The Energy Bill does not create new criminal offences
Over the past week, several claims have been circulating about the Energy Bill. It has been misreported that this legislation would give the Government a blank cheque to create sweeping new criminal offences.
It is claimed that failure to comply with energy regulations will lead to a £15,000 fine or even being sent to prison.
According to various social media posts, the World Economic Forum are responsible and this is all to do with enforced compliance on Net Zero targets.
Sadly, misinformation online has generated fanciful stories that even anyone refusing to have a smart meter in their own homes will be charged.
This is not the case.
Indeed, the scarce detail included in these scare stories for what exactly would warrant such heavy-handed measures is, by its absence, revealing.
The Minister responding to the debate on 5th September directly addressed these swirling rumours by stating:
“I want to be absolutely clear: we are simply seeking to replace the power to amend the energy performance of premises regime, which was lost as we departed the EU. Brexit gives us the power to do that.
I can categorically guarantee before the House that we are not creating new offences. In any case, any new offences on anything—as is always the case—would have to be subject to debate, scrutiny and vote in this place, which Brexit has allowed us to do.”
Certain clauses in the Energy Bill, such as Clause 248 – Sanctions, have been fundamentally misunderstood.
This Bill would enable related offences and penalties, should they be required at a later stage, but it does not create them – and the Government has ruled out any plans to do so.
Bills are known as ‘primary legislation’, and it is common practice that they establish the framework of future powers within its ambit.
The details of such powers are then set out in detail via statutory instruments, referred to as secondary legislation, which MPs then scrutinise.
Such serious matters as new offences are considered separately by Parliament with careful, due consideration.
What the Energy Bill aims to achieve is more investment in clean technologies and to reform the resilience and reliability of our domestic energy system – which includes protecting consumers.
I believe there is a sound case for environmental economics that only a capitalist, dynamic free market system can provide through the development of future green technologies.
This Bill will help by establishing a market-based mechanism for low carbon heat, as well as implementing hydrogen and carbon capture business models. Parts 4 – 9 of the Bill are tailored at reforming market frameworks and governance arrangements while minimising costs to consumers.
Following geopolitical events and the importance of North Sea oil and gas to heat our homes, the final section of the Bill sets out provisions to reduce the risk of fuel supply disruption for the UK.
The Bill returns for its next stage on 18th October, when I and my colleagues will consider Lords Amendments to the draft proposals.