Letter: Gas break-up may smash nest-eggs

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The Independent Online
HAS THE Government any right to break up British Gas as recommended by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission ('Gas', 22 August)? British Gas shareholders bought shares, having been assured in the prospectus that 'in the foreseeable future, British Gas expects to be the sole supplier of natural gas to the domestic consumer'. People in their thirties may have bought shares, and their foreseeable future could be more than 50 years.

No one would call 11 years (1986-97) a foreseeable future. People do not buy utility shares to gamble with, but as a nest- egg for the future.

If the Government wanted to break up the gas industry, it should have done so at the time of privatisation, as it did with the electricity industry. It may be true that the electricity industry does not provide real price competition (though prices can be compared between areas) but competition is not viable in industries where safety is the first consideration.

K Cox

Anglesey, N Wales

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