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Orders of the Day — Utilities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:40 pm on 31st January 2000.

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Photo of Mrs Helen Liddell Mrs Helen Liddell Minister of State (Science, Energy and Industry), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Energy and Competitiveness in Europe) 9:40 pm, 31st January 2000

We have heard a lot of interesting speeches, not least the one from the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb). I always get the impression that he is still in a state of shock that the electorate could have been so lacking in majesty as to elect a Labour Government. He seems to have a sense that there was a golden age when the peasants knew their place and the bosses lined their pockets.

It is bizarre that the official Opposition should oppose the Bill. They have learned nothing from experience and seem to have failed to have taken on board the public revulsion at the fat-cat payouts under the previous Administration. The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning) made several points that recognised how much sense there is in the Bill. It is regrettable that dogma then took over and the official Opposition did not find it possible to support the Bill in its entirety.

The Bill is complex and technical in many respects, but its underlying thrust, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear earlier, is to take utilities regulation into a new era of changing markets and higher consumer expectations. It is a fair and balanced Bill, which reflects the wide-ranging consultations that we held. It is about reform and modernisation.