HC Deb 13 November 2001 vol 374 cc654-5W
Mr. Shaw

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on the three-point strategy in relation to gas price increases and their effect upon UK industry. [12448]

Mr. Wilson

The Government's three point strategy to address high gas prices is:

  • to work for greater market liberalisation in Europe
  • to work for improvements in the British gas market
  • to take action against any anti-competitive activity.

As part of our work on improving the British gas market the Government published a consultation document on 2 November "A Consultation on Gas Prices and Possible Improvements to Market Efficiency" which considers various concerns made about the gas market. The document also seeks views on the wider benefits to the gas market of increased information flows between the onshore and the offshore following a seminar held with the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association on 10 September. Copies of this document are available from the Department of Trade and Industry website www.dti.gov.uk.

There has also been progress with the strategy more generally. In March the EU Commission published proposals for a revised Gas Directive which was a positive step towards greater liberalisation. lnterconnector (UK) Ltd now publishes details of flows with a one day lag instead of the previous six week delay. The Government have also been working with IUK and interconnector shippers on improvements to interconnector governance and marketing arrangements. The EU Commission's inquiry into the operation of the interconnector, which was undertaken at the request of the Government, is now reaching its final stages.