Prime Minister David Cameron is believed to be under pressure from members of the Conservative party to address rising energy bills and the dominance of the big six suppliers.
Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk and Chairman of the Energy Committee, said Miliband’s pledge to freeze prices had raised a key issue which had clearly resonated with members of the public.
‘Strong focus on how energy bills can be kept down’
“Miliband’s policy certainly does address an area of public concern, though it does it in a way that is counter-productive. I do think it’s quite clearly welcome that there will now be a very strong focus on how energy bills can be kept down,” he said.
“We need to look at the Ofgem regulatory regime and transparency about prices and making energy efficiency a priority.
“There’s a suspicion that the energy companies’ margins have sometimes got wider. I know they will refute that but I don’t think they’ve convinced the public yet about it.”
‘Behaviour of big six hasn’t been entirely admirable’
Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, Education Secretary Michael Gove, said Labour leader Ed Miliband had done well to raise the point of high prices and suggested energy company’s claims that price freezes would lead to black outs should be taken “with a pinch of salt”.
“He is also I think right to draw attention to the fact that the behaviour of the six power companies hasn’t been entirely admirable ever since they’ve had a chance to be able to play the market in the way they have,” he added.
Labour divided over 2017 price freeze
Former Labour Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has spoken out against Miliband’s proposed price freeze and suggested people might view the move as a step backwards in terms of industrial policy.
“At the business department I tried to move on from the conventional choice in industrial policy between state control and laissez-faire,” he said.
“The industrial activism I developed showed that intervention in the economy – government doing some of the pump-priming of important markets, sectors and technologies – was a sensible approach.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also criticized the pledge saying it could “lead to the lights going out”.