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Gummer’s firm is paid £500,000 from energy companies set to profit from fossil fuel boiler ban HE helped push through

March 17, 2019

By Paul Homewood


David Rose uncovers yet more of John Gummer’s dodgy dealings:



As head of the Government’s climate change committee, Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer was a key figure behind last week’s controversial decision to ban fossil fuel central heating in new homes.

But in pushing for the radical change, he failed to declare that the firm he runs has received more than £500,000 from companies which are set to make millions from the decision.

The ban, from 2025, was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond following the recommendations of two reports by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), chaired by Mr Gummer, now known as Lord Deben.

The reports both recommended homes should no longer be heated with natural gas but with hydrogen – even though it is an expensive, and, as yet, largely untried method.

Gummer did not declare he had any relevant private interests in either report, even though his family-run consultancy, Sancroft International, has received at least £299,699 from Johnson Matthey, which sells hydrogen technology.

Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer was a key figure behind last week’s controversial decision to ban fossil fuel central heating in new homes

Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer was a key figure behind last week’s controversial decision to ban fossil fuel central heating in new homes

The firm is also part of a lobby group, the Hydrogen Council, which campaigns for policy changes favouring the hydrogen industry.

Gummer is already being investigated by the Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieffe, after The Mail on Sunday last month revealed that Sancroft was paid more than £600,000 by ‘green’ businesses, including Johnson Matthey, which stood to benefit from CCC decisions.

She is also examining more than a dozen occasions when Gummer, 79, spoke in Lords debates on matters affecting its clients.

Gummer, who as Agriculture Minister in 1990 famously fed his four-year-old daughter a beefburger at the height of the BSE crisis, has always declared his chairmanship and ownership of Sancroft.

However, he has never disclosed its clients – but has denied any conflicts of interest. It is understood he justifies this by saying Sancroft did not advise its clients how to influence Government policy.

In his spring statement, Mr Hammond also announced there would be new measures to increase the proportion of gas from biological sources supplied to homes. Sancroft has been paid more than £232,000 by businesses which make such gas, including £183,062 from Saria Ltd, which is building a network of UK plants which generate gas from waste and specially grown crops, such as maize and sugar beet.

The Mail on Sunday revealed last month that Mr Gummer's company Sancroft International was paid more than £600,000 by ‘green’ businesses in consultancy fees 


The Mail on Sunday revealed last month that Mr Gummer’s company Sancroft International was paid more than £600,000 by ‘green’ businesses in consultancy fees

Spills from these sites, which are heavily subsidised by taxpayers, have caused numerous pollution incidents. Two years ago, a leak poisoned the River Teifi, with a devastating impact on what had been Wales’s finest trout and salmon stream.

In another report issued in November, the CCC also strongly supported such ‘biomass’ fuel, saying its use should be increased. Gummer did not declare any interests in it.

Last night MPs from both main parties voiced concern that Mr Hammond had followed CCC recommendations – adding to house-building and energy bills – despite Ms Scott-Moncrieffe’s ongoing investigation. Labour’s Graham Stringer said: ‘Gummer’s denials he has conflicts of interest now lack any credibility. It’s really disturbing that key Government policies are being influenced by someone who has vested interests on this scale.’

Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies added: ‘I’m very concerned that the Chancellor has announced huge and costly policy changes while the chairman of the committee which recommended them is being investigated. Until the inquiry is complete, these policies should be put on hold.’

Treasury sources confirmed last week that banning fossil fuel heating will leave two main options – electric powered heat pumps, and using hydrogen.

The CCC issued a statement praising Mr Hammond’s announcements as ‘a genuine step forward in reducing emissions’. But the CCC, Gummer and Johnson Matthey declined to comment on Sancroft’s work.

  1. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 17, 2019 12:30 pm

    Deben is a disgrace. He should be put through an Andrew Neil interview, which would surely destroy him.

    • Curious George permalink
      March 17, 2019 3:15 pm

      £600,000? I wait to see real money.

      • Adrian permalink
        March 17, 2019 6:10 pm

        Look let’s face it he’s clearly cleverer than me, I’d like to think less honest and reputable as well, but who knows?

  2. HotScot permalink
    March 17, 2019 12:56 pm

    I have always failed to understand why members of the HoC and HoL are allowed to run their own businesses or have secondary employment.

    Politicians are paid salaries and expected to do a full time job. If they are running their own businesses they are not devoting their time, full time, to their political duties.

    If they want to volunteer as a politician which I believe was the case many years ago, then fair enough, their business interests may allow them to do that, but it’s at their expense, not the public’s.

    This is quite apart from the issue of conflicts of interest. No one will ever convince me politicians with business interests don’t use their position for the betterment of said businesses, it’s human nature.

    Politics in the UK is in a mess because there are too many politicians with their noses in the public trough. Make MP’s pay their own way and we’ll soon see the smaller government we all deserve.

  3. CheshireRed permalink
    March 17, 2019 1:20 pm

    Yet more sickening duplicity from politico’s. This has been the week from Hell.

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 17, 2019 1:29 pm

    I was discussing this idea of removing GCH from new builds with a an old friend who worked at Worcester Bosch. The thing is, it seems that while Gas boilers will be outlawed, gas cookers will not. (I could be wrong). That being the case, if a house needs to be connected to the gas main to run a gas cooker, what is to stop the owner piping in a gas boiler? And even if that doesn’t happen, what is to stop someone using bottled gas and plumbing in there heating that way? Then, of course, what about oil-fired CH? They’re gonna need some new FF Police (FF = fossil-fuel, but ymmv!).

    • Dave Ward permalink
      March 17, 2019 3:49 pm

      “What is to stop the owner piping in a gas boiler?”

      When every property has a Smart Meter (I’ll bet it WILL become mandatory) the suppliers will know straight away that you are using far too much gas for a cooker alone. The government will expect this information be made available, so they can send the “heavies” round.

      Think I’m joking? – Just look at the way “Our” politicians are riding rough-shod over centuries of democracy…

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 17, 2019 4:13 pm

        I thought the plan was no gas for anything. Cooking by electricity or unicorn farts only.

      • March 17, 2019 4:22 pm

        That was Gummer’s plan. No doubt our supine politicians will take it up next

  5. March 17, 2019 1:48 pm

    Just finished a new blog post with damning cost and material figures for a 100% renewables-electricity UK, concluding with:

    “…The CCC are wilfully ignoring burgeoning developments in nuclear power reactors which can allow the UK to meet the ‘Zero Emissions by 2050’ target at a fraction [1/8th] of the cost of renewables and 1/100th of the environmental impact…”

    Would appreciate it, if any interested parties would use these figures far and wide at every opportunity – it’s the kind of simple info the renewables lobby never want to be talked about in their fantasy world of ‘free energy’:

  6. March 17, 2019 3:11 pm

    The “hydrogen economy” has been investigated in depth. Conclusion is that H2 is not well suited to anything useful except as a feedstock for synthetic hydrocarbon liquid fuels.

    Click to access hyd_economy_bossel_eliasson.pdf

    As a home heating fuel, H2 contains 1/3 the energy of natural gas on a volume basis. This means the existing piping infrastructure could carry only 1/3 of the volumetric load that it now carries. Widest explosive range of any fuel gas. All in all, H2 is useless as a fuel.

  7. Athelstan. permalink
    March 17, 2019 3:13 pm

    Move over in the trough, trough, trough, never mind the ‘graft’ shouted the porkers.

    Heck it’s all for a ‘good cause, .it’s all for saving the planet innit?! Yessiree laydees ‘n’ gen’lmen, step right this way for the green snake oil, and buy into the ‘green indulgences racket’ but all profits go to the big boys – right?!.
    Post modern Britain the stench, where dishonesty pays big and it’s very ok to be economical with the truth Did I say economics? pah providing you are a virtue signalling prize troughing pillock, who needs economics, stiffing the taxpayer is the only game in town.

    Britain eh, shiving the UK taxpayer for a livin’ is now a chosen career path and never mind conscience ‘n’ efiks – dey’s only for the stoopid little people, and the voters.

    In the ballot booth, bear that in mind when you next consider where you place your cross. the UK really cries out for, does need an alternative to liblavcongreen taxpayer parasites, limpets and subsidy hooverers.

  8. George Lawson permalink
    March 18, 2019 10:26 am

    The relative silence from Parliament in these matters makes one wonder how many other MPs are directing our national policies in their own financial interests. I’m sure there must be far more MPs or peers like Deben who are working primarily to line their own pockets. Even after Deben has been found out with his first bout of cheating, he is still in his job, when he should have been immediately relieved of his post by Mr Gove until the alleged misdemeanour had been fully investigated. I wonder whether Deben will still be allowed to stay on after this latest revelation. One only has to refer to the many cheats who were falsifying their expenses, exposed by a national newspaper and not by parliament itself, to understand this point. I believe that integrity and responsibility to the electorate by our parliamentarians is now, with the exception of a few genuine politicians, a thing of the past. They no longer represent we lesser folk: a very worrying sign indeed.

  9. March 18, 2019 11:31 am

    “Be careful what you wish for” probably applies here, if Gummer goes who will replace him? Probably some academic zealot with a hatred of capitalism and of the UK.

  10. Richard Phillips permalink
    March 18, 2019 6:00 pm

    Not only does hydrogen suffer from the fact that, the gas, litre for litre, contains only one third of the energy of methane, it does not occur naturally.

    Every litre of the gas has be manufactured; methane simply needs “a hole in the ground”.

    All the energy in hydrogen has to be provided in its manufacture. Due to inefficiencies, not quite as much energy is recovered when it is burned.

    There is no way round this, thermodynamics will not be contravened.

    If every fossil fuelled domestic “boiler” is to be replaced with electricity, how many more power stations will be needed. Certainly more than would burn the amount of gas and oil used in the home, inefficiencies again.

    My own central heating “boiler” is rated at 38KW. Such an electrical power rating would require 152 amps. My whole house carries an 80 amp fuse. The 152 amp load is simply not feasible, even before I have obliged Mr Gove and bought an electric car; another similar load.

    Ministers who make or support such fatuous policies are not the exception, they are indeed the rule.

    The Cabinet is entirely lacking in scientific or technical knowledge, and seems to resist any amelioration of the circumstance.

    Richard Phillips

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