Who is protecting us from energy price extortion?

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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I used to think the term ‘rip-off Britain’ was overused. Now I’m not so sure.

Wherever I look I see over-inflated prices. For instance, the amount we pay for petrol is ridiculous. But the recent revealing of the profits made by energy companies shows nothing less than daylight robbery.

Fuel prices rose because the cost of the fuel itself was rising so sharply, or so we were told. This is now obviously a lie after recent figures suggested the profit per person had risen from £15 in June to an incredible £125.

But who is protecting us from this extortion? Nobody. Regulator Ofgem shows its weakness by suggesting that companies need to make tariffs simpler to understand. But we understand we’re being ripped off, we can assure you of that Ofgem.

Has privatisation really worked? Many of our companies are now owned by foreign interests. EDF Energy is French and Scottish Power is owned by the Spanish.

The idea of de-regulation was to create competition, thus driving prices down. Companies would compete to get our business. Sadly they seem to be co-operating with each other, thus controlling the market.

Wouldn’t we be better off controlling our own energy industry? Then we would have a say in the prices passed on to the consumer. Any profits could go back into government coffers.

Are we powerless to stop massive international companies from bleeding us dry, or do we have to buy a tent and join the demonstrators outside St Paul’s Cathedral?

I certainly wouldn’t want us to return to the dark days of the 1970s where the nation was almost bankrupt and there were constant strikes.

But look at today. We’re almost bankrupt again and there has to be a change in the way we do things.

With the Euro struggling to survive in its current form and the American economy shrinking, the emerging markets of Asia are becoming more and more powerful.

They will dictate more of how we do things in the future. And maybe that won’t be such a bad thing.