It is heart-warming that government has seen fit to pay heed to the advice of an elderly gentleman. The measures that are proposed today to help the poor and elderly are a little timid; nevertheless they represent investment and some recognition that the nation cannot for even continue to binge on the residues of prehistoric creatures.
The energy trade I understand has agreed to contribute some £900 million over three years. This would appear to be a good estimate of the surplus profits they are likely to enjoy as a result of the instability of the market for fuel. And the contribution will be made by voluntary levy, not by additional taxation, as I had advised. I wonder whether Mr Hilary Benn, who has negotiated this, is related to John Benn, a young radical who demonstrated considerable potential, I recall.
I am concerned nevertheless to learn from the excellent Mr Cable that these self-same companies have received considerable subsidies in kind from the government in the shape of free "carbon trading permits". I would wish them neither to be subsidised nor taxed in an arbitrary fashion.
However the nature of the investment strikes me as timid and likely to be ineffective. It appears to be restricted to "insulation" of fashionable kinds that will perpetuate dependence on carbon fuels. Indeed I am assured that the fashion of affixing additional panes of glass, separated by a notional vacuum, is not as effective as is claimed; indeed that the poor are likely to be subject to exploitation by those who would hawk these products. Regardless of the greed of salesmen, the raising of demand for a scarce product may inevitably raise its price. In these circumstances, consumers should by the law of political economy be enabled to substitute alternatives.
It seems to be forgotten that the British are a hardy nation who have resisted colder climates than these for centuries. A set of thick woollen curtains may be as effective as resisting the draught as pieces of plastic and metal and investment in these products might revive the nation's ailing textile industries.
We are also an innovative nation and many will wish to harness new technologies based on the natural sources of energy that emanate from Divine providence, the light and the heat of the sun and the wind created by the turbulence of the waters and the seasons.
I hear it is a frequent ploy of the Queen's ghillie to offer large sums of money to the public and then ensure they remain unspent. I fear this may happen in this instance if a greater measure of flexibility and discretion for householders is not introduced into the scheme.