made the point that the two missing sittings, which disappeared mysteriously, could be added if we ran out of time. I hope that that will not be necessary, but I also hope that the Minister will not forget his representative's words in that discussion.

Ms Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) (Lab): May I say, Mr. O'Brien, what a great pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship? May I also say how important it is for us to make great progress in our sittings, because the Bill covers such important issues? I am tempted to link the programme resolution and the urgency with which the Committee needs to get through its business in this place to the urgency with which we should deal, internationally as well as nationally, with global warming and climate change. I very much look forward to our future discussions.

Many Government Back Benchers have had a long-standing interest in energy efficiency measures and environmental issues. We have an opportunity to engage in constructive criticism of the Bill and to make progress on it in the allotted time, while ensuring that we obtain the best possible outcome. I am very pleased that the Minister and his most able colleague are serving on the Committee, and I look forward to making progress on the Bill.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 13, Noes 4.

Division No. 1]

Atkins, Charlotte
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Challen, Mr. Colin
Griffiths, Nigel
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Picking, Anne
Stewart, Ian
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Walley, Joan
Weir, Mr. Michael
White, Brian

Key, Mr. Robert
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Ruffley, Mr. David

Question accordingly agreed to.

The Chairman: I remind the Committee that there is a money resolution and a Ways and Means resolution in connection with the Bill. Copies of the resolutions

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are available in the Room. I also remind Members that, as a general rule, adequate notice should be given of amendments. My co-Chairman and I do not intend to call starred amendments.

Clause 1

Security and integrity of supply

Mr. Robertson: I beg to move amendment No. 41, in

    clause 1, page 1, line 4, leave out from 'State' to end of line 5 and insert

    ', having regard to the regulatory arrangements, shall have a duty to enable the framework whereby the market can ensure the security of electricity and gas supplies and the Secretary of State shall make regular reports to Parliament on these matters.'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 38A, in

    clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end add

    ', in particular by promoting energy efficiency in all sectors'.

Amendment No. 72, in

    clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end add—

    '(2) The Secretary of State's duty under this section shall be wholly delegated to GEMA save and except after—

    (a) GEMA has made a report to the Secretary of State setting out its reasons for believing that it has insufficient powers to carry out this duty, and

    (b) the expiry of one year's notice of intended reversion of the duty to the Secretary of State.'.

Amendment No. 73, in

    clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end add—

    '(2) Such a duty shall in particular require the Secretary of State to have regard to—

    (a) provision of supply in a national emergency,

    (b) estimates of the long-term requirements for energy at the point of use, and

    (c) the reduction in energy use achievable through conservation and efficiency measures.'.

Amendment No. 74, in

    clause 1, page 1, line 5, at end add—

    '(2) In the exercise of this duty he shall have regard to the reports and recommendations of the Joint Energy Supply Security working group in respect of their responsibility for monitoring and assessing risks to security of supply.'.

    Clause 1 stand part.

    New clause 13—Security of supply report—

    'The Secretary of State must in each calendar year, beginning with 2005, publish a report (''a security of supply report'') on the progress made in the reporting period towards maintaining and enhancing, if necessary, UK security of supply.'.


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