October 29th, 2013

SKETCH: Energy Committee Lacking Energy, Power, Illumination

You’d pay quite a levy or premium on your fuel bill to wipe the smirk off their management faces.

It wasn’t a grilling. Parliament couldn’t afford the fuel. It was a little light poaching. It was coddling.

Wither-ringing quote of the day from Labour’s Ian Lavery: “How can the profits be fair if people can’t afford to pay them!”

Faced with such a confused and under-informed committee (Energy and Climate Change) the energy bosses realised they could say anything they liked.

Transparency. Trust. Fairness. Profoundly regretting putting up any prices at any time. Our passionate people working their fingers to the bone to keep the lights on by investing, yes and re-investing everything they made back into this sceptre’d isle so that the poor, the disabled, the elderly, young people, differently-sexed people, women with skin issues, fish – wouldn’t have to choose between eating and heating.


The MPs read out one written question and then collapsed. It’s not clear they knew anything more about the energy market at the end of the session than at the beginning.

They make ignorance almost respectable.

Having said that, they had two hours to make a case.

Three of the big companies were sitting there like “a chorus line acting in concert” (Phillip Lee). They had put their prices up at the same time by the same amount and announced them in the same order, (Alan Whitehead). They sold power to their offshore owners cheaply and bought it back expensively. They were abusive predators raping the vulnerable (that vast natural resource John Robertson).

They were brilliant, global-quality obfuscators. “We’ve spent an hour sitting here trying to find out where you make your money. I’m still none the wiser” (all of them).

The rogue element among the power bosses was one Stephen Fitzpatrick from upstart Ovo Energy. Sporting a middle-age Mohawk, he gave his industry colleagues the sort of treatment the MPs could only aspire to. “You’ve all been trying to track down where the money has been going. But these are the best filibusters in the business.”

He said that the win-back scheme for defecting customers was a mark of the sector’s rottenness. When customers rang up to leave  they were immediately offered a 15 per cent reduction in their bills, as if to say, “We’ve been overcharging you for years, but only because you let us.”

Their regional market share was a legacy of the old nationalised industry, they were enjoying ex-monopoly advantages, and that Ofgem has almost entirely failed to tegulate them properly. These managers were “very clever, giving complex, confusing answers, so the only answer is more competition.”

He also slipped in a pretty good sales pitch.  “We hope to make 5 per cent profit and yet our prices are 12 per cent lower.” (www.ovoenergy.com)

The main finding.

The committee needs a complete overhaul. A somnolent chair, incoherent questioning, and MPs in such data-poverty they’re forced to choose between thinking and drinking.


76 Comments

  1. 1
    All the world says:

    rotten bastards, and thats the committee

  2. 2
    Paul Dacre says:

    Waste of energy.

  3. 3
    ToryOAP says:

    Waste of energy

  4. 4
    RED ED - SON OF BROWN says:

    We should have a full, judge-led independent inquiry…..into the stupidity of Ian Lavery.

  5. 5
    Montgomery Burns says:

    Excellent.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    Once again our ‘representatives’ show they’re only capable of representing themselves. Hugely.

  8. 8

    You don’t honestly think that anyone capable of asking a coherent question would be let anywhere near this committee do you? The last thing, Dave, Cleggy and RedEd want is an energy and climate change committee capable of asking difficult questions.

  9. 9
    Drake's Drum says:

    To paraphrase F.E. Smith, none the wiser, but considerably better informed.

  10. 10
    La la la I know better says:

    It seems if the green tax is mentioned to the Liebour sh1tes, they change direction the interview is going and blame everybody else, as shown on tv by red Ed and that Flint woman, even a 6year who’s broken something couldn’t spin the blame quickly enough.

  11. 11
    Eco Leftwit says:

    I’d rather all my elderly relatives froze to death than one polar bear cub tumbled off the melting icecaps into the water.

  12. 12
    Osama the Nazarene says:

    Brilliant sketch & so so true.

  13. 13
    Blacked Eye says:

  14. 14
    Pi55ed off with the whole fookin game says:

    I think Ovo might gain some new accounts besides me!

  15. 15
    any old crap says:

    Green green the grass is green, so is the seating now being shown in the HOC, whilst debating the pensions bill, you can guess who don’t give a monkeys uncle about pensions, seeing theirs is well and truly ring fenced.

  16. 16
    Bring back the ducking stool says:

    Jeeeez

  17. 17
    ceejay says:

    What a complete waste of time most inarticulate select committee seen for a long time. Was the supposed Chairman awake.
    The easiest ‘grilling’ the big 6 will ever have.
    Grilling? wouldn’t even lightly toast bread.

  18. 18
    Police state says:

  19. 19
    The Legal System says:

    Who is Mark White and what is his jurisdiction?

  20. 20
    Wishful thinking says:

    MPs’ pensions should be funded by their own contributions to personal pension funds. Likewise all public sector workers’ pensions.

    Then the latter might – just might – be a little bit more careful who they vote for and the former might – just might – be more careful about what they do to the economy. They might – just might – in future stop a lunatic like Gordon Brown from well and truly f*cking the pensions industry that the rest of us have to rely on if we’re not to live in poverty after retirement.

  21. 21
    Maximus says:

    “We’re a cartel… and we don’t care.”

  22. 22
    Nincompoops says:

    The members of this committee seem to be Tim Yeo , Dan Byles, Barry Gardiner, Ian Lavery, Dr Phillip Lee, Peter Lilley, Albert Owen, Christopher Pincher, John Robertson, Sir Robert Smith, and Dr Alan Whitehead.

    Pathetic is not the word.

    Pick the biggest loser of the lot! A lot of competition there I agree.

  23. 23
    It gets sillier and sillier and sillier says:

    Could be?

    Not ‘was’ then?

  24. 24
    Toxic Labour scum trashed my Country says:

    There’s no way the energy companies can be made accountable and they know it. The Department for Energy and Bad Science have caused all this with their stupid green agenda.

  25. 25
    Keir Farmer says:

    I may be completely OK with gender-based abortions by funny muzzer folk, but satirical magazine covers is a red-line!

  26. 26

    Well done, Engineer on winning the Quote of the Day. A worthy effort and may last for a month! :-)

  27. 27
    Doktor Eoin Fart, PhD(ish) and Mong says:

    You should go to greenbenches blog and fence your tongues through my ring.

  28. 28
    Conspiracy Watch says:

    If the police wanted to draw lots of unwanted attention to this case, and perhaps shine a light on Cameron, this is a good way of doing it.

  29. 29
    Calling Planet Earth says:

  30. 30
    Are Friends Electric? says:

    Well, I’ve just gone onto the OVO web site to see how much I could save on my bills by switching from one of the evil Big Six suppliers and got the good news that my bills would be £23 higher. So they’re all spin doctors, big or small.

  31. 31
    Casual Observer 3 says:

    It is not up to the police to determine what is or is not in contempt.

    That is strictly the preserve of a Judge.

    The officers involved here have stepped ‘way beyond their payscale’

    Stinks of Common Purpose, and what should be a career ending disciplinary.

  32. 32
    Omar Shamshoon - for the people says:

    Ian Lavery was on radio 4 midday on You and Yours posturing before the committee was in session.
    He stated he had been some years in energy but when asked why Labour after 13 years did so little he stated that in 1997 when we came in government the energy charges were low. He meant to say when they lost power. Of course bbc did not go for this totally open goal, nor why nuclear was kicked into the grass for a decade.
    In committee he pontificated and grandstanded and shouted down industry leaders for his loyal tribal followers. The BBC dutifully recorded quite a few committee rhetoric especially from labour but few industry responses.

  33. 33
    Lord Wikipedia of Wellinformed-sur-le-Nette says:

    A finding of Contempt of Court is a finding which in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court’s authority.

    A person found in contempt of court is called a “contemnor.” To prove contempt, the prosecutor or complainant must prove the four elements of contempt:

    1. Existence of a lawful order
    2. The potential contemnor’s knowledge of the order
    3. The potential contemnor’s ability to comply
    4. The potential contemnor’s failure to comply

    Contempt of court is essentially seen as a form of disturbance that may impede the functionality of the court. It is for a judge to satisfy himself, to the correct standard of proof and based on evidence, that a contemnor is in contempt of court.

    A judge may impose fines and/or jail time upon any person committing contempt of court. The person is usually let out upon his agreement to fulfill the wishes of the court. he judge will make use of warnings in most situations that may lead to a person being charged with contempt. It is relatively rare that a person is charged for contempt without first receiving at least one warning from the judge.

  34. 34
    Omar Shamshoon - for the people says:

    Confirms my judgement of Ian Lavory (Lavatory comes to mind) but I did think he would be much older and more senile. He does not even have a radio face.

  35. 35
    Joe Public says:

    Ian Lavory by a furlong

  36. 36
    BBC and Energy Committee says:

    But we believed him as we wanted the soundbite.

  37. 37
    Engineer says:

    They don’t even need to conspire to be a cartel. They just play follow the leader. One of them hikes prices by x%, and within a month the other five have hiked prices by x +/- 1%.

  38. 38
    JH890482309480923 says:

    We have some of the cheapest energy in Europe.

    It would be considerably cheaper were it not for all the green tax/subsidy bullshit.

  39. 39
    Yeo Cunt says:

    I thought Yeo had done a runner to Korea?

  40. 40
    Fishy says:

    Ovo Energy and Fitzpatrick gets egg on his face

    From the Telegraph and ITN.

    15.41 A quick fact check on Ovo’s price claims.

    Twitter: Jill Segger – Stephen Fitzpatrick of Ovo energy tells Select Committee that wholesale gas prices are falling. Doesn’t see why big 6 are increasing prices.

    Twitter: ITV News – Ovo Energy boss claims the firm cut prices last year – but firm’s website says it put prices up in April http://t.co/VUnsJU5OHu

    Ovo increased prices by 5.8pc in April. Announcement here.

    http://www.ovoenergy.com/2013/04/price-change-announcement/

  41. 41
    Engineer says:

    :-)

  42. 42
    old hal says:

    “Our passionate people working their fingers to the bone to keep the lights on by investing, yes and re-investing everything they made back into this sceptre’d isle “, my answer to that is what have they actually done as regards investments, apart from that rush for gas in generation electricity generation in the mid 80’s

  43. 43
    Old Hal says:

    It is certainly beginning to look that way

  44. 44
    Calidius Eroticus says:

    Fantastic bit of PR setting himself against the big six companies in such a public way. He deserves many customers just for that alone.

  45. 45
    Old Hal says:

    That is called competion – to drive up prices while they can. One sugestion I’ve heard to day get rid of the standing charge and have one standard rate per unit for all users, use more, pay more, no one can tell me that the high users pay anywhere as near as much per unit as low users.

  46. 46
    Old Hal says:

    Wots up, no expletives etc or have you get approval

  47. 47
    Old Hal says:

    The answer is in the Titter name “@skymarkwhite”

  48. 48
    Axe The Telly Tax & Religion & Kill All Ecoloons says:

    Cameron and Davey keep telling us to switch our supplier to get a better deal.

    Well in 18 months time the voters will do exactly that.

    Tick tock, tick tock.

    Vote early,vote often,vote UKIP :-)

  49. 49

    Ofgem has almost entirely failed to tegulate them properly

    Did you get a power-outage on your laptop at a critical moment cause by a need to save the planet, Simon? :-)

    Just think up the amount of carbon these people have needlessly created to achieve no purpose, the transport there and back, the heating, lighting, secretarial help, meals, drinks, second homes, and all the rest. A fact-finding trip to Fiji to coincide with the Christmas recess, perhaps?

  50. 50
    Quiet Bat Person says:

    We need to develop Thorium nuclear power, and fast.

    The current nuclear power stations were to produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Electricity was a by-product.

    We don’t need conventional nuclear power for weaponisation any more.

    Thorium is plentiful and the Chinese have viable throrium reactors working.

  51. 51
    CHAR WALLAH with DYSENTERY says:

    Politicians are totally ill informed and clueless

    Brown envelopes and subsidised living is all they know
    never set foot in the real world

  52. 52
    Keitho says:

    Whoever asked the question regarding profit % being more than 5% after VAT and green taxes were taken out deserves a scotch.

    If VAT is 5% and green taxes are 10% then the margin is suddenly 12.35% and that ain’t hay as they say.

    If I were making 12% on a market of £10 billion I would consider myself blessed. The committee was generally useless but that point will become a very important thing.

  53. 53
    Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry they do what they like. That is if Private Eye says they will ignore the case and not cause any trouble for them.

  54. 54
    Anonymous says:

    What about the rampant inflation?

  55. 55
    who benefits? says:

    THE DEPARTMENT FOR ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

    A gang of overpaid under worked under qualified useless non entities so stupid and ill informed they couldnt find their way out of a toilet cubicle with an open door. A layer of government so unneeded and unnecessary in an over manned under performing government the lot of them would struggle to run a bath.

    Make deals to put energy prices up, rig up taxes and red tape to please foreign masters, make using energy so expensive companies cannot afford to employ people and the poor cannot heat their homes and are determined to spend billions on windmills that dont work and close down coal fired power stations that do work. And all to reduce a harmless plant food, we cant afford to let these nuggets run riot anymore.

    VOTE UKIP, ITS EITHER US OR THEM ISNT IT?

  56. 56
    Dave says:

    “that vast natural resource John Robertson” – it must gladden Pickles’ heart to see a bigger trougher.

  57. 57
    Engineer says:

    Actually, not quite correct. Only two nuclear stations (Calder Hall and Chapelcross) were configured for plutonium production; the rest were pure civil electricity generators.

  58. 58
    JH890482309480923 says:

    Nothing to do with printing oodles of money to fund incontinent public spending, I’m sure.

    When each £ is worth less, it takes more of them to buy a unit of something tangible like energy.

    Priced in Gold, energy has not really fluctuated much since the 90s.

  59. 59
    Joe Bloggs says:

    Hi Everybody peeps,

    Let’s all switch to one of the smaller energy providers – on the same day. We can do this. Turn our backs on the big 6, throw them into disarray make them sorry they ever stole our resources and…
    Oh I forgot we are British. So everyone bend over and get ready to receive another shafting.

  60. 60
    Anonymous says:

    He sounded completely bonkers, another case of pin a red rosette on a monkey ,i suspect.Did you see the clownss on the Labour front bench HahHa hahaha.

  61. 61
    Mainwaring says:

    Should have had Sammy Wilson on it.

  62. 62
    Big Bad John says:

    Will the last person to leave the building please turn the lights out.

    Oh ! you already have.

  63. 63
    Anonymous says:

    while spreading their collective cheeks.

  64. 64
    Jimmy says:

    I suppose this is a good example of why Spoonface is such a big hit with you people. You all remember the exchange. Not one of you remembers he was lying.

  65. 65
    Anonymous says:

    CO3 – Bell End. Arsehole.

  66. 66
    Ancient seafarer says:

    see update on previous post. The Met have been told to effoff. Time Bojo gots these Met cvnts under proper control.

  67. 67
    wet and warm says:

    Of course he was lying – you can see his lips move.

  68. 68
    Mr Angry says:

    I have bought two new properties in recent years both fully insulated and have paid taxes for the privilege.

    Why should I have to pay again through fuel bills to subsidize people who will not pay to properly maintain and insulate their older homes?

  69. 69
    HEARDITALL says:

    What a waste of money, were you not told that due to global warming cold winters will be aching of the past?

  70. 70
    HEARDITALL says:

    How can anybody these days hold the courts in anything but contempt?

  71. 71
    Labour...mendacious expedient sociopaths says:

    I’m not convinced they can’t be bought into line with stronger controls.

    If Ofgem is beefed up and detailed analysis done annually it cannot be beyond the wit of them to set a maximum annual percentage limit taking account of the international prices .. profit margins and incremental costs.

    The water authorities have done quite a good job controlling the companies and something similar could work for gas and electricity.

  72. 72
    English Heretic says:

    Grumpy, “the science is settled, no need for questions, nothing to see here move along now, all Tories are baby eating scum” (BBC journalist training manual).

  73. 73
    English Heretic says:

    Phew, the ice is increasing in line with heating bills – the policy worked!

  74. 74
    English Heretic says:

    A bit wordy but spot-on.

  75. 75
    English Heretic says:

    Of course, with global warming:

    From The Independent on 20 March 2000 we got the headline: “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past”. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

    “Obviously people won’t need heating ‘n stuff” (DECC spokesperson).

    ” I was always in favour of nuclear energy” (Ed Davey, Minister for lies and energy obfuscation, DECC).

    Ok, I made up the last two. The first quote is real.

  76. 76
    English Heretic says:

    I changed to EDF blue fixed rip-off tariff 2015, I trust the French government to do the right thing for me (OMG, what am i saying…)


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