The Speaker
Thursday, 13 June 2024 – 06:06

PMQs: Starmer demands government “U-turn” on energy crisis response

In today’s PMQs Starmer accused the government’s energy bill discount of being untenable in the face of increasing gas prices in the wake of Russia sanctions.

Starmer said that in light of the “ballooning” wholesale price of gas, due to sanctions placed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine, energy prices would increase again in October by around £1000. He accused the government of “protecting energy profits, not working people”.

“The typical energy bill is going up by £700 next month, and that’s because of pressures from before Russia invaded Ukraine. The Chancellors solution? A forced £200 loan for every household, paid back in mandatory instalments over 5 years.”

“[Working families] won’t even receive their £200 loan from the Chancellor until October … By October, when the loan finally comes in, household bills are expected to shoot up by another £1000 pounds.”

“Before Russia invaded Ukraine, North Sea oil and gas companies were making bumper profits. … Put a windfall tax on those super-profits, and use the money to cut household energy bills.”

“Energy security isn’t just about supply; it’s also about reducing demand. Our housing stock is the least efficient in Europe – that’s why Labour set out a plan to upgrade the 19 million British homes that desperately need it within a decade. … All the government has is a failed policy; taking all their announcements together it will take up to 75 years to deliver all the upgrades we need. That’s a lifetime when we need urgent action.”

Johnson responded that if Starmer really suggests the government U-turns on its current energy bill policy he must be “out of his mind”, and claimed that placing a windfall tax on energy companies would drive up gas prices further. He added that the government’s policies had meant that the UK is far less dependent on gas from Russia than other European nations.

Johnson promised that the government was moving towards energy independence; towards renewable and nuclear energy.

Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, criticised the government for its handling of refugee visa applications to the UK, which has been criticised as slow and inefficient, with one French interior minister describing the UK government’s response as “lacking humanity”.

“Nobody should support this government when it comes to the response to the refugee crisis; 760 visa approvals in two weeks is disgraceful.”

“In that time: Poland has taken over 1.2 million refugees. Hungary has taken over 190,000 refugees. Germany over 50,000. Italy over 7,000. Ireland over 2,000.”

“These numbers don’t lie; they tell a devastating truth.”

“[The] Home Secretary has overseen one of the slowest, most bureaucratic and incompetent refugee responses in the whole of Europe.”

“These are people fleeing war crimes … and the Home Secretary is blocking them with endless paperwork. This isn’t just incompetence; it’s ideology.”

“The UK Home Office is raising barriers and bureaucracy when we should be offering care and compassion.”

“Scotland stands ready to offer sanctuary and refuge.”

Johnson responded:

“[The number of refugees to the UK] will rise very sharply. … We expect those numbers to rise in the region of the hundreds of thousands.”

“There will be routes by which the whole country can offer a welcome to people from Ukraine.”

“This country has an unparalleled record. … We’ve done more to resettle vulnerable people than any other European country since 2015.”

“We understand how much refugees have to give to this country, and we understand how much this country has to gain from refugees.”

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