Welwyn Hatfield MP criticised for missing fuel poverty vote
WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has been accused of failing to support a crucial bill aimed at stamping out fuel poverty. Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Paul Zukowskyj launched the attack after the Fuel Poverty Bill, a private members bill sponsored by
WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has been accused of failing to support a crucial bill aimed at stamping out fuel poverty.
Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Paul Zukowskyj launched the attack after the Fuel Poverty Bill, a private members' bill sponsored by MP David Heath, fell just 11 votes short of progressing through Parliament.
Mr Zukowskyj told the WHT: "With such a narrow margin of failure it is really disappointing that Grant Shapps was not in Parliament to support this important bill, especially as he has made such a splash recently apparently caring about homelessness.
"What about all the people who have to decide between paying the rent and heating their homes?
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"Do they not warrant as much concern?"
He added: "The only information about our MP's whereabouts was his Twitter entry for the day - 'Nine engagements throughout Welwyn Hatfield'.
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"Clearly these were more important than attempting to help over 10,000 of his constituents pay their fuel bills."
Mr Shapps defended his non-attendance, saying it was not possible to attend every reading of a private members' bill.
As for his constituency engagements, which included visits to Springmead School and pharmaceutical firm Schering-Plough, both in WGC, he said: "Some of these have been in the diary for months and months.
"I could effectively ignore my constituents and spend every Friday
on a private members' bill but that is just not practical."
Addressing the issue of fuel poverty itself, Mr Shapps said: "Fuel poverty is a desperately important subject and I think the Government should give this proper time in Parliament, rather than relying on backbenchers to push the bill through."
And, in a rebuke to Mr Zukowskyj, he added: "When I was a wannabe MP in Welwyn Hatfield, I spent all my time telling people what I would do for the area rather than concentrate on how others are doing their jobs."
A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it spends more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel.
Figures recently released by watchdog Consumer Focus suggest 14.4 per cent of homes in Welwyn Hatfield are suffering.