In parliament >> Energy Bill: bus in ditch alert!

16th August 2011

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  • Energy ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Generation



Alan Whitehead MP likens the Energy Bill delays to a stranded bus

When is a law not a law? Most people would quite reasonably think that once a Bill has passed through parliament and has received royal assent, it is law.

In practice, this is sometimes true, sometimes not. This is because some Bills carry with them a baggage of “secondary legislation” – that is, a raft of measures, given a go-ahead in principle in the Bill but awaiting the sometimes quite detailed process of drafting regulations, guidance and schedules.

The Energy Bill is one such measure. In fact such a description is rather an understatement, because if you had to describe it you might liken it to one of those buses going generally in one direction, but so overloaded with people, parcels and other goods that progress is slow and often confusing.

For the Energy Bill, which heralds the introduction of the Green Deal on energy efficiency among other things, is dripping with secondary measures. Even after the Bill to all intents and purposes is complete, it is the subject of secondary legislation, and it is going to be a race against time to get all the pieces of the jigsaw fitting together in time for the very specific autumn 2012 start date for the Green Deal.

But now there’s a new problem: the overloaded bus has now become firmly stuck in a pothole.

All the frenetic preparations were predicated on the queen giving royal assent to the Bill before going off to Sandringham for her holidays – and instead MPs have gone on their holidays without time being found to complete its passage, and the multitude of bits of secondary legislation are now seriously bogged down.

Whether it was News International or over-punctilious bail-law judges filling parliament’s time, the fact is that parliamentary business managers have failed to give the Bill the slots it needs to complete its passage. And, so far, there’s no sign of a slot being found in September. At that point, the Green Deal is in real trouble.


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