A Written Answer from the Treasury

I have received the below answer from the Treasury to my Written Question:

Treasury has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (2336):

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on fiscal plans to tackle potential supply shortages of (a) energy and (b) food. (2336)

Tabled on: 16 May 2022

Helen Whately: Arrangements are in place to ensure security of supply of electricity and gas. We are confident that the UK’s energy security will be maintained.

The UK food supply chain is highly resilient and our food import dependency on the Eastern Europe region is very low. We do not expect any significant direct impact on overall UK food supply as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. The Government continues to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments. We have also increased our engagement with industry to supplement our analysis with real time intelligence.

The answer was submitted on 23 May 2022 at 09:42.


  1. Shirley M
    May 26, 2022

    Another non-answer. This government seems to specialise in spin, avoidance and deliberate deceit.

    Politicians have always answered a different question than the one asked. Why do we (and politicians) tolerate this? It must be as annoying and frustrating for politicians as it is for the electorate.

  2. No Longer Anonymous
    May 26, 2022

    A big problem is also the value of our currency.

    Just because we produce food or we produce energy does not mean that we get to consume either at home. They get sold to the highest global bidder and poverty is well known in resource rich countries. I read that we have been exporting electricity despite there being an energy crisis at home.

  3. The Prangwizard
    May 26, 2022

    I would like to know how much food acreage will be lost at home through government policy and encouragement of removal of land from production through ‘wilding’ – say over the next 5 years. I understand large areas are being purchased purely for the purpose and the income which government will give.

    Similarly in addition how much has been lost through tree planting on agricultural land and the removal of field edging, say over the past five years.

    How do these practices benefit our economy.

  4. Javelin
    May 26, 2022

    I expect to enjoy the fruits of my hard work and enjoy my life, but from the moment I started earning money the Government parasites attacked. The Government are now the biggest cost to myself, my friends and other hardworking families.

  5. oldwulf
    May 26, 2022


    The answers you receive to your questions generally stink of evasion and/or incompetence. This answer is no different.

  6. rose
    May 26, 2022

    No mention of Macron in the answer on food security, only Eastern Europe.

    1. rose
      May 26, 2022

      On the subject of food, I was struck by the contrast between a British PM’s birthday lunch and the daily fare of a Eurocrat or MEP in Strasbourg. Not that Katya Adler was wheeled on to point this out. How they must be sneering. It was as stark as the contrast between the way an American President was looked after during infection by the Wuhan virus, and the sojourn of the British PM all alone in that attic flat, with no-one looking after him, working 20+ hours a day till he nearly died.

      1. Mike Wilson
        May 26, 2022

        and the sojourn of the British PM all alone in that attic flat, with no-one looking after him, working 20+ hours a day till he nearly died.

        You know what they say about sarcasm.

  7. formula57
    May 26, 2022

    I now believe that civil servants (WFH, naturally) have pre-prepared a series of written answers and there is a bot that not quite randomly matches those to written questions. Pity the poor Minister like Ms. Whately here (politics and philosophy but evidently not economics at Oxford (thanks to Lifelogic’s training I made a check)) whose name is then attached to the off-topic reply and is thus made to look foolish.

  8. turboterrier
    May 26, 2022

    And the band played on.

    Arrangements are in place
    What arrangements?
    We do not expect.
    Always expect the worse scenario and plan for it
    AMMG another quango ?
    To ensure that the department or minister is not held responsible and accountable?
    What are these people being paid for?
    No wonder we as a country are in a state

  9. rose
    May 26, 2022

    “VAT and green taxes are a big part of the energy price problem. Cut inflation by cutting those taxes.”

    This refusal to do the obvious is as baffling as the refusal to make us energy self sufficient. All those little Gordon Browns in the Treasury must really enjoy the complicated business of taking money away from people in the most convoluted way they can dream up, and then returning it by an ever more Byzantine means to an arbitrarily chosen section of the population. Anything to avoid “benefiting the rich” by just cutting tax.

  10. Iain Moore
    May 26, 2022

    Like many of the Government’s policies they are sticking their foot on the accelerator and brake at the same time , with a great deal of talk of food shortages, and many countries restricting exports , the Government announces its policy to rewild a quarter of a million acres of English countryside , meanwhile the policy of mass immigration and open borders to asylum seekers continues.

  11. Bloke
    May 26, 2022

    The answer slips on missing oil.

  12. Lifelogic
    May 26, 2022

    Helen Whately (Oxford PPE yet again) so is this the best answer they can come up with? People likes her were similar to the ones who “were confident” that the ERM and Euro were sensible, the lock downs sensible, the extended lock down and vaccinating children with not very safe and not very effective Covid vaccines (when the young were are no real risk anyway) were a great plans too. They probably even though net zero was a great plan, that renewables would reduce energy prices and QE would not create large inflation!

    Is this PPE yet another Micky Mouse degree?

    1. Lifelogic
      May 26, 2022

      Then again perhaps it is the type of people who choose PPE?

  13. Ian Wragg
    May 26, 2022

    A very glib answer on energy security.
    Don’t they know that half of the French reactors are shutdown so Importing from France next winter is unlikely.
    We are to lose some nuclear and coal fired capacity from an already stressed system.
    Does the government expect to use the environmentally filthy STOR generators to make up any shortfall on windless days.
    As for food, how is rewilding increasing our food security. If the war in Ukraine has taught us anything it should be to make us less dependent on imports but that is counter to the Davos cowboys philosophy.

  14. Martyn G
    May 26, 2022

    No mention then, of the insane intention of driving re-wilding forward and the adverse impact that will have in future as to our reliable food production as more and more land is taken out of use?

  15. Mark B
    May 26, 2022

    Good afternoon.

    Sir John this is not what I consider the truth if you listen to farmers. Apparently many poultry and pig farmers face ruin as wheat prices are rising. This is due to many of those producers having fixed contracts with supermarkets locking them in. Unable to raise their own prices but having to pay more for feed there could be serious shortages in the near future with the UK having to import, at great expense, these foods from abroad.

    As for energy security ? Yes I am sure our energy is secure, but will it be affordable ?

    1. Mike Wilson
      May 26, 2022

      If they have fixed prices to sell, why haven’t they had fixed prices to buy? Have they never heard of hedging?

  16. Original Richard
    May 26, 2022

    If we continue with the communist driven Net Zero Strategy which is to replace reliable and affordable fossil fuels and nuclear with intermittent and expensive renewables coupled with enormous increases in electricity usage through the electrification of transport and heating then we are certain to have electricity shortages. In fact the Strategy itself predicts shortages.

    Unless the West, particularly Europe, reverses its Net Zero policies and starts again to produce reliable and affordable energy using fossil fuels including coal in the short term and nuclear in the long term, then poverty with fuel and food shortages and subsequently military weakness will follow with dire consequences.

    There is no energy security in electrifying everything including transport, heating, industry and agriculture and relying on Chinese supplied wind turbines running “on the breezes that blow around these islands” (PM’s Conservative Party conference speech October 2020).

  17. forthurst
    May 26, 2022

    Will the Tory Party’s economic warfare against Russia have any impact on the cost or availability of liquid hydrocarbons to fuel commercial and private vehicles used by all those for whom economy and convenience are more important than burnishing their green credentials.

    1. Mitchel
      May 27, 2022

      Russia’s oil exports to Asia exceeded those to Europe for the first time in April.No going back!

  18. a-tracy
    May 26, 2022

    ‘18 May 2022 — S&P data shows Britain has been exporting gas to Europe rather than importing since around February, with far higher exports than the 2016-2019.’ Telegraph

    So are we still importing Gas or have we stopped since February?

    Oeuk ‘ Oil must be processed into products like petrol, diesel, and aviation fuel before it can be used. The UK doesn’t have the capacity to refine and manufacture the amount of oil-based products that it uses. Overall refinery capacity in the UK has fallen by around 30% since 2010. This means that we are reliant on other countries to produce the products that we need. Oil from the UKCS is mainly ‘premium crudes’, meaning they are relatively simple to refine and so in high demand. Much of it is transported to refineries in hubs around Europe.’ Why did the UK capacity reduce by 30% since 2010?

    1. M.A.N.
      May 28, 2022

      Exactly the kind of question that should be asked. According to Cummings you probably couldn’t find out why. Civil servants moved around to obfuscate.

  19. Clough
    May 26, 2022

    Ms Whateley is very reassuring, no doubt, as regards our low dependency on grain imports, but what about price? Wheat futures seem to be about 50% higher than they were last autumn. And we know about the horrendous energy price rises. A shortage of affordable food or energy is just another kind of shortage.

  20. Hope
    May 26, 2022

    Herein lies the problem, JR an expert in this area of economics asking a question to a minister who has little or no knowledge of the subject area reading out what civil servants told her! Appointed presumably because she is a woman, Tory policy to have quotas, rather than knowledge experience or ability!

    Only two asked pertinent questions Drax and JR. The others acting like sheep or too stupid to understand.

  21. XY
    May 26, 2022

    Another poorly worded question leading to another non-answer.

    Even the question that was asked didn’t get an answer – nothing about the discussions that took place at all.

    Also, the usual confusion aruond teh meaning of “energy security”. It does mean “we have some energy available” since if no-one can afford to use it, it’s of no use to anyone. What it means is having energy supplies that are affordable as well as being guaranteed in the geopolitical sense.

    Please word your questions better and clarify the meanings rather than allow the respondant to interpret wordings in any way that suits their purpose (which is always obfuscation).

  22. Alison
    May 26, 2022

    Excellent question, but rewarded with a non-answer, which must make us worry (yet again) about the basic competence of the people at the helm of government.

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