Treasury under fire for avoiding Energy Bill questions

The Treasury has come under fire from MPs for apparently trying to avoid facing some “very important questions” about the draft Energy Bill. While Energy Secretary Ed Davey and his […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Treasury has come under fire from MPs for apparently trying to avoid facing some “very important questions” about the draft Energy Bill.

While Energy Secretary Ed Davey and his minister Charles Hendry appeared before the Parliamentary watchdog yesterday, as part of the bill’s pre-legislative scrutiny, Economic Secretary Chloe Smith did not.

When challenged about this in Parliament, Ms Smith said there was no precedence for a minister from a different department to answer questions before the Parliamentary watchdog. She suggested her Cabinet colleague Mr Davey would be able to answer on her behalf.

However Tim Yeo appeared to dismiss the idea of precedence during the committee session yesterday afternoon. He suggested there were no set in stone rules governing who must appear to give evidence.

He added in a statement this attitude has been described as “disingenuous”.

Mr Yeo said: “The Treasury is being disingenuous in arguing that it would not be right to comment on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s new legislation.

“The success of electricity market reform could well rest on Treasury decisions – such as how high to set the levy-cap on support for low-carbon technology or whether the Government directly underwrites new long-term energy contracts or not.”

Mr Yeo has also written to the Economic Secretary demanding what the impact of Treasury decisions on energy and climate change policies has been.

In a letter seen by ELN, he asks hard hitting questions covering key parts of the legislation such as Contracts for Difference and the levy control framework.

It asks whether Ms Smith would accept the electricity market reform could be “undermined” by a levy cap, something which the Treasury has pushed for.

It also asks whether the Treasury has met with the investment community to understand the impacts of its policies on investments needed to meet the UK’s climate change and energy security objectives.