Now the energy companies must follow Liz’s lead - Sue Webber

It hasn’t taken new Prime Minister Liz Truss long to honour her promise to tackle the energy crisis; even her many detractors must admit that delivering a £150bn emergency package after just two days in the job is no mean achievement.

Lothian Tory MSP Sue Webber
Lothian Tory MSP Sue Webber

She has in very short order produced a vast plan which will keep the lights and fires burning this winter and save thousands of businesses in the process. A guaranteed price cap and a vaccine-style energy supply task force ─ and all on top of help already pledged to vulnerable people through Universal Credit and a £400 payment to all families ─ shows this is a Prime Minister who has fully grasped the enormity of what everyone faces and has produced a plan to solve it.

The market and regulation urgently need reform and breaking the crippling link between electricity and gas prices will be decisive, given gas will be in short supply as long as the Ukraine War rages, which could be for years.

Her plan to make the UK a net energy exporter by 2040 is an exciting prospect, but having avoided further windfall taxes, it is incumbent on the energy companies to meet their side of the bargain by accelerating investment in all forms of power generation, which will sustain and create thousands of jobs in renewables, North Sea oil and gas and, yes, nuclear power and fracking. Just as she has, the companies need to get on with it.

The countries which have escaped the worst impact of the war are those which maintained or developed independent power supplies, like French nuclear and American fracking, and as we transition to low-carbon, never again should we leave ourselves as badly exposed to events beyond our control.

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Which brings me to another Liz, my colleague Liz Smith, who delivered a blistering response to the SNP’s Programme for Government presented by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the same time as Liz Truss was entering Downing Street.

There is a lot the First Minster controls, yet so much of her speech was devoted to what she can’t; a long list of gripes about the devolution settlement, full in the knowledge the UK government was working on fast action to protect the people of Scotland as well as the rest of the country.

As Liz S pointed out, the Scottish Government’s block grant is the highest on record, but the delivery of education, health, transport, housing and criminal justice services, all fully controlled by the Scottish Government has been beset by a long record of failure. The thousands of deaths from drug addiction are the most tragic, and totally avoidable, example.

“Millions of pounds of public money have been squandered by the Government on the delays to the ferries, which are on-going,” said Liz S. “On BiFab, on Prestwick airport, on the malicious prosecution of the Rangers FC administrators, and so the list continues,” she explained.

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The list does indeed go on, as does the frittering away of millions preparing for an independence referendum next year she can’t hold, and a clear majority don’t want.

Meanwhile, the SNP-Green reject the means to secure energy security while the transition to low carbon is completed; no new North Sea oil and gas, no nuclear, no shale. But plenty of hot air.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Lothians