Hayes waffles with aplomb but government energy policy is still a baffling work in progress
Tuesday 04 December 2012
John Hayes, like the government energy policy he helps to oversee, is a work in progress.
We have had his chutzpah-rich statement explaining away David Cameron’s impromptu promise to make the ultilities charge the lowest tariffs.
We have had his undermining of his own (Liberal Democrat) boss by declaring on wind farms that “enough is enough”.
Today we had Hayes, the newish minister struggling – and anyone would struggle – to master a brief of mindbending technical complexity and changeability in the presence of the handful of people who purport to understand it: his own civil servants and (some) members of the Energy Select Committee. But if this Hayes was a shade less cocksure, glancing hesitantly now and then at notes being written out for him by Jonathan Brearley, an official with the God-like title of head of energy strategy and futures, you could hardly accuse him of a crisis of confidence.
Self-doubt is not in his make-up. Even when he waffles he does it with aplomb. When the Tory MP Dan Byles pointed out that even after publication of the Energy Bill potential investors were being put off by uncertainty about future policy, he explained – a minor masterpiece this – that a “framework of certainty” had been created which had been “incredibly helpful”.
Unsurprisingly, MPs pressed him on the future of renewables in view of the dash for (inevitably cheaper) gas for which the Chancellor will fire the starting gun tomorrow.
A study in orotund courtesy in his answers on wind power to “Alan” [Whitehead, Labour], he declared: “My powers of prophecy are sufficient to have anticipated your question, but not sufficient to anticipate the answer.”
Skilfully batting away another tricky question to an official, he announced: “I don’t want my civil servants to come here and not have their moments in the sun. Or wind.”
The committee chairman Tim Yeo asked him what he would do if offshore wind power turned out to be a more expensive option than the onshore alternative.
If there was a moment that Hayes might have bared his teeth, lived up to his reputation as the” Hulk”and run amok denouncing the wind farms he seems to hate with every fibre of his being, this was it.
Instead, he said blandly, the “essence of the Bill” was a “broad technological mix”. We had hoped for something crazier, exposing the story of the dysfunctional relationship between the Energy Bill’s parents, the Lib Dems, Hayes, and of course the Treasury –“Meet the Frackers”, it might be called. But the moment may yet come.
Today in the Premier League, Everton face Manchester United, and Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. A victory for Jose Mourinho's side, and they could win the Premier League title as soon as Wednesday with a win over Leicester.
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...