All 1 Lindsay Hoyle contributions to the Finance Act 2024

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Mon 5th Feb 2024

Finance Bill Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Finance Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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I am sure that the people suffering through the rampant cost of living crisis across the nations of the UK hoped that if the Government tabled a new clause today, it would address their struggles in paying their rent, their ever-increasing mortgages, their higher food bills, thanks to Brexit, and their even higher energy bills after the cap was adjusted in January. The Government tabled only new clause 5 and, as I said on the Ways and Means motion, we have no opportunity to amend it.

The electricity generator levy disproportionately impacts Scotland’s renewable sector. The SNP welcomes the fact that new clause 5 will exempt new renewable projects from the EGL, but as noted by the chief executive of Scottish Renewables, though the autumn statement introduced new measures such as the EGL exemption, they are

“not enough on their own. We urgently need consistent policies to provide an environment which will enable businesses to invest at the scale needed right now.”

A pledge to invest £28 billion a year in the green energy transition might be a good thing, but it seems to be off the table not only for the UK Government but—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I wish to make a short statement.

I know the whole House will wish to join me in expressing our sympathy with His Majesty the King following this evening’s announcement. Our thoughts are, of course, with His Majesty and his family, and we all send him our very best wishes for his successful treatment and speedy recovery.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. Obviously, it is entirely appropriate to have paused for that statement. I was unaware of the news brought to the Chamber, but it is clearly significant. Our thoughts are with the royal family at this time.

As I was saying, we need consistent policies to help the renewables sector, and we are not seeing that either from the Tory Government, who have run out of ideas, or from the Labour party, which makes promises and then ducks responsibility for what is required.

We would have liked new clause 5 to flesh out the Chancellor’s promise, made in the autumn statement, to take up to £1,000 a year for up to 10 years off the electricity bills of people living near new generation equipment. We have not heard that today, so we do not know what schemes are coming up.

As I intimated earlier, I would have liked to table an amendment on this point: if new clause 5 is applicable to people living next to new generation equipment, what about those who already live among generation equipment in, for example, the highlands and islands? We have the coldest climate in the UK. Most people are off the gas grid, so we have higher average bills than the rest of the UK. We pay the highest standing charge for electricity, 40% more than here in London, and because of UK Government policies, we have the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK, yet we export six times more electricity than we use in the highlands. It would have been entirely appropriate for the Minister to agree to introduce a highland energy rebate, to put some of that contribution back into the pockets of people across the highlands and islands who are struggling because of those conditions.