Confusion grows over fuel bill law

Energy billEnergy Secretary Ed Davey has appeared to distance himself from the Prime Minister's surprise announcement that gas and electricity firms will be required in law to give customers the lowest available deals.

Confusion about the Government's plans to tackle soaring energy bills continued to mount as Mr Davey sidestepped questions about David Cameron's statement on Wednesday.

Labour claimed the Energy Secretary had known nothing about the proposal until it was sprung on him during Prime Minister's Questions, when Mr Cameron said there would be legislation to require companies to give consumers the lowest tariffs available.

Neither Downing Street nor Mr Davey's officials have been able to provide any details about the plan, and the Energy Secretary pointedly failed to even refer to it when questioned by the BBC.

He instead referred to moves to require energy companies to inform customers of the lowest tariffs available to them.

"I've been working with the Deputy Prime Minister and others, working with the energy companies, to try to drive more competition, to get them to agree that they will tell their customers what are the best available tariffs, so customers can save money," said Mr Davey.

"These high energy prices are causing lots of problems and they are at the top of my list of priorities."

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said the Prime Minister's statement had thrown energy into confusion, adding: "It caused chaos in the energy industry and I have to say it left his own ministers at a loss as to what energy policy actually is."

She added: "For the Government to spend a day pretending they have a policy they have no intention of implementing is no way to run the country. It is like something out of The Thick of It."

The Federation of Small Businesses warned that the move could damage competition in the energy market. Its national chairman, John Walker, said: "The Prime Minister's determination to tackle rising energy bills is very welcome. However, there is a very real risk that forcing energy companies to put customers on the cheapest tariff could lead to price fixing and erode what little competition there is in the market."

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