Energy Bill [HL]
Baroness Miller of Hendon (Conservative)
My Lords, this amendment is succinct, and the case for making it is also succinct.
On Report, the House agreed to amend Clause 179 to make it subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Clause 179 enables government to introduce a scheme to subsidise high transmission costs for renewable generation sources in remote areas. The case for this power to be made subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, rather than the weaker negative procedure, was that Clause 179 dealt with more than a narrowly technical matter. On the contrary, Clause 179 is a major departure from normal regulatory practice since it contemplates a new and potentially untransparent subsidy to further the ends of what would otherwise be uneconomic renewable development. Rightly, therefore, this House thought the exercise of such a power should be subject to a level of parliamentary scrutiny higher than that which is available under the negative procedure.
Clause 178 is broadly analogous to Clause 179 in its cross-subsidising effect, as it aims to offset the adverse consequences in Scotland of the abolition of the hydro-benefit subsidy. To that end, under the clause the Government will be able to raise a quasi-taxing levy on the general body of electricity consumers. On that basis, I am sure that the House will recognise that the same arguments that justified the subjection of Clause 179 to the affirmative resolution procedure apply with equal, if not greater, force to Clause 178.
In those circumstances, I hope that the Minister can accept this simple amendment. I beg to move.