I welcome East Midlands' comprehensive report which makes a number of recommendations. My engineering inspectorate will monitor the company's progress in implementing these, to ensure that they are carried out as expeditiously as possible.
Is the Minister aware that the worst of the weather crisis occurred in north Nottinghamshire and in north Derbyshire where hundreds of thousands of people were without electricity and water supplies for a considerable period? That coincided with the flotation of East Midlands Electricity plc and meant that the Government did not declare an emergency in circumstances in which they should normally have done. Should not the Government have set up their own inquiry and not just depended on the inquiry of East Midlands Electricity plc?
No distribution network could have survived those weather conditions without sustaining damage. All those in the industry—management and staff —worked heroically to restore supplies and it is wrong to refer in any way disparagingly to their efforts or to link the problem to the privatisation of the industry.
While on the subject of severe weather, will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming last Friday's announcement on improvements to the cold weather payments scheme—the second set of improvements within six months? Will he also confirm that those vast improvements are greatly superior to those on offer under the previous Labour Government?