Don’t you wish Hilary Benn was his father?
Households would be able to choose from a range of different water suppliers under proposals to be studied in a government review of the industry due to be unveiled on Thursday.
Although British consumers can choose electricity and gas companies, water supplies are dominated by regional monopolies such as Severn Trent and Northumbrian Water, which supply all households in their areas.
But the new review, commissioned by the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will examine whether it would be practical to open up household water supplies to competition.
The review, to be announced by Hilary Benn, environment secretary, will be headed by Martin Cave, a professor at Warwick Business School, and is expected to take a year to complete.
I think we can guess what his recommendation will be…
Wouldn’t it be better to have water suppliers working to reduce the cost to consumers and to the planet instead of competing to lower costs and boost profits?
But wait! This is all about what works, right?
Partial liberalisation of the water industry was introduced in 2005, when the government gave rival companies the right to deliver water to business customers.
However, the move has been a damp squib. Seven licences have been won by groups including new entrants and subsidiaries of the regional companies.
But so far not one customer has switched, according to Ofwat, the water regulator.
Gee, don’t they like choosing who rips ’em off?