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Investigation launched on gas prices

A new inquiry into whether the UK’s energy market has been undermined by anti-competitive behaviour was launched this week.

The investigation will be undertaken by the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee and will involve a full scale inquiry into the structure of the energy market.

Peter Luff MPCommittee chairman Peter Luff MP said: “The continuing controversy over energy prices is an issue that demands to be addressed. It is a complex but vital question and one that affects everyone in the country-individual consumers and households, small businesses and major energy users alike.”

The issues being looked at include:

» Whether the existing market structure encourages effective competition in the retail markets for gas and electricity
» Whether there is effective competition in the wholesale markets
» The implications of growing consolidation in the energy market
» The relationship between the wholesale and retail markets
» The interaction between the UK and European energy markets
» The effectiveness of regulatory oversight
» Progress in reducing fuel poverty

Consumer group Energywatch has welcomed the inquiry. Campaigns director Adam Scorer said: 'Energywatch has long voiced concerns that there are serious problems in the way the energy market works, or rather doesn't work.

'Consumers need this inquiry to provide some clear thinking about how this market lets consumers down and what needs to be done to fix it.'

A recent investigation by industry regulator Ofgem found no evidence of collusion by energy firms when setting energy prices.

The Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee is inviting any responses to be submitted by 1 April 2008.

For more information go to response information.