§ Mr. Timms
Utility companies are subject to the range of consumer legislation governing the sale of goods and services. The specific regulation of utility companies is a matter for the individual sectoral regulators. The Government have n3 plans to prohibit cold-calling or door-to-door sales. In respect of gas and electricity, during 2002, the industry agreed both the Energy Sure scheme, to improve the training and oversight of sales staff, and a Code of Practice on doorstep selling. In that year, we also provided OFGEM with the power to levy financial penalties on companies that breached their operating licences. OFGEM subsequently used that power to fine London Electricity £2 million for mis-selling under its own brand and that of Virgin Energy. Complaints about energy mis-selling have significantly declined since 2002.
§ Mr. Sutcliffe
The Government will not introduce legislation to prevent the disconnection of utility supplies because of non-payment of bills. Gas and electricity suppliers have, as a matter of last resort and 913W subject to a range of safeguards, the right to disconnect customers who have not paid their bills and have ignored repeated requests to do so. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM), has been in discussion with the energy industry about measures to improve arrangements surrounding disconnections, particularly as they affect vulnerable customers, and will shortly issue an industry consultation paper on the revised arrangements. In electronic communications, disconnection is a matter for the regulator, the Office of Communications (OFCOM). All communications providers must have disconnection procedures that are proportionate and not unduly discriminatory. In water, companies cannot disconnect a domestic customer's supply for debt.