Scottish energy commission 'could consider' price freeze option

From Democracy Live: Fergus Ewing attacks Labour's energy price freeze promise during general questions

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The Scottish government has said its expert commission on energy could consider the feasibility of a price freeze on gas and electricity prices in an independent Scotland.

But Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said he thought the move was "unfeasible".

On Thursday, he attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband's promise to make energy firms freeze prices for two years if he won the next General Election.

Mr Ewing warned it could lead to the lights going out.

The energy minister told BBC Scotland that the SNP government in Scotland had delivered a price freeze for the council tax because it was within its control.

He said: "The trouble about the energy price freeze is that the international gas price is set by global markets and therefore it is not within the control of the Labour party, and they have not published any plan showing how it would work."

The Scottish government recently announced the setting up of an expert commission to look at how the gas and electricity industry might be regulated in an independent Scotland.

It will be chaired by Robert Armour, an energy lawyer working in the power sector in Scotland for 30 years.

Mr Ewing said: "We have asked the energy commission to look at all the options, including the options which we think are unfeasible, such as a price freeze."

Labour accused the SNP of siding with big business against hard-pressed consumers.

Scottish Labour's finance spokesman Iain Gray said: "The choice is very clear.

"If we stay part of the United Kingdom, Scotland stands to benefit from a price freeze and strong regulation of the markets and prices.

"If we were to leave the United Kingdom we would have no price freeze and the energy companies would be able to continue to raise their prices willy-nilly while their profits go up far more."

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