Lang speeds up gas price competition
Tuesday 18 March 1997
However, it also emerged that about 1,500 households in the latest competition trial in Kent and Sussex, which began earlier this month, have complained about problems with the process, casting doubt on whether an accelerated national programme would be trouble-free.
Ian Lang, President of the Board of Trade, announced changes to the existing legislation, which said national competition cannot start before 1998. The provisional timetable involves the next phase, including Scotland into North-east England, beginning in the autumn with five further stages ending with Greater London the following April.
Most independent gas supply companies taking part in the first two trials in the south of England have been strongly pushing for a quicker timetable. Caroline Harper, managing director of Amerada Hess Gas, said she "wholeheartedly supported" the move.
The decision also represents a victory for Clare Spottiswoode, the industry regulator, who has pressed to speed up competition. So far choice has been extended to about 2 million homes in the South, of which more than 250,000 have moved from British Gas, lured by discounts of up to 20 per cent off bills.
British Gas's pipeline operation, TransCo, argued the new October target represented a "considerable challenge" and said it still preferred to start the process no earlier than next April. The DTI said its new timetable was "subject to the readiness of computer systems", a reference to TransCo's doubts about whether it can speed up the introduction of new computer systems in each of the next phases which track customers as they switch supplier.
The Gas Consumers Council warned problems in the latest south-east trial could hold up competition. The GCC revealed that hundreds of households in Kent and Sussex have either been wrongly moved from British Gas to a new supplier, or have not been switched to a new gas company despite signing a new contract.
Sue Slipman, GCC director, said she suspected either TransCo or the new suppliers had mixed up the customers' addresses and meter numbers.
She added: "We don't think this was down to fraudulent doorstep selling."
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
iJobs Money & Business
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education are seeking a Fi...
£12 - £15 per hour: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: Excellent opportunity to join...