Energy Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:10 pm on 18th January 2016.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman Conservative, Boston and Skegness 9:10 pm, 18th January 2016

I trust you refer only to the route, rather than the destination, which I know is a fixture.

My hon. Friend Victoria Atkins makes a fair point: these developments emphasise why it is only right we give local communities a greater say over onshore wind farms.

On a subject even more serious than your holiday, Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make one major point about the Bill. The establishment of a regulator providing genuine certainty over the coming years will be the single greatest thing the Government can do to try, I hope, to put the oil and gas industry on a more sustainable footing. We know that, in the past 10 days alone, the oil crisis has been one of the many issues that have wiped £113 billion off the FTSE market. We know that the number of people employed in the oil and gas industry has fallen from 440,000 to 375,000. We know that, in the last financial year, the Treasury has received the lowest level of taxation from oil and gas in 20 years. More than ever, we now know that a stable regulator will provide the stable footing that the industry desperately needs.

Edward Miliband said that

“certainty is the friend of business”,

the shadow Secretary of State said that we need to provide a stable environment if we are to encourage growth in an industry that employs many people now, and will, I hope, employ many more in future. As has been said, there is therefore cross-party support for much of the Bill. I hope that that will continue, and that some of the uncertainties introduced to the regulator’s role by amendments in the other place will be removed so that the regulator has a set of clear and very stable objectives to allow it to improve the position of an industry that this country needs to be stable. As hon. Members have said, as we rely more and more on interconnectors, we must make sure, when Europe does not have the energy reserves that we are lucky to enjoy in this country, that we are not in the unfortunate position of exporting some of that energy, rather than ensuring our own stable supply.

Apart from referring to your newly sorted holiday, Mr Deputy Speaker, I conclude simply by saying that I hope the Bill will provide the certainty that the oil industry needs to grow for the future, rather than continuing to suffer from the terrible situation that threatens it and which indicates that even the strictures in the Wood review may yet need further revision to safeguard the industry better for the future.