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Nigel Lawson Slams Greg Clark’s Energy Speech

November 28, 2018

By Paul Homewood


Nigel Lawson responds to Greg Clark:



Thirteen months after publication of Dieter Helm’s Cost of Energy Review in October 2017, Greg Clark has at last responded by kicking all Helm’s recommendations into the long grass.

Helm’s conclusion was the most damning ever made by an official report on government policy, warning that continuing with current policy would perpetuate the ‘crisis mentality’ of the energy sector.

‘It will continue the unnecessary high costs of the British energy system, and as a result perpetuate fuel poverty, weaken industrial competitiveness, and undermine public support for decarbonisation,’ Helm concluded.

Commenting on Greg Clark’s ‘After the trilemma’ speech (15 November), Nigel Lawson, whose 1982 speech started energy liberalisation, said:

Greg Clark is repeating all the mistakes of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. As Dieter Helm’s excellent report shows, government planning, picking losers and second guessing the market is a disaster in the making.

‘Mr. Clark has rejected Helm’s recommendation of carbon pricing on the grounds that it needs border adjustments to avoid, in his own words, decimating our important industries. As Mr. Clark well knows, the costs of decarbonisation haven’t gone away and his green energy policies impose a higher shadow carbon price, making these industries even more uncompetitive and accelerating their rundown.

‘In particular I take exception to Mr. Clark’s shameless misrepresentation of my views to falsely assert that high energy costs are good for business competitiveness. Mr. Clark admits that British businesses face the highest energy costs in Europe. Mr. Clark’s energy policies are the real threat to their continued survival.’


One has to ask why the Government ever bothered to ask Dieter Helm to review energy policy, if they were going to ignore it anyway.

Perhaps they thought he would meekly back them?

In reality of course, the Treasury was never going to accept the cost of green subsidies on its books, where it would have to be financed either by taxation or spending cuts. That would mean the Government having to accept full responsibility for its disastrous policies, instead of being able to blame the energy companies.

As for Greg Clark’s concerns about the effect of carbon taxes on industrial competitiveness, the answer is very simple – do away with the Carbon Price Floor, and simply charge the same Carbon Price as the rest of our competitors in the EU.

Unfortunately, the words “Common sense” and “UK Government” don’t seem to go together!

  1. dennisambler permalink
    November 28, 2018 12:03 pm

    “Helm’s recommendation of carbon pricing”

    Why would we want it?

  2. Adam Gallon permalink
    November 28, 2018 12:18 pm

    “One has to ask why the Government ever bothered to ask Dieter Helm to review energy policy, if they were going to ignore it anyway.”

    Because it produced something that they weren’t expecting, having only listened to the other side previously?
    Same as when Bliar told Frank Field, to “Think the unthinkable” about pensions & welfare reform. He thought it & promptly got fired.

  3. cajwbroomhill permalink
    November 28, 2018 12:28 pm

    Do readers believe that the UK politicians who still support the Climate Change Acts recognise that their provisions represent only Green tokenism given our negligible CO2 output (1.3% of the global total) and accept the costs to us and our economy on the people’s behalf?

    Surely it is time to repeal these Acts?

    • keith permalink
      November 28, 2018 4:22 pm

      Yes, they should repeal the Act, but they never will. They are too much in league with the Green NGO’s and they would never let that Act be repealed.

  4. Thomas Carr permalink
    November 28, 2018 12:32 pm

    With every significant change could we please have a brief reminder of the value -not percentage – changes in the cost of electricity in the UK since generation subsidy taxes were imposed on UK consumers in the domestic and industrial sector.
    Can we be told how they compares with the cost to our immediate industrial competitors as a manufacturing cost advantage.
    Many seem forgetful or unaware of the penalty inflicted on UK manufacturing by the price support allocated to intermittent and unreliable generators to meet CO2 reduction and other ‘green’ objectives.

  5. Dave Ward permalink
    November 28, 2018 1:36 pm

    “And simply charge the same Carbon Price as the rest of our competitors in the EU”

    And if we EVER escape the EU’s clutches (some hope…) we could stop charging it altogether.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 28, 2018 2:10 pm

      Sadly not. If you read the non-regression part of the withdrawal agreement you will see that May wants us to sign up to keeping all the global warming taxes. The EU quite clearly see removing what is one of the top 5 regulatory costs on our businesses would put the UK at a distinct competitive advantage. Given that a free trade deal, however ‘deep and special’ will not solve the Irish border problem of border controls on goods entering the Single Market, we are destined to keep the non-regression part of the treaty in force. And if anyone has noted what goes into trade agreements, you can be sure that global warming controls and remaining singed up to Paris will be included.

      • alexei permalink
        November 28, 2018 5:05 pm

        Well, not if Parliament rejects the deal and Britain goes for WTO or no deal

  6. Jon permalink
    November 28, 2018 2:52 pm

    ” do away with the Carbon Price Floor, and simply charge the same Carbon Price as the rest of our competitors in the EU.”

    Erm for industry, this is the case. Carbon price floor rebates are in place.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 28, 2018 7:20 pm

    Sark electricity supplier row with their government over pricing – threatened shutdown.

    A glimpse of our future when the government tries to tell companies what they can charge regardless of the costs their policies impose?

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 29, 2018 1:19 am

    The present plan is to rely on imports via interconnectors, with 8.8GW supposedly coming from France. With Macron having announced that the closure of a third of their nuclear capacity by 2035, there will be no reliable supply from there. The plan needs to be torn up.

    Meanwhile the capacity market is in tatters thanks to the ECJ, and Helm’s sensible proposal that intermittent generators should buy backup capacity has now been by-passed by Clark. National Grid is plainly getting nervous: they are trying to run with storage in salt caverns and at LNG terminals as close to full as they can manage, and praying that whenever it gets cold that it is also windy.

  9. David permalink
    November 29, 2018 1:27 pm

    How can UK have the highest industrial electricity prices when Germany has many more renewables. Is it because Germany subsidises their industry, even though I believe that’s against EU rules

    • November 29, 2018 4:20 pm

      That’s my understanding – that they load most of the green subsidies onto domestic users

      • David permalink
        November 29, 2018 4:52 pm

        That’s what I thought, but surely that’s indirectly subsidising industry, and unfairly.

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