Part of Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 26 January 2016.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change) 9:25, 26 January 2016

I thank the Minister for that explanation of the set-up of the OGA, but I have to say that the Wood review did not at any point, as far as I can see, refer to the idea that the OGA should be a Government company with a single shareholder. Indeed, as the Minister correctly points out, Wood set out at some length what the activities and scope of the OGA should be—but perhaps that is a debate for another occasion. The issue now is the structure of the OGA in relation to its duties, to the industry and to the question of continuing to maximise the output and return of the North sea. It seems to me that a fairly carefully defined body is required to undertake that regulation.

Sir Ian Wood talked about an arm’s length organisation that would be able to stand between the various interests and make sure that those interests worked collaboratively rather than competitively in securing the success of the North sea. I wonder whether the OGA as constructed will be able to do that in the way that Sir Ian envisaged and all of us in this House want. It is true that, in the past, a few—I emphasise: only a very few—Government agencies have had this construction. I should like to know why the proposed construction is uniquely good for the arrangements of the OGA, in so far as the requirements that Sir Ian Wood set down for the role of the regulator are concerned. What thought have the Government given to other ways of constructing the regulator so that it could provide the best arm’s length arrangement for the industry?