HC Deb 10 May 2004 vol 421 cc80-1W
Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the burden of proof in the warrants process for disconnection; and if she will make a statement; [170376]

(2) when she next expects to meet the Chief Executive of Ofgem to discuss disconnections to residential customers. [170377]

Mr. Timms

The DTI has discussed, and will continue to discuss as appropriate, disconnections matters with Ofgem. With DTFs encouragement, Ofgem has been in discussion with gas and electricity suppliers about the arrangements governing disconnections, particularly for vulnerable customers. Ofgem has now issued an industry consultation paper that sets out proposed revisions to, and clarification of, those arrangements. The arrangements governing the warrants process are set out in the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954, as amended. If a supplier wishes to disconnect, it must give the customer two days' notice of its intention to visit the premises. It has the right of entry to disconnect, but, if the customer is not at home or refuses entry, it may only exercise this right after it has obtained a warrant from a court. The court may require evidence of the debt, and of the supplier's efforts to recover that debt. The customer should be advised when and where the supplier will apply for a warrant, and can defend the application.