Utilities face profits curb

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Labour yesterday published plans to curb "excessive" profits by giving regulators of the gas, water and electricity industries powers to force companies to return cash to consumers if profits rose above a certain level. But in heated exchanges in the Commons, John Major accused Labour of risking year-on-year price rises through political interference.

The row over utilities was fuelled by news that National Power, the generating company, increased pre-tax profits by 16 per cent to £735m last year. The company raised dividends by 24 per cent to 15.45p.

Labour warning, page 32