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Stone tackles 'zombie government' for rejecting price cap on off-grid heating fuels

By David G Scott

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In a debate in the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone again raised the issue of energy costs in the north of Scotland, after the UK Government said in a letter that they had no plans to put a price cap on the cost of heating oil.

Jamie Stone MP. Picture: UK Parliament Jessica Taylor
Jamie Stone MP. Picture: UK Parliament Jessica Taylor

The Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP has been campaigning for Ministers to intervene on soaring heating prices by extending the energy price cap to off-grid fuels such as oil and tank gas.

At present, the energy price cap only regulates electricity and mains gas.

Intervening on fellow Highland MP Ian Blackford in the Chamber, Stone said: “I do thank the right hon. Member for giving way. We talk about food banks and we talk about poverty, but it is a fact that many households—the Prime Minister referred to them as some of the poorest in the land—including those in my constituency, have no alternative but to use fuel oil, because they are off grid.

“When I asked the Minister of State for Energy in March whether a cap could be placed on the price, he said no, because there had been some survey in 2011. Today is a very hot day, but winter is coming and it will be cold. May I suggest to the right hon. Member that it is the mark of a civilised and caring Government that these people are helped and that a price cap is put on the cost of fuel oil—domestic heating oil?

Commenting after the debate, Stone added: “It is hugely frustrating that the government continues to stonewall progress on protecting off-grid energy customers, such as those who rely on heating oil. People cannot afford to purchase fuel now, let alone as we descend into another bitter Highland winter.

“The next few months will be crucial in getting support to those households who desperately need it – but instead we have a zombie government that is too focused on its own internal wranglings to deal with the heating hardships people are facing.

“If I could ask one thing of the UK and Scottish Governments in the coming weeks, it would be this: for the good of my constituents, please put your differences aside, work together, and help the people that you are elected to serve.”

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