Letter: Options open on windfall tax

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The Independent Online
Sir: Insinuations in the Independent (3, 4 July) that some privatised utilities are "hopeful" of exemption from Labour's proposed windfall tax have no basis whatever.

I have met representatives of British Gas - though the purpose of our meeting was not to discuss the windfall tax - and I have met others, including a representative of National Grid, who have specifically wanted to discuss the windfall tax.

I have spelt out on each occasion that Labour has a clear policy of a windfall levy in the monopolistic profits of privatised utilities. I have also on each occasion confirmed what we have said previously - that the introduction of such a levy would be after consultation in government with the industry regulators and that no commitments have been, or are being made, on the level, method of assessment or scope of the levy.

The utilities are important industries, which we want to see give a good service to consumers and make successful contribution to the economy. It is right that we meet them to discuss matters of mutual concern, and receive their representations. But the application of our policy - strongly supported by the public - will not be deflected by misleading analysis or lobbying pressure.

ANDREW SMITH MP

(Oxford East, Lab)

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

House of Commons

London SW1

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