Energy Bill [HL] — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:20 pm on 22nd July 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Worthington Baroness Worthington Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 2:20 pm, 22nd July 2015

I thank the noble Viscount for that intervention.

On the levy control framework, there is an interesting policy that the Treasury invented. I honestly think that it was invented simply for us to have this conversation later down the line. That number represents a partial figure for what is being added to bills as a result of government policy. It is incomplete; it does not include everything. It also makes no reference to the counterfactual. We live in a world with infrastructure built in the 1960s that has now served its time, is closing and will need to be replaced. That involves higher capital costs. You cannot replace assets that have already had their capital costs paid and expect energy prices to stay the same: they will not. The counterfactual is that we will have to spend more money on electricity as we build a new infrastructure.

That is not taken into account in the Treasury’s levy control framework, so it is a particularly redundant policy, and I would not use it as my measure of whether we should be cutting an industry off at the knees just as it is showing signs of success, in the false belief that we are on track with our targets. We are not. We desperately need inward investment and jobs in the UK. The Government do not have a great record in stimulating growth in the economy—far from it. They are desperately cutting costs to mask the fact that economic growth is virtually stagnant—or would be if it were not for immigration. Here we see them recklessly upsetting investor confidence in one of our success stories.

It could have been so different. It could have been done in a much better way. We could have made it clear that we are encouraging a wider range of technologies. We could have talked positively about some of them. We could have heard more about the fact that an increasingly wide range of renewables is now being deployed, but we have not. Unfortunately, we have had a very negative spin on what has been a success story for the UK.

I have not done justice to the debate, because it has been so rich and varied, but I thank noble Lords for all their contributions. As noble Lords can see, this is a subject I feel great passion about. I hope that, as we go into Committee, we will find some way to improve the Bill. I am sure that there are some measures in it that are necessary, but it is not the Energy Bill that we would have brought forward. I hope that through the scrutiny process of Committee we can make changes to make it something worthy of our efforts.