Friday, February 03, 2012

Chris Huhne resigns: Norman Lamb tipped to be the new Energy Secretary

Norman Lamb
Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk is tipped as the favourite to replace Chris Huhne as Energy Secretary following his resignation today.

Mr. Huhne's position became untenable after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced this morning that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

In a statement this morning, Mr. Huhne vowed, "I am innocent of these charges and I intend to fight them in the courts and I am confident a jury will agree. To avoid any distraction to my official duties or my trial defence I am standing down as secretary of state for energy and climate change.

"I will of course continue to serve my constituents in Eastleigh."

He and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce have both been charged with the same offence as a result of allegations that he asked her to take points on his driving licence for a speeding offence in 2003 on his behalf.

They will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on February 16th.

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, took the unusual step of making the announcement live on television, saying: "We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against both Mr Huhne and Miss Pryce for perverting the course of justice".

The maximum penalty for perverting the course of justice is life, but those found guilty can also be given a fine.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg both agreed that Mr Huhne should leave his post, despite Mr. Huhne insisting that he will fight to prove his innocence.

Chris Huhne was convicted in 2003 under the Road Traffic Act 1988 of using a mobile phone while driving his car on a busy London street. Following his conviction, he was banned from driving for three months.

Chris Huhne's record

Greenpeace has issued a statement lamenting Mr. Huhne's departure: “Chris Huhne will be a tough act to follow, his achievements in getting the Green Bank and stricter legally binding carbon targets are a physical legacy of what he was able to accomplish.

"He has been a vocal advocate for the green agenda in a government whose green credentials are looking more than a little tarnished," the statement read.

As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change he has been hugely instrumental in fighting for strong legislation and funding to strengthen the country's ability to combat and withstand climate change.

He has been a champion of the concept of putting energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions at the heart of all government decisions, with binding legal commitments under the Climate Change Act, and he has been the only Secretary of State to consistently given credence to the Prime Minister's intention to make his "the Greenest Government ever".

This has put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change, efforts which he fought to bolster when he attended the Cancun climate talks.

His first act was to introduce National Wind Week and he even erected a small wind turbine on his constituency home in Eastle.

His position on nuclear power was equivocal, having initially opposed it, but it is thanks to him that the Coalition is committed to not using any public money to support new nuclear power stations.

The Feed-in Tariffs, Green Deal and Renewable Heat Incentive have all been steered through Parliament with him at the helm.

It is a great loss that he will now be unable to see through the Energy Market Reform bill and the Green Deal itself.

Norman Lamb

Possibly the next Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Norman Lamb is the son of a climatologist and has repeatedly spoken out on behalf of efforts to curb climate change.

Currently he is a member of the Liberal Democrat Front Bench Team as Chief Parliamentary and Political Adviser and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

Hew spoke strongly for Chris Huhne and his climate policy in a Commons debate last December.

A decision is expected from Number Ten soon.

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