By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, announced his Electricity Market Reform White Paper in the Commons yesterday. The White Paper plans for £110bn of investment in electricity generation over the coming years.
In the questions that followed Mr Huhne's statement, two Conservative Members (coincidentally, both from Hertfordshire) asked critical questions of the Secretary of State:
- Charles Walker, the Member for Broxbourne, said carbon charging is bad for economic growth: "Carbon charging is a tax on jobs. Why are we retarding economic recovery by introducing what is in essence a carbon tax on business and job creation?"
- Unsurprisingly, Mr Huhne did not agree: "I do not accept my hon. Friend's analysis. Nick Stern has described the failure to take account of the carbon consequences of our actions as the greatest market failure of all time. Sometimes we have to incorporate the consequences of our actions for the environment into the market decision. That is what we are doing."
- Anne Main (St Albans) asked why public subsidy is necessary for a market reform project: "The Secretary of State will be aware of the amount of green tax that is already put on people’s energy bills. I am puzzled about why his Department will set aside £30 million of taxpayers’ money for a certain technology. Surely if we are encouraging the market, it should be the market that puts up the money and not the taxpayer."
- Mr Huhne replied to the point: "There is a sound argument in economic literature for encouraging early-stage technologies. Many British Governments have done that for many years. Green taxes are much lower than the estimates that have been bandied about recently in the press."
The full debate can be read on the Hansard website here.