Business and Trade – in the House of Commons on 23rd March 2023.
What recent progress she has made on updating the statutory duties of economic regulators in the utilities sectors.
We are committed to bringing forward a consultation in the coming months on proposals to reform our approach to economic regulation in the utilities sector. This will include the outcomes of our review of the regulators’ statutory duties.
I welcome the bright and shiny new ministerial team to their roles, and I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as the new broom, to get this moving a lot faster. Some economic regulators are too expensive, too slow and too soft, so could we use the upcoming competition Bill to refocus them on sharper competition so that consumers get better deals and fewer rip-offs, because otherwise we will miss the best opportunity for years?
My hon. Friend is quite right. As set out in our policy paper, the duties and functions of Ofwat, Ofcom and Ofgem have significantly expanded since privatisation. I agree that the Bill would enable us to move more quickly, and I would like to work with him to see what we can do to improve regulation more broadly.
I thank the Minister for her response to this important question. All our constituents are squeezed due to rising prices over which they have no control. In the light of her response, and in anticipation of her correspondence with John Penrose, I hope that we can increase accountability and reduce prices, and thereby reduce inflation, which will help our constituents.
The hon. Gentleman is right that our constituents are at the end of what the regulators are doing, so our reforms should build on their strengths and continue to reinforce the UK as a leading global destination for investment in utilities infrastructure, to the long-term benefit of all our constituents and consumers.