Reducing household energy bills is seen by MPs as the top priority for the Government’s energy policy, according to a new survey of 151 MPs by ComRes via its MP Panel. Around three in five (58%) MPs put this among their top three priorities, with nearly a third rating it as the highest priority (29%).
However, there are some major differences across the House with Conservatives the most likely to champion this issue, while Labour and Lib Dem MPs are more likely to think the Government should focus on encouraging energy efficiency (among both households and businesses), and promoting renewable energy sources.
When it comes to blame over rising fuel bills, again there are differences by party. Conservative MPs are most likely to saythe rising cost of oil and gas is to blame (64%) whereas Labour MPs are more likely to blame energy companies “seeking to maximise profits for their shareholders”. Fully 50% of Labour MPs rate this as the biggest cause while 33% say the rising cost of oil and gas is to blame.
It is worth noting that these interviews were conducted in June, before Ed Miliband’s announcement of a proposed energy price freeze. It is all the more significant then that Conservatives tend to believe that reducing bills is the number one issue, whereas Labour MPs are the most negative towards energy companies themselves.
MPs’ views on carbon tax and energy intensive industries
There is little support among MPs for a carbon tax for energy intensive industries, and on the whole MPs think such companies have a positive role to play in ensuring sustainable development.
There is widespread cross-party support for energy intensive industries (97% agree that ‘energy intensive industries make a valuable contribution to the British economy’), and despite three quarters (74%) agreeing that ‘companies should take financial responsibility for carbon emissions produced in their supply chain’, the vast majority disagree with reducing the scope and scale of the sector. Some three-quarters (73%) disagree that ‘the only way to make energy intensive industries produce fewer carbon emissions is to cut down on their production or scale’ and a similar proportion (79%) disagree that ‘energy intensive industries consume too much energy to play a role in sustainable development’. Overall, fewer than a third would ‘support a tax on imported goods and services based on their carbon footprint’ (31%).
Surprisingly, there are no significant differences between MPs of different parties on these issues, suggesting broad cross-party consensus. Which is a rarity when it comes to energypolicy.
Methodology: ComRes interviewed 151 MPs online and by postal questionnaire between the 26th June and 24th July 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of all MPs by party and region. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
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