Debates between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Thu 23rd Mar 2023
Wed 1st Mar 2023
Wed 15th Jun 2022
Schools Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1
Tue 14th Jun 2022
UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1

Financial Services and Markets Bill

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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If my noble friend is saying what the noble Baroness asked, she is making a very serious change. To object to the changes being recommended on the basis that this is the wrong place seems to me to be quite difficult to uphold.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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The Government will make those changes only within the agreed scope set out in the Bill. That is perhaps why the DPRRC was content with the approach that they were taking.

Financial Services and Markets Bill

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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Whether it is there to aid others in the accountability structure or is an accountability body itself is a further question, but its proposed role raises questions about, for example, how transparently it operates, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, touched on, and other such considerations. I merely said to my noble friend who raised this point that the establishment of the OBR happened in a Bill of its own after a manifesto commitment, and that it had been up and running for some time before it was put into statute. It is not unreasonable to say that considerations need to be made when we think about this issue.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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There are certainly considerations, but surely one of them is that we have an opportunity to make the change in this Bill, and we will not have another opportunity for a very long time. The Minister is proposing that we do not do it, frankly. Therefore, let us do it in this Bill, because it is the one opportunity that we have.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I would never want to speculate as to future parliamentary timetables. My noble friend Lord Naseby talked about the importance of listening to those who are impacted by the provisions of the Bill. He spoke about the City, and we have heard various points of view in that respect. I would add consumers into that mix, too. I say to noble Lords that the Government have consulted extensively on the approach we are taking in the Bill, and we have received a number of responses on this specific issue in both future regulatory framework review consultations that took place. Although I absolutely recognise that a small number of respondents were supportive of further consideration of such a body, the vast majority were focused on how existing mechanisms for accountability to Parliament and government and engagement with stakeholders could be strengthened. The Government therefore decided, in response to those consultations, against creating a new body, and focused on ensuring that the mechanisms for Parliament and government to scrutinise the regulators are effective.

Energy Profits Levy

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Tuesday 7th February 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I absolutely agree with the noble Baroness on the importance of protecting consumers, including vulnerable consumers. We have the energy price guarantee and other support for them, for example, through increasing rates of universal credit. I completely agree with her on the need to focus on energy efficiency, but I disagree on her interpretation of the current regime as having “loopholes”. They are about encouraging investment in the sector, which is incredibly important for our energy security and for keeping bills down in the longer term.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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My Lords, in the announcement of record profits, BP has said that it is not going to reach the very moderate targets it had for moving towards net zero. The Climate Change Committee is constantly saying that this is not just a government problem but a business problem. What discussions are the Minister and her department going to have with BP to get it back on track?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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The Government regularly engage with all sectors on their net-zero targets. When it comes to the oil and gas sectors specifically, the changes that we made at the Autumn Statement increased the level of tax relief for decarbonisation of the production of oil and gas better to incentivise companies to take more action in that area.

IMF Economic Outlook

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I do not, but I will write to the noble Baroness if there is something available on that matter.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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Does my noble friend accept that, if we are to equal the United States, we have to have investment in new green businesses which help in the battle against climate change? When will the Government bring forward the legislation that is necessary to do that? At the moment, we are wildly behind, which is clear from both the Skidmore report and the Climate Change Committee’s report last June—where I declare an interest. I dare say that “freedom” from the EU is not something that any exporter would believe today.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My noble friend is right about the importance of investment, which is why the Government are maintaining record levels of capital investment: £600 billion over the next five years. We have permanently set the annual investment allowance at its highest-ever level of £1 million. My noble friend is also right about the importance of green investment and driving green growth in our economy. We have one of the strongest legislative frameworks for tackling climate change and nature loss, and we will continue to build on that. Our record is clear: we are one of the most significant decarbonising economies in the G20, and we have achieved that at the same time as growing.

Working from Home

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Monday 4th July 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I believe that quite a bit of it is under way, but I am not as familiar with progress as my colleagues in the Department for Transport will be. What I can say is that an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission found—the noble Baroness is right—that pandemic restrictions and associated increases in remote working did affect infrastructure use. However, it is too early to assume that long-term behaviour change such as increased remote working would lead to a wholly different pattern of infrastructure. In terms of our approach to transport infrastructure, there is an element of “wait and see” on the effects of the pandemic.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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Does my noble friend accept that most sensible employers—I count myself as one—have a balance in this? They bring people in, say, two days a week when everybody works together and gets the advantages of which she speaks. The point of this Question really is that the Government ought not to give the appearance that the way we are dealing with this in the public sector is somehow different from the private sector, which has reached out to this new way of working. In terms of family friendliness it is enormously better, and in my business I certainly find better productivity as a result, because people feel happier about the work/life balance.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I would absolutely echo my noble friend’s language around balance, and he has mentioned some of the other benefits of hybrid working that we have discussed. Each government department sets its own hybrid working policy. The Treasury, for example, expects staff to work 50% of the time in the office and the remaining time at home over a two-week period. I think that strikes a balance.

Schools Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I was clear about the Government’s intention for these powers, which is not to use them to make single academies join a multi-academy trust. I also gave two undertakings in listening to this group in Committee. One is to go away and confirm, on the scope of the powers as drafted in the Bill, that it is not possible to do that, but the other relates to our wider conversations about those parts of the Bill where the Government have already given an undertaking, having heard the views of the Committee, to listen and reflect. My noble friend the Minister started today’s Committee by trying to give an assurance to your Lordships that that is what we are doing. Therefore, on this particular question it is important to be clear about the Government’s intention, which I hope I now have been, but I will also undertake two further actions, which speak louder than words, both to confirm on the powers as drafted and to reflect on how we have drafted those powers.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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In that spirit, will my noble friend also discover whether the Government have the power to use the money they give to these individual schools in a way which could in fact insist that they become members of a multi-academy trust? My own experience is that the most important thing is to ring-fence the money from the interference of a Secretary of State who would use it to say, “You don’t get your money unless you join this”, or, “You get more money if you join this.” We need that reassurance too.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My noble friend’s contribution falls within the remit of the undertaking that I have already given to the Committee.

UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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Could my noble friend assure the Committee that she will look again at the inclusion of the diminishing of demand and energy efficiency, which the Climate Change Committee and others have specifically asked for? I think we in this Committee feel universally that that inclusion is necessary. I am sure there is a way of getting to it; I think we need this in the Bill.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I commit to the Committee that I and the Government will listen very carefully to our proceedings today and, of course, to the advice from the noble Lord’s committee and other expert advisers to the Government. On the particular discussion we are having on a number of aspects of this Bill, I think we agree on the aims that we want to achieve. We may disagree on the mechanism of it, but that does not mean that the contributions of this Committee will not be taken into account before we get to Report.

I hope that, with all that in mind, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—oh, I have skipped ahead. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, will withdraw her amendment and that other noble Lords will not move theirs when they are reached.

North Sea Oil and Gas Producers: Investment Allowances

Debate between Lord Deben and Baroness Penn
Tuesday 7th June 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, the Government’s position on not having fossil fuel subsidies remains the same, and we use the IEA’s definition of subsidies in assessing that. Of course, the investment allowance is part of the energy profits levy, an additional levy on oil and gas producers which are experiencing extraordinary profits at this time. In terms of investment in North Sea oil, we have set out in our energy security strategy that the North Sea will still be a foundation of our energy security. It is right that we continue to encourage investment in oil and gas; this is consistent with our transition to net zero. The noble Lord will know that we have gone the furthest and fastest so far in the G7 on decarbonising our economy; I am sure that this is a record on which we will continue to build.

Lord Deben Portrait Lord Deben (Con)
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I declare my interest as chair of the Climate Change Committee. Will my noble friend the Minister accept that there is considerable misunderstanding about this matter and that the Government must be very clear about it? Will she also accept that this will not lower the price of gas? The only way to lower the price of energy is to have more of the cheapest form of generation, which is offshore wind, onshore wind and photovoltaics. Will she also accept that we ought to have a ring main so that we can bring the offshore wind onshore, and not put vast quantities of pylons across some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I absolutely agree with my noble friend that this measure will not lower the price of gas. In fact, it is by that measure that it is not a subsidy to fossil fuels, but it will provide us with part of the funding to ensure that households across Britain which cannot cope with the extraordinary increase in energy costs at the moment get more support. I also agree with my noble friend that our investment in renewables so far has allowed us to have some cheaper forms of electricity—something we need to continue to build on.