Kwasi Quarteng has insisted there is “no question of the lights going off” this winter, as he said the government would not give relief to energy companies that failed due to rising gas prices.
Seeking to allay fears after crisis talks with industry, the business secretary also dismissed “alarmist, unhelpful and completely misguided” suggestions of being unable to heat a three-day work week or people’s homes. done.
Insisting that Britain has “sufficient capacity”, he told lawmakers that the energy price cap would remain in place, adding: “It is staying – it is not going anywhere”.
His remarks came after No 10 said the government was “confident of the security of supplies” and that it was not a cause for “immediate concern” when asked whether the country faced a “winter of discontent”.
Wholesale prices have risen 250 percent since the beginning of 2021, prompting support from some in the energy industry and calls for the collapse of some smaller firms.
But Mr Quarteng insisted the government “will not give relief to failing companies”, adding: “There will be no rewards for failure or mismanagement.
“The taxpayer should not be expected to pursue companies that have poor business models and are not resilient to price fluctuations.”
However, with rising bills and an imminent cut in universal credit for some of the lowest-income households in the UK, further calls for the government to reconsider the decision to end the £20-a-week raise are also facing.
Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, warned that some households would face a “triple-fold loss” from the announcement earlier this month to cut fuel costs, universal debt and increase the national insurance tax. fell.
“I want to make two points very clear,” Mr Quarteng said in his statement. “First of all let me stress that the safety of consumers is our number one, our primary focus and will shape our entire approach to this important issue.
“Secondly, I would also like to assure the House that while the UK, like other countries in Europe, has been affected by global prices, the UK benefits from a variety of gas supply sources.
“We have enough capacity, and more than enough capacity to meet demand and we don’t expect there to be a supply emergency this winter.”
“There is no question of lights going out or people unable to heat their homes. There will be no three-day work week or a throwback to the 1970s – such thinking is dangerous, unhelpful and completely misguided,” he said.
The cabinet minister said as economies around the world reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, “we are seeing a dramatic increase in global gas demand” and “very sharply” higher than expected.
Mr Quarteng also told MPs he would make a joint statement with the energy watchdog, Offgame, later on Monday – a move that prompted criticism from Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
“If you want to make a statement later, I hope you’ve got it covered by someone at the same time. [in the Commons], ” said the speaker.
This house deserves respect. There are people from all sides, selected to hear from you, who will be mentioned here first. Not second hand by the media. It’s not right, it’s not acceptable – we have to get this right.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /