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Fuel Costs

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 31 March 2011

10. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on the effects on businesses of trends in the cost of fuel. (49975)

I recently discussed the rising cost of energy with my counterpart at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to assess the cumulative burden of climate change policies and see what the Government can do to secure the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries as we decarbonise the economy.

We have an absolutely splendid coalition team in DBIS, led by a fantastic Secretary of State. In the past, energy was always the responsibility of the Business Department. Surely it should come back to that Department so that we can send out the message that we do care about business in relation to energy— and I could not think of a better set of people to look after it.

I am very flattered by the suggestion, if a little surprised, but I am already fully employed with my existing duties. In my recent conversation with my counterpart at DECC, we agreed that considerable progress had been made with Ofgem’s recent report on opening up competition and benefiting consumers, both industrial and personal.

Energy-intensive industries in my constituency, of which there are many, are worried about the cumulative impact of regulations relating to a carbon floor price on their competitiveness. Is the Secretary of State having discussions with the Treasury and DECC to ensure that our industries do not lose out to foreign competition?

I am doing just that. On Monday I was in Port Talbot to talk with Tata Steel about that exact question. It is absolutely right that the Government press ahead with our ambition to decarbonise the economy, but the system of tax and regulation is complex and we must structure it in a way that supports our energy-intensive industries.