Politics

Tories vote down gas giants windfall tax that could hand your family £600


Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted the government could perform a U-turn in future, however, as he said “no option is off the table”

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

Tory MPs have voted down a bid to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas giants that could save families £600.

Despite Brits facing a cost of living crisis, Conservatives rejected a Labour amendment to the Queen’s Speech backing a one-off levy on North Sea firms to help struggling Brits.

MPs rejected the move by 310 votes to 248, and not one Tory MP backed it.

It comes as households are set to be clobbered by soaring food and energy bills and towering inflation which is predicted to top 10% this year.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted the government could perform a U-turn in future, however, as he said “no option is off the table” when it came to the levy.

Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband tore into the Chancellor over his failure to act earlier during a heated debate in the Commons.







Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband
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Image:

PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Chancellor wants us to believe that his measures in response are the best we can do. But they are not. Not by a long shot,” said Mr Miliband.

The shadow minister said he would have “no idea” how he would cope with soaring energy bills if he was on the basic level of Universal Credit.

He added: “The truth is, they have run out of excuses, and amidst the chaos and confusion about what their position is, I think a massive U-turn is lumbering slowly over the hill.

“But I say this to the Chancellor: swallow your pride and get on with it.”

Following the vote, Mr Miliband added: “Every Conservative MP who voted against the windfall tax tonight has condemned millions of families to misery and anxiety as they struggle to pay their energy bills.

“Tonight a message has been sent by the Government that they will do everything they can to protect the oil and gas companies, and refuse to act to protect families; it says everything you need to know about where the Tories stand.

“This is a government that will never put working people first, will never stand up to the vested interests and has no answers to the cost-of-living crisis this country faces.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Conservative MPs have chosen to side with profiteering oil and gas companies over working people.

“Millions are being walloped by soaring bills and prices having been left badly exposed to this crisis after more than a decade of standstill wages and cuts to social security, overseen by successive Tory governments, all the while the likes of Shell and BP are registering eye-watering profits.

“Enough is enough. The Chancellor must bring forward an emergency Budget to give households grants to help with energy bills – funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants – and immediately increase Universal Credit and the minimum wage.”

During the debate, Mr Sunak repeated his claim that “no option is off the table”, and that only if oil and gas giants do not invest their profits back into “growth, job and energy security” could the policy could be introduced.

Conservative former minister Robert Halfon and Mel Stride, Tory chairman of the Treasury Committee, both indicated support for a windfall tax, with the former labelling oil company bosses “the new oligarchs”.







Chancellor Rishi Sunak
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Halfon told MPs: “The oil bosses are earning multimillion-pound salaries and getting multimillion-pound bonuses, they are in essence in my view the new oligarchs and I would urge him to consider both a windfall tax on the oil companies, which we can then use to cut taxes for the lower paid or cut energy bills, and also introduce a pump watch monitor to make sure that there is fair competition, that consumers get a fair deal at the pumps.”

Mr Stride added: “We have heard of the windfall tax in great detail today. I would support that.”

He added: “I do think the arguments that he (Mr Miliband) has put forward are generally sensible, and I’m very pleased in turn that the Chancellor has indicated that the door is at least partially open, albeit caveated on the investment performance of the companies concerned.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Paul Blomfield said some people in his constituency have attempted suicide in response to the rising cost of living, and a Conservative MP said the Government should “urgently” review Universal Credit rates.

The MP for Sheffield Central said: “I spent yesterday morning at a crisis meeting in a part of my constituency where incomes are lowest. And we were looking at the way in which (the) cost-of-living crisis we’re facing was impacting on people.

“It was a meeting involving the voluntary sector, energy advisers, food banks, debt advisers, schools, housing providers, local councillors and more.

“And we talked about the very real struggle that people are facing to feed families and pay bills. The impact it was having on mental health. The people who had previously just been managing, but couldn’t see the way in which that was going to continue.

“We talked about suicide attempts as a consequence and which… they’d been faced (with) in the constituency. We talked about the exploitation of people’s hardship by loan sharks as a re-emerging problem.”

Later in the debate Conservative MP Miriam Cates said she would back a benefits increase, adding: “The heartbreaking stories we’ve heard in today’s debate, for example those shared by the member for Sheffield Central, do show that we do need to do more.

“And I particularly think that we should urgently review Universal Credit rates.”

And Conservative MP Laura Trott told the Commons Labour was “absolutely right” to say big firms such as BP and Shell could absorb a windfall tax, but added: The problem will be much more with the smaller players, the discouragement to competition that this might result in. And I strongly believe that the best way we can drive down prices in this market is by encouraging competition.”

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