Milliband has called for dealings between ministers and energy lobbyists to be more regulated and transparent.
The move follows research carried out by the Independent, which reveals that ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have met with representatives of the big six 128 times since the 2010 election.
A closer inspection reveals DECC has met with Centrica, British Gas’ parent company, 30 times; ScottishPower 26 times; EDF 21 times; SSE 19 times; npower 17 times and E.ON 15 times.
In contrast, in the same period of time, DECC has met with representatives of energy consumers 26 times.
‘Energy market that isn’t working for ordinary families’
Miliband told the newspaper: “We have an energy market that isn’t working for ordinary families and businesses. Yet rather than act, this Tory-led Government is letting energy firms overcharge millions of families who are struggling to pay their ever-rising energy bills.
“With a cost of living crisis gripping Britain, hardworking people need a government that fights for them. Instead we have a Prime Minister who always stands up for a privileged few.”
Universal register for lobbyists
In this context, Labour is to table amendments to the Lobbying Bill which would oblige all lobbyists to join a register. The current iteration of the Bill excludes in-house lobbyists, working for energy companies.
Speaking on the proposed changes, Miliband said: “The Government’s Lobbying Bill will not capture the big energy lobbyists, who will continue to escape scrutiny. We will bring in a universal register of all professional lobbyists, along with a code of conduct backed by sanctions.”
DECC: Relationships are ‘entirely above board’
In response to the criticisms, DECC has responded that details of each meeting are published and the organisation woks to avoid conflicts of interest.
A spokesperson for DECC said: “Keeping the lights on and delivering value to consumers is a vital job and it is perfectly normal for Decc ministers and officials regularly to meet with energy suppliers as well as independent players and environmental and consumer groups to discuss energy issues.”