Prime Minister David Cameron has “thrown the nation’s energy policy into confusion” as Ministers don’t know what it actually is anymore.
That’s the view of Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy, who made the comment at the House of Commons this morning during a debate with Energy Minister John Hayes.
It comes after the Prime Minister made an announcement yesterday that energy suppliers must give consumers their lowest tariffs available following recent price hikes.
Mrs Flint said: “Yesterday the Prime Minister threw energy policy into confusion. It caused chaos in the energy industry and I have to say, it left its own Ministers at a loss over what Government energy policy actually is. No wonder the Secretary of State has avoided coming to the House today to explain the policy he knew nothing about until yesterday. As energy bills have gone up by £200 over the last two years, the public deserve an answer. Switching has fallen to its lowest level ever and in recent days three of the big energy companies have announced another round of price hikes this winter.
“So it’s not surprising there was a great deal of interest when the Prime Minister told the House yesterday and I quote ‘We will be legislated so that energy companies have to give the lowest tariff to the consumers’ but now it appears that energy companies will not be forced to put all customers after all.”
Mr Cameron’s announcement came as a surprise to the industry and DECC and there have been questions about how and if it is actually going to work.
Mrs Flint battered the newly appointed Energy Minister asking if he knew about the announcement before it was made or if the Prime Minister was “making it up as he went along”. Then asking how if it went ahead it would work?
She said: “We all mis-speak from time to time and the Prime Minister was under a lot of pressure yesterday but for the Government to spend a day pretending to have a policy they have no intention of implementing is no way to run the country. It is like something out of the thick of it.”
Mr Hayes put up a robust defence quipping he would be seeking to discuss it “as a matter of urgency” and added his team has already taken a number of actions to assist consumers with their bills. He, however, failed to confirm if energy suppliers will be forced to offer the lowest tariff for every customer, contrary to what Mr Cameron announced.
He said: “This Government will bring forward an Energy Bill to reform markets, to increase competition, to secure investment which should have been done years ago… Of course we understand what the Prime Minister was considering because we have been debating and discussing the provisions of the Energy Bill for months.”
He added: “Yes. The answer is we will use the Energy Bill to get people lower tariffs and of course there are different options to be considered in that process. But those options will be discussed with the industry, they will be discussed with consumer groups… I am determined that the Bill will be a landmark piece of legislation in the interest of the British people, delivering lower energy prices for businesses and households across the country.”
The Energy Bill is expected to be published in early November.