HC Deb 22 July 2004 vol 424 cc480-1
12. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab)

If she will make a statement on the proposed allocation of carbon allowances under the EU emissions trading scheme. [185754]

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)

The UK's national allocation plan was approved by the European Commission on 7 July. The number of allowances in the UK plan that was submitted to the Commission is based on the UK as a whole reducing emissions by 15.2 per cent. by 2010. The allocation for the second phase of the scheme will be based on the trading sectors' contribution to meeting the UK goal of a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide from base year levels by 2010.

Andrew Mackinlay

May I draw to my right hon. Friend's attention the fact that I wrote to her at the end of May, and I followed up with another letter, drawing attention—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) does not mind, I am talking to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on a constituency matter. I would have thought that he would be interested in the fact that I wrote to her in May and have not had a reply. If the Opposition were any good, they would be pursuing that.

My Tilbury power station is unfairly disadvantaged by the proposal and, overall, some of the proposals are anti-competitive and do not reflect the expertise, innovation and investment proposals of many good power stations. I am meeting people from Tilbury power station tomorrow, and I wonder whether my right hon. Friend will help me by agreeing that she or one of her junior Ministers will meet us to discuss the issue. We could then show that there is room for improvement and fairness in the second phase she mentioned, to the advantage of my Tilbury power station, the industry as a whole and the United Kingdom. My Tilbury power station is being required to make a cut of 44 per cent. in emissions, compared with a national average of 15 per cent. That is unfair.

Margaret Beckett

I was sorry to learn that my hon. Friend had not received an answer to his letter. I was not aware of that until I saw the proposed answer to his question. I apologise, and I assure him that an answer is urgently in preparation as we speak. We will, of course, take very seriously the concerns that he expresses. He will know, too, that the Government have tried hard to strike a balance between what is necessary to make the emissions trading scheme work, which is in everybody's interest, what is necessary to meet the criteria for a satisfactory allocation plan that would stand a chance of being approved by the Commission and competitiveness issues. We believe that in almost all cases the concerns that have been expressed about competitiveness are not well founded. Many companies have assumed that others, elsewhere in Europe, would be treated differently. We have been urging the Commission to be both robust in its assessment of national allocation plan proposals and transparent in reaching its decisions. My hon. Friend may not be aware that several countries have already been asked to revise their initial proposals.

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