Saturday, 16 Oct 2021

‘Does he tell porkies?’ Kay Burley puts Hinds on the spot over Kwarteng’s Treasury claims

Damian Hinds defends Kwarteng over lying accusations

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Home Office Minister Damian Hinds has denied that Mr Kwarteng lied when he said there were discussions between Government departments about help for energy firms. The Business Secretary indicated on Sunday that struggling manufacturers and energy firms will not get much more support but said he is working closely with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help the industry. However, a senior Treasury source insisted to the PA news agency that no such talks have taken place despite firms pleading for help to prevent further collapses as wholesale gas prices spiral.

Mr Hinds was asked by Sky News if the Business Secretary had lied after the Treasury denied having been in talks with his department, and replied: “Of course not.”

He added: “These unnamed sources’ stories come out from time to time.

“The fact is Government departments, Government ministers talk to each other the whole time and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin, of course, that is something that the Business Secretary – and of course the Energy Secretary – is going to be totally focussed on.

“Something that the Treasury, of course, is also very focussed on as the economic management department of the nation.”

Mr Kwarteng said he is certain that the lights will stay on in the UK this winter as businesses warned they may have to reduce working hours to sustain themselves and the Energy UK industry body warned that more suppliers will collapse.

The minister guaranteed he will keep the energy price cap for consumers in place throughout the winter but said he will not “bail out failing energy suppliers”.

Asked if he has approached the Treasury about subsidies, he told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “No, I haven’t.

“We’ve already got subsidies in place and it’s very clear that a lot of those are working.”

Kwasi Kwarteng says gas prices are ‘global issue’

Mr Kwarteng said he could not yet determine whether there a price cap will be introduced for businesses but added that there have been discussions over “what the nature of that support might be”.

“What I’m very clear about is we need to help them get through this situation – it’s a difficult situation, gas prices, electricity prices are at very high levels right across the world and of course I’m speaking to Government colleagues, particularly in the Treasury to try and see a way through this,” he said.

Mr Kwarteng acknowledged it is a “critical situation” but denied he has asked for billions of pounds worth of support when asked whether he is considering a price cap for businesses or a winter package.

He told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I’ve not asked for billions, we’ve got existing schemes. I’m working very closely with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to get us through this situation.”

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But it was heavily disputed whether the Chancellor or his department have been involved in any talks.

A senior Treasury source bluntly told PA: “The Treasury has not been involved in talks.”

Some Tory MPs are among those calling for additional help for energy-intensive industries, such as steel manufacturing, during the crisis.

Mr Kwarteng faced demands for a “winter package of measures” to prevent further interruptions to supply chains during a meeting with industry representatives on Friday.

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