Government overturns Lords' Energy Bill defeat


The House of Commons has rejected a Lords amendment to the Energy Bill to make old coal plants subject to new regulations limiting carbon emissions.

MPs voted by 318 votes to 236 - a comfortable majority of 82 - to overturn the move.

Peers had changed the legislation to extend the Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) to old coal power stations, unless they are fitted with carbon capture and storage technology.

As the bill returned to the Commons on 4 December 2013, in a stage known as "ping pong", the government asked the House to reject the amendment originally tabled by Liberal Democrat Lord Teverson.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said it would accelerate the closure of coal power plants without speeding up the opening of new ones, which he argued would threaten security of supply and increase costs to consumers.

"We estimate that if coal disappears by 2025 there will be an increase in our domestic bills of around 3-4%, that's around £22 to £28," he said, adding that non-domestic bills would also rise, by between 4% and 6%.

The government was supported in its argument by several Conservative backbenchers including former energy minister Charles Hendry and Wokingham MP John Redwood.

Mr Redwood said a European Union directive had already seen the closure of eight coal-fired power stations to date, and urged ministers not to allow any more to shut.

Former Green party leader Caroline Lucas supported the Lords' amendment but she argued that the EPS does not go far enough in reducing carbon emissions.

A division was called and the Commons voted to overturn the amendment. The bill will be sent back to the Lords for peers to consider whether to accept or reinsert the change.

This stage is known as parliamentary "ping pong", as a bill passes back and forth between the two Houses until they both agree the final wording of the bill.

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