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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 21:03 GMT
Government wins in EU energy vote
European Union flags.
Mr Wicks said the EU had to speak with one voice on energy issues
Ministers have won a Commons vote on energy rules in the EU treaty, despite being accused of a "massive failure".

Tory frontbencher Alan Duncan said the treaty could force the UK to divert energy to other states in an emergency.

During the debate he told MPs: "A gas dispute in Bavaria could ultimately lead to gas rationing in Birmingham."

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said the EU had to speak with "one voice" on energy, to tackle issues like climate change and secure supplies.

During the second day of detailed topic-by-topic debates on the controversial Lisbon treaty, MPs voted to approve the government's policy on energy provisions by 367 to 169 votes.

'Mysterious and evasive'

A Tory amendment, rejecting the same policy, was defeated by 369 to 170 votes.

Earlier, shadow business secretary Alan Duncan attacked the treaty as a "massive failure of political will, a total failure of negotiating wit"

Our government has essentially written a blank cheque to Brussels
Alan Duncan
Shadow business secretary

He said parts of the treaty dealing with energy were "oblique, mysterious and evasive" and would allow the EU to pass laws ensuring security of supply and the interconnection of energy networks.

"Our government has essentially written a blank cheque to Brussels, which could, under certain situations, oblige the UK, for example, to assist in the building of other member states' energy infrastructure," he said.

He said it could mean Britain was told what to do about its nuclear power stations, or the proposed Severn Barrage.

Energy diverted

And he said, under a "solidarity" clause - the European Council could redistribute energy across the bloc in a crisis.

"A gas dispute in Bavaria could ultimately lead to gas rationing in Birmingham. If there's an interruption in the Gulf the commission can override our own contracts," Mr Duncan said.

The policy objectives of tackling climate change and securing energy supply seem to us entirely laudable
Steve Webb
Lib Dems

Tory MP Charles Hendry added that, under qualified majority voting, a country would be unable to resist having its energy diverted, if the Council of Ministers so ruled.

But they were challenged by some on their own benches - including former chancellor Ken Clarke, who said: "How on earth is this giving powers to Europe to veto the Severn Barrage? It explicitly says that this isn't the case."

Labour's former trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt said Europe's energy market was "highly fragmented" and needed to be joined up.

And Tory MP Ian Taylor said, with a growing dependence on imported energy, "we can't influence things by ourselves. We are in this together in a much more insecure world".

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks denied that a country would be forced by the EU to release stocks of oil.

He said it was "obvious" that Britain could achieve most when "we act together with our international partners."

He added: "We are looking forward, unfortunately many opposite, but not all, are rapidly pushing the rewind button of European history.

For the Lib Dems, Steve Webb said: "The policy objectives of tackling climate change and securing energy supply seem to us entirely laudable.

"They seem to us ones where the national interest and the European interest are in harmony, not in conflict, and therefore rather than being hostile to them we should be embracing them."

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