Energy Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 12th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Conservative 8:00 pm, 12th April 2016

My Lords, I have only one question about this amendment, and it is aimed at both sides of your Lordships’ House. As my noble friend rightly said, this is an extremely complex matter. I sometimes feel that the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, is the only living person who fully understands the complexities of it all. It seems to me that if one looks behind the thoughts and motivations, the bottom line is whether additional pressures are put on consumers, on the nation, on industry and on activities of every kind to complete the carbon budgets, what weight we give to absolute, precise completion of the established carbon budgets—or indeed the next one we decide—and what contribution that will make worldwide to combating global warming.

My question is simply to ask why the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, has tabled this amendment, when in the Climate Change Act, with which the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, had so much to do, there is a specific provision—Section 10(2)(h)—which warns and advises the Government and Ministers to have account of,

“circumstances at European and international level”.

The intention behind that was quite clear: to establish that if we got very badly out of line with neighbouring countries on our carbon budgets and on the provisions required to keep to them, the matter would be looked at again and, if necessary, changes would be made. My only question is: why are we not doing that now? Electricity costs between German and British steel have got out of alignment. Everyone knows that. We all know that theirs are 40% less and that we are paying £80 per megawatt-hour for steel-making in Britain, of which some £34 may be in additional green charges and levies. I accept that some of those are absolutely necessary, but some obviously take us out of line with our European neighbours, with the devastating results which we have all seen in the last few weeks. These things can be brushed aside, but everyone knows that this is one of the very powerful reasons why we are in some difficulties over the steel industry. I do not think that that can be denied.