On 13th May 2014, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received answers to written questions on petroleum gas and oil, consumer credit advertising, and Iran.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure the continuing affordability of liquid petroleum gas and oil for those households which are not on mains gas supply.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Her Majesty’s Government is acutely aware of the difficulties people have experienced with the price of liquid petroleum gas and heating oil. The price of LPG and oil is influenced by a range of factors, including crude oil prices (the major factor), refinery capacity, stock levels, distribution costs and retail margins.
We believe that the consumer is best served by open competition between companies. The Office of Fair Trading studied the heating oil market in 2011 and found few competition concerns. Most areas of the UK are supplied by a variety of heating oil suppliers and there are low barriers to entry for new businesses who may want to compete. The OFT study also commented on the generally positive initial impact of the Competition Commission Orders from 2009 to make it easier for domestic bulk LPG consumers to switch supplier, and there is a statutory duty to keep under review the effectiveness of and compliance with these Orders.
My Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy will chair a third Ministerial Roundtable meeting on heating oil and LPG supply on 21 May. The Roundtable brings together a wide range of interests including Government, regulators, advisory and charitable bodies, the fuel supply industry and others to work together to improve the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply.
Finance: Consumer Credit Advertising
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government which organisations have been involved in the consultation by the Financial Conduct Authority on the new rules for consumer credit adverts; and when the findings will be published.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): This question has been passed on to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA will reply directly to the Right Reverend Prelate by letter. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran, and what other steps they have taken, following attacks on prisoners held at Evin prison
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK was disturbed at reports of attacks on political prisoners in Evin prison on 17 April 2014. As we detailed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Human Rights report, released in April 2014, prison conditions in Iran remain a serious concern. The UK’s non-resident Charge d’Affaires raised human rights with a range of Iranian government officials during his visit to Iran in March. The UK works closely with international human rights bodies and partners to encourage Iran to engage seriously on human rights issues.