(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 18th May 2022) London, Uk – –
Conservative former minister Robert Halfon and Mel Stride, Tory chairman of the Treasury Committee, both indicated support for the policy
Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out introducing a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producers in an attempt to cut household energy bills – as some senior Conservative MPs joined Labour in calling for the policy to be implemented.
MPs discussed “the short-term and long-term cost of living increases” on the fifth day of debate on the Queen's Speech.
Sir Keir Starmer's party forced a vote on an amendment which expressed regret that a windfall tax policy was not included in the Queen's Speech amid the cost of living crisis.
The amendment was defeated by 310 votes to 248, a majority of 62 votes.
But both Conservative former minister Robert Halfon and Tory chairman of the influential Treasury Select Committee indicated their support for the policy.
Mr Halfon referred to oil company bosses as “the new oligarchs” with their “multi-million pound salaries” and “multi-million pound bonuses”.
“I would urge him [Mr Sunak] 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 to introduce a pump watch monitor to make sure there is fair competition and consumers get a fair deal at the pumps,” he told the Commons.
Conservative chairman of the treasury select committee Mel Stride added that he would also support a windfall tax as it is a “sensible measure” in the current economic climate.
“I do think the arguments that he (Ed Miliband) has put forward are generally sensible, and I'm very pleased in turn that my right honourable friend the Chancellor has indicated that the door is at least partially open, albeit caveated on the investment performance of the companies concerned,” Mr Stride said.
Meanwhile, shadow climate change and net zero secretary Ed Miliband said it was “shameful” that the government has not yet introduced a windfall tax and told Mr Sunak to “swallow your pride and get on with it”.
He called on Conservative MPs to join Labour in supporting the “fair and principled measure” which he said has support from business, trade unions and the “overwhelming majority of the public”.
“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,” Mr Miliband added.
The chancellor told MPs does not believe that windfall taxes are the solution to every problem, but added that if oil and gas giants do not invest their profits back into “growth, job and energy security” then the policy could be introduced.
“If it doesn't happen soon and at a significant scale then no option is off the table,” he told MPs.
The chancellor has previously said he is not “naturally attracted” to the idea of a windfall tax but that he would be “pragmatic about it” in light of the large profits oil and gas companies are currently generating due to elevated prices.
BP and Shell reported bumper profits earlier this year as energy prices skyrocketed.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunak dismissed criticism of the economic help being provided to households by the Treasury.
“To suggest there is no help available is both misleading and irresponsible,” he said.
Mr Sunak also admitted that “the next few months are going to be difficult” for households because inflation is surging globally.
“There is no measure nay government can take, any law we can pass, that can make those global forces disappear overnight,” he told MPs.
“No honest chancellor can stand here and say prices won't rise further.”
The chancellor also told MPs he will act to cut costs for people but did not say when this will happen.
It comes as a new survey of 2,000 Britons found that rising bills have meant one in four people have resorted to skipping meals.
More than four in five are concerned about the rising cost of living in the coming months, according to the Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Sky News.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, responding to the result, 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.”