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Green Levies

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 28 November 2013

I have had a number of representations on the level of green levies, and the Government expect to make a statement on the conclusions of our current review shortly.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. There is concern not only about the increase of the green levies, but about a lack of choice in where the green levies go. Is it feasible that on a household energy bill there could be a box for people to tick to show their preferred renewable to support?

We certainly want to ensure that we are doing everything to help consumers; that is why we are having this review. The hon. Lady’s proposal might create a little more uncertainty than we are trying to achieve and we need certainty for the investment.

Will the Secretary of State stand up to the Conservatives on this? There is no doubt that the Conservatives are using the green levy as a fig leaf. The fact is that we need an intelligent policy that delivers great environmental change in our country; he should not let the Tories defer that.

My colleagues and I will stand together. On the green levy review, we need to do all we can to help consumers with energy bills and I should have thought that the Opposition supported that, but I have made it clear that we will not do that on the backs of the fuel poor—we will keep our support for them in the levy—and that we will ensure that there is investment in renewable energy.

Will the Secretary of State ensure that in any review of the green levies measures are taken to protect the fuel poor, particularly those in rural Somerset?

The House will be pleased to know that the social and green levies protect everybody, whether they are in rural Somerset or anywhere else in the country. On a number of occasions, I have made clear in this House and elsewhere my commitment to maintain the support for the fuel poor.

Why is the Secretary of State persisting with the carbon price floor tax, which is unilaterally damaging core foundation industries such as steel and chemicals, when even his predecessor says it has no green benefit and is simply about lining the Chancellor’s pocket?

The Chancellor introduced the carbon price floor at the beginning of this Parliament and confirmed the rates in the Budget this year. The purpose is to send a clear incentive message to people investing in low carbon, which I believe the hon. Gentleman supports. I also hope that he supports the compensation package this Government have put together to help energy-intensive industries, to support them and to help them defray those costs.

One element of the levies applied to consumer bills funds the renewables obligation certificate payments, as the Secretary of State knows. He will also be aware that a third of those payments go to generators in Scotland, but, with 8.4% of the consumer base, they are funded by bill payers across Britain. When Infinis, a Scottish-based renewables generator, published its flotation prospectus a couple of weeks ago, it cited the outcome of separation as one of its key risks. On Monday, the nationalists in Edinburgh published their plan for Scotland to separate from the rest of the UK, asserting that

“shared support for renewables and capital costs of transmission among consumers in Scotland and the rest of the UK”

would continue. Can the Secretary of State guarantee that that will definitively be the case?

I cannot, of course, guarantee that. Should Scotland decide to vote for independence, there would have to be a negotiation. We cannot prejudge that negotiation, not least because despite the publication by the Scottish Executive this week, there was a lack of detail on some key elements. The hon. Gentleman is right to point out to the House and the country that if Scotland votes for independence and there can be no guarantee of support for renewables in Scotland from English, Welsh and Northern Irish consumers, Scottish consumers and industry could see price rises.