Report (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 21st October 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Worthington Baroness Worthington Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 4:15 pm, 21st October 2015

I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention. Of course I am aware of the Salisbury convention, but in this case we have a very ambiguous set of words which I am sure were thought about with care but certainly were not consulted on and no detail was applied. We are referring to a very short sentence. There are great ambiguities here. The actual phrase is,

“we will end any new public subsidy”,

for onshore wind. The word “public” is interesting because, strictly speaking, the payments come out of bills, not from the public purse. The word “new” is very interesting and open to very great interpretation. This was an existing support scheme and one that was already closing, and one on which, during the passage of the Energy Act 2013, in which I took part, there was a huge amount of consensus built, as well as engagement with industry, proper consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny to arrive at a suitable arrangement for winding-up the RO. That took many weeks and months of deliberation, and arrived at a line being drawn. The Government say that they need to draw the line somewhere. Actually, that line was drawn. It has now been moved and the process by which it was moved did not pay enough tribute to or treat with enough respect the investors in British industry whose confidence this is now undermining. It is for that reason that I do not interpret the Salisbury convention as applying to Clause 66.

We can have that debate when we come to the next amendment because although in this group we are discussing the amendments on the grace periods, when it comes to the next amendment we reserve the right to vote to delete this clause from the legislation for the reasons that I have begun to outline. Throughout the passage of the Bill I have not received an adequate explanation of why this particularly damaging clause has been introduced by the Government in the way that it has, with such little attention to detail and so little public consultation on the implications.