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Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I am extremely disappointed by the Minister's response to the amendment. The industry feels strongly that restricting publication and analysis of complaints to those received by the authority and the council would provide the only robust and equitable means of comparison between companies in terms of their customer service performance.

Indeed, I quote from a letter addressed to the Utilities Bill team at the Department of Trade and Industry from representatives of the Electricity Association following the Committee stage. It states:

I am surprised also by the response of the noble Lord, Lord Borrie. The letter goes on to state:

    "If companies are receiving significant numbers of initial complaints, but resolving issues quickly so that complaints are not being referred to OFGEM or the Council, surely that is to their credit! If they are generally offering a low standard of service, as the Minister suggests, that will very quickly be demonstrated

5 Jul 2000 : Column 1504

    through a whole raft of indices including Guaranteed and Overall Standards of Service, performance monitoring of Codes of Practice and Quality of Supply data. Even in the complaints arena alone, no poorly performing company will be able to 'firefight' to the extent necessary to ensure that all first time complaints are satisfactorily resolved quickly enough to avoid references to the Council. Customers can of course vote with their feet, as increasing numbers are now doing, and leave the offending supplier. Competition is a powerful deterrent to poor service".

I am not happy and I should like to test the opinion of the House.

4.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 87; Not-Contents, 154.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L. [Teller]
Attlee, E.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brigstocke, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Chalfont, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coe, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cuckney, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Flather, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Haslam, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Jellicoe, E.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Prior, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tombs, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Weatherill, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harrison, L.
Healey, L.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Laird, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McNally, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5 Jul 2000 : Column 1506

4.30 p.m.

Clause 22 [Complaints]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 13:

    Page 16, line 39, leave out ("of gas").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 13, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 14 to 19, 65, 76, 82 to 87, 90 and 98. These are for the most part minor drafting amendments which adjust the terminology used to refer to persons authorised by a licence or exemption in a number of clauses in the Bill, and introduce more consistency between gas and electricity provisions.

Amendments Nos. 82 to 87 to Clause 98 are additionally intended to make clear that, in any scheme introduced to help disadvantaged gas customers, adjustments may be made to the charges of authorised gas shippers as well as of suppliers and transporters. We were advised by the regulator that without such amendments a scheme could be more difficult to operate effectively. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 14 to 18:

    Page 16, line 44, leave out ("authorised person") and insert ("person authorised by a licence or exemption").

    Page 18, leave out lines 12 to 14.

    Page 18, line 23, leave out ("of electricity").

    Page 18, line 28, leave out ("authorised person") and insert ("person authorised by a licence or exemption").

    Page 19, leave out lines 43 to 45.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 23 [Investigations by the Council]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 19:

    Page 21, leave out lines 29 and 30.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 24 [Provision of information to the Council]:

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