Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
Q: What sort of concessions can major industrial energy users expect from the Government over the energy tax?
A: The Chancellor made it clear that he has looked to make the tax revenue neutral, which has been disputed to a great extent in negotiations. We’re considering these recommendations and of course do not want to disadvantage industry, as the Chancellor has argued from the beginning.
Q: How can you reassure small and medium-sized manufacturers who fear the introduction of an energy saving tax?
A: I think some small and medium-sized firms could be more efficient with energy. It is unique for a government to try and negotiate with industry about what they think the levels of climate change tax should be. We don’t want to disadvantage them, but we do want them to look at efficient use of energy.
Q: How is the Government going to get industry to put more freight on the rails?
A: That’s why we brought in the Strategic Rail Authority to introduce a rail strategy for freight. There’s quite a lot of movement on railways now, with a 40% increase in rail freight. You’ve got to get the lorries off the road and more freight on the railways – it’s good for efficiency, good for the environment and good for production.