Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas has criticised the government for giving tax breaks to oil and gas companies when their profits are going up on the back of the cost of living.
The Green MP spoke out during a House of Commons debate on tax measures in the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
Treasury Minister Victoria Atkins told the Commons that the government’s oil and gas windfall tax allowances would help to create a “methodical” path to net zero.
Ms Atkins, opening a debate on the Finance Bill, said that the “energy (oil and gas) profits levy” would be raised from 25 per cent to 35 per cent until March 2028.
She said: “This is because commodity prices, particularly gas, are now expected to remain above their long-term average for the foreseeable future.
“However, the government wants to see the oil and gas sector reinvest its profits to support the economy, jobs and the UK’s energy security.
“(This) is why the levy has an investment allowance that means businesses overall get a 91p tax saving for every pound they invest, providing them with an additional immediate incentive to invest.”
Ms Lucas asked: “Can she explain why she thinks it is reasonable to be giving incentives, taxpayers’ money, to companies that are already raking in huge profits at a time when there is a cost of living crisis which is driving so many families into real hardship right now?”
Ms Atkins replied: “In relation to energy security, we do have to be realistic about where we are.
“We cannot, much as some campaigners would like, we can’t stop using oil tomorrow, we have got to find reasonable and methodical ways of decarbonising.”
The minister later urged MPs to back changes to income tax thresholds, telling the Commons: “As set out in the autumn statement, the path to fiscal sustainability requires us to ask everyone to contribute a little more towards our public finances.
“But we are doing this in a fair way. Those with more are being asked to contribute more.”
The Brighton Pavilion MP also tweeted about the government’s approach to onshore wind farms today (Wednesday 30 November).
This Tory Govt has had an absurd mental block over onshore wind for a decade. It’s cheap, hugely popular, can strengthen our energy security & help tackle #climateemergency. Pitting onshore against offshore is nonsensical & dangerous – we need both.https://t.co/Yl8bYJcGpA
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) November 30, 2022