Gas (Supply and Demand)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley 3:51 pm, 14th March 2006

The country is on a knife edge. What will the Secretary of State say to the 7,000 people who may lose their jobs in the plastics industry? What will he say to domestic consumers, who have seen price increases and are likely to see more? What have the Government done since long-term storage went out on 16 February?

If there is too little storage, as I think we all accept, why do we not import more on mild days? Why is the trigger for a gas balancing alert so high? On Sunday 319 GWh was taken from short-term storage, but there was no gas balancing alert. Had the same rate been taken on Monday and today, we would be in a gas emergency now. How can the Government expect UK industry to cope with energy prices in this country that are 50 per cent. greater than those in the United States of America?

Why do the Government do so little about energy security and reducing demand? The Prime Minister says, "Not me, guv—nothing we can do." Cold weather is now predicted. Short-range storage has approximately 50 million cu m and the Hornsea facility has 48 million cu m. Why do the Govt not do something about demand and supply?