Since the inception in 2008 of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has performed a crucial role in examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of DECC and its associated public bodies. The Committee’s existence has been vital in holding the Government to account on its energy and climate change goals. Over the course of three Parliaments the Committee has been at the forefront of scrutinising huge changes across these policy areas. From informing the development of ‘electricity market reform’ (designed to incentivise investment in secure low-carbon electricity) to seeking solutions for a more competitive retail market. From helping to shape Government’s strategy for maximising economic recovery of offshore oil and gas to exploring new policies for the emerging shale gas sector. And, from holding energy companies to account on consumer prices to identifying how Government can better support new and existing energy technologies that make consumers’ lives easier and their homes and businesses warmer and more energy efficient.
I am very proud of the work of Committee Members over the last year. None of this would have been possible without the immensely positive participation of our stakeholders. I am very grateful to all those who have taken time over the years to contribute to our work by sending us written evidence and correspondence, answering our questions in lively oral evidence sessions, and engaging with us through traditional and social media.
While the ‘Machinery of Government’ changes that led to DECC’s responsibilities being merged into a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy may have come as a surprise to many, they represent a huge opportunity to embed decarbonisation into mainstream business policies and ensure that a low-carbon approach is at the heart of Government’s industrial strategy. Effective Parliamentary scrutiny is essential to making sure this opportunity is realised. In the short time we have had before the inevitable consequential changes to select committee structures were confirmed, my Committee has sought to bring to a conclusion as much as possible of its current work programme. This report contains our concluding thoughts on three ongoing inquiries. It also provides a very brief overview of our activities over the past year and our views on the big issues on the horizon for our successors.
Despite the loss of a dedicated energy and climate change committee I am confident that effective Parliamentary scrutiny on these crucial issues will continue, both within the House of Commons debating chamber and within the new select committee structures. I wish the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee all the best in holding the Government to account on tackling climate change, developing a low-carbon industrial and business strategy, and securing clean, reliable and affordable energy.
Angus Brendan MacNeil, Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee
14 October 2016