Energy supplier concerned over market intervention

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The owner of the one of the UK's leading energy providers has stated its concerns over proposals for the government to intervene in the market.

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw told a conference yesterday that he had some reservations over reports that chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling was considering how the government can help those in fuel poverty.

It is thought that new legislation could be introduced to control the tariffs of household energy consumers who use pre-payment meters.

Mr Laidlaw said: "There is a worrying tendency towards short term fiscal interventions, or now from some quarters, even price controls for some groups of customers."

He added that such a move is "contrary to the operation of competitive markets" and could jeopardise the creation of an infrastructure in the sector.

British Gas is one of the six biggest gas and electricity suppliers in the UK.

The residential division of the company recently announced that its operating profits for last year stood at £571 million, a major increase from the previous year's figure of £95 million.

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