VoteClimate: Finance Bill - 30th November 2022

Finance Bill - 30th November 2022

Here are the climate-related sections of speeches by MPs during the Commons debate Finance Bill.

Full text: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-11-30/debates/E87049A0-B613-4050-B400-245EA6DE89FA/FinanceBill

13:44 Rosie Winterton (Labour)

(a) the Secretary of State’s ability to meet the duty set out in section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008,

This amendment would require the Chancellor to produce quarterly assessments of the impact of the removal of VED exemption for electrically propelled vehicles on the UK’s climate change duties, air pollution and EV infrastructure and public transport.

(c) the revenue that the energy (oil and gas) profits levy would yield if the investment allowance did not have effect in respect of expenditure on decarbonisation by oil and gas companies.

(a) the target for 2050 set out in section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008,

(b) applicable carbon budgets made pursuant to section 4 of the Climate Change Act 2008, and

This new clause would require the Government to publish an assessment of the impact of the investment allowance on revenue raised by the Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy, including investment by oil and gas companies in UK oil and gas extraction and upstream decarbonisation. The assessment should also cover the impact of the investment allowance on the UK’s ability to meet its domestic and international climate targets.

New clause 9— Assessment of investment relief on compliance with the climate change target for 2050 —

(a) the Secretary of State’s ability to meet the duty set out in section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008, and

This new clause would require the Chancellor to produce an assessment of the impact of the relief for investment expenditure in relation to the Energy Profits Levy on the Secretary of State’s ability to meet the target of ensuring that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline. And produce a report each quarter detailing how much additional CO2 has been produced because of the investment expenditure relief.

Clause 2 makes changes to the rate of the investment allowance within the levy to ensure that the total tax relief remains broadly the same following the increase in rate to 35%. Specifically, the clause reduces the rate of the investment allowance from 80% to 29%, effective, again, from 1 January next year. That will maintain the overall cumulative value of investment reliefs, which means that a company investing £100 will be able to claim £91.40 back in tax relief. To be clear, the investment allowance will remain at 80% for investment expenditure on upstream decarbonisation, so that we continue to support the transition to low-carbon electricity production. That will be legislated for in the spring Finance Bill, following further detailed technical work and consultation with interested parties.

Certainly. I hope the hon. Lady will agree that we all want to see more decarbonisation, which is precisely why we have set the net zero landmark achievement for 2050, as she knows. In relation to energy security, we have to be realistic about where we are. Much as some campaigners would like it, we cannot stop using oil tomorrow. We have to find reasonable and methodical ways of decarbonising, which is precisely what the investment allowances aim to do, while encouraging different businesses, and indeed those businesses, to invest in carbon-free and low-carbon forms of energy production.

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14:00 Geraint Davies (Other)

I shall come to that in a moment, but we have been committed since 2020 to supporting the transition to electric vehicles; in fact, we have committed ourselves to £2.5 billion of support. We are giving the industry certainty about the scale of its ambitions through the zero-emission vehicle mandate. We will continue to incentivise low-emission vehicles through the company car tax, to which I am about to refer. We already publish data on air pollution, electric charging infrastructure and vehicle registrations by fuel type. That information will be available for the House to scrutinise—and, indeed, available to anyone who is interested—over the coming years.

Clause 10 will equalise the vehicle excise duty treatment of electric, petrol and diesel vehicles from April 2025, applying to both new and existing electric vehicles. The VED system will continue to support the transition to electric vehicles through favourable first-year VED rates for the lowest-emission vehicles, and owners of new zero-emission cars registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be liable to the lowest first-year VED rate, which is currently £10 a year. From the second year of registration onwards they will move to the standard rate, which is currently £165 a year. The expensive car supplement exemption for electric vehicles is also due to end in 2025. Eligible new vehicles, which are currently those with a list price exceeding £40,000, will therefore also be liable for the supplement. Those changes will raise more than £1.5 billion a year by 2028.

However, we continue to provide, and want to provide, appropriate incentives for the transition to electric cars. Clause 11—here I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Reading East (Matt Rodda)—therefore makes changes to secure long-term certainty on company car tax rates, which have been effective in incentivising the take-up of low and zero-emission vehicles. According to figures from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, about 60% of electric vehicles on UK roads are company-registered. We have tried to ensure that that continues by increasing the appropriate rates up to 2028, and in a modest fashion. These rates are used for the purpose of calculating the taxable benefit of a company car, and we are setting them out now to provide certainty about the tax incentives available for the transition to electric vehicles. This measure supports the continued take-up of lower-emission vehicles and, therefore, our broader commitments on climate change and air quality.

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14:15 Robert Syms (Conservative)

Oil and gas is a very successful industry for the United Kingdom. The hon. Lady and I probably disagree on most things, but we need to ensure that we keep the industry growing, which will create lots of jobs. This very successful industry creates a lot of wealth, which does not undermine the fact that many oil companies are now investing heavily in renewables. The North sea investments of Shell and many other major companies are consistent with decarbonisation. What we can do in producing more North sea oil and gas and in decarbonising a lot of that production is very exciting.

Thank you, Dame Rosie, for calling me at this point. We are discussing this Finance Bill still against a backdrop of problems with our energy security, the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis. Sadly, despite the rapid turnover in personnel in recent weeks and months at No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street, there are still no signs in this Bill that the Government have any inclination to go about getting to grips with those three crises and challenges of our age.

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14:45 Anthony Browne (Conservative)

Amendment 4 would require the Government to produce a quarterly assessment of how much revenue has been forgone through the investment allowance and publish the names of the companies that have benefited from the tax break. The lost revenue could have gone to supporting struggling households or protecting our public services, and the British people deserve to know how the money has been spent. I am also concerned about the environmental impact of the investment allowance. The Government state that they are committed to net zero, but at the same time the allowance promotes oil and gas exploration, while refusing renewable generators an equivalent tax relief.

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15:00 Caroline Lucas (Green)

When the Chancellor delivered his autumn statement, he did so not just against a backdrop of recession and rising inflation, but in the context of the twin challenges of the climate and energy crises—both of which have fossil fuels at their core—and while millions of households face fuel poverty and unimaginable hardship this winter. The UN Secretary-General memorably warned at COP27 that:

My new clause would address the continuation of a policy that locks us further into fossil fuels at the expense of the taxpayer and at the cost of exacerbating climate breakdown.

The hole at the heart of the windfall tax has led Shell—the UK’s fourth largest oil and gas producer—to pay no windfall tax or, indeed, any normal oil and gas tax at all. Indeed, oil and gas companies, which have made frankly grotesque profits, will still be able to claim £91.40 in tax relief for every £100 invested in oil and gas infrastructure. What is more, from January 1 a company spending £100 on upstream decarbonisation—which essentially translates as reducing emissions from the process of extracting oil and gas that goes on to be burned—will now be eligible for £109 relief. In other words, the taxpayer is actually paying the oil companies, which are already raking in massive profits—not the other way around.

The autumn statement should have been the moment where the Chancellor launched a transformation of our economy, powered by abundant renewable energy and with good green jobs. Instead, we had continued support for a costly and slow nuclear white elephant, and for the fossil fuels choking our planet. The so-called investment allowance—it is better termed “obscene subsidy”—is, frankly, a disgrace that fails to tax oil and gas companies properly and comes at huge cost to the public purse. Indeed, it has been estimated that if Rosebank—the UKs largest undeveloped oilfield—is developed, its owners would effectively receive more than £500 million in taxpayer subsidies.

Of course, I welcome the £6 billion investment in energy efficiency from 2025, but that will be of little comfort to households that are struggling to heat their homes right now. Crucially, my amendment would also require the Government’s assessment to cover the impact of the investment allowance on the UK’s ability to meet its domestic and international climate targets. The Glasgow climate pact, which the UK presided over, includes the commitment to pursue efforts to limit global heating to 1.5°C degrees, but the UN has made it clear that Governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with staying below that critical threshold. I am aware that a number of amendments seek that kind of assessment of the investment allowance, and I welcome them, but I believe mine goes further because it would require the assessment to consider the impact on the 1.5° target, in addition to net zero and the UK’s carbon budgets.

It is no longer acceptable for the Government to look at its policies in isolation from our planet’s shared carbon budget. Not only does oil and gas extracted in the UK add to global emissions regardless of where it is burned, but, as the Committee on Climate Change has acknowledged, further extraction

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