MPs accused of ignoring fuel poverty vote

By staff

The fuel poverty bill was unable to make progress last week because so few MP’s turned out to vote, a lobby group said today.

The Federation of Private Residents Association (FPRA) have today asked why just seven per cent of Labour MPs and ten per cent of Conservative MP’s turned out to vote, meaning the bill was 11 votes short of the requirement to make progress.

Despite nearly three quarters of Liberal Democrat MP’s being present, the bill was blocked from going any further.

The bill, proposed by Lib Dem MP David Heath, aims to introduce three measures: an energy efficiency programme to bring existing homes up to current energy efficiency levels, social tariffs to limit vulnerable households’ exposure to high energy bills, and reinforcement of the legal duty on the government to act to end fuel poverty.

A home is said to be in fuel poverty when more than ten per cent of the household income is needed to put towards fuel costs. Some estimates have put the number of households suffering because of high fuel costs as high as five million.

The FPRA chairman, Bob Smytherman, said today: “The fuel poverty bill was ‘talked out’ by the government on Friday because not enough MPs turned up to support it. It needed 100 MPs but it only got 89.

“This is a crying shame. With millions of leaseholders across Britain struggling to afford to heat their flats, this bill is desperately needed.

“With such a narrow margin of failure it is really disappointing that so many MP’s were not in parliament to support this important bill.”

Some campaign groups, particularly those for the elderly, have condemned the lack of support for the bill.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “This is a huge let-down for the 2.75 million older people living in fuel poverty and many will question why a government which claims to be concerned about fuel poverty has acted in such a cynical way.”