23/10/2013 Daily Politics


23/10/2013

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn with live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions. They are joined by Conservative chairman Grant Shapps and shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Morning, folks. The future of Scotland's biggest oil refinery and

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petrochemical works is in the balance. The company that owns the

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huge Grangemouth complex is a key part of Britain's industrial

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infrastructure has announced that the petrochemicals complex is to

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close with the loss of hundreds of jobs. The decision follows a bitter

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row between management and unions over cost-cutting. The future of the

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oil refinery is also in the balance. Remember John Major? He used to be

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the Prime Minister. Yesterday, he had a whole host of advice for

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Number Ten's present incumbent, including a windfall tax on the

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energy companies. Will the former Prime Minister's

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words come back to haunt David Cameron at PMQs? We will have all

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the action live at midday. Would you want some of these in your

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back garden? We will be talking to one Tory MP who does not.

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We have a responsibility to future generations to protect the

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countryside. The local community does not want 300 acres of solar

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panels in our back yard. All that is coming up. Great British

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Bake Off eat your heart out! We made these.

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Jo did this with me as her able assistant. The Daily Politics is

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where it's at! We have cakes, muffins, apple turnovers, something

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French and fancy on the programme today.

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Who is that? What about rough puff? Some kind of strange drug, I think.

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We have two contestants who have promised me they have never suffered

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a soggy bottom, the Conservative Party Chairman, Grant Shapps, and

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the brand-new Shadow Transport Secretary, Mary Creagh. Breaking

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news. It is grim for Grangemouth. The decision by INEOS, a Swiss-based

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company, to close its petrochemical site at Grangemouth in Scotland has

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shocked everybody. It follows a pay dispute over pay and conditions and

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what needs to be done to secure new investment to keep the

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petrochemicals plant going. Let's get the latest from our Scotland

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correspondent, Laura Bicker. Laura, I guess the unions can now be in no

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doubt that the company is not bluffing? Exactly. That is what the

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main owner of INEOS, the main shareholder in INEOS said at the

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weekend in a Sunday newspaper. He said he would close down the plant

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and he warned workers if they voted the wrong way, there would be no

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happy ending at this plant. Workers filed into a canteen this morning.

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They were told at 10.00am that the petrochemical element of this plant

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would close. That's around 750 workers, we are told. They filed out

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very unhappy, very angry. They are not sure about redundancy payments

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currently. We have heard from the INEOS company, the chairman of the

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site here, he said there was only ever going to be one outcome to this

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story and we continued to lose money. INEOS says it is losing ?10

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million a month at this site. They say the proposed strike action,

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which was called off, has cost them ?20 million. The Scottish Government

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yesterday intervened. He said it was discussing a potential buyer. It

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says it was looking at other players when it came to this plant. I

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understand that union officials are talking to both the Scottish

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Government and the Government at Westminster to try to come to a deal

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when it comes to this plant. We will hear from the unions within the next

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hour. But real shock here for the workers as they head home and wonder

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what their future holds. Let's stick with the petrochemical complex to

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begin with. The petrochemical complex feeds off the oil refinery.

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Stick with petrochemicals to begin with. INEOS is out of this now. This

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isn't going to change. They are gone from the petrochemical complex. They

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have called in the liquidators? That's exactly what they have said

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in their statement this morning. Certainly, that is what they have

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told the workforce. They do not want to keep hold of the petrochemical

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plant. They said that they have no choice but to call in the

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liquidators. They say that, "We will struggle to comprehend what has

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happened here. The employees were offered a chance to secure

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substantial new investment in the company, preserve their jobs and

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keep their salaries. . Sadly, this will no longer be the case." They

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offered workers a deal whereby they would offer workers a cut in pay and

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in pensions in return, they said, that would help keep the plant

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running. They said without that, the plant would have to shut by 2017.

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So, this morning, they say this should come as no surprise to

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workers after the vote, after that ballot where workers, around half of

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them, decided not to take that option, the survival plan. They say

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that this was the only outcome after that ballot. Alright. Final

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question. The oil refinery has not been closed. It's not operating, the

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oil refinery has still been shut down. Do I take it from that... The

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oil refinery... That could also be under threat? Well, the oil refinery

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has been shut down for a week as part of a health and safety. INEOS

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need to close down the plant ahead of any planned strike action. It's

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not been started today. The oil refinery has not been restarted,

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which is something we expected to hear about. They say it will not be

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restarted until unions give them a guarantee that there will be no

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strike action. Unions have already given them that guarantee. They said

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they gave them that guarantee last week. But they want to discuss these

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new terms and conditions that they say is being imposed on their staff.

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We are still at a stalemate when it comes to the oil refinery. Its

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future again is being discussed. Thank you very much for bringing us

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up-to-date. We are joined now by the Labour MP for the Grangemouth

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constituency, Michael Connerty. Have the unions made an existential error

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here? They have been set up. It is quite clear this company prepared

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for this conflict quite well. They are bringing in petrol in tankers.

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The company made it clear if you can't agree to this new deal, which

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will bring ?300 million in new investment, then it's off? The

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difficulty was the way they did it. I have never seen a negotiation like

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this. I have represented this place for 21 years. We have lost thousands

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of jobs. It's now down to 1,300. That is true of all petrochemical

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works? Exactly. I remember the $10 when crude was only getting $10. Now

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it is $113. The feed stock is hugely expensive. The unions said they were

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willing to negotiate all of this. We will give you a no strike agreement,

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not just to the end of the negotiations, but as long as it

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takes. They wouldn't withdraw this ultimatum. If you had seen the

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letter... I have seen the letter. The company is losing ?150

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million... They have two problems. They are paying huge amounts for the

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feed stock and the refinery is losing money hand over fist. They

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lost ?110 million on the refinery. They are locked into a deal that BP

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made them sign when they bought the plant to say they will take all the

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gas that comes off. They have to take all of that to 2017. It's now

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full of... It's a basket case? It is not a basket case. What they are

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doing in Norway, and in Grangemouth, was to bring in ethane from the

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States. Sure. They said to me in 2022 and beyond, there is a lot of

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money to be made here and they wanted to take ?50 million out of

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that plant. They are talking not just about the workers, they are

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talking about shutting the plant... I know. They want to bring in ethane

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from the States because it is a lot cheaper. Correct. It's a stand-off.

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To do that was going to cost ?300 million in new investment to build

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the port facilities to bring in this ethane from the United States, where

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it is a lot cheaper. And they wanted new conditions in terms to go ahead.

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The unions said no. It seems like this petrochemical plant is going to

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close unless someone else comes to buy it. Who is going to buy it? That

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is still a serious prospect. Who? I think anyone who looks at this - the

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figures said 2022, we will break even. Who? I think the chemical

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industry is still viable. Let me finish, Andrew. 30% of the ethane

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that goes down the pipeline comes from Grangemouth. They are going to

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turn that tap off. It means there is a demand for... There is a world

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surplus and it can be made more cheaply elsewhere. If you think

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someone else can buy this, give me a name? I don't know who is in the

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frame. Let me give you two names. I will tell you why they are not going

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to do it. Dow Chemical, reinvesting in the United States. BASF, German,

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has told the German government unless energy prices come down, we

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will move to America as well. Who would buy Grangemouth in these world

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conditions? I think at the moment we have to look at whether the

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Secretary of Fps of the Scottish Government says he is looking to

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find new buyers. I know that. Who? The biggest problem for us is do we

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say that because of the decision of this company not to negotiate - you

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said it wasn't a question of sharing the future, it was a case of we want

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all of this for us after 2022. It seems sensible to me to pay back the

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debt and then make a lot of money, then they should share it with the

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people in the company. Did they set out to do this because they got

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beaten in 2008? That is a very dangerous way to run a company. Will

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there be calls to nationalise it? I don't think there will be a call

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from this present Government... I wasn't thinking of that, I was

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thinkingior party? You could lumber the taxpayer with this loss-making

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business? This is the company - they briefed me for an hour-and-a-half

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about how they would make all of this money. They seem to want to

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beat the union down. That is not a good way to go forward. In the 21st

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Century, are we wanting to have a situation where you have to beat the

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workers down and make people hate you to get more profit more quickly?

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I don't think so. What is the Westminster Government doing about

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it? There will be an urgent statement this afternoon from Ed

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Davey. He will be outlining the next steps, working with the Scottish

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Government. For people watching this who are not experts in the industry,

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all of these detailed discussions real boil down to - there are 750

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jobs here. If the Government can do anything to help them, we will. In

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the end, this needs to be a business which stands alone as a profitable

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business otherwise clearly it can't buck the economics of the market.

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The Government's already offered some treasury guarantees on raising

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the money that is needed for this investment. What else can the

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Government do? I'm concerned about the future of the oil refinery and

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in terms of the resill generals of the UK's fuel supply. We have seen a

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plant already shut down. We are still waiting for that report. Of

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course, it is not just the jobs being lost today. There are many

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more jobs dependent in the supply chain. I well understand. The

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company had asked for that guarantee. What do you want the

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Government to do? We want to see a strategic review of what we are

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doing about the fuel because what we don't want is to add to the

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cost-of-living crisis by seeing petrol prices rising. A strategic

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review? People's jobs are at stake here. Absolutely. How You have

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called for a strategic review while you did nothing when you were in

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power? There are a whole series of costs in the industry. And the

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future is bright, it is the bridge to the future that is the problem.

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The future is grim. What is happening - well, Michael has

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described if the port changes can be made, if shale gas... He is a

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politician. He is not putting a penny up. You haven't got the money.

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I don't have the money. So it is irrelevant. I have confidence in my

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constituents. I know... I understand that. I worked in that industry when

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I was a student. I know the industry. I'm well aware of that.

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There is money to be made. That bridge can be crossed. Can you... I

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remember Timex in Dundee, the same union under a different name. They

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said this is a good factory, there is a future here. But we need a

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change in working practices. The union didn't agree. Then they left

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Dundee. Will we see the same in Grangemouth.

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I hope they are going to get somebody else to run the plant.

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Thank you. We will wait and see. It's a tough time for your

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constituents. Very worrying. Keep in touch with us because it is a big

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story. As part/ Mac a Parliamentary hat,

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Charles Dickens was a guest. -- as a parliament Rehak.

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If you could just sit down a moment! Where was I? Margaret

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Thatcher has been there. I haven't. There's still time. I am talking

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about the Press Gallery Lunch. It usually an excuse for some House of

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Commons claret. Yesterday, John Major spoke. They got more than they

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bargained for. He certainly seems to be on fine

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form yesterday lunchtime. As the last Conservative leader to win a

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general election, his views will have been listened to carefully at

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Conservative HQ. He told the journalists that George Osborne

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should impose a windfall tax of this winter on the energy companies who

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are raising prices and making massive profits. He also once more

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help for the silent have nots who are being overlooked. Too many

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people, he said, were falling behind through no fault of their own. He

:16:51.:16:54.

also had words of warning for Iain Duncan Smith, saying he should

:16:55.:16:57.

listen to some of his critics on welfare reform rather than just the

:16:58.:17:01.

bean counters who obsess over abuse in the system. On Europe, the former

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Prime Minister said he was opposed to James Warton's bill for an EU

:17:06.:17:10.

referendum by 2017. He backed the idea of a referendum, although he

:17:11.:17:14.

says Britain will vote to stay in the EU and that will end the debate

:17:15.:17:18.

for a generation. He had to say to the BBC will stop I think there is a

:17:19.:17:27.

real chance -- to the BBC. I think there's a real chance the government

:17:28.:17:31.

will be forced to provide more help to people. It would be entirely

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reasonable for the Chancellor then to recoup the money back from the

:17:35.:17:38.

energy companies in a one off in past given the scale of their

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profits. John Major. I'm joined by two men who never turned out a lunch

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invitation. They are journalists! Tim Shipman from the Daily Mail and

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Kevin Maguire from the Mirror. Tim Shipman, John Major seems to

:17:59.:18:02.

surprise everybody in the press gallery. Did he surprise number ten

:18:03.:18:07.

with his announcements, particularly on energy? He did a bit. He

:18:08.:18:12.

surprised journalists. I cover anybody ever making so much news as

:18:13.:18:19.

John Major yesterday. -- I can't remember. Does it mean, Kevin

:18:20.:18:31.

Maguire, that he not only made these dramatic announcements but he then

:18:32.:18:35.

went on to the cameras afterwards, which sort of looked planned,

:18:36.:18:39.

choreographed, and surely there must have been some conversation going

:18:40.:18:46.

on? I think the great man of British politics burst into colour and he

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said, look, I am free, I can say what they like. You thought, he's

:18:52.:18:56.

still a Tory but he sounds like he has a Labour manifesto. He can say

:18:57.:19:02.

what he likes. They windfall tax. Go back to 1987, that was a Labour

:19:03.:19:08.

policy. Margaret Thatcher had a couple of windfall taxes in the

:19:09.:19:13.

1980s. He is free, and as he said, he can say what he likes. He

:19:14.:19:20.

actually believes it on energy. Because he is the last Conservative

:19:21.:19:25.

leader to win an overall majority, is he a man worth listening to? A

:19:26.:19:32.

lot of MPs will think years. Don't forget, John Major got millions of

:19:33.:19:41.

votes in 1992. A local Tories in marginal seats might think he has

:19:42.:19:45.

something to say. When Tony Blair turned up yet -- last year, he said

:19:46.:19:50.

he would only be there to see if he can still do it. John Major seems to

:19:51.:19:54.

want to get involved in the polity is going on. Not only did he talk

:19:55.:19:58.

about energy prices, he gave the Prime Minister a hard time about how

:19:59.:20:04.

Tory MPs don't seem to care about the poor. For me, that was almost

:20:05.:20:12.

more striking. It sounded like a bit of a warning to both parties. Yes,

:20:13.:20:18.

no doubt more for the Conservatives in tone. It was all quite laden with

:20:19.:20:27.

political overtones, Kevin. It was. He says, I know these people, I was

:20:28.:20:36.

brought up with them. No doubt, when you have three bowling boys at the

:20:37.:20:43.

top of the Conservative party, there was a comment in there. You cannot

:20:44.:20:50.

say that Ed Miliband was dragged up in Yorkshire. His father was a

:20:51.:20:56.

famous academic. John Major, he is old school. It is hard now to see

:20:57.:21:00.

somebody like him getting to the top of British politics, possibly. Thank

:21:01.:21:08.

you both very much. Grant Shapps, is John Major worth listening to?

:21:09.:21:16.

Fanelli. He is right in terms of... He is right in terms of themes. You

:21:17.:21:22.

have got a recession that we now discover was the biggest the country

:21:23.:21:28.

ever had. The economy strength by the last election. It has taken a

:21:29.:21:33.

long time to start to rebuild the growth, turn the corner. We're not

:21:34.:21:38.

even back yet. As a result, there are lots of people whose cost of

:21:39.:21:43.

living pressures are enormous. John Major is right to remind not just

:21:44.:21:47.

the government but the country that those are the biggest challenges we

:21:48.:21:52.

face. On the windfall tax on energy companies, why is it a bad idea? We

:21:53.:21:57.

said it was interesting rather than a bad idea. A euphemism. We need to

:21:58.:22:05.

ensure that is more competition in the marketplace. Things like that

:22:06.:22:13.

?19 billion investment announced yesterday on Hinkley Point, that is

:22:14.:22:19.

really important. We have got to have a mix of measures. The idea

:22:20.:22:23.

that we can simply declared that everybody will pay less in energy

:22:24.:22:28.

prices, as Ed Miliband has tried to do, in the knowledge that they were

:22:29.:22:36.

put up the prices in advance... Or that we can somehow punish the

:22:37.:22:42.

industry for not being competitive enough... Hold on. Yesterday was the

:22:43.:22:50.

second biggest investment in the world. It is not going to do

:22:51.:22:57.

anything about energy prices now. Heating or eating. John Major really

:22:58.:23:03.

expressed it in those stark terms. He seemed to be pointing the finger

:23:04.:23:08.

at the Conservatives, saying, you just don't understand the number of

:23:09.:23:12.

people out there who are suffering. Absolutely we understand. He is

:23:13.:23:15.

making a good point, which is that because of the failure to invest in

:23:16.:23:20.

power plants over the years, over a decade, we have ended up in a

:23:21.:23:24.

situation where we have ludicrously expensive power in this country.

:23:25.:23:29.

This is something you can only address by building more, for which

:23:30.:23:32.

you need the investment. One thing not to do is put people off

:23:33.:23:37.

investing power in this country, or you make it more expensive for the

:23:38.:23:43.

consumer in future. Let's go to Mary Creagh. Ed Miliband was tweeting

:23:44.:23:48.

that John Major was making Labour's argument. But he did say that the

:23:49.:23:53.

energy freeze wasn't workable. He is wrong. It is hugely embarrassing for

:23:54.:23:59.

David Cameron to have a former Prime Minister break his self-denying

:24:00.:24:04.

ordinance and speak out in this way and say the Conservative party is

:24:05.:24:08.

out of touch. I am asking why you think his energy freeze cannot work.

:24:09.:24:17.

What we have heard from Grant Shapps is more hot air. We have an energy

:24:18.:24:22.

policy from this government which is basically, put on a jumper. That is

:24:23.:24:33.

not sustainable. Investment in green energy has more than halved since

:24:34.:24:37.

your government came in. It is down to ?3 billion. All of the community

:24:38.:24:42.

schemes that were in the pipeline have been messed about because of

:24:43.:24:47.

the solar tariff messed up. You didn't commission a single nuclear

:24:48.:24:55.

power station in 13 years. Nothing was made or agreed. We put the

:24:56.:25:01.

climate change act into action, which created the playing field

:25:02.:25:04.

which said we want to move towards cleaner, greener energy. That has

:25:05.:25:08.

more than halved under your government. We are having a cost of

:25:09.:25:13.

living crisis where people are having to make, as John Major said,

:25:14.:25:17.

the choice between heating their homes and eating. He knows it

:25:18.:25:20.

because that is where he has come from. There will be a big gathering.

:25:21.:25:25.

Somebody will drop something to somebody else's head. There may be

:25:26.:25:31.

tears and screaming. Not PMQs. I'm talking about Prince George's

:25:32.:25:36.

christening. The third in line to the throne is being welcomed into

:25:37.:25:40.

the Anglican Church today in a short ceremony at St James's Palace.

:25:41.:25:47.

Prince George is nicknamed Tips. You could call him PG Tips. Other brands

:25:48.:25:53.

are available. Sounds like a good excuse to toast the big day in the

:25:54.:25:56.

Daily Politics away. In honour of Little George and we have given our

:25:57.:26:04.

DP mark a bit of a make over. -- our DP mug. Look at that. Very soon to

:26:05.:26:12.

be on sale in every rubbish shot in the country. Surely the knighthood

:26:13.:26:16.

must be in the post-ex-macro we have done this and you can win this piece

:26:17.:26:23.

of royal memorabilia. -- in the post!

:26:24.:26:29.

Here is JoCo to tell you what to do. Let's see if you can remember when

:26:30.:26:31.

this happened. Even as the Israeli Prime Minister

:26:32.:26:57.

talked to Mr Wilson, shells were falling on her country from across

:26:58.:26:58.

the Jordan border. I, Charles, Prince of Wales, to

:26:59.:27:16.

become your lease, of life and limb. -- do become your legion.

:27:17.:27:37.

I Richard Nixon do solemnly swear...

:27:38.:28:01.

Thanks for the musical complement. I will remove that pen from your hand

:28:02.:28:09.

in a moment. Send your answer to our special quiz e-mail address. You can

:28:10.:28:15.

see the full terms and conditions of Guess The Year on our website.

:28:16.:28:25.

Just you try. It is, up to midday. There is Big Ben behind me. -- is

:28:26.:28:31.

coming up to midday. It means Nick Robinson is in the studio. Energy I

:28:32.:28:40.

was sure would come on in PMQs. Even that could be overshadowed by

:28:41.:28:47.

Grangemouth. I think that's right. The number of jobs involved directly

:28:48.:28:52.

and indirectly means that it has to be a question that will come up at

:28:53.:28:56.

question time. It has to be a source of anxiety. I will be amazed if Ed

:28:57.:28:59.

Miliband can resist quoting John Major. David Cameron will cloaked --

:29:00.:29:08.

quote John Major back at Ed Miliband. The language about excess

:29:09.:29:13.

profits, about the need to do something, frankly, is more helpful

:29:14.:29:18.

to Ed Miliband. John Major spoke about people in a way that David

:29:19.:29:22.

Cameron couldn't. He spoke about his kind of people, the nearly poor, the

:29:23.:29:27.

people behind lace curtains who don't shout out. It was quite a

:29:28.:29:34.

devastating implicit indictment of the existing government. It was

:29:35.:29:39.

particularly of Iain Duncan Smith. There is form here. John Major

:29:40.:29:42.

doesn't much like Iain Duncan Smith. He led the destruction of any chance

:29:43.:29:55.

of the Conservatives being elected in 1987. -- 1997. John Major said,

:29:56.:30:07.

when you are targeting strongest -- scroungers, a lot of people are

:30:08.:30:11.

struggling. I have at the transcript. There was an implicit

:30:12.:30:18.

attack on the bedroom tax. Let's go straight to the House of Commons.

:30:19.:30:25.

Thank you Mr Speaker. It is clear from the tributes that he was a

:30:26.:30:31.

highly talented and professional soldier. Our thoughts are with his

:30:32.:30:35.

family, his friends and colleagues at this very difficult time. He has

:30:36.:30:39.

made the ultimate sacrifice and we must never forget him. On a happier

:30:40.:30:45.

note, I'm sure the whole House will join me in celebrating the

:30:46.:30:49.

economiesening of baby Prince George later today. -- the christening of

:30:50.:30:58.

baby Prince George later today. Mr Speaker, could I join my right

:30:59.:31:08.

honourable friend in his tribute to Corporal Brynin. And also in his

:31:09.:31:12.

applause for the christening of Prince George this morning. Could I

:31:13.:31:16.

ask my honourable friend, does he think it's a good time for an

:31:17.:31:21.

apology from those regional branches of the Police Federation who so

:31:22.:31:27.

reduced the Member for Sutton Coldfield and also from the Leader

:31:28.:31:33.

of the Opposition? Let me start by saying on behalf of the whole House

:31:34.:31:37.

and everyone in the House that we should put on record what an

:31:38.:31:41.

incredible job the police do on our behalf every day. I see that at very

:31:42.:31:46.

close hand. And the Leader of the Opposition and I saw that at the

:31:47.:31:54.

Police Bravery Awards last week. The former Chief Whip gave a full

:31:55.:31:58.

explanation what happened. The police said he gave no explanation

:31:59.:32:02.

so it is now clear, reading the IPC C report, that the police do need to

:32:03.:32:07.

make an apology. The officers concerned and the Chief Constables

:32:08.:32:10.

are coming to the House today and I hope they will give a full account

:32:11.:32:14.

and a proper apology to the Home Affairs Select Committee. It is, as

:32:15.:32:18.

I think a moment for us all to consider what we said at the time

:32:19.:32:21.

and I hope the Leader of the Opposition will do the same thing.

:32:22.:32:26.

THE SPEAKER: Mr Ed Miliband. Mr Speaker, can I join the Prime

:32:27.:32:33.

Minister in paying tribute to the Lance Corporal, who died on his

:32:34.:32:36.

second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was a brave professional soldier

:32:37.:32:40.

and I send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. I also

:32:41.:32:44.

join the Prime Minister in celebrating the christening of

:32:45.:32:48.

Prince George later today and send best wishes to the Duke and Duchess

:32:49.:32:51.

of Cambridge. The Prime Minister said that anyone who wanted to

:32:52.:32:56.

intervene directly in energy markets was living in a Marxist universe.

:32:57.:33:01.

Can he tell the House how does he feel now that the red peril has

:33:02.:33:09.

claimed Sir John Major? We are intervening. We are - I'm not

:33:10.:33:17.

surprised he wants to quote the last Conservative Prime Minister and also

:33:18.:33:20.

forget the mess that the people in between made of our country. Let me

:33:21.:33:29.

be clear, though. I do believe in intervening in the energy market.

:33:30.:33:36.

That is why we are legislating to put customers on the lowest tariff.

:33:37.:33:41.

Where John Major is absolutely right is that bills in this country have

:33:42.:33:46.

reached a completely unacceptable level. We need to take action on

:33:47.:33:51.

that. We need to help people to pay their bills and we also need to help

:33:52.:33:56.

to get bills down. This is where we need a very frank conversation about

:33:57.:34:00.

what it is that is putting bills up. We are prepared to have that

:34:01.:34:04.

conversation. He is employed in cynical ploys and gimmicks. Mr

:34:05.:34:10.

Speaker, John Major was a Conservative Prime Minister who won

:34:11.:34:13.

a majority, unlike this Prime Minister. But, Mr Speaker, I think

:34:14.:34:30.

the Prime Minister said something rather interesting. He obviously now

:34:31.:34:35.

does believe, he does agree with Sir John Major that the energy price

:34:36.:34:39.

increases are unacceptable. If we agree that they are unacceptable,

:34:40.:34:43.

what are we going to do about it? The former Prime Minister says,

:34:44.:34:46.

given the scale of their profits, we should recoup that money. That is

:34:47.:34:50.

the quote from him. He wants to do it through a windfall tax. I say we

:34:51.:34:54.

need a price freeze. What does the Prime Minister want to do to recoup

:34:55.:35:00.

that money for the consumer? Let me answer that question directly. We

:35:01.:35:03.

need to roll-back some of the green regulations and charges - yes, yes.

:35:04.:35:12.

We all know who put them in place. We all know who put them in place.

:35:13.:35:19.

THE SPEAKER: Order. The House is very overexcited. I want to hear the

:35:20.:35:23.

answers. Let's hear the Prime Minister.

:35:24.:35:28.

First of all, he talks about John Major winning election. And he is

:35:29.:35:33.

right. He beat a weak and incredible Labour Leader. Isn't this rather

:35:34.:35:39.

familiar? John Major also said - and he is right - the first thing he

:35:40.:35:45.

said was that Labour's policy was unworkable. He is absolutely right.

:35:46.:35:48.

So what we need to do is recognise there are four bits to an energy

:35:49.:35:53.

bill, there are the wholesale prices, which are beyond our

:35:54.:35:57.

control, there are the costs of transmission and the Grid, which are

:35:58.:36:00.

difficult to change, there are the profits of the energy companies and

:36:01.:36:04.

there are the green regulations. It is those last two that we need to

:36:05.:36:08.

get to grips with. I can tell the House today that we will be having a

:36:09.:36:14.

proper competition test, carried out over the next year to get to the

:36:15.:36:17.

bottom of whether this market can be more competitive. I want more

:36:18.:36:22.

companies, I want better regulation, I want better deals for consumers.

:36:23.:36:28.

Yes, we also need to roll-back the green charges that he put in place

:36:29.:36:35.

as Energy Secretary. Mr Speaker, he really is changing his policy every

:36:36.:36:40.

day of the week. It is extraordinary. His Energy Secretary,

:36:41.:36:45.

who is in his place, says it is nothing to do with "green" taxes.

:36:46.:36:48.

60% of the "green" taxes were introduced by him. Who is the man

:36:49.:36:53.

who said vote blue to go green? It was him! I'll tell you what is weak,

:36:54.:37:01.

Mr Speaker, it is not standing up to the energy companies and that is

:37:02.:37:07.

this Prime Minister all over. He talks about the big six energy

:37:08.:37:11.

companies. Who created the big six energy companies? When Labour came

:37:12.:37:16.

to power, there were 17 companies in the market. Now, there are just six.

:37:17.:37:21.

Mr Speaker, I can help members opposite. I have the briefing that

:37:22.:37:25.

backbench Labour MPs have been given about their own energy policy. They

:37:26.:37:31.

might want to listen - yes - they might - in case they haven't read

:37:32.:37:34.

the briefing, they might want to read it. Question seven - what would

:37:35.:37:39.

stop the energy companies just increasing their prices beforehand?

:37:40.:37:48.

Absolutely no answer. Question six - I think - let me share your briefing

:37:49.:37:53.

with you. How will you stop - question six - how will you stop

:37:54.:37:57.

companies just increasing their prices once the freeze ends? Here we

:37:58.:38:03.

have the great Labour answer - the public would take a dim view. A dim

:38:04.:38:10.

view. How incredibly brave(!) Let's have question nine. This says it

:38:11.:38:15.

all. Labour's briefing - this is what it says - Ed Miliband was

:38:16.:38:19.

Energy Secretary in the last Government. Isn't he to blame for

:38:20.:38:24.

rising bills? We all know the answer - yes, he is. I'll tell him what

:38:25.:38:32.

happened. When I was Energy Secretary, energy bills went down by

:38:33.:38:36.

?100. Since he became Prime Minister, they are up by ?300. Let's

:38:37.:38:40.

clarify where we are. The Prime Minister says these price rises are

:38:41.:38:45.

unacceptable. He says he wants to act. Now, he is the Prime Minister.

:38:46.:38:50.

I know - I sometimes forget this. He is the Prime Minister. He can act. I

:38:51.:38:55.

have a suggestion. He should implement Labour's price freeze.

:38:56.:39:01.

There's an Energy Bill going through the other place. We can amend that

:39:02.:39:04.

and we can bring in that price freeze right now. Two parties

:39:05.:39:09.

working together in the national interest. Let's do it. Mr Speaker, I

:39:10.:39:28.

think he's been following too much of his own advice wearing too many

:39:29.:39:32.

woolly jumpers and getting a bit overheated. Let's do it. We can

:39:33.:39:35.

bring in this price freeze right now. He knows perfectly well it is

:39:36.:39:44.

not a price freeze, it is a price con. He admitted it was a price

:39:45.:39:50.

conthe very next day because he cannot control global gas prices.

:39:51.:39:55.

The truth is, prices would go up beforehand, he wouldn't keep his

:39:56.:39:58.

promise and prices would go up afterwards. It ask a -- is a cynical

:39:59.:40:05.

ploy from the Energy Secretary who wrecked the market in the first

:40:06.:40:11.

place. Mr Speaker, I'll tell him what is a con. Telling people last

:40:12.:40:16.

week that the answer was to switch suppliers. Let me ask the Prime

:40:17.:40:20.

Minister, what does he say to someone who took his advice last

:40:21.:40:23.

week to switch from British Gas only to discover that NPower was raising

:40:24.:40:28.

its prices by 10%? It is worth people looking at switching. You can

:40:29.:40:34.

save up to ?250. We want a more competitive energy market. He left

:40:35.:40:39.

us a market with just six players. We have already seen seven new

:40:40.:40:42.

energy companies come into that market. So we need an annual audit

:40:43.:40:47.

of competition to make this market more competitive, something he never

:40:48.:40:50.

did when in office. We need to roll-back the costs that have been

:40:51.:40:55.

imposed on people's energy bills part of which he was responsible

:40:56.:40:58.

for. One of the first acts of this Government was to take the ?179 that

:40:59.:41:03.

he was going to put on to energy bills because of his renewable heat

:41:04.:41:07.

initiative. He put bills up. He's trying to conthe public. We will

:41:08.:41:14.

deliver for hard-working people. Mr Speaker, John Major said what we all

:41:15.:41:18.

know - we have a Prime Minister who stands up for the energy companies,

:41:19.:41:24.

not hard-pressed families. Many people face a choice this winter

:41:25.:41:28.

between heating and eating. These are the ordinary people of this

:41:29.:41:32.

country who this Prime Minister will never meet and whose lives they will

:41:33.:41:39.

never understand. The difference is John Major is a good man, the right

:41:40.:41:43.

honourable gentleman is acting like a conman. That is what we are

:41:44.:41:47.

seeing. He is promising something he knows he can't deliver, he knows he

:41:48.:41:50.

can't deliver because he never delivered it when he was in office.

:41:51.:41:59.

THE SPEAKER: Mr Andrew Stevenson. Thank you, Mr Speaker. In the town

:42:00.:42:08.

where I live, unemployment is down and small businesses are

:42:09.:42:12.

flourishing. However, serious traffic congestion is holding back

:42:13.:42:15.

the economic growth of the area. Will the Prime Minister join with me

:42:16.:42:21.

in welcoming the start of a six-week consultation on a bypass that would

:42:22.:42:25.

address this problem and boost job creation? I welcome what my

:42:26.:42:30.

honourable friend says. He is right. The need for building bypasses and

:42:31.:42:35.

roads in our country. That is why we are spending ?3 billion on major

:42:36.:42:40.

upgrades. I welcome the consultation on this bypass. It comes at the same

:42:41.:42:49.

time of very good news on unemployment. Thank you. On this day

:42:50.:42:55.

20 years ago, the Provisional IRA brutally murdered innocent men,

:42:56.:42:59.

women and children on the Shankill Road in Belfast. Will the Prime

:43:00.:43:03.

Minister join with me and my right honourable and honourable colleagues

:43:04.:43:09.

in ensuring that no-one is in a civilised society will ever equate

:43:10.:43:14.

innocent victims with guilty murderers? I join the honourable

:43:15.:43:18.

gentleman in commemorating that appalling act and the appalling loss

:43:19.:43:22.

of life that took place that day. We all remember that. Of course, no-one

:43:23.:43:27.

should ever glorify in any way terrorism or those who take part in

:43:28.:43:30.

terrorism. What he knows and what I know is that everyone in Northern

:43:31.:43:33.

Ireland has to try to come together to talk about a shared future and to

:43:34.:43:40.

try to leave the past behind. Rural Post Offices are vitally important,

:43:41.:43:43.

but they need more Government work to survive. They have to continue to

:43:44.:43:50.

pay pensions and benefits and are ideally placed to provide banking

:43:51.:43:57.

and identity check facilities. Will the Prime Minister encourage all his

:43:58.:44:01.

Ministers to give more Government work to Post Offices? We all want to

:44:02.:44:06.

see the Post Office network survive and thrive. Unlike the last

:44:07.:44:09.

Government, who saw nearly a third of the rural Post Office network

:44:10.:44:13.

close, we have committed that no Post Office will close in this

:44:14.:44:17.

Parliament. So I absolutely hear what he says. The current

:44:18.:44:20.

arrangements for collecting pensions and benefits will remain in place at

:44:21.:44:26.

least until 2015 and the Department for Work and Pensions and the Post

:44:27.:44:29.

Office are discussing an extension to 2017. Mr Speaker, 1.5 million

:44:30.:44:43.

people in the UK are addicted to drugs. I know of one individual who

:44:44.:44:48.

has been on these products for over 45 years - his total life ruined.

:44:49.:44:53.

They are not drug misusers. They are victims of the system of repeat

:44:54.:44:58.

prescriptions. Will the Prime Minister advise the Department of

:44:59.:45:02.

Health to give some guidance to the clinical commissioning groups to

:45:03.:45:05.

introduce withdrawal programmes in line with the advice from the

:45:06.:45:11.

professor who is the expert in this field to give these people back

:45:12.:45:12.

their lives? I know he has campaigned strongly on

:45:13.:45:25.

this issue over many years. I join him in praising Professor Ashton.

:45:26.:45:31.

This is a terrible affliction. They are not drug addicts but have become

:45:32.:45:36.

hooked on tranquillisers. The Minister for Public health is happy

:45:37.:45:39.

to discuss the issue with him. As he says, the relevant guidance is an

:45:40.:45:43.

issue. I know the Prime Minister is well

:45:44.:45:52.

aware of the concerns that many of our people have on rising energy

:45:53.:45:57.

prices. Will he therefore acts to reduce the effect of Chris

:45:58.:46:01.

Hughton's unfortunate legacy by cutting the carbon reduction policy,

:46:02.:46:08.

elongating circuits that targets and relieving the burner -- burden on

:46:09.:46:15.

business people? We have to have an honest discussion on this. On energy

:46:16.:46:22.

bills is ?112 of green taxes and regulations. We need to work out

:46:23.:46:29.

what is necessary to go on winning overseas investment into the UK. It

:46:30.:46:36.

simply is the politics of the conman to pretend that you can freeze

:46:37.:46:40.

prices when you are not in control of global energy prices, but the

:46:41.:46:46.

proper approach is to see what is driving -- driving a bills. SPEAKER:

:46:47.:46:53.

The word conman is on Parliamentary. Order, order. -- not Parliamentary.

:46:54.:47:01.

The Prime Minister is a man of great versatility in language. It is below

:47:02.:47:17.

the level. We will leave it there. Yesterday, the Independent reported

:47:18.:47:24.

the government's failure to close the Eurobonds tax loophole, which

:47:25.:47:27.

could be losing the Exchequer ?500 million per year. As the Prime

:47:28.:47:33.

Minister ever been lobbied on this loophole? And will he pledged to

:47:34.:47:39.

close it immediately? I have never been lobbied on this issue. I looked

:47:40.:47:43.

at it this morning. The Treasury has listened to the arguments and made

:47:44.:47:46.

the decisions for the reasons she knows. Over 300,000 new businesses

:47:47.:48:03.

have been registered in the UK over the last three years, a record

:48:04.:48:06.

figure. The key priority in supporting these businesses over the

:48:07.:48:08.

difficult first few years of trading is to make sure we bear down on

:48:09.:48:13.

regulation. Much has been done. What more can the government do to

:48:14.:48:17.

support these risk-takers at this difficult time? I'm grateful to my

:48:18.:48:21.

honourable friend for his question. The news out today is that we now

:48:22.:48:26.

have the largest number of companies in our country that has ever

:48:27.:48:30.

existed. Over the last three years, we see 400,000 extra companies

:48:31.:48:34.

become established. We have to help them in every where we can. The most

:48:35.:48:38.

powerful thing we are doing is cutting the national issue runs they

:48:39.:48:42.

will have to pay by ?2000, starting next year. That will be a boost to

:48:43.:48:47.

small businesses. Also, the red tape they are threatened with, we are

:48:48.:48:51.

dealing with at every level, including the European Council this

:48:52.:49:04.

week. It is an agenda right across the board to help small businesses.

:49:05.:49:12.

New research shows that his government is scrapping low learning

:49:13.:49:23.

-- lower earning aspirate benefits -- aspiring parents on benefits.

:49:24.:49:28.

Isn't it time for a rethink? Labour want unlimited benefits for

:49:29.:49:32.

families. There are no longer the Labour Party. They are the welfare

:49:33.:49:35.

party. It is clear from the questions they ask. We think it is

:49:36.:49:39.

right to cap benefits so that no family can earn more out of work

:49:40.:49:44.

than they would earn in work. Evidence issuing this is encouraging

:49:45.:49:49.

people to look for work. For a party that believes in hard-working

:49:50.:49:53.

people, that is good news. For the welfare party, that is bad news. The

:49:54.:49:58.

Prime Minister will be aware of the business model and Welsh water,

:49:59.:50:04.

which is a not-for-profit company responsible to its consumers and not

:50:05.:50:08.

its shareholders. Does the Prime Minister agree that such a company

:50:09.:50:12.

in the energy supply sector would introduce real competition? We want

:50:13.:50:18.

more competition in the sector, whether it come from private

:50:19.:50:21.

businesses, cooperative businesses, or, as he says, charities. We want

:50:22.:50:27.

an open energy market. What we were left was the big six, a six letter

:50:28.:50:31.

asked by the party opposite. We were also left an Ofgem where the Leader

:50:32.:50:35.

of the Opposition had appointed five of the nine people. It will take

:50:36.:50:50.

approximately seven years to rehouse the 1400 tenants who wished to

:50:51.:50:55.

downsize because they can't afford to pay the bedroom tax in my

:50:56.:50:59.

constituency. Will the Prime Minister and advise them to move to

:51:00.:51:02.

private rented accommodation, increasingly welfare bill, or should

:51:03.:51:08.

they save money by turning down the heating and wearing a jumper? What

:51:09.:51:12.

is fair about removing the spare room subsidy is that it makes the

:51:13.:51:15.

situation fare between private sector rented accommodation and

:51:16.:51:19.

council sector rented accommodation. It is that fairness we want to see

:51:20.:51:23.

in our country. The party opposite have opposed every single welfare

:51:24.:51:28.

reduction that we are proposing. ?85 billion they would have to find for

:51:29.:51:31.

opposing every single thing we have done to get this country back on

:51:32.:51:43.

track. The positive outlook for Osborne construction in my

:51:44.:51:48.

constituency this year, with increased turnover and a strongly

:51:49.:51:52.

increased forward order book is in the real economy all over the

:51:53.:51:57.

country, not just my constituency. Will the Prime Minister undertake

:51:58.:52:02.

not to be diverted from the long, hard slog of writing the public

:52:03.:52:08.

finances and using the burdens on business so that plan a can continue

:52:09.:52:14.

to enable businesses in my constituency to put our economy

:52:15.:52:20.

right for the long-term? I'm glad to hear that the company is working his

:52:21.:52:24.

constituency, as it is about the country. That is worthwhile. I take

:52:25.:52:28.

this opportunity to pay tribute to him as a constituency MP standing up

:52:29.:52:37.

for people in businesses in Reigate. More businesses, more jobs, turning

:52:38.:52:45.

our country around. Fixed odds betting machines around -- and allow

:52:46.:52:51.

the user to stake ?100 every 20 seconds for up to 30 hours per day.

:52:52.:52:55.

They have transformed the local bookies from places where you can

:52:56.:52:59.

have a flutter on the horses into high-street diddle casinos. Will the

:53:00.:53:03.

Prime Minister consider banning these addictive machines, as has

:53:04.:53:10.

recently happened in Ireland? This is an issue I have been repeatedly

:53:11.:53:15.

lobbied on. I think it is worth having a proper look at this issue

:53:16.:53:19.

to see what we can do to make sure that, yes, we want to have a

:53:20.:53:24.

bookmakers that are not overregulated, but on the other hand

:53:25.:53:29.

a fair approach and a decent approach that up -- prevents problem

:53:30.:53:36.

gambling. Last year, 130 parents come on teachers and staff in

:53:37.:53:39.

Bedfordshire were disappointed when their free school application file.

:53:40.:53:48.

The Federation is now under investigation. We'll be Prime

:53:49.:53:51.

Minister please use his good offices to ensure that the failed free

:53:52.:53:55.

school application in mid-Bedfordshire is incorporated

:53:56.:53:59.

into this enquiry? I'm grateful to look at my honourable friend's

:54:00.:54:05.

suggestion. We need to have a proper policy of making sure that proposals

:54:06.:54:09.

for free schools are ready to go ahead. When you look at the free

:54:10.:54:15.

schools in our countries, two thirds have been judged good or

:54:16.:54:18.

outstanding, which is a higher proportion than schools within the

:54:19.:54:22.

state sector. I think it is worth not just continuing with this policy

:54:23.:54:35.

but putting rocket boosters on it. I've visited Liverpool earlier this

:54:36.:54:40.

year to launch the International Festival for business 2014. I

:54:41.:54:43.

discussed with the mayor the prospect of obesity in terms of

:54:44.:54:46.

overseas investment and the importance of this international

:54:47.:54:55.

festival. -- the prospect of progress. Support to local govern

:54:56.:55:04.

should be restricted to need - does the government agree? How does he

:55:05.:55:09.

explain that households in our region have lost ?40 over the UKIP

:55:10.:55:19.

years, where's households in his constituency in Game six? -- over

:55:20.:55:26.

the past two years. The spending per dwelling in his area is ?3122, where

:55:27.:55:36.

as in Oxfordshire it is less. I fully accept the need is greater in

:55:37.:55:42.

his area. But I would argue that of a relatively fair balance between

:55:43.:55:50.

the two. Following decades of underinvestment and hollow

:55:51.:55:51.

promises, the Coalition's decision to fully work on the 811 is

:55:52.:55:59.

inspiring confidence. -- the age 11. He is right. The ?100 million we are

:56:00.:56:16.

investing in the road is an important part of that. This is

:56:17.:56:21.

going to be completed in 2014. This will cut congestion on the route

:56:22.:56:27.

between Cambridge and Norwich. The Shadow Chancellor wants to go and

:56:28.:56:32.

watch the Canaries. He will be able to get their -- get there quicker.

:56:33.:56:42.

Two weeks ago, the head of the Security service warned of the

:56:43.:56:47.

extent of Islamist extremism. This week, two individuals have been

:56:48.:56:51.

charged with serious offences. What is the Prime Minister going to do in

:56:52.:56:57.

January, when some of those that the same -- Home Secretary has judged

:56:58.:57:07.

hydrogen security are released? -- when some of those that the Home

:57:08.:57:10.

Secretary has judged pose the biggest security risk are released?

:57:11.:57:18.

We have had repeated meetings, including yesterday, to set out a

:57:19.:57:23.

series of steps to counter the extremist narrative. We will be

:57:24.:57:28.

blocking sites online. Facebook have reversed the decision dated

:57:29.:57:31.

yesterday to show beheading videos online. We will take all the steps

:57:32.:57:35.

and many more to take -- keep the country safe. Following the

:57:36.:57:42.

Guardian's reckless handling of the Edward Snowden leaks, will be Prime

:57:43.:57:46.

Minister join me in paying tribute to the men and women of our

:57:47.:57:49.

intelligence services who have no voice but who do so much to keep the

:57:50.:57:57.

country safe? He is right. It is a great privilege of this job to work

:57:58.:58:01.

with our intelligent and securities services and to meet some of the

:58:02.:58:06.

people who work for them. He is right to say they don't get thanked

:58:07.:58:09.

enough because of the job they do. But I am convinced the work that

:58:10.:58:14.

GCHQ and others do our behalf of the country helps to keep us safe. We

:58:15.:58:18.

have seen that again this week with the arrests that have taken place.

:58:19.:58:21.

Once again, we and police and intelligence work. We cannot praise

:58:22.:58:27.

these people too highly. -- brilliant police and intelligence

:58:28.:58:31.

work. The reality of work formally ends of people, low pay, short time,

:58:32.:58:37.

a dizzy exploitation, were exposed on TV this week. Did the Prime

:58:38.:58:49.

Minister see it -- did the Prime Minister CE? Everybody wants to see

:58:50.:58:56.

living standards increase. That is why we have cut taxes for the

:58:57.:59:01.

typical working person by ?705. Let's make the point about zero

:59:02.:59:09.

hours contracts. The proportion of people in those contracts in 2012

:59:10.:59:13.

was the same in the year 2000. The number of people employed and zero

:59:14.:59:20.

hours increased by 75% between 2004 2009. That is when that lot were

:59:21.:59:28.

government. Businesses in Crawley are creating hundreds of new jobs,

:59:29.:59:32.

leading to unemployed falling to 2.7% last month. Does my honourable

:59:33.:59:38.

friend agree with me that the way to raise living standards is to

:59:39.:59:43.

increase the policies of economic growth rather than the discredited

:59:44.:59:51.

policies of get? He is right. What we have seen is business confidence

:59:52.:59:56.

is rising, consumer confidence rising, exports increasing,

:59:57.:00:00.

manufacturing is up, we see a big road in terms of employment. -- a

:00:01.:00:08.

big growth. We want to do more to help people feel better off by

:00:09.:00:14.

reducing taxes, which is what we are doing. All of this will be put at

:00:15.:00:18.

risk if we give up on reducing the deficit. That is what the party

:00:19.:00:23.

opposite would give us, a 11 E of higher mortgage rates and taxes.

:00:24.:00:28.

Does the Prime Minister think it is fair that a sacked a pregnant woman

:00:29.:00:35.

will not have to pay ?1200 to take a maternity disk image and Katie the

:00:36.:00:43.

planning tribunal? The one thing we have done is to make sure people

:00:44.:00:48.

don't earn those rights until they work for a business for two years.

:00:49.:00:57.

Thanks to the Chancellor's policies, unemployment in Burton fell by 10%

:00:58.:01:03.

last month. It is now at its close level since September, 2008. Many of

:01:04.:01:08.

those jobs were created in small businesses. They now have the

:01:09.:01:19.

confidence to invest. My honourable friend is right. I implement in the

:01:20.:01:21.

West Midlands fell by 14,000. I wrote to you onleth May about --

:01:22.:01:47.

on 8th May about the possible involvement of Lynton Crosby in

:01:48.:01:53.

health matters. I raised it again in the summer adjournment debate. I

:01:54.:01:58.

have served in in House under four previous Prime Ministers who replied

:01:59.:02:03.

to members' letters. THE SPEAKER: This question will be

:02:04.:02:06.

heard with some courtesy as I expect of all questions. It is very simple

:02:07.:02:09.

and very straightforward. I have served under four previous

:02:10.:02:13.

Prime Ministers who replied to members' letters. Why won't you? I

:02:14.:02:19.

will certainly reply to his letter. Let me give him the reply. Public

:02:20.:02:23.

health responsibility is a matter for the Department of Health. Lynton

:02:24.:02:26.

Crosby's job is the destruction of the Labour Party and he is doing a

:02:27.:02:34.

good one. STUDIO: That brings us to the end of

:02:35.:02:42.

Prime Minister's Questions. It is remarkable that Grangemouth wasn't

:02:43.:02:47.

raised at all during PMQs. Sometimes people are reluctant to raise issues

:02:48.:02:55.

coming up with urgent questions. Neither frontbench chose to mention

:02:56.:03:00.

it. That is something I think that the Nationalists won't let go.

:03:01.:03:04.

Remember, energy is a reserve power in many aspects to Westminster, yet

:03:05.:03:08.

it didn't come up at that part of the House of Commons which is

:03:09.:03:12.

broadcast on network television to the nation. That was a dog that

:03:13.:03:16.

didn't bark. We got one that did and that was Mr Cameron making a U-turn

:03:17.:03:23.

on the Tory attitude towards green levies. He was on the back foot, the

:03:24.:03:29.

Prime Minister a lot of the time, he announced that the Government was

:03:30.:03:33.

now going to review the green levies, ?112 in an average dual fuel

:03:34.:03:39.

bill, he said. They will look at ways to cut that.

:03:40.:03:48.

We will speak about this new Conservative policy in a minute.

:03:49.:03:52.

Let's find out what you thought about PMQs.

:03:53.:03:54.

There were a few comments towards the end of PMQs about the dog that

:03:55.:04:00.

didn't bark. This from Mike, "This disaster is not at the top of David

:04:01.:04:04.

Cameron or Ed Miliband's list. Surely a great advert for

:04:05.:04:10.

independence." The e-mails were of course on the energy debate and in

:04:11.:04:14.

response to John Major's comments yesterday. Our viewers gave a win to

:04:15.:04:21.

Ed Miliband. "John Major has given Ed Miliband an easy introduction to

:04:22.:04:27.

PMQs this week." Another one, "I'm no fan of Ed Miliband, but a good

:04:28.:04:33.

performance from him today largely due to David Cameron's inability to

:04:34.:04:47.

deal with the energy bills issue." Lorna says, "I think it was out of

:04:48.:04:52.

order for David Cameron to infer that Ed Miliband is a conman."

:04:53.:04:58.

This from Ray, "Following yesterday's news from NPower about

:04:59.:05:01.

the increase in energy prices, yet again a large number of consumers

:05:02.:05:05.

are going to take a hit on their energy costs. Let's not worry too

:05:06.:05:08.

much. This is the Labour Party's contribution to the cost-of-living

:05:09.:05:15.

crisis. Mr Miliband's premature announcement has to be the worst

:05:16.:05:19.

thought-out policy announcement in modern sosh economic history."

:05:20.:05:23.

Normally, I would go to Nick to ask some questions. But want to come to

:05:24.:05:27.

Grant Shapps this week because of this announcement on green levies

:05:28.:05:31.

that is the Prime Minister is reviewing. What green levies will

:05:32.:05:34.

you look at and take off the electricity bills? That will be part

:05:35.:05:39.

of the review, of course. It is fair to say the levies are starting to be

:05:40.:05:44.

a significant amount of money. For example, Ed Miliband trumpeted the

:05:45.:05:50.

idea of having a cut of ?125, but we know he had also signed up to a new

:05:51.:05:56.

green levy which would mean ?100-something would be added to the

:05:57.:05:59.

energy bills so we need to look at the total now that... You voted for

:06:00.:06:04.

these green levies? We voted in different times. No, you voted for

:06:05.:06:10.

ALL the green levies. You, the Conservatives, voted for ALL the

:06:11.:06:14.

green levies that Ed Miliband introduced in the 2008 Climate

:06:15.:06:18.

Change Bill? But, bear in mind, that energy prices have gone much, much

:06:19.:06:22.

higher than they were at the time of the last Parliament when these were

:06:23.:06:26.

being voted through. The consumer is really hurting. Now, the answer is

:06:27.:06:31.

not to do nothing and nor is it to lock the market and say force the

:06:32.:06:37.

market to give you a discount that can't be sustainable. The answer is

:06:38.:06:41.

to bring online more supply, nuclear power, fracking through shale gas,

:06:42.:06:46.

and look at the extra costs which are adding to the energy bill of

:06:47.:06:49.

which renewable is starting to become a significant amount of

:06:50.:06:53.

money. Energy prices were beginning to rise fast because there became a

:06:54.:07:02.

world shortage of gas. Of the ?112 that we pay on our dual fuel bill

:07:03.:07:08.

towards green-related levies, how much has been added by the

:07:09.:07:10.

coalition? I don't have the number on that. 50%? OK. So you have added

:07:11.:07:17.

50% of the levies we now pay and now you are saying you are going to take

:07:18.:07:23.

them away again? When we came in 2010, wholesale gas prices weren't

:07:24.:07:26.

what they were now. They were rising fast? Circumstances change so it is

:07:27.:07:31.

right to go back and look at whether these things were right. It's not

:07:32.:07:38.

has happened up until now... I thought you were going to be the

:07:39.:07:41.

greenest Government ever? We will be. How can you be the greenest

:07:42.:07:45.

Government ever if you are taking away green levies? We are building

:07:46.:07:52.

homes now at code level four, it means that the amount of Co2 emitted

:07:53.:07:57.

from homes is far less. You don't do that to do with putting additional

:07:58.:08:02.

costs of people's energy bills... Do you now... Hold Hold on, you can

:08:03.:08:08.

still be the most green Government in history. You can build things

:08:09.:08:15.

like homes which emit 20% of the country's Co2... Do you regret at a

:08:16.:08:19.

time of rising energy prices you added to this rise by putting on

:08:20.:08:24.

these levies? I would love to know... You were told at the time.

:08:25.:08:30.

Hold on. We were chatting about the strike prices, that is the price at

:08:31.:08:33.

which you can build a new nuclear power station. This Government

:08:34.:08:38.

ending years of delay has agreed to a contract which is essentially at

:08:39.:08:42.

?95... Twice the wholesale market price? Interestingly, by comparison,

:08:43.:08:47.

to a price that Labour could have got had they made this agreement

:08:48.:08:51.

when they were in power. I told you that during PMQs. Are you reducing

:08:52.:08:55.

your arguments to things I tell you... That was a very good point.

:08:56.:09:01.

You didn't know? In which case, it does bring us back to the big

:09:02.:09:05.

question of why did they not invest all of those years ago. I didn't

:09:06.:09:08.

know that. Fascinating. Why aren't the investments made? This is not a

:09:09.:09:12.

further education class for you! Have you squared the Lib Dems on

:09:13.:09:17.

this? This Government will have to go forward together on these

:09:18.:09:20.

policies. Have you squared the Lib Dems? They will have to be part of

:09:21.:09:24.

this. The Lib Dems are going to agree to reductions in the green

:09:25.:09:29.

levies? The Lib Dems understand that people are hurting and rather than

:09:30.:09:33.

coming up with gimmicks, cons, what you have to do is do the things that

:09:34.:09:37.

will bring down the price of fuel. One of which is to look at the green

:09:38.:09:41.

levies. We will get this in the Autumn Statement? It will be coming

:09:42.:09:50.

out very soon. December 1st, no, 4th, live Daily Politics special.

:09:51.:09:57.

You will be getting a bill from me shortly! This is quite remarkable,

:09:58.:10:04.

is it not? I thought Grant Shapps chose his words quite carefully. He

:10:05.:10:08.

didn't claim they were squared, he said that they would be part of

:10:09.:10:13.

whatever was done. I'm sorry, forgive me. They are not squared?

:10:14.:10:18.

The Tory source I have been talking to online does claim that the

:10:19.:10:21.

Liberal Democrats have been in conversations in the past week about

:10:22.:10:26.

what could be done. Curious, this, I was talking to a senior Cabinet

:10:27.:10:31.

Minister who insisted that the very thing we have just announced was not

:10:32.:10:38.

going to happen. I'm one of these people that refuses to score PMQs.

:10:39.:10:42.

It is not a football match. I will break the habit of a lifetime. That

:10:43.:10:46.

was a nightmare for David Cameron. He has been forced week after week

:10:47.:10:49.

to change his position on the issue of energy prices. He's now made a

:10:50.:10:53.

concession on policy which isn't clear what it will mean for

:10:54.:10:58.

consumers. It is very much work in progress. We are told there will be

:10:59.:11:01.

a statement in the Autumn Statement about the detail on green levies. We

:11:02.:11:09.

are told that various authorities, Ofgem, the office for fair trading

:11:10.:11:15.

and the new competition authority, the CMA, will look at the way the

:11:16.:11:28.

market works. This is policy being made on the hoof. Right. However, if

:11:29.:11:35.

the Prime Minister pulls it off, and it is a big if, he could have shot

:11:36.:11:39.

your fox. You are promising to freeze prices. If they cut green

:11:40.:11:43.

levies, they will be cutting electricity prices? That is

:11:44.:11:47.

unlikely. If they can do it, they will? He's announced something the

:11:48.:11:53.

OFT doesn't know anything about. And the OFT is not... Is it Ofgem...

:11:54.:12:03.

Office of Fair Trading. That's conceding Ed Miliband's point that

:12:04.:12:06.

the energy market is broken. We have heard about the end of green levies.

:12:07.:12:10.

What do they pay for? They pay for people to replace their boilers and

:12:11.:12:14.

home insulation, to keep people warm. We have seen the home

:12:15.:12:17.

insulation industry collapse under this Government. They paid for

:12:18.:12:22.

incentives for people to invest in green energy which is local,

:12:23.:12:29.

community... At the moment, what you are doing, under the policy that

:12:30.:12:31.

they have inherited from you, is you are making people on average on

:12:32.:12:37.

below average incomes in their fuel bills pay for the insulation of the

:12:38.:12:40.

poor. Surely, it would be much fairer if we are going to do that at

:12:41.:12:44.

all to put that on general taxation? What we have got... Wouldn't it? The

:12:45.:12:50.

insulation has collapsed... No, that was your policy. Address the point

:12:51.:12:54.

that I'm making that it was your policy, it was outlined in various

:12:55.:13:00.

Government Acts that you would put on to ordinary people's fuel bills

:13:01.:13:05.

green levies that would be used to insulate the homes of the poor. Why

:13:06.:13:08.

would it not be fairer if you want to do that to put it on to general

:13:09.:13:12.

taxation? We took the decision in the Climate Change Act that that was

:13:13.:13:16.

the way to go. I know that. We couldn't predict the future. But

:13:17.:13:20.

also, what we have got now is a situation where businesses are

:13:21.:13:23.

hurting and people are hurting. What is the Government doing about that?

:13:24.:13:28.

Week after week, David Cameron is coming back and he has nothing to

:13:29.:13:31.

say. The green energy supply of this company is frozen. That is a big

:13:32.:13:36.

problem. But there are billions being spent on offshore wind at the

:13:37.:13:41.

moment? Well, ?3 billion over the last three years is not... There's

:13:42.:13:47.

one further down between Wales and the West Country. Angela Knight said

:13:48.:13:53.

?11 billion had been invested in that. Offshore wind at three times

:13:54.:13:58.

the current wholesale cost of energy. It is higher than the

:13:59.:14:01.

nuclear deal his Government has agreed. Nick? One is that ?112 that

:14:02.:14:07.

the Prime Minister referred to, that is the amount that he says comes

:14:08.:14:12.

from these green levies and other regulations and note the word "other

:14:13.:14:19.

regulations". It's made up of lots of different elements. There's no

:14:20.:14:23.

suggestion that you can abolish the ?112. I looked at the possibility

:14:24.:14:28.

that the Treasury would take it on to their books, in other words what

:14:29.:14:32.

you were saying to Mary Creagh, the taxpayer pays. The estimate is ?2.5

:14:33.:14:38.

billion. That is ?2.5 billion the country hasn't got unless it wants

:14:39.:14:42.

to do what John Major... They always seem to find money when they need

:14:43.:14:48.

it. That is a small amount of money in a budget of ?56 billion? They

:14:49.:14:52.

have to pay for free school meals, they have to pay for marriage tax

:14:53.:14:57.

allowance... They found ?2 billion to do that. Your point is valid, but

:14:58.:15:02.

it's a little bit - and they add up. There is another target for 2013

:15:03.:15:14.

that Ed Miliband has signed up to four more new renewables. What we

:15:15.:15:21.

are saying is, let's look at all of that. Are you, not Mary Creagh's

:15:22.:15:33.

government, are you the government that set the carbon price? You set

:15:34.:15:45.

it higher than the proposal by 2020. Rather than steam-roll ahead, when

:15:46.:15:51.

the wholesale price was lower, circumstances have changed since

:15:52.:15:59.

then. Grangemouth. This is highly relevant to Grangemouth. Both your

:16:00.:16:03.

governments have loaded onto heavy industry enormous energy costs. A

:16:04.:16:14.

factory in Cheshire has been closed because of energy costs. A

:16:15.:16:19.

petrochemical plant in Grangemouth can't compete because of costs. It

:16:20.:16:24.

was to bring in cheaper gas from America. Both of you have created

:16:25.:16:30.

this problem. Today is an admission that it is time to look at some of

:16:31.:16:37.

these costs. It was interesting that Grangemouth wasn't raised. I'm

:16:38.:16:46.

surprised nobody asked a question. I was at pub two fox biscuits. -- at

:16:47.:16:55.

Fox biscuits. They said it adds to the viability issue. Did you buy any

:16:56.:17:03.

biscuits? Otherwise you are not coming back! I'm giving you cake.

:17:04.:17:09.

I'm giving him facts. We have got to get something back. A final word

:17:10.:17:15.

from Nick Robinson. I think you were saying, Grant Shapps, the government

:17:16.:17:19.

will stop subsidising wind power. Were you? I am saying it is time to

:17:20.:17:30.

look at the risk. These are the figures, even if they did, that is

:17:31.:17:35.

?30 of the average bill. Less than 2%. But it is off. It is off. It

:17:36.:17:44.

will be welcome. This argue it is going to continue. Just before we

:17:45.:17:50.

move on, we were hoping to speak to the finance minister of the Scottish

:17:51.:17:53.

government in Edinburgh. We have been told that the Scottish Cabinet

:17:54.:17:58.

has gone into an emergency session because of events in Grangemouth. If

:17:59.:18:03.

we hear more, we will bring it to you. For a change we are going to

:18:04.:18:07.

talk about energy bills. As we have been discussing, the prime and is

:18:08.:18:13.

has opened a debate about Queen levies. -- the Prime Minister has

:18:14.:18:17.

opened a debate about green levies. The government has given the

:18:18.:18:22.

go-ahead for solar production. But there is huge opposition, not least

:18:23.:18:26.

from Conservative MPs, including Brooks Newmark. The campaigns and

:18:27.:18:29.

gains a solar farm in his constituency. -- against. Here is

:18:30.:18:45.

his soapbox. My constituency has some of the most beautiful

:18:46.:18:49.

countryside in the country. We have an area of outstanding natural

:18:50.:18:52.

beauty, an area known as Constable country. It is now under threat.

:18:53.:19:02.

Although it's hard to imagine, a solar panel farm is being considered

:19:03.:19:07.

behind me. It is not just a solar panel farm over a few thousand feet

:19:08.:19:14.

or even one acre. We're talking 300 acres of prime agricultural land

:19:15.:19:20.

being covered with solar panels. This is something you might expect

:19:21.:19:24.

to see at the Tate modern in London. It is certainly not something I

:19:25.:19:27.

would expect to see here in this part of Essex. I am known in the

:19:28.:19:36.

will stop I understand the need for -- I am no NIMBY. I understand there

:19:37.:19:48.

is a need to reduce costs in energy. But this is not the solution. Surely

:19:49.:19:57.

it is better that we use Brownfield sites rather than prime agricultural

:19:58.:20:01.

land? What is happening today is that playing -- planning revelations

:20:02.:20:09.

are being abused. You can build a solar panel farm here and you can

:20:10.:20:15.

graze sheep weaving in and out of the solar panels and say it is not a

:20:16.:20:20.

change of use of the land. Planning regulations today say you don't need

:20:21.:20:25.

environmental impact assessments for solar panel farms. Yet for a house

:20:26.:20:32.

to my left, they wanted to build a garage and were told that given the

:20:33.:20:35.

impact it has on the local environment, they could not build a

:20:36.:20:40.

garage. Yet for some reason, building a 300 acre solar panel farm

:20:41.:20:45.

you don't need an environment for assessment for. I don't blame the

:20:46.:20:52.

local farmers. They stand to make millions. But we have a response

:20:53.:20:56.

ability to future generations to protect the countryside full stop --

:20:57.:21:00.

responsibility to future generations to protect the countryside. We do

:21:01.:21:05.

not want solar panels in our backyard. Looks new mud joins asked

:21:06.:21:14.

now. It was fairly Claire -- Brooks Newmark joins me now. It was fairly

:21:15.:21:22.

clear how you feel. We have a responsibility to protect our

:21:23.:21:25.

countryside. There are a number of Brownfield sites we can use. But

:21:26.:21:30.

they are not appropriate. They are in parts of the country where there

:21:31.:21:36.

is not enough sunlight. That is what the body for responsible --

:21:37.:21:44.

responsible said. There are plenty of places in Essex where there are

:21:45.:21:49.

Brownfield sites. Now disused airfields, commercial properties

:21:50.:21:52.

with rooftops, loads of other places. -- there are disused

:21:53.:22:02.

airfields. I want to see 300 acres of solar panels. -- I do not want to

:22:03.:22:12.

see. Times are changing. There is a difference between a TV aerial on a

:22:13.:22:16.

house and 300 acres of panels covering the countryside. Do you

:22:17.:22:23.

have sympathy with that? These are decisions for local people. His

:22:24.:22:28.

point about the environs impact assessment is not the 70 Val.

:22:29.:22:40.

Actually, what we know from -- his point about the environmental impact

:22:41.:22:45.

assessment is not a valid. It could be a positive benefit to the

:22:46.:22:51.

biodiversity of Essex. It is not necessarily a win-lose situation.

:22:52.:22:56.

The visual impact is clearly something that local planning

:22:57.:23:01.

authorities need to look at. You are focusing too much on statics. You're

:23:02.:23:12.

absolutely right. -- aesthetic. We are covering 300 acres of some of

:23:13.:23:20.

the most beautiful countryside in panels. Are the planning laws up to

:23:21.:23:28.

scratch? No, they are not. There are holes in the laws. The planning

:23:29.:23:39.

officers say yes, but there is the biodiversity argument, and as long

:23:40.:23:42.

as the farmer can come up with a read -- reason such as insect life

:23:43.:23:47.

weaving in and out between the panels, that would be all right. To

:23:48.:23:53.

me, that is ludicrous. The second point I would make is, the chap

:23:54.:23:58.

wanted to build a garage. He had to have an assessment. To build 300

:23:59.:24:03.

acres of SS -- panels, you don't need an assessment. But you need

:24:04.:24:13.

clean energy. I support that. I support energy diversity. Everybody

:24:14.:24:21.

says that! There are certain areas in the country that are designated

:24:22.:24:27.

as areas of outstanding beauty. They are beautiful and we want to

:24:28.:24:31.

preserve them. Name some other parts of the country where they should be.

:24:32.:24:38.

The desolate North? I don't want them in rural areas. We could use

:24:39.:24:43.

disused airfields. There are fired in my area. I'm not saying we

:24:44.:24:50.

shouldn't have them. -- there are five in my area. How confident are

:24:51.:24:58.

you of success? I am lukewarm, to be honest. I hope to get a more robust

:24:59.:25:10.

letter of support. I don't have the same extreme reaction. I think we

:25:11.:25:14.

need a mix of energy. I don't know about that particular location,

:25:15.:25:22.

there are some proposed in my own constituency. I have had letters

:25:23.:25:27.

about it. You're right about needing to cut CO2. Yesterday we had a big

:25:28.:25:35.

investment in nuclear that produces no CO2. There are other ways to do

:25:36.:25:42.

it. It was 16 billion yesterday. Give or take. I will always rely on

:25:43.:25:52.

your research. You can continue the discussion afterwards! At least we

:25:53.:26:00.

are building something. Your reaction to the PMQs announcement?

:26:01.:26:06.

Energy bills will be brought down by green levies? There are huge

:26:07.:26:13.

disincentives for a lot of industries that are feeling the pain

:26:14.:26:16.

of these green levies. When they were brought in, the price of energy

:26:17.:26:21.

was different. We have to be defensible in government. When

:26:22.:26:23.

things change, we must learn to adapt. -- we have to be flexible in

:26:24.:26:33.

government. So, thumbs up from me. Thank you. I to the dispute over the

:26:34.:26:38.

giant Grangemouth complex in Scotland, where the owner has said

:26:39.:26:45.

they will close a petrochemical plant. -- back to the dispute. It

:26:46.:26:56.

has put the future of the oil refinery in doubt as well as the

:26:57.:27:00.

petrochemical complex. The energy secretary has been speaking in the

:27:01.:27:02.

House of Commons in the last few minutes. The government is saddened

:27:03.:27:09.

by this move, particularly because of the uncertainty it will bring for

:27:10.:27:13.

the workforce and all those who indirectly over their livelihood to

:27:14.:27:16.

the Grangemouth petrochemical plants. The government doesn't

:27:17.:27:22.

underestimate the plant's importance both for the local community and the

:27:23.:27:27.

Scottish economy. While respecting the right to make this decision, it

:27:28.:27:32.

is regrettable that both parties have not managed to negotiate a fair

:27:33.:27:35.

and equitable settlement that delivers a viable business model for

:27:36.:27:41.

the plant. Even at this late stage, government urges them to continue

:27:42.:27:45.

dialogue and we will for all possible help with this. Very much a

:27:46.:27:52.

holding statement there. It doesn't take as far. Watch this space. It

:27:53.:27:58.

will be covered all day. Before we go, time to put you out of your

:27:59.:28:04.

misery. The answer to Guess The Year. It was 1969. The giveaway

:28:05.:28:09.

should have been the black and white footage of Mr Nixon being sworn in

:28:10.:28:15.

for the first time in January, 1969, as president of the US. Grant

:28:16.:28:18.

Shapps, I have not told them the winner. You can whack that button

:28:19.:28:28.

and make somebody a happy bunny. Neil Kemp from Reading. Well done.

:28:29.:28:34.

That is it for today. Thanks to both our guests for being such good

:28:35.:28:40.

sports. The BBC News is starting on BBC One. I will be back tomorrow

:28:41.:28:50.

with all the big political stories of the day. Will Hutton will be with

:28:51.:28:54.

us. From all of us here, have a good afternoon. Goodbye.

:28:55.:28:58.

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