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Electricity and Gas Markets (Europe)

Volume 557: debated on Thursday 31 January 2013

The UK strongly supports the single energy market, which will bring benefits to the EU economy by increasing competitiveness and energy security. Last week, I met my Irish counterpart to sign a memorandum of understanding on exploring the scope for trading renewable energy. In November, I attended the first meeting of the North European energy dialogue to discuss the growth potential of energy infrastructure investment with ministerial colleagues from across northern Europe. I hope to host a follow-up meeting in London this year.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State. I would be even more grateful if he reminded his Conservative colleagues that we can shape the single market only by remaining a member state of the European Union. Does he agree with the Commission that getting member states back on track to complete the single energy market is critical as it will reduce bills for consumers across Europe by €100 a year, increase Europe’s growth rate by 0.8% of GDP and create 5 million jobs across the energy industries?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The single energy market is an important development for Europe and the UK. The coalition Government have been united in support of developments in the single energy market in Europe. It is in Britain’s interests and we will pursue it.

Although the UK has substantial reserves of gas in the North sea, we import a lot of gas. That has an effect on our energy security. What are the latest figures for the proportion of gas that we import from Russia and by sea from the middle east?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s question. We do not use directly much gas from Russia, but we are happy to explore that potential. It is in the interests of this country’s energy security that we have a diverse supply of gas. I do not have the exact figures for the middle east, but of the gas that is imported in this country, about 40% comes from there. I am not sure what proportion of the total gas that is consumed comes from the middle east.