Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out a one-off tax on oil and gas for oil and gas producers in an attempt to cut electricity bills in households as Labor seeks to force them to vote on the issue.
Discussing the amendment to the Commons, Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband said it was “shameful” that the government had not yet introduced a tax on windfall revenues, and said Mr. Sunak to “swallow your pride and continue it.”
He called on Conservative MPs to join Labor in support of “fair and principled measures”, which he said support business, trade unions and the “vast majority of the public”.
The chancellor said he did not believe that surplus taxes were the solution to every problem, but added that if the oil and gas giants did not invest their profits back in “growth, jobs and energy security”, then such a policy could be introduced.
“If this does not happen quickly and on a significant scale, then no option will be ruled out,” he told lawmakers.
Recently, the chancellor said he was not “naturally attracted” by the idea of a tax on windfall income, but he would be “pragmatic about it” in light of the large profits now being received by oil and gas companies due to rising prices.
BP and Shell reported huge profits earlier this year as energy prices soared.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon was one of the government’s spokesmen who expressed concern about the industry, calling oil company bosses “new oligarchs” with their “multimillion-dollar salaries” and “multimillion-dollar bonuses”.
“I would urge him to consider an unexpected tax from oil companies – which we can then use to reduce taxes on lower paid or lower electricity bills – and introduce a pumping watch monitor to make sure there is fair competition and consumers get a fair deal at the pumps, ”he told the Commons.
Conservative chairman of the Treasury Selection Committee Mel Stride added that he would also support an unexpected income tax as it is a “reasonable measure” in the current economic climate.
“I think the arguments he (Ed Miliband) have put forward are generally reasonable, and I am in turn very pleased that my proper esteemed Chancellor friend has shown that the door is at least partially open, albeit warned of the investment performance of the companies concerned “, – said Mr. Stride.
Noting that over the past seven months, Mr Sunak has had three chances to act on energy bills, Mr Miliband said: “The Chancellor wants us to believe that his response is the best we can do. But it is not so long shot. “
Calling the Treasury’s proposal still “sadly inadequate”, Mr Miliband asked: “I would not have imagined how I would have coped in these circumstances. Would any member of this House have become one?”
“And if you are the Chancellor of the Exchequer and cannot answer this question, it must tell you something – that you are not fulfilling your duty to the people of this country, who need your help the most.
“And, of course, what makes him even more guilty is that there is something that can help look him in the face, where the case has become irresponsible, where the government has ended excuses, where oil and gas producers earn billions. : an unexpected tax ”.
He continued: “The crypt has collapsed, and so has the chancellor – and how similar they are. Appeared out of nowhere, the price has risen, looked like the future, but it all turned out to be one giant Ponzi scheme.”
But Mr Sunak rejected criticism of economic aid provided to households by the Treasury.
“To claim that there is no help is misleading and irresponsible,” he said.
Mr Sunak also acknowledged that “the next few months will be tough” for households because inflation in the world is rising.
“There are no measures that the government can take, nor any law that we can pass that could make these global forces disappear overnight,” he told lawmakers.
“No honest chancellor can stand here and say that prices will no longer rise.”
The chancellor also told lawmakers he would act to cut costs for the people, but did not say when that would happen.
More than four out of five are concerned about rising cost of living in the coming months, according to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Sky News.