Energy Bill: where was Ben Wallace MP?

Ben Wallace MP in parliament: but where was he on the day of the crucial energy bill vote?

38 Degrees member Phil Milston has been in touch to let us know about the bizarre response he got from his MP’s office to one of the campaigns we ran back in February.

About 5,000 of us emailed our MPs to ask them to vote for our amendment to make sure the Energy Bill included an Emissions Performance Standard for new power stations. By setting limits on emissions we wanted to make sure the new generation of ‘cleaner’ coal-fired power stations lived up to their name. Phil was pleased to hear from his MP, Ben Wallace (Conservative), that “I fully agree with your assertion that it is important to include an EPS in the Energy Bill”.

So when our amendment was defeated by just eight votes, Phil was disappointed to find that Ben Wallace hadn’t bothered to show up and vote for it. Where was he? After receiving no response to his enquiries, Phil eventually received a reply from Ben Wallace’s PA last week to say:

“At the last election the boundaries of the Lancaster and Wyre constituency were redrawn and two new constituencies created. Mr Wallace was elected last month as the Member of Parliament for Wyre and Preston North and as such is no longer your MP. I would, therefore, suggest that you contact your new Member of Parliament.”

We’ve copied the full correspondence below.

If you’re one of Ben Wallace’s new constituents, why not ask him where he was? You can contact him at wallaceb@parliament.uk or call his PA on 0207 219 5804. And if you’ve had a similar experience with your own MP, please let us know!

Phil’s correspondence with Ben Wallace MP

Begin forwarded message:
From: phil milston
To: Ben WALLACE
Subject: Fwd: Reply from Ben Wallace MP

Hi Zoe,

As stated, my enquiry was specifically aimed at Mr Wallace and his support for, then absence from the vote.

He was our MP at the time and as such remains accountable for his actions regarding this issue.

All I’m looking for is an explanation of his actions. Why are Mr Wallace and yourself being evasive?

I look forward to your reply

Regards – Phil Milston

—–Original Message—–
From: ASHWORTH, Zoe
To: ‘phil milston’
Sent: Mon, 21 Jun 2010 10:25
Subject: Carbon emissions

Dear Mr Milston,

Thank you for your email in support of an Emissions Performance Standard.

You may be aware that at the last election the boundaries of the Lancaster and Wyre constituency were redrawn and two new constituencies created (Lancaster & Fleetwood and Wyre & Preston North). Mr Wallace was elected last month as the Member of Parliament for Wyre and Preston North and as such is no longer your MP.

I would, therefore, suggest that you contact your new Member of Parliament, Eric Ollerenshaw, if you would like to raise your concerns about carbon emissions.

Kind regards,

Zoe Ashworth
PA to Ben Wallace MP
Member of Parliament for Wyre and Preston North

Dear Mr Wallace,

Are you ever going to reply on this issue or will it become an embarrassment that will resurface to haunt you?

Begin forwarded message:
From: phil milston
Date: 29 March 2010 18:51:53 BST
To: Ben WALLACE
Subject: Fwd: Reply from Ben Wallace MP

Dear Mr Wallace,

I still await your response to the request for information below…..

Regards,

Phil Milston

Begin forwarded message:

Dear Mr Wallace,

I was most encouraged to recieve your reply quoted below. It was with great disappointment that I then found out that you did not bother to vote on this issue.

I would be most grateful if you would explain your actions.

Regards,

Phil Milston

On 23 Feb 2010, at 10:17, WALLACE, Ben wrote:

Dear Mr Milston,

Thank you for your letter about the Energy Bill and the inclusion of an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS).

I very much share your view that climate change is one of the greatest threats we face and reducing UK carbon emissions is an important contribution to reducing the global risk of climate change. I fully agree with your assertion that it is important to include an EPS in the Energy Bill. We have advocated introducing an EPS for a long time and, despite efforts to get it included in both the previous Energy Act 2008 and the Climate Change Act 2008, failed due to a lack of Government support.

You may be aware that we have already tabled a Conservative amendment in the form of New Clause 2 to include an EPS in the Bill. Furthermore, we would – if in Government – adhere to our commitment to introduce an EPS.

Whilst the Government has dithered over its approach to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), this Party has long supported your view that any new coal fired power stations must be fitted with CCS technology from day one and we will also restrict the emissions produced from power stations using an Emissions Performance Standard.

We envisage taking the most highly polluting, high carbon producing fuel of all and transforming it into a low carbon fuel of the future. Britain is blessed with large coal reserves, so there could be big benefits for our economy in cleaning up coal power. An incoming Conservative Government would contribute towards the creation of a national CCS infrastructure, allowing energy companies to plug in new CCS power stations making the UK a world leader in this technology.

Clean coal represents an element of our approach which rests on diversified energy supply made up of a wide variety of low-carbon technologies including large scale renewables and domestic micro-generation. This way we aim to re-build the British economy on the back of new, high-tech green industries, intelligent energy generation and transport, and energy efficiency in our homes, schools and businesses

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Kind regards,

BEN WALLACE