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Energy Prices

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 18 December 2013

6. What assessment he has made of the effect of energy prices on consumers in rural areas of Scotland. (901638)

I know from my own constituency that rural consumers face particular challenges on energy bills. The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), who is responsible for energy, is working with all interested parties to obtain more secure and affordable off-grid supplies. I am due to meet the Office of Fair Trading early in the new year to discuss the matter.

I thank the Minister for that answer. As he is well aware, rural consumers who are off the grid are often forgotten in arguments over energy prices. The energy company obligation is supposed to be technologically neutral, but the major energy companies will not include LPG or oil boilers in their schemes, which is surely discriminatory. Will he press his colleagues in the Department of Energy and Climate Change to ensure that such boilers are included in ECO schemes?

I am happy to do that. The hon. Gentleman has championed the issue of off-grid supplies, and I suggest that we hold a round table, as we did on rural fuel, with DECC and interested Scottish MPs to discuss that and other issues.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the particular difficulties in remote rural areas, where there is no access to main supplies for both gas and oil? Will he commend the concept of heating oil clubs, such as the one I am promoting in Landward Caithness? They have done much to depress that cost. What can the Government do to assist?

The Government are keen to support oil clubs like the one in Landward Caithness. I am sure that the issues that concern the hon. Gentleman’s constituents will be ably discussed at our proposed round table in the Scotland Office with DECC and Scottish MPs.

14. Why do the SNP, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats all agree that the price should go on the energy bill and the tax bill and that the energy companies should be let off scot-free? (901646)

We believe that something should be done about the mess in the electricity industry that the hon. Gentleman’s party left behind. That is why we are seeking to move people on to lower tariffs, that is why we are rolling back green levies, and that is why we are encouraging competition. What his party offers is a gimmick and a con.