I rise to make a short contribution to the debate on this important Bill. I pay particular tribute to Caroline Flint and my hon. Friend John Penrose for their persistence over time to get us to this point.
The Bill will make a real impact on the day-to-day lives of the people who elected me, which is why it matters very much to me and why I have been pleased to sit here listening to the debate for several hours. When it comes to such important issues, we are talking not about academic abstractions or economic theories, but about reducing the energy bills of my constituents. That really does matter to me, as it matters to them, so I support the Bill and wish to make a few comments on it.
The price cap in the Bill is not, as some might fear, a corruption of the free market, but a market intervention to protect consumers from the worst excesses of a market that is not working. On a related note, I shall quote the words of a very famous Scotsman, which I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, will recognise instantly:
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
I am not laying the charge of corruption against the big six, but their activities might be described as a contrivance to raise prices.
The price cap is a blunt object—