Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: Energy Supply Shortfalls

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Monday 21st November 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Asked by
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
- Hansard - -

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the progress of discussions with the Government of the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive regarding energy supply shortfalls, particularly gas, in this coming winter.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the UK and Ireland have a mature vehicle for co-operation to ensure that their gas emergency operational plans work together. There are protocols between the transmission system operators and modifications to emergency plans have been identified following joint emergency exercises. Additionally, a tripartite interconnector agreement is in place, which includes provisions on emergencies. A gas and electricity emergency group, comprising representatives from the three jurisdictions, complements these arrangements and the regional approach to emergency planning.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his detailed Answer. Given the strengthening nature of British-Irish relations and all the problems that have been indicated with energy supplies, can the Minister guarantee that, no matter what pressures there are on the supply of natural gas in Britain, there will be no cut in supply of natural gas to Ireland—both north and south?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I cannot give the noble Baroness an absolute guarantee but it will not happen unless there is a national emergency. We have made agreements with the operators that, in the unlikely event of a supply shortage to the United Kingdom as a whole, that pain will need to be shared equally but, of course, it is not our intention for this to happen.

Four-Day Working Week

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Monday 5th September 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think I was agreeing with the noble Lord right up to his last sentence. Yes, of course there are no simple answers, and it can work for one industry and not for others; I really doubt that a universal basic income is the answer to this, though.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as part of the Minister’s work in assessing the benefits of flexible working and four-day working weeks, and all the many outputs from the pandemic in terms of much good work and much good production as a result of working from home, will he consider talking to ministerial colleagues in the devolved Administrations and seeking a view on best practice in other countries such as New Zealand, which has stated that there is much to be gained from a four-day week?

Energy: Prices and Supply

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Thursday 14th July 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Asked by
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
- Hansard - -

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking (1) to address rising energy prices, and (2) to ensure the security of the United Kingdom’s energy supply for the coming winter.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government understand the pressures people are facing with high global energy prices and are providing support for the cost of living totalling £37 billion this year. Great Britain has secure and diverse supplies of energy but we have acted to boost electricity security, including by temporarily extending the operations of certain coal-generation units to provide back-up capacity if needed.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, it is acknowledged that the UK is not directly dependent on Russia for the supply of natural gas. However, do the Government recognise that the Russian situation could cause gas supply shortages in mainland Europe, which could have a domino effect that could impact the UK, including Northern Ireland, particularly at a time of high energy prices? What measures are in place to address this issue?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness is of course right, and the answer to the question is yes, we recognise this maybe unlikely risk, which is nevertheless a risk. That is why I indicated in the Answer that we have acted to secure additional back-up capacity if needed for this winter.

Exports: Support for Businesses

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Thursday 31st March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Asked by
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
- Hansard - -

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent assessment they have made of the effectiveness of their support for businesses to increase exports.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, evidence shows that exporting businesses are 21% more productive and pay higher wages than non-exporters. Government support can help businesses to overcome exporting barriers. In February, 96% of export support service users would recommend it to other businesses and our 2018-19 export client survey indicates that 76% of those using DIT’s face-to-face export support were satisfied with its service. DIT is developing its strategy for monitoring and evaluation to assess the impact of the refreshed export strategy.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer, but contrary evidence exists that states that UK exports are underperforming in comparison to those of all advanced economies. In view of this, can he detail what additional support the Government will develop and provide for businesses that previously exported but have since stopped because of unpredictable obstacles and barriers?

Global Warming

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is a Cabinet committee on climate change chaired by the Prime Minister dealing with cross-government issues. The noble Baroness will be aware individual Cabinet committee meetings are confidential, but she can be assured that there is regular collaborative cross-government working between departments on all these issues.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the Thwaites Glacier in western Antarctica is collapsing into the sea, which could raise sea levels by as much as 10 feet if the whole ice sheet falls. In such circumstances, have the Government undertaken an assessment of the likely impact that this would have on coastal communities in the UK and on vulnerable areas around the world?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s third climate change risk assessment sets out 61 risks and opportunities facing the UK from climate change, with eight priority risk areas identified as requiring action within the next two years. Action already taken includes £5.2 billion in 2021 for flood and coastal defences.

EU: Imports

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Tuesday 1st February 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am sure that the harbour authorities at Dover would be delighted to receive visits from Members of your Lordships’ House, whenever they wished to go there.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, will the Minister take another stab at the question asked by the Labour Front Bench? Will he provide us with an update on the negotiations with the EU about Ireland and the Northern Ireland protocol? Will he give a commitment, on behalf of the Government, to promote the benefits of the protocol in terms of access to the UK internal market and the EU single market? Businesses in Northern Ireland are already benefiting from these.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have already referred to the efforts that the Foreign Secretary is putting into this matter. My many years of experience —both in this House and outside—have taught me that giving running commentaries on negotiations rarely leads to a good outcome.

Post Office: Horizon Compensation

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Monday 24th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is beyond extraordinary, if I can disagree slightly with the noble Lord. The whole situation is tragic, appalling—there are numerous words we could use to describe the depth of the suffering of so many people. Financial compensation will never put right what went wrong. Again, we all think we know who was responsible and where the blame lies. The public inquiry has been established and is proceeding so that we can get a full account; we already have partial accounts through the various High Court cases that have proceeded. The importance of the inquiry is so that we can get a full account of exactly what happened over many years, through different regimes of government and people in leadership roles at the Post Office, and blame can be apportioned in the right way.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, some of these postmasters who live in Northern Ireland have had their lives and livelihoods destroyed by the actions of this internet scheme owned, I suppose, by Fujitsu. As my noble friend Lord Bassam and the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, have already asked, could the Minister ensure that Fujitsu is held responsible and accountable for its actions, which have left many lives destroyed and have financially destroyed people as well?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course, it is not just Northern Ireland: throughout the whole United Kingdom people have been financially, emotionally and criminally destroyed by this case. No words that we could utter here could minimise the terrible suffering and distress that has gone on. Again, I am sorry to be practical and hard-headed about this, but we have to return to the central point: we all think we know where blame lies, but let us wait for the results of the inquiry. By all means, in the meantime get on with paying compensation to those who have suffered—but let us have a proper inquest at the end of the inquiry, when we have the full results, of exactly who was to blame.

National Living Wage

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Monday 17th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My noble friend also makes an important point. Inflation has a pernicious impact on the economy and, of course, it impacts most on the lowest paid. I am sure the Bank of England wants to take all these factors into account. I will not stand here and give it advice on this matter, but it is important that we take account of inflation in calculating the minimum wage, and that is exactly what the Low Pay Commission does.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, to protect fixed incomes, people’s savings and to prevent poverty, what are the Government doing to put downward pressure on inflation? Perhaps the Minister could provide us with some of the detail.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The original Question was about the minimum wage. The points the noble Baroness raises are important but they are matters for the Treasury—I would be very happy to speak to Treasury officials and get her a proper answer on that.

Energy Prices

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Wednesday 12th January 2022

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I totally understand the point that the noble Lord makes. Unfortunately, I am not in a position today to announce further measures, but I can tell him that we are actively engaging with stakeholders and energy companies. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor are in urgent discussions and we hope to announce some action shortly.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, was it not entirely predictable that there would be a surge in gas prices, and in such circumstances what further work will BEIS and the Government undertake? Why did they not have further plans at the ready to address the situation to help struggling households and to mitigate the impact of deepening fuel poverty as a result of those rising costs, as already referenced by the noble Lord, Lord Dodds?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not clear what further plans the noble Baroness is referring to, but, as I mentioned, we have a whole series of mitigations in place to protect precisely the people whom she mentioned. For example, the warm home discount scheme has helped millions of people at a cost of several billion pounds, and we will continue with policies such as that to help the most vulnerable.

Homes: Environmental Standards

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Excerpts
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my noble friend for her question. She is right that building regulations have an important role to play. From 2025, the future homes standard will ensure that new homes produce at least 75% lower CO2 emissions compared to those built to current standards.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, will the Minister indicate when the Government will publish a long-term strategy for the sector, so that home owners and landlords seeking to meet new energy-efficient standards do not find in the years to come that they have to undertake further work to meet changed standards?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With regard to landlords, we consulted in the summer on raising energy performance standards of rented property to EPC C by 2028. I am happy to tell the noble Baroness that we will publish our response to that consultation shortly.