Northampton MP Andrew Lewer reveals why he signed 'Net Zero Scrutiny Group' letter to cut VAT from energy bills

The MP said 'cost and delivery issues' posed a real concern for his constituents

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 9:42 am

MP for Northampton South Andrew Lewer has revealed why he signed a 'Net Zero Scrutiny Group' letter that wished to cut the Government's green tariffs whilst expanding domestic fossil fuel supplies.

The statement comes after Mr Lewer, and 19 other MPs and peers, signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking for VAT to be cut from energy bills, among other proposals.

In essence, the letter argued that VAT and environmental tariffs, used to subsidise green initiatives like renewable energy, should be removed to reduce household bills during what has been dubbed the 'cost-of-living crisis'.

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Mr Lewer said that his focus was on the costs his constituents will have to bear as part of the Government's green objectives

The group also argued that the UK should expand North Sea Exploration for oil and support shale gas extraction to reduce the import of fuel from other countries and to protect British jobs domestically.

MP Andrew Lewer said of his part in the letter: “Climate change is real and one of our country’s greatest policy challenges of this century. I support the overall and ultimate aim of decarbonising the economy.

"My job in Parliament is to scrutinise and test various policy initiatives and I take advice and information from a wide range of sources and in a variety of roles including the cross party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee and the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, to name just two.

"I have a number of concerns about cost and delivery issues, especially huge and rapid energy bill increases and their impact on my constituents.

"The framework of ‘looking green’ whilst exporting our emissions to carbon heavy countries like China and India has negative impacts on both the global environment and British jobs.”

While the PM has so far rejected the letter's proposals, environmentalists in Northampton were concerned that suggestions like these could imperil the UK's legally binding commitment to reach net zero CO2 by 2050.

They have also suggested that a removal of tax on energy could make the Government seem less committed to moving away from fossil fuels.

Cllr Emma Roberts, Deputy Leader of West Northamptonshire's Labour Group also shared their concerns, suggesting that the proposals would erase some of the progress the UK could make in going green.

Cllr Roberts said: "This letter signed by Andrew Lewer MP is a cynical effort to water down the UK's attempt to tackle the climate crisis whilst offering little to nothing in the way of helping people with the rising cost of energy.

"The small group of Tory MPs who make up the climate sceptic 'Net Zero Scrutiny Group' cynically use the rising levels of inflation that their government can't get control of, to try and slash funding for Green Energy sources, they then propose that we further damage the environment by drilling for more oil and gas.

"Labour has been calling for removal of VAT from energy bills over the winter for months, the time for action was months ago.

"Complacency makes the cost of living crisis worse and this group using the soaring cost of living crisis as a reason to push for worrying measures that undermine the commitment to cutting emissions and the work on climate action is unacceptable."

Debate continues over how to tackle the rising costs associated with energy and other essentials.