Energy Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 29th March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Food, Farming and Sustainable Energy) 7:00 pm, 29th March 2004

My Lords, yes, that is so when we are dealing with a limited number of suppliers and a limited number of channels into the electricity supply system whereas this obligation as drafted in the amendment would apply to a wide range of fuels. Therefore, it increases the complexity. I do not say that there is not a way round it but it is an important increase in the practical objections to the amendment.

On my noble friend's suggestion, I am sure that my colleagues and I would be prepared to talk to noble Lords and others about this area. However, I do not think that we shall reach a definitive conclusion in time for the process within this House, and probably not the process within another place. We already have a date for Third Reading. In view of progress today, it may or may not be met. Nevertheless, it is not far off. We need to ensure that we have genuine consultation, without the Government having made up their mind. I am open to discussing any alternative amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Carter, or anyone else, brings forward. But anything which appears to drive the Government to one conclusion on this matter would be somewhat difficult. With that qualification, I shall be happy to talk to anybody.