Not so smug please, Mr Cameron

22nd November, 2012 10:50 am

David Cameron: you crowed about your ‘involvement’ with getting customers cheapest energy prices at PMQs this afternoon.  Here’s the reality.  Leaving aside for a moment the fact that what you proposed (‘Energy Companies will GIVE customers the lowest tariff’) has not happened, and indeed, as I have observed before would be almost a technical impossibility to execute, we now know the following:

  1. Following your intervention DECC went away and hurriedly worked out how to have a consultation on your proposal, and how to put it in the Energy Bill. They had not previously intended to do so, and were anticipating hearing what OFGEM might propose on the subject.
  2. They concluded that your proposal would not work, and instead opted to consult on proposals remarkably similar (sorry, I’m being kind: almost identical) with those published by OFGEM two days after your original intervention.  (See p8 of Ofgem consultation here)
  3. The OFGEM proposals, to reduce tariff numbers to four, are easily implementable by Ofgem, without further legislation as they said to Energy and Climate change Select Committee just recently (see ECCC oral evidence 30th October)
  4. If Ofgem’s proposals were implemented, they would come into place in the summer of 2013.
  5. Because of continuing delays to the Energy Bill, it is now certain to be a ‘carryover bill’, as the Secretary of State confirmed to DECC select committee yesterday. This means that the Bill along with any amendments to the legislation considered necessary by the new ‘consultation’ will not reach the statute books until the spring of 2014 at the earliest.  Secondary legislation then has to enact clauses in the Bill, which may include clauses now being written following the new consultation.

What this all means, Mr Cameron is this. If you had not intervened, had waited two days for OFGEM to report, and then had enquired about how their proposed mechanisms might work, you would be looking at a new tariff regime coming into place next summer. As it is, an identical new tariff regime will now not come into place until a year later.  Still pleased with yourself?

What you can do, still, is suggest that, after all if the new tariff regime is to be as OFGEM suggests, then legislation is not needed, and they can go ahead and use their powers to make the change.  As political expediency on this occasion appears to rank higher in your priorities than good policy-making, I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. But please stop saying you’re proud of what you’ve done when all you have achieved is to waste a year of energy customers’ time and money.

Alan Whitehead is the Labour MP for Southampton Test. This was first posted here.

  • Graeme Hancocks

    He doesn’t care about facts! He is spin merchant, a PR snake oil salesman, a con man, only interested in making himself look good.


  • Featured News Osborne announces major u-turns on tax credits and police cuts

    Osborne announces major u-turns on tax credits and police cuts

    George Osborne today caved into pressure from Labour and announced u-turns on both tax credits cuts and cuts to police budgets. Both issues have been major attack lines for Labour in recent months. Labour peers voted for motion on tax credits in the House of Lords last month, defeating the Government, and forcing Osborne into a rethink. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said on a number of occasions that if the Tories committed to a full reversal of the policy, then Labour would […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Tories accused of playing political games over Syria as Labour splits denied

    Tories accused of playing political games over Syria as Labour splits denied

    Labour insiders are fuming at the accusations that there is a split between Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn over Syria. Reports this morning suggested that the leader’s office had failed to inform Shadow Foreign Secretary Benn that he was invited to a Downing St security briefing on Syria. Both Corbyn and Benn’s team deny a breakdown in communication, and sources claim that it has come from the Tories’ playing political games with the issue. They say that the email inviting Corbyn […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs Verdict: Punchy performance from Corbyn on comfortable ground

    PMQs Verdict: Punchy performance from Corbyn on comfortable ground

    PMQs are difficult for an Opposition leader at the best of times; before an economic set-piece statement, they must be nigh on impossible. You’re going up against the Prime Minister blind, knowing the person across the despatch box knows every detail of what is about to be announced, and that anything you do will be overshadowed by what follows. Jeremy Corbyn approached today’s debate with six fairly specific questions: four on climate change and renewables, and two on domestic violence […]

    Read more →
  • News John Healey slams Osborne’s housebuilding bluster

    John Healey slams Osborne’s housebuilding bluster

    George Osborne is receiving praise in the press this morning for his expected pledge to invest in housebuilding during the Autumn Statement today. However, the 400,000 subsidised homes he is expected to pledge be built by 2020 comes after Housing minister Brandon Lewis said a million would be built back in September. Ahead of Osborne’s address to the Commons this afternoon, Labour have slammed the Tories’ “bluster”, and pointed out that David Cameron has presided over the worst peacetime record of […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured The griping and plots need to stop so we can get on with being an opposition

    The griping and plots need to stop so we can get on with being an opposition

    The Conservatives are having a great time. Today, in their Spending Review they’ll outline their budget plans, which will include monumentally savage cuts. Deeper cuts than in any other major economy. Meanwhile, the Labour party is embroiled in internal battles, the kind of which shows little sign of abating. But it needs to, and soon. Less than two weeks after Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory, talks of when and how to oust Labour’s newly elected leader made it into the papers. […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends