Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Earl Ferrers: I did not actually say that. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, asks if I will seriously reconsider and come back with alterations. I did not say that. What I said was that in courtesy to the noble Lords who have spoken I shall certainly consider what they said.

Lord Peston: I am now lost. We have all sorts of codes in relation to gradations of listening to other arguments. This one sounded as though it was really no. Beyond the normal courtesies which we always exchange in your Lordships' Chamber, it sounded to me like no. It would help me in taking a view if the noble Earl would indicate whether he is saying no. If he is, we do not want to waste Report stage going over this again. If he is genuinely—I do not say this with any disrespect—intending to go over the arguments again and is capable of being persuaded, that is one thing. If what he is really saying is, "We are friends. I will look at it but I shall not be persuaded", then we may as well get it over and done with now.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: Hear, hear!

Earl Ferrers: The noble Lord seems to have got the taste of power in his mouth and I wish it were in his belly. I would not wish to deflect him. I was trying to be as reasonable as possible by saying that I believe we have got it right. If the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, considers that we have got it wrong, I am prepared to consider it but I do not hold out much hope of changing my mind. If the noble Lord, Lord Peston, wishes to get the matter over and done with, let us get it over with. Perhaps that will meet with the satisfaction of both noble Lords.

Lord Ezra: Perhaps we ought to test the opinion of the Committee. With all the best intentions the noble Earl is not prepared to reconsider the matter seriously and therefore I suggest we decide by voting.

22 Jun 1995 : Column 419

4.4 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 75; Not-Contents, 128.

Division No. 1


Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Barnett, L.
Blackstone, B.
Bridges, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B.
David, B.
Desai, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Ezra, L. [Teller.]
Falkender, B.
Fitt, L.
Foot, L.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glasgow, E.
Gould of Potternewton, B. [Teller.]
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Hylton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Iddesleigh, E.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Listowel, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McNair, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Nicol, B.
Peston, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rochester, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury, L.
Seear, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tombs, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Coslany, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
White, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.


Aberdare, L.
Ailsa, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour, E.
Banbury of Southam, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bradford, E.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brigstocke, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Caldecote, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnock, L.
Carr of Hadley, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmer, L.
Chelmsford, V.
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L.
Coleraine, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cranbrook, E.
Cross, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Davidson, V.
De Freyne, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Digby, L.
Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Elibank, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Foley, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gisborough, L.
Goschen, V.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Hamilton of Dalzell, L.
Hanworth, V.
Harlech, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Howe, E.
Huntly, M.
Inglewood, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Killearn, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Lauderdale, E.
Lindsay, E.
Long, V. [Teller.]
Lucas, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monk Bretton, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Morris, L.
Mottistone, L.
Mountgarret, V.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pym, L.
Quinton, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
St. John of Fawsley, L.
Saint Oswald, L.
Sandys, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stockton, E.
Strange, B.
Strathcarron, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Sudeley, L.
Terrington, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thurlow, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Westbury, L.
Wharton, B.
Wilson of Tillyorn, L.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

22 Jun 1995 : Column 420

4.12 p.m.

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 13, leave out ("reasonable").

The noble Lord said: This, too, is an amendment to do with consumers. It is partly an attempt to try to understand what the Bill is up to. I thought that the easiest way to find out was to ask the noble Earl to explain why the word "reasonable" is included. My amendment essentially takes out the word "reasonable" so that the relevant paragraph would read:

    "to secure that, so far as it is economical to meet them, all demands ... through pipes are met".

I say to myself, and I said to myself when I first read the Bill, what does "reasonable" add, given that the word "economical" is there? The whole point of industry is that it is meant to be competitive, leading to outcomes which are economical and which can meet demand. What does "reasonable" add? What would be a demand that was economical but was unreasonable?

My judgment is that this is just wrong. From my reading of the Bill, it is a mistake. But I am ever fearful of the lawyers and the parliamentary draftsmen and I therefore expect any minute to be told that it is part of the

22 Jun 1995 : Column 421

tradition of English law that the word "reasonable" is always put before the word "demands", or something equally preposterous. Echoing the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, and wearing my commonsensical hat, I simply ask the Minister to tell me why the word "reasonable" is there. Can he give me an example of a demand that is economical to meet but is not reasonable? That would solve the problem. I think it is impossible, but I would be interested to have an example.

That is what the amendment is about. Essentially it underlines where I failed earlier—the point that the consumer is paramount. The consumer expresses his or her paramountcy by making demands. Those demands should be met if they are economical to meet—end of story. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: It seems quite extraordinary to have put down this amendment because it appears to imply that there will be an obligation to meet unreasonable demands. Although a demand to meet unreasonable demands comes quite commonly from the Front Bench opposite, I hope that the Committee will not accept it.

Lord Peston: Perhaps I may clarify the point. The amendment precisely does not do that because the paragraph retains the word "economical". An economist would argue—I hope that this does not turn the noble Lord against me—if asked what was a reasonable demand, that it was one that was economical to meet. That is why the word "reasonable" is irrelevant. It should not be there. I do not think that there is anything between the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and myself about unreasonable demands—that is another subject which we may come to in due course. However, if he were to say to me, "What should happen?", I would say that all demands should be met as long as it is economical to meet them. That is the point.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page