§ 2. Mr. John Hunt
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will seek to amend Section 25 of the Gas Act 1972 in order to impose an obligation upon gas boards to notify customers individually in advance of any changes in tariff structure.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Dr. John Cunningham)
No. I am satisfied that the present provision is appropriate and that it is reasonably interpreted by the British Gas Corporation.
§ Mr. Hunt
Is the Minister aware that one of my constituents who has business premises in North-West London was placed on the domestic rather than the commercial heating tariff without any consultation with him or personal notification to him? Since the North Thames Gas Board is now quoting the 1972 Act in defence of its arbitrary behaviour, is it not time that the Act was suitably amended so that the board's customers could be treated with more courtesy and consideration in such matters in future?
§ Dr. Cunningham
I am not aware of the specific case. Decisions about tariffs and the appropriate tariff for consumers are normally for boards within their day-to-day management. If the hon. Member is dissatisfied with some aspects of the handling of the case he has mentioned, and if he writes to me about it, I will have it looked at.
§ Mr. Viggers
If the Minister cannot accede to my hon. Friend's request to notify customers in advance, will he at least undertake on behalf of the Government to notify the chairman of the British Gas Corporation when prices are changed, because on the last occasion it was done in an arbitrary manner without reference to him?
§ Dr. Cunningham
I did not say that customers were not notified in advance. Customers are notified in advance, as the hon. Gentleman should know.
As for the specific situation to which the hon. Member referred, we do not envisage those circumstances recurring.