On Tuesday 4 February, MPs took part in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on energy company charges for payment other than by direct debit. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following representations from Robert Halfon, Albert Owen, Dr Julian Lewis, and Elfyn Llywd
Watch the debate and read the transcript
The debate on a motion relating to energy company charges for payment other than by direct debit began at 4.43pm and was opened by Albert Owen.
Text of motion
"That this House is disappointed that 17 energy companies in the UK charge their customers more if they do not pay their bills by direct debit; acknowledges that some firms do not charge their customers any extra at all; notes that Department for Energy and Climate Change statistics show that this adds £114 to the average consumer’s bill; further notes that 45 per cent of people do not pay their energy bills by direct debit; recognises that over one million people in the UK do not have access to a bank account; believes that these charges are a stealth tax on the poor; and therefore urges Ofgem to hold an inquiry into these practices, encourages energy companies to operate with more transparency, and urges the Government to consider ways of limiting these charges, such as by introducing a cap."
How the subject was selected
This debate was selected by the Backbench Business Committee following representations from Robert Halfon, Albert Owen, Dr Julian Lewis, and Elfyn Llywd at the Committee's public meeting on 28 January 2014.
Backbench Business Committee
The Backbench Business Committee meets weekly on Tuesdays at 3pm to consider requests for debates from any backbench Members of Parliament on any subject, including those raised in e-petitions or national campaigns.
An MP must make a representation before the Committee for an e-petition or petition to be debated; e-petitions exceeding the Government's 100,000 signature threshold are not automatically allocated backbench time.
The Committee then has to decide how to allocate the limited Parliamentary time it has at its disposal. The Committee's meetings are always conducted in public and can be watched on Parliament TV.