Date: 31 March 2014
Venue: New Academic Building, LSE.
The Littlechild Report was published just over 30 years ago. As utility regulation in the UK is moving into established middle age how has the legacy fared in the UK, the EU - and globally?The one-day conference considered the impact of the Littlechild Report on thinking about the regulation of telecommunications, electricity, water and other utility industries. It also left a significant policy impact with a legacy that includes independent regulatory institutions, incentive based regulation and a focus on the role of competition. The contemporary age of utility regulation is characterised by considerable uncertainty about its direction. Regulatory instruments and strategies as well as the role of competition are under challenge across sectors and jurisdictions. Similarly, the boundaries that distinguish independent regulatory and competition authorities from other organizations and from government policy have become more blurred, while the landscape of regulated firms has also changed considerably.
The conference considered the legacy of the Littlechild Report in the context of the UK, the wider OECD, and the developing world. A number of themes emerged. One was the realisation about both the potential of extending competition in utilities, as well as the persistence of the need to regulate certain monopoly aspects. A second aspect was the growing attention paid to co-ordination among sectoral regulators, and among sectoral regulation and competition policy more generally. A third aspect was the role of consumers, including whether and far they could contract directly with utilities. Furthermore, the boundary lines between regulation and politics clearly remain contested. The sessions on the wider OECD and the developing world pointed to varied experiences, noting how regulatory institutions were very much a product of particular political institutions and pre-requisites.
Papers presented (in presentation order)
Session 1: British Utility regulation - Lessons from the Three Decades reform.
Presentations by Jon-Stern, Stephen Littlechild & Martin Lodge
Session 2:UK Experience since 2003 and Outlook
Presentations by Chris Bolt, Cathryn Ross, Richard Price & Tony Prosser
Session 3: EU and OECD Experience and Outlook
Presentations by Alberto Pototsching, Annetje Ottow, Mark Thatcher,
Jonathan Mirrlees - Black & Bruce Mountain.
Session 4:Developing Countries Experience and Outlook
Presentations by Katherina Gassner, Ian Alexander, Jacint Jordana & Liam Wren -Lewis.