Birkenhead MP calls for energy sector to be brought back into public hands

The Member of Parliament for Birkenhead has called for the energy sector to be renationalised, as data reveals that the UK exported unusually large amounts of gas in the autumn of 2021.

Research published by the Government this week showed that twice as many Gigawatt hours of gas were exported in the autumn of 2021 as in 2020, even as widespread shortages drove up bills for millions of ordinary people and led to the collapse of twenty-seven energy companies.

Mick Whitley said this was a sign of a “dysfunctional system, designed only to line the pockets of private shareholders and not to serve the needs of the millions of people facing fuel poverty.”

The industry body Energy UK has estimated that domestic energy bills will rise by a further 45 – 50% by spring 2022, with the charity National Energy Action warning that a further two million people risk being plunged into fuel poverty – bringing the total number of fuel poor households to six million, the highest number since records began.

At one and the same time, the energy company OVO is heading for a dispute with Unite the Union by proposing 25% redundancies at the same time as transferring assets from OVO to its other companies. The action is designed to make workers in the energy sector, as well as its consumers, pay the price for the failure of this chaotic system.

In a debate on the cost of living this week, Mick Whitley said that many of his constituents were “suffering terribly” because of the worst cost of living crisis in decades and that many were too afraid to even turn their heating on in the middle of winter.

Mick Whitley is fully behind Labour’s call for VAT on domestic energy bills to be scrapped, as well as for a windfall tax on oil and gas firms who have profited from rising prices. Labour say that this would leave families hundreds of pounds better off.

But he insisted that broader reform of the energy sector was needed.

Speaking to birkenhead.news, he said that the “current crisis has exposed the chronic failings of the privatised energy system. The fact that we’re continuing to export massive amounts of gas abroad, even as ordinary people and businesses grapple with the fallout of shortages at home is shameful. By bringing energy back into public ownership, we can slash household bills and make massive investments in decarbonising energy.” He also said that the climate crisis and the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine underscored the importance of investing in green energy in the UK and reducing reliance on foreign energy supplies.

The Birkenhead MP’s support for the renationalisation of energy has attracted support from a number of his colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party, with at least thirty MPs signing an Early Day Motion which called “upon the Government to bring the energy sector into public hands”.

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