Brexit: Energy Security (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:08 pm on 6th June 2018.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee 9:08 pm, 6th June 2018

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. First, I reflect the thanks expressed by a number of members of the committee to our clerk, Alexandra McMillan, and our policy analyst Jennifer Mills, who looked after this report so well. They are not here this evening, and one of the reasons for that may be that they are not in their offices this week because the energy security of Millbank House has totally failed. So, although Britain might not be in energy security mode at the moment, this House is. I have not been in my office this week for the same reason, but I hope that that will be put right next week.

I shall not thank all noble Lords individually but I thank everyone collectively for their contributions. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Stamford, who participated in the previous debate, although I was not here for that. I suspect that it had a very similar theme but I will not be checking it to such a great extent in Hansard. I am also very pleased to see the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, on the Front Bench. He has obviously recovered well from his malady.

I thank my noble friend Lady Sheehan for mentioning prices. During his witness session, the Minister, Richard Harrington, was fairly relaxed about the whole subject. It is worth taking up the point about the importance of energy prices, in that we still have some 34,000 premature deaths over the winter and in England alone some 2.5 million households are still in fuel poverty. This is a real issue. I know that the Government understand that as well and they have introduced their price cap Bill, but this is an important area.

I shall say just one thing about the internal energy market, which many of us discussed. I do not see how we will remain a member of that market given the red lines that we and the European Union have in the negotiations, unless the conversation changes fundamentally. That inevitably means that we will not be at any table in any significant way with any influence whatever over EU energy policies post Brexit. The Government probably understand that but it is something we need to work on and we need to find a different basis for the discussions.

I challenged the Minister to go through the positives of Brexit regarding energy but I did not notice any in his speech. I listed the ones that the committee found but, in going through them, we found that they were minor and pretty pathetic. That internal energy market is the goal and I do not see how we can leave it at the moment.

We have come to the end of the evening. The very last thing that I want to say is that, as the negotiations go on and on, Europe is losing interest in Brexit. It has problems with Italy, eastern Europe and the rule of law, as well as migration and, potentially, the eurozone. Brexit will become more and more minor. Whether on energy or more broadly, if we do not get ourselves into gear pretty quickly, our negotiating position will degrade because there is a lack of interest in us as a subject. Regrettably, I think that that is true with regard to energy as well. However, I wish the Government well in the negotiations and I too look forward to their negotiating position, which I hope will have energy as a core part, as reflected in the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech. I thank everyone for their contributions.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 9.13 pm.