Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hexham comes to Westminster - constituents give evidence to DECC Select Committee

Very exciting day tomorrow: 2 of my constituents have been invited to give evidence to the Department of Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. Mike Murray, of the Tarset Oil Club, and Lauren Langton, are appearing live tomorrow at around 10.30am - you can watch on the parliament channel or the democracy website. Others are giving evidence in writing. This is all part of our desire to ensure that there is a significant reduction in fuel poverty, and a fair market for heating oil and LPG. I wish them luck and will be cheering from the sidelines.

The Committee has taken up my request, set out in writing and in the detailed debate of the 19th October 2011, on energy prices, to investigate heating oil and LPG pricing and regulation: full details here http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2011-10-19b.929.1&s=speaker%3A24962#g957.0
but the key part of the debate is set out below:
Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
There cannot be regulation without submissions being made and investigations taking place. It is incumbent upon us not just to get upset about how our constituents are being affected by heating oil and prices but to make representations to organisations such as the OFT. We must also invite the Energy and Climate Change Committee to investigate off-grid energy, which I very much hope it will do.Albert Owen (Ynys Môn, Labour)
I am pleased to help the hon. Gentleman by saying that we are going to have a further inquiry into the retail market, in which we will examine off-grid energy.Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
I am most grateful, and I hope that as part of that inquiry the Committee will examine the weighty report that the OFT has provided, as well as specific submissions from individuals and organisations that, like the previous three speakers, can give specific examples of price fixing or the appearance of price fixing. That is in the context of DCC, the company that I am particularly concerned about and have to deal with, recording operating profits of approximately 19.9% on an ongoing basis. I find that figure hard to square with the one given by the managing director, who when questioned in The Sunday Times said that the operating profit was only 2%—but I have taken my figure from the published accounts.

In Hexham five independents operate—WCF, Par Petroleum, Wallace Oils, GB Fuels Ltd and Rix Petroleum. I urge individual Members to draw to their constituents’ attention by every possible means, as I do for each and every constituent who is faced by heating oil problems, which independents operate in the constituency, so that they are in a better position to get a fair price.