A Week in Parliament

Brexit Extension

Eventually after all the lost votes, the fighting and debates, the Prime Minister hung about the EU long enough to get another extension to the leaving date. The October 31st deadline spurned a lot of comments about Halloween. This in turn led Twitter wags to point out that Killie Halloween (or Killieween)  is of course the last Friday in October so should that be the deadline? Given the way negotiations have went to date, I think giving Theresa May less days to operate with would not be a good thing! Still, hopefully I will now have a few weeks of not writing about the Brexit twists and turns.

Day Job

Still hopefully the UK Government will start to “get on with the day job”. I made an observation that this was a “Zombie Parliament”, paralysed due to Brexit. An example of how little main business happening in the main chamber was the fact that a Statutory Instrument to correct a previous oversight in the transfer of powers to the Scottish Government over marine renewable energy was held in the main chamber. A similar committee I served on took ten minutes maximum because everyone agreed with the proposals. Yet, the Government still decided to allocate up to an hour and a half in the main chamber. Utterly bizarre. I made another observation that there is other legislation they have been promising to change to make it easier for batteries which store electric energy to be deployed, but they haven’t yet done so. Matters like these are another aspect of the Brexit paralysis that the general public do not see, and I suspect it is a combination of Brexit taking up too much time in general but also the fact that many departments have lost key staff to the Department for Exiting the EU.

Looming Energy Crisis?

In answers to written questions, I have confirmation that half of the existing UK nuclear power stations will be shut down in the years 2023 and 2024. In follow up questions, asking what plans are in place to replace the power generation capacity of these stations, the opening part of the official Government answer was “There are a range of options for replacing this capacity over the coming decades.” How is this answer supposed to give confidence? The timeframe is clearly not decades, and to have replacement schemes, whether renewables or another technology, then planning should already be underway. A scheme will need outline design, planning permission, detailed design and construction. Therefore the timeframe for getting electricity generating is years in itself and so that process should be underway right now. Even the Hinkley point C project nuclear project will not start generating at 2025 at the earliest and actually has a timeframe deadline of 2033. So these critical matters it feels are not been dealt with at all and should be a concern for all of us if proper planning does not start soon. The UK Government have promised an Energy White Paper in the summer, so I will be scrutinising this closely.