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House of Commons
Session 2007 - 08
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General Committee Debates

Energy Bill

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairmen: Mr. David Amess, † Mrs. Joan Humble
Baron, Mr. John (Billericay) (Con)
Binley, Mr. Brian (Northampton, South) (Con)
Hendry, Charles (Wealden) (Con)
Horwood, Martin (Cheltenham) (LD)
Iddon, Dr. Brian (Bolton, South-East) (Lab)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen (South Thanet) (Lab)
Main, Anne (St. Albans) (Con)
Owen, Albert (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
Palmer, Dr. Nick (Broxtowe) (Lab)
Reed, Mr. Jamie (Copeland) (Lab)
Robertson, John (Glasgow, North-West) (Lab)
Seabeck, Alison (Plymouth, Devonport) (Lab)
Swire, Mr. Hugo (East Devon) (Con)
Tipping, Paddy (Sherwood) (Lab)
Webb, Steve (Northavon) (LD)
Whitehead, Dr. Alan (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
Wicks, Malcolm (Minister for Energy)
Chris Shaw, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee


Paul Noon, General Secretary of Prospect, Trades Union Congress
Philip Pearson, Senior Policy Officer, Trades Union Congress
Stephen Radley, Chief Economist, EEF
Roger Salomone, Energy Adviser, EEF
Guy Johnson, Director of Regulation, npower
Sara Vaughan, Director Regulation and Energy Policy, E.ON
Denis Linford, Director of Regulation, EDF Energy
Barry Neville, Director of Public Affairs and European Policy, Centrica
Dr. Keith MacLean, Head of Sustainable Development, Scottish Power and Southern Energy
Rupert Steele, Director of Regulation, Scottish Power

Public Bill Committee

Tuesday 5 February 2008


[Mrs. Joan Humble in the Chair]

Energy Bill

10.30 am
The Chairman: Before we begin, I have a few preliminary announcements. Members may, if they wish, remove their jackets during Committee meetings. They must turn off, or switch to silent mode, all pagers and mobile phones. There is both a money resolution and a Ways and Means resolution in connection with this Bill. Copies are available in the room. I should like to remind members that adequate notice should be given of amendments. As a general rule, I do not intend to call starred amendments.
Furthermore, this Bill is one of three this Session that has been selected for a further experiment with explanatory statements on amendments. All members of the Committee have been sent a leaflet giving details of the experiment. Copies of the leaflet are available in the Committee room and in the Public Bill Office. Members may also wish to seek advice from the Clerk of the Committee.
As we are still in the early days of taking oral evidence in Public Bill Committees, it might help if I briefly explain what is proposed, so that we can all be clear. The Committee will first be asked to consider the programme motion on the amendment paper, for which debate is limited to half an hour. We will then proceed to a motion to report written evidence, and then a motion—which I hope we can take formally— to permit the Committee to deliberate in private in advance of the oral evidence sessions.
Assuming that the second of these motions is agreed to, the Committee will then move into a brief private session. Once the Committee has deliberated, the witnesses and members of the public will be invited back into the room and our oral evidence session will commence. If the Committee agrees to the programme motion, it will hear oral evidence today and on the morning of Tuesday 19 February, before reverting on Thursday 21 February to the more familiar proceedings of clause-by-clause scrutiny.
(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 5th February) meet—
(a) at 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday 5th February;
(b) at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 19th February;
(c) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 21st February;
(d) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday 26th February;
(e) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 28th February;
(f) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday 4th March;
(g) at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 6th March;
(h) at 10.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday 11th March;
(2) the Committee shall hear oral evidence in accordance with the following Table:
Tuesday 5th February
Until no later than 12 noon
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI); Trades Union Congress; EEF
Tuesday 5th February
Until no later than 1.00 p.m.
Scottish and Southern Energy plc; E.On UK plc; EDF Energy plc; Centrica plc; Scottish Power plc; RWE npower plc
Tuesday 5th February
Until no later than 5.00 p.m.
National Grid plc; Energy Networks Association; The Gas and Electricity Markets Authority; energywatch
Tuesday 5th February
Until no later than 6.00 pm.
British Energy; Nuclear Industry Association; Nuclear Installations Inspectorate; Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Tuesday 5th February
Until no later than 7.00 pm.
Mr Tom Burke; Greenpeace Ltd; Friends of the Earth; Green Alliance
Tuesday 19th February
Until no later than 11.20 a.m.
Renewable Energy Association; British Wind Energy Association; Sustainable Development Commission
Tuesday 19th February
Until no later than 12 noon
Carbon Capture & Storage Association; The United Kingdom Offshore Oil and Gas Industry Association Ltd; SGBI Gas Storage Operators Group
Tuesday 19th February
Until no later than 1.00 pm.
Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(3) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 35; Schedule 1; Clauses 36 to 40; Schedule 2; Clauses 41 to 72; Schedule 3; Clauses 73 to 91; Schedule 4; Clause 92; Schedule 5; Clauses 93 to 97; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(4) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday 11th March.—[Malcolm Wicks.]
That, subject to the discretion of the Chairman, any written evidence received by the Committee shall be reported to the House for publication.—[Malcolm Wicks.]
The Chairman: Copies of any submission that the Committee receives will be made available in the Committee room.
That, at this and any subsequent meeting at which oral evidence is to be heard, the Committee shall sit in private until the witnesses are admitted.—[Malcolm Wicks.]
10.33 am
The Committee deliberated in private.
10.54 am
On resuming:—
The Chairman: We will now hear oral evidence from the TUC and the EEF. I welcome the witnesses. Would you like to introduce yourselves to the Committee?
Philip Pearson: I am Philip Pearson, the TUC’s senior policy officer dealing with energy and environment issues.
Paul Noon: My name is Paul Noon. I am the TUC general council lead on energy and the environment and in my day job also general secretary of Prospect, which represents engineers and scientists in the electricity supply industry and beyond.
Stephen Radley: I am Stephen Radley, chief economist of the EEF.
Roger Salomone: I am Roger Salomone, energy adviser at EEF.
The Chairman: Before calling the first member to ask a question I would like to remind all members that questions should be limited to matters within the scope of the Bill and that, in view of the time constraints, both questions and answers should be brief.
Q 1Charles Hendry (Wealden) (Con): I thank the witnesses very much coming here, and give special thanks to the EEF for being here as the voice of business in the absence of the CBI.
In the TUC’s submissions, you said that you are keen to see a carbon price that is set high enough to create a credible and effective emissions trading scheme. Can you give us more detail about what that means? Are you specifically seeking to have a floor price on carbon, so that it should not drop below a certain price per tonne? If so, I would also be interested in knowing the views of the EEF about the views of business with regard to a floor price on carbon.
Paul Noon: Our primary concern is that there should be a mechanism in place that gives certainty that a price will be fixed in the future, rather than agreeing a fixed price at this point. There should be some mechanism at European level that will give the market certainty that there will be a price fixed in the future. I find it difficult to see that you could easily fix a price now that would last for several years.
Philip Pearson: On top of that, the idea of a floor price has some attractions if you look at the history of the price of carbon in phase 1, which soared up to €30 a tonne and then almost disappeared through the floor. The forward price of carbon is becoming interesting, but the Committee might want to ask itself the question we have been asking, “What is the minimum price of carbon likely to drive sufficient technological change to secure climate change objectives?”.
Q 2Charles Hendry: But is it your wish that that should be on a European rather than a domestic level?
Philip Pearson: I think that the mechanism would need to be Europe-wide.
Q 3Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Do you worry that the shadow cost of carbon that has been used by the Government to date is too low, certainly compared to what was envisaged in the Stern review? Do you see anything in the mechanisms recommended in the Bill to do with the renewables obligation that might improve that situation?
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