By Alex Montague
Energy firms like EDF Energy, npower and Centrica have been providing the government with employees to work on energy issues, free of charge, The Guardian reports.
Figures released after FoIA requests by Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, show that at least 50 employees have been placed in departments for secondments of up to two years.
Lucas said: “Companies such as the big six energy firms do not lend their staff to government for nothing: they expect a certain degree of influence, insider knowledge and preferential treatment in return. At such a pivotal time in the UK’s energy and climate change policy, as ministers must get to grips with the realities of climate change, rising costs and energy insecurity, the strong presence of vested interests is a real cause for concern.”
The disclosed data reveals that since it was first founded in 2008, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has hosted 36 people from business or consultancies, including EDF, Centrica, oil company ConocoPhillips, lobby group the UK Petroleum Industry Association and Energy Solutions, and a US nuclear waste treatment company.
The Guardian reports that staff from the energy business have also been appointed to positions in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The FoIA revelations also included the number of times Decc officials have been meeting with energy industry representatives. In total, Decc’s ministers met with energy companies and their lobby groups 195 times and just 17 with green campaign groups.
Oxford ‘scouts’ get less than the minimum wage
A Freedom of Information investigation by student journalists has revealed that while Oxford is one of the wealthiest universities in the world, many of its cleaning staff –also known as “scouts”- are paid less than £7.20 an hour. The Guardian reports that one of the worst offenders is St John’s, that pays its cleaners £6.49 an hour.
Reckless drivers are being let back on the street
The Western Mail reports that more than 58,000 motorists with multiple drink-driving convictions are being allowed to get back behind the wheel. The data released under the Freedom of Information Act show that one driver from Carmarthenshire is back driving after being disqualified over six times for driving above the limit.