By Sean Martin
The SNP has welcomed the upcoming Westminster debate on an investigation into the UK’s energy market, while urging Labour to back their proposed £70 per year price cut in the sector and review nuclear energy usage.
In Wednesday’s opposition day debate, parliament will discuss the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into the country’s energy market and prices. It marks the first day the CMA will be operating fully, although it has been in existence since October 2013.
SNP Westminster spokesperson for energy, Mike Weir, said the debate was something to be welcomed, but warned against what he called “the UK Government’s obsession with new nuclear” energy.
“It is only through renewable energy that we can reduce and keep down energy prices in the future,” said Weir. “The CMA enquiry comes at a time when energy companies point out themselves that the uncertainty over the direction of UK energy policy is worsened by security of supply concerns.”
He added: “All consumers are facing tough times with escalating energy bills and, whilst a temporary twenty month freeze in bills may be superficially attractive, it falls far short of the permanent £70 per year cut in household energy bills that the Scottish Government propose with the powers of independence.”
The debate follows on from last Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions, during which Labour MSP Jackie Baillie condemned Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, for refusing to back her party’s plans for an energy price freeze.
Like Weir, the First Minister pointed to the White Paper, Scotland’s Future, in which the Scottish Government proposed an energy price cut for consumers. It suggested this would happen after the transferral of responsibility for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – a legal obligation for larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic energy users – and Warm House Discount (WHD) – which requires domestic energy suppliers to provide approximately £1.13bn of support arrangements to fuel poor customers over four years – to Holyrood.
Salmond also welcomed the upcoming CMA energy market review, suggesting it should be used as a stepping stone to a more substantial investigation into nuclear energy and the ‘big six’ energy companies – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, Scottish Power and SSE. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) also called for a similar inquiry last week.
“The review into competition in the energy market is welcomed; it offers the opportunity to fully examine the marketplace. I hope and believe that the Labour party will see the sense in extending that review to nuclear power,” said Salmond “Let’s have a review and a competition examination examining the conduct of the big six electricity companies and also the huge nuclear subsidy which is overwhelming threateningly electricity bills in this country.
“I think that’s a far more sustainable way to look at these matters and ensure that families are protected than other suggestions that have been made.”
[Newsnet comment. This morning witnessed yet more deterioration in standards at BBC Scotland when one of the most blatantly false smears ever promoted by a political party became top news. On Good Morning Scotland the programme reported as ‘news’ a press release circulated by the Scottish Labour party in which it accused the SNP of having done nothing to address rising energy bills.
This kind of ridiculous news management is further proof, if any were needed, that there are very serious problems with this broadcaster and indeed some of its presenters. Gary Robertson is BBC Scotland’s highest profile presenter and one now has to question what role this man plays in the selection of and presentation of political items on the morning radio show.
Someone, somewhere needs to take action to address the collapse in standards at BBC Scotland before it is too late.]