On Tuesday morning the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee was finally able to get down to business after its membership was approved by the House.
Having been elected last month to chair this Committee, in Parliament’s first ever elections for Select Committee chairs, I’m delighted that four new Conservative MPs are now on this Committee, which was formed last year after the creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. For various reasons its profile up to now has been low but with the help of my enthusiastic new colleagues that is likely to change.
As a former Environment Minister and committed environmentalist for more than two decades I’m excited by the importance which David Cameron and the new Coalition attaches to green issues. My Committee will be working hard to make sure that the fine words and promises are translated into action. That didn’t happen under Tony Blair who proved to be a dab hand at the rhetoric but not much good at the action – as the last Committee I chaired, the Environmental Audit Select Committee, frequently exposed during the last parliament.
The Coalition’s Programme for Government document promises to implement ‘a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy’ as well as energy market reform, the establishment of a smart grid and the creation of an emissions performance standard for coal-fired power stations. If there is any slippage on these matters, my Committee will soon expose it and now that we have a wholly elected Committee to give us a strong mandate I’m confident our voice will be heard.
Issues such as the security of energy supplies in Britain, the effectiveness or otherwise of EU energy policy and the forthcoming UN Cancun climate change summit will all feature in our work in coming months. We will work closely with other organisations such as the Committee on Climate Change and the many excellent trade bodies and NGOs which are active in this field. We hope to have an early evidence session and we plan to hit the ground running with an announcement of our first inquiry next week.