Energy Bills

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 7th May 2014.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West 11:30 am, 7th May 2014

What assessment he has made of the effects of recent trends in household energy bills on standards of living in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Rising energy bills are a serious concern for consumers in Scotland and across the rest of the UK. We are increasing competition, sustaining vital financial support for vulnerable consumers, and working to ensure suppliers put customers on the cheapest tariff.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West

I thank the Minister for his answer. Does he agree that with the closing of coal-fired power stations and a doctrine of anti-nuclear power stations north of the border, under independence, with the reliance on renewables, energy costs must increase?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman about the serious loss to the Scottish economy of closing the door on the nuclear industry, which has brought so much benefit to Scotland, and I pay tribute to him for being such a champion of that cause. He is right that energy costs will go up in an independent Scotland, as set out in the Government’s analysis on energy.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham

Both in Northumberland and in Scotland people are setting up oil-buying clubs to deal with the problem of off-grid energy. Does the Minister agree that the best way to combat energy problems and price rises in off-grid circumstances is to copy this good measure and spread it out across the country?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Oil clubs are developing in Scotland and the Government are keen to promote and support them. I commend him on highlighting this issue.

Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

If the Minister is genuinely concerned about rising costs of energy in Scotland, why is it that Ofgem has yet again delayed the implementation of Project TransmiT, which would finally begin to tackle the discriminatory and expensive transmission charges? Will he press his colleagues to implement it immediately?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Project TransmiT is one matter on which I am probably in agreement with the hon. Gentleman. The important thing for Scotland is to get the right answer. Yes, it is disappointing that it has taken some time, but the Scotland Office is determined to work towards getting the right answer, and I urge him and his colleagues to continue to press Ofgem on this as well.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Will the Secretary of State explain why, when the Prime Minister said that consumers in Scotland would be £50 better off after cuts to the green levies, hundreds of thousands of Scottish consumers have seen their bills decrease by only £12?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

There is no reason why consumers in Scotland should not be seeing this £50 benefit, and the Government will continue to do all we can to make sure that they do.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

That is the definition of an inadequate answer, and perhaps goes some way towards explaining why Labour’s policy has gained widespread support across Scotland. In opposing Labour’s energy freeze, the Tory-led Government have had the full support of a surprise friend in the form of the Scottish National party, and it does not stop there: standing up for energy companies, failing to take action on the living wage, proposing tax cuts for those at the top. Does the Minister not agree that Scotland deserves better than this?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

What I believe is that we do not take any lectures from Labour on energy issues. Gas bills more than doubled under Labour, electricity bills went up by 50%, the leader of the Labour party was responsible for £179 of additional levies on gas bills and fuel duty went up 12 times. I am proud of this Government’s record on energy and Scotland is doing well under it.