Spottiswoode signals her intention to step down

Clare Spottiswoode, the gas industry regulator, is unlikely to stay on in the post when her contract expires next year, unless the Government moves swiftly to merge the electricity and gas watchdogs. Chris Godsmark, Business Correspondent, reports on the growing dilemma for Labour as ministers review the shape of utility regulation.

Ms Spottiswoode, who is paid a salary of pounds 90,000, is understood to be reluctant to continue as gas regulator when her five-year contract at Ofgas, the industry watchdog, comes up for renewal on 31 October 1998. In most previous cases regulators have been asked to stay at the helm for a second term. However, Ms Spottiswoode has warned she is unlikely to commit herself for another five years, though she has not made a final decision.

She would be the second utility regulator to leave the job since Labour came to power. Last month Don Cruickshank, the telephones regulator, said he had decided not to ask for another five-year term at the helm of Oftel, insisting he was looking for new challenges.

It is understood Ms Spottiswoode shares the same worries about her position at Ofgas, after full domestic gas competition is introduced across the UK next summer. She believes most of the big challenges involved in reforming the gas market would have been addressed, leaving her a reduced role in the future.

The much touted merger of Ofgas and Offer, the electricity watchdog, would have encouraged Ms Spottiswoode to seek another term. But she has apparently received no steer from the Department of Trade on when the rationalisation would take place, if at all.

John Battle, industry minister, has previously indicated he would favour a merger on the grounds that many companies, such as British Gas, are to sell both gas and power. However, Mr Battle has suggested it would be better to wait until the domestic electricity market has opened up, a process which is due to take place next year but is widely expected to be delayed.

It was unclear yesterday whether Ms Spottiswoode had told the Government of her likely decision, though ministers are aware of her keenness to merge Offer and Ofgas. The DTI is reviewing utility regulation and is due to publish a Green Paper on the whole system in December.

Ms Spottiswoode's reign at Ofgas has been controversial. She persuaded the Conservative government to push new gas legislation through parliament as the precursor to domestic competition. Trials of residential competition have been a success, despite concerns about billing difficulties and doorstep selling tactics.

Another success was the victory over price controls for the former British Gas's pipeline business, Transco. But in recent months she has been under pressure, with fears that low-income customers were getting little benefit from competition, and concerns about selective price cuts introduced by British Gas.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas