Publication and effect of modifications

Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 13 March 2018.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

Again, the clause outlines the final part of the licence modification process that Ofgem must undertake to impose the tariff cap—this is the actual modification of the licence conditions and implementation. It, too, sets out the statutory steps that Ofgem must go through. Ofgem must set out how it has taken account of representations made during the consultation specified under clause 4. As we heard in the evidence session this morning, it must set a date that the modifications will take effect from, which must be after a period of 56 days beginning on the day when the notifications are published.

The clause also sets out that the appeal mechanism is via judicial review, rather than through an appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority. We have had a conversation about that—certainly during the very good Second Reading debate—which is primarily because we want nothing to get in the way of implementing the temporary price cap. The CMA’s powers are used exclusively where there is a permanent control mechanism, but we and the Select Committee have taken substantial evidence to suggest that judicial review gives all interested parties an adequate means of address. A court has sufficient expertise to hear an appeal. A court is likely to be able to hear a matter more quickly than the CMA, which reduces the possibility of the implementation route being delayed.

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey Conservative, Wells

I am keen to ensure that I understand the measure correctly. There is a 56-day period ahead of any modification being published, but presumably there is also a 56-day period for the initial implementation of the cap. Are we clear that Ofgem is content about being able to publish its cap within the five months—actually, eight weeks ahead of that five months?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

My hon. Friend makes a good point. I believe a very good letter was written to the Select Committee in which the timetable was set out specifically. Perhaps we can arrange for the letter to be distributed to the Committee—although I am not sure whether I have such powers over a letter to the Select Committee. Ofgem set out the timetable clearly, including all the statutory periods, with the assurance that it felt very capable of bringing the cap in before year end.

To return to the clause, in Committee we are very much of the mindset that the judicial review route, should someone wish to appeal against Ofgem’s methodology, is appropriate and would not delay implementation. That was agreed in the excellent work of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6