Clause 10

Energy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 21 February 2008.

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Failure to comply with a direction under section 9

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister of State (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

This clause will ensure directions issued by the Secretary of State will, if they are not complied with, attract the same maximum penalties as would an infringement of a licence, which leads to criminal sanctions under clause 8. It is therefore a central part of the regulatory enforcement arrangements proposed by this Bill. As with clause 8, it will be a valid defence if the licence holder proves that due diligence was exercised in trying to avoid committing the offence, and we have had a useful discussion about due diligence. In the case of a contractor, due diligence could include appropriate monitoring and supervision of a contractor acting on behalf of a licensee, even if the contractor subsequently still failed to comply with conditions. I move that this clause stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Offence to carry on unlicensed activities (Offshore Gas Storage)

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister of State (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

I think I will take this one on. This clause gives the Secretary of State the power to apply to the court for an injunction to prevent, or require the cessation of, activities prohibited under clause 2. For example, if there is evidence that a gas-unloading activity is taking place, or is about to take place, without a licence, the Secretary of State may apply for an injunction requiring the operator to cease the activity immediately. This is a further safeguard to ensure the integrity of the licensing regime. Given that such unlicensed activity would be a criminal offence under clause 7, we expect this power to have to be used only rarely. However, it is a useful power to have in reserve. I therefore move that this clause stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.