1.The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has a broad scrutiny remit. The Committee’s work covers major policy areas from the UK Industrial Strategy and business regulation to energy policy and mitigating climate change. At the outset of this Parliament we sought to increase our accessibility and widen our external engagement with the public, as well as with our experts and organisational stakeholders.
2.In March 2020, following previous initiatives by the Scottish Affairs and Science and Technology Committees, we launched the ‘My BEIS Inquiry’, inviting stakeholders and the wider public to come forward with suggestions for issues and policy areas which they would like the Committee to investigate over the course of this Parliament. This was an opportunity for us to be alerted to topics that deserve greater parliamentary scrutiny by a more diverse pool of stakeholders including, but not limited to: business representatives, academics, think tanks, campaign groups, charities, local authorities, consumer groups and citizens.
3.We asked participants to explain three things:
(1) the nature of the issue they wanted the Committee to look into;
(2) why it deserved attention; and,
(3) how Government policy in this area could be developed or improved.
4.We were delighted with the response to our call for inquiry proposals and received in excess of 200 submissions from a wide range of individuals and organisations, including members of the public and institutions that we have not previously engaged with. The submissions are published at Annex 1 of this report.
5.We were impressed by the quality, diversity and breadth of the inquiry proposals that were submitted. We received submissions spanning subjects such as: consumer protection, carbon pricing, the future of the UK Industrial Strategy, community energy, insolvency and debt, the future of gas, skills; local impacts of energy infrastructure, productivity, and a green recovery.
6.By tapping into a wider pool of expertise and experience, new and different ideas and issues have been brought to our attention.
7.We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every participant for taking the time to engage with this initiative, especially at a time of national crisis.
8.We have worked through the submissions, grouping them into themes and shortlisting a selection of participants to ‘pitch’ their inquiry proposal to the Committee on the 16th July, via a virtual public evidence session. This meeting will provide the Committee with an opportunity to learn more about the issues raised before taking a decision on which subjects to investigate further. We will publish the transcript as formal evidence, so that participants’ proposals can reach a wider audience beyond the Committee and be entered into the permanent parliamentary record.
9.When shortlisting submissions, we looked for inquiry ideas that: raised issues that fall within the Committee’s remit; were timely; had high impact potential; suggested work in areas that the Committee had not previously explored; and, brought a new issue to the forefront or a fresh perspective to an existing problem.
10.Where we received a range of similar submissions, we selected high level, broad proposals that provided enough scope to investigate more specific issues identified in other submissions under the same theme. We may therefore invite a range of participants—beyond the list of ‘pitchers’—to provide evidence in inquiries that the Committee takes forward further down the line.
11.We want to stress that all submissions—not just those who are providing an oral ‘pitch’—will be used to help shape the Committee’s work over this Parliament and that we may come back to issues that have not been shortlisted, and explore them through a number of means, including through correspondence.
12.The inquiry proposals shortlisted predominantly fall within the energy and climate side of the Committee’s remit. We also received a range of excellent proposals on the business side, many of which have already informed and shaped our super-inquiry into ‘Post-Pandemic Economic Growth’. Proposals related to issues such as skills, research, the UK Industrial Strategy, productivity, insolvency and debt, and greening the recovery will continue to feed into this inquiry.
13.The following participants have been invited to deliver a ‘pitch’ (their full submission can be found at Annex 1 of this report):
(1) The decarbonisation of heating: Dr Jan Rosenow, Principal and European Programme Director, Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)
(2) The future of hydrogen: Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA)
(3) Industrial decarbonisation and consumption emissions: Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG)
(4) Carbon pricing: Zero Carbon Campaign
(5) Negative emissions technologies: WWF, Ember and researchers from Chatham House’s Energy, Environment and Resources Programme
(6) Net Zero and a ‘Just Transition’: Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics (LSE)
(7) Fuel poverty strategy: National Energy Action (NEA)
(8) Net zero consumer protections: Citizens Advice
(9) Role of local government in delivering net zero: London Councils
(10) Institutional arrangements to meet net zero: Professor Paul Ekins, Director; Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy, University College London (UCL) Institute for Sustainable Resources
(11) Digitalising the economy: Aldersgate Group
14.We will continue to provide updates on the outcomes of this inquiry through our reports, inquiries and on our website.
1 Scottish Affairs Committee, (September 2017), Science and Technology Committee, (December 2016) and (November 2018)
Published: 10 July 2020