Why Keep a Dog and Bark? The UK Government Replicates the Actions of its Independent Energy Regulator

November 21, 2012

(by Catherine Waddams) The Department of Energy and Climate Change yesterday published a discussion paper which virtually duplicates the consultation document published by Ofgem four weeks ago as part of its Retail Market Review (a few days ahead of the original schedule because of the prime minister’s surprise announcement that all consumers would be put onto their supplier’s  cheapest energy tariff).  Yesterday’s  discussion paper was intended to clarify the prime minister’s announcement, but even this is still somewhat obscure (the paper talks about ‘our ambition’ and ‘all customers will have been placed on the cheapest tariff’ without specifying the mechanism for achieving the objective).  While the government’s discussion document explicitly supports and builds on Ofgem’s proposals, it invites responses by January 4th., while response to the Ofgem consultation document are due in by December 21st. It will be interesting to see whether respondents change their views over Christmas, or perhaps as a result of their New Year resolutions. But why is a government department replicating the actions of its supposedly independent agent? Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of Siren Advice for Political Control of Foreign Mergers

November 2, 2012

(by Bruce Lyons) Lord Heseltine, a former UK trade minister, has just published a review, invited by the Prime Minister, titled ‘No stone unturned in pursuit of growth’.  One of the stones he proposes to turn is to empower government ministers to intervene in foreign acquisitions of British companies “to ensure our long term industrial capabilities are given proper consideration”.  The objective would be to negotiate commitments to build R&D capacity in the UK, develop domestic supply chains and develop the skills base against a threat to prohibit the merger.  This siren call might sound enticing, but it would not be wise to listen. Read the rest of this entry »