Energy Prices Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 25 October 2022.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

We do not need a remedial lesson in how Scottish Government finances work. Mr Kerr can take that up with his finance colleagues if he needs a lesson.

I reiterate our call on the UK Government to provide additional support to vulnerable consumers ahead of, during and beyond this winter, and I seek urgent clarity about the protection that consumers will have in the face of forthcoming price rises beyond April. Those consumers include many people living in rural communities across Scotland, who face higher living costs than others in more central areas.

Let us remind ourselves again that the devastating impacts of skyrocketing energy prices on consumers are caused by overdependency on natural gas. That is dependency that we must break, although Mr Kerr would suggest that we should keep locking ourselves into dependency on fossil fuels. Although our actions today can help to ensure that consumers are given vital support, we must also keep in mind the need to accelerate our transition to net zero heating and a decarbonised energy system.

It is now necessary, given the reversal of the commitment to a two-year price cap, to consider what the options might be after the first six months. I remind Mr Kerr that when the Scottish Conservatives were not busy promoting the UK Government’s disastrous tax plans, they were happy to welcome that two-year commitment when it was first made. It does not cut it to say now that six months is the right timescale or that this Parliament has all the powers that it needs.

This Parliament can do nothing yet to regulate energy prices or to break the link between gas and electricity prices that Labour colleagues rightly point out. The UK Government has been giving that commitment for a long time but it is hanging there, amid uncertainty about which minister will even be responsible for progressing it or when it might be progressed. We can do nothing in this Parliament yet to give people in Scotland the financial benefit of the cheap, clean, abundant, renewable electricity that is being generated in this country. This Parliament should be able to take much greater action to give people in Scotland the benefit of that renewable electricity and to tackle fuel poverty.

For the time being, until we have those greater powers, I ask members to agree to the LCM to ensure that people get the emergency support that they need and deserve.