On 19th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Report Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke in support of a Government amendment regarding the power to modify energy supply licences in domestic supply contracts. The amendment was agreed to.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I welcome this amendment, which began its life, I think, in an interchange between the noble Baroness and me in Grand Committee. She has pretty much supplied everything that I asked for then, and I am very pleased. The only point that I will make now is that the Government rightly want to make it easy for consumers to switch suppliers. That is a good thing and it is very helpful that this information will be made available one way or another on bills. However, it needs to be made available consistently, in the same form, by different suppliers, so that if you are comparing a bill from one supplier with a bill from another, the information is supplied in the same form on each bill. The noble Baroness did not quite make that point in what she said. I hope that she can assure us that these costs will be disclosed—either voluntarily or by the exercise of the power that she is taking—not only transparently but consistently and comparably by different suppliers.
Baroness Verma: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords for, by and large, their support for my amendments. I will quickly respond to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester and to my noble friend Lady Maddock about transparency. The Government and Ofgem both agree that it is important that suppliers are transparent about their costs, including the costs of complying with government environmental and social programmes. One part of the list to which I referred earlier was about complying with greater transparency on those costs. The suppliers would be expected to be able to comply on the cost of delivering government environmental and social programmes. Just to reassure noble Lords, the power enables the Secretary of State to specify the particular kinds of costs that suppliers must refer to, so if we need to get further detail, there is scope to enable that to happen.
I have tried to provide a balance between not overcomplicating the Bill and enabling consumers to be able to look at a bill, see how much their energy is costing them and see whether they are able to get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Providing that information in a way that is clear and easy to understand is what my amendment proposes to do.
Amendment 7 agreed