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Utilities: Regulation

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 15 May 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether more or less regulation could improve service within the utilities industries, or whether this has no bearing upon their performance.

The introduction of competition is the best way to ensure that consumers receive a satisfactory standard of service and this is our aim. In the meantime utility regulators whose duties include protecting the interests of consumers in respect of both price and quality of services supplied, have imposed price caps and performance standards for the provision of services by utilities with monopoly power. In setting these, the regulators need to balance the consumers' interest in lower prices and better standards, bearing in mind that higher required standards may mean higher prices. Regulators monitor carefully the service standards provided by utilities and take action where necessary.