Energy bills dominate deputy PMQs


Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman have clashed over energy bills and housing benefit changes, during deputy prime minister's questions on 4 December 2013.

The deputy PM and Lib Dem leader was standing in for David Cameron who is in China on an official visit. Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman took Ed Miliband's place.

Ms Harman led her questioning by asking if energy bills would be higher or lower this winter compared to last, as pressure grows over rising energy prices.

"They would be higher if we had not taken the action we have," Mr Clegg responded, referring to the government's announcement earlier this week that it would cut energy bills by £50 a year for the average household.

But Ms Harman said this was "not enough", and noted that "not one penny" will come from energy firms' profits "which they could well afford".

The government was "tiptoeing" around the "Big Six" rather than standing up for the most vulnerable, she claimed.

Mr Clegg attacked Labour's "illiterate" policy of an energy price freeze which he argued would push prices up for consumers.

The questioning then turned to the spare room subsidy policy, introduced to cut the housing benefit bill and free up homes for families living in overcrowded conditions.

Under the policy - which Labour opposes and has pledged to scrap - social housing tenants deemed to have spare rooms have their benefits cut

Ms Harman attacked Nick Clegg's role in the coalition, claiming that without the Lib Dems the policy would never have been introduced. He was the "very best deputy a Conservative prime minister could ever wish for", she remarked.

But Mr Clegg defended his party's record in office and insisted there would be no recovery without the Liberal Democrats.

At the start of the session frontbenches has paid tribute to the emergency services for their swift response to the helicopter crash in Glasgow.

Nine people died when the police aircraft came down on a pub.

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