On Friday the Fuel Poverty bill that I previously blogged about had it's second reading in the House of Commons. As feared, Lewisham Deptford MP and junior minister for climate change and energy, Joan Ruddock talked out the bill, following, it would appear, the instructions of her boss, one Ed Milliband.
Over the past few days I have been at Green Party Spring Conference in Blackpool. Today conference unanimously passed an emergency motion that I proposed, condemning the government's decision to kill this bill.
To quickly recap, the Fuel Poverty Bill was backed by campaigning groups including Age Concern, Help the Aged and Child Poverty Action Group and would have introduced a major energy efficiency programme to bring existing homes up to the energy efficiency standards of modern houses, cutting fuel poverty and ‘social tariffs’ to protect vulnerable people like pensioners from high energy bills.
I haven't yet received a response to my e-mail to Joan Ruddock at the beginning of the month, urging her to support the bill, but I fully anticipate one in about 3 weeks time, once the dust has settled, thanking me for my correspondence and saying 'it was a very difficult decision' etc etc.
How difficult can it be Joan, given you have previously stated that tackling fuel poverty is a top priority for you, and given that within your own constituency, an estimated 3,407 elderly people live in one room during the winter months to save money on heating their home, 2,555 stay in bed to keep warm, and 1022 have to make the choice between heating their home or eating properly? (Source: Association of Energy Conservation.) Across the UK, that translates to 5 million households living in fuel poverty, and 25,000 older people dying each year in the winter months as a result of this.
So we now have an MP who is now in favour of nuclear power (quite a volte face for the former president of CND), supports Heathrow Expansion, student tuition fees, ID cards, 40 day detention, has towed the party line on pretty much every vote in the House of Commons over the past few years and now, as junior minister for climate change, has torpedoed efforts to lift millions out of fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. Nice one Joan. Now clearly I'm biased, but I think Darren would do a much better job at representing the people of Lewisham Deptford.