Westminster remains in semi-stasis; not uncommon in the final weeks before the summer recess, but more so this year because of the imminent change of Prime Minister. Queensberry rules generally apply in these circumstances such that the old administration does not commit the new to massive constitutional or fiscal measures. It was odd, therefore, that on Monday 24th June, the government put forward a Statutory Instrument (this is lower order, usually brief amending legislation allowed for in a primary Act) to increase the percentage of required reduction of CO2 output by 2050 from the 1990 reference point from 80% to 100%. This is the foundation of the published headline “Zero Carbon by 2050”. This was achieved by an eight-line amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008 that was merely nodded through with little debate and no division.
All very well, all good news, climate action and all that you might say, but I have serious concerns about committing the country, via government spending (taxpayers’ money) and additional private business investment required, and additional costs to consumers, possibly amounting to hundreds of billions of pounds to chase a target that it would seem the rest of the world is merely paying lip service to. For instance, China has committed to building additional coal powered power stations (above what it already has) in excess of the entire output of USA coal produced energy over the next ten years. Germany, following its de-nuclearisation programme, is building new coal stations, and one can only guess at the increased fossil-fuel energy demands of India and Indonesia and others as, quite understandably, its populations want mobility, gadgets and air conditioning as they grow wealthier. We pat ourselves on the back at news that we have sustained many days without coal power in the UK. Really? How does the electricity coming through cross-channel interconnectors get produced? What powers the machines that produce the imported goods from China that we might once have made ourselves? I think you get the answer – more than likely to be coal and fossil fuel generated power. Let’s have a grown-up debate please.
What followed on Tuesday 25th became simply mad. The UK lost a Court of Justice of the EU case regarding our decision to apply the lowest possible VAT rate of 5% to small domestic energy saving solar and wind installations. We were forced to raise the VAT rate to the usual 20% or face infraction proceedings and national fines. Let me summarise: on Monday we commit the country to zero carbon, and on Tuesday we make it more difficult to do what’s right in achieving the target by increasing the VAT on installations that would help achieve the target. Explain that to me please as I couldn’t begin to explain it to myself.
It was great to attend both the Armed Forces Day and new Mayor making in Ramsgate; great civic events. I held a full public meeting in Sandwich – “Brexit where are we now?” Am looking to roll out similar in other parts of the constituency.
It was a privilege to be part of the naming ceremony of the new 58,000 tonne SAGA ship “Spirit of Discovery” at Dover Port. The ship was christened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and will be primarily based at the refurbished cruise terminal at the Western Docks. Great news for East Kent and the UK maritime industry – and a very special day to have been part of.