Utilities deny secret rebate talks

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Power and water companies last night dismissed suggestions that they had secret talks with Michael Heseltine, the Deputy Prime Minister, about windfall customer rebates. Of the companies said to have met Mr Heseltine, only British Gas declined to comment. Norweb, the electricity company, and North West Water denied any talks. PowerGen and National Power also denied any knowledge. Whitehall sources were reported to have said that Mr Heseltine had embarked on a campaign to persuade privatised companies to offer customers up to pounds 200 in price cuts to boost the "feel- good" factor prior to a general election.

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