Energy Mix

Wales – in the House of Commons at on 31 January 2024.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development)

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of the energy mix in Wales.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of the energy mix in Wales.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

That was lively, Mr Speaker.

The UK has a secure and diverse energy system, and Wales continues to play a key role. The UK Government are going further to ensure our energy security by supporting our oil and gas industry, and investing to scale up our renewable energy production, such as floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development)

Many of my constituents make the long journey round to work at Hinkley, yet we have had this Government in power for 14 years and we have seen no new nuclear delivered in Wales, despite our proud history of generation, with its significant opportunities to lower energy bills, deliver high-quality jobs and reduce carbon emissions. Where on earth is their plan, and why are they not getting on with delivering it?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I very much welcome the hon. Gentleman mentioning nuclear. I seem to recall that, when his party was in power, Labour did next to nothing to advance the cause of nuclear energy in this country. It gives me ample opportunity to pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend Virginia Crosbie, who has committed the Government to everything we have done on Wylfa so far. Progress is being made, in stark contrast to the record of his party.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

We have had 14 years of successive Tory Governments, who have all had the chance to invest in the transition to net zero. Instead, they have chosen to backslide on climate commitments, and it is working people across my constituency of Cardiff North who are paying the price. With this Government intent on issuing new oil and gas licences, what does the Minister say to families in my constituency who are now paying treble for their energy bills?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I would point out that it is this Government who stepped in with £96 billion of support to mitigate the impact of those energy bills. I completely disagree with the hon. Lady’s assessment of our record on net zero, and I would point out that, when her party was in power, 7% of our energy supply came from renewable sources.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

If the hon. Lady will let me finish the point, the figure is now just under 50%, and that is the record of this party’s 14 years in power.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee, Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

My hon. Friend mentions the new industry of floating offshore wind, which has huge potential to create a large number of high-quality jobs in places such as Milford Haven and Port Talbot. The two ports both have bids in with the UK Government to the FLOWMIS port infrastructure scheme, which will be key to seeing this vision realised. When can the ports expect to hear back about those bids?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I thank my right hon. Friend, the Chair of the Select Committee, for that question. I am delighted that today the Crown Estate is hosting a bidders day to drive forward plans for innovative floating wind projects in the Celtic sea. The UK Government are supporting FLOW through our contracts for difference scheme, securing a long-term pipeline of projects in the Celtic sea. I would be happy to write to him with a further update on when more progress can be discussed.

Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

On the issue of the energy mix, the Tata workers I met last week know that the virgin steel they make is vital to supporting our renewable energy aspirations, such as offshore wind in the Celtic sea, so the loss of 3,000 jobs is a kick in the teeth for our proud and skilled Welsh steelworkers. It will devastate local economies and the sovereign steelmaking capacity that would build the wind turbines we need, yet the Business Secretary told us at the weekend:

“It’s not about the job losses”.

Does the Secretary of State agree with her comments?

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I am sorry that the hon. Lady has me replying to that question, not the Secretary of State.

It is important to recognise that the investment from this UK Government has saved thousands of jobs across the United Kingdom. Of course, the transition board is now working with the individuals affected in Port Talbot, which is the proper and right thing to do. I am glad that both the UK and Welsh Governments are working towards that; it is absolutely the right outcome. We need to think about these things in the wider context, which is our responsibility.

Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

The Minister boasts about the transition board, but that only exists because of the Government’s failure to protect jobs and vital industries. Each year, Port Talbot provides enough virgin steel to deliver the UK’s 2030 wind targets by itself. Can she tell the House where that steel will come from when her Government’s intervention shuts the blast furnaces early? Will it come from India? If so, we will be surrendering our ability to create jobs, investment and cheaper bills here in Britain.

Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

Mr Speaker, it will not surprise you to learn that I completely disagree with the hon. Lady’s assessment. I would point out that this Government have provided the transition board with £80 million. We have not seen any of the £20 million that the Welsh Labour Government have promised, but indications so far are that moving away from steelmaking would not have a direct impact on national security.[This section has been corrected on 6 February 2024, column 4MC — read correction] (Correction)