John Hayes on that “very public spat” with Ed Davey

John Hayes - Some rights reserved by bisgovukThere’s an interesting interview with Conservative minister John Hayes in the latest edition of House magazine. We learn that he is the only Tory minister who has worked for two Liberal Democrat Secretaries of State. “He points out he has extensive links to HM Treasury.” And there is this passage about his relationship with his “boss”, Ed Davey:

Of course it was Hayes’ shift to the Energy brief in the September reshuffle – with a reported instruction from the PM to ‘deliver a win for our people on windfarms’ – that shot him to prominence for a wider audience. Hayes didn’t hang around. Within weeks he had insisted that “enough is enough” with onshore wind, whipping up a very public spat with Davey.

But again it was his political approach that smoothed over the tensions. As the Energy Secretary himself put it, while he and his Minister of State may “occasionally disagree on issues of substance…I have to say I really admire his style.”

Hayes waxes lyrical on the merits of co-operation with the Lib Dems. Forget talk of jabbing the yellow peril, the kid gloves are well and truly on – for today at least.

And with the Energy Bill set to return to the Commons later this month, Hayes insists that the policy is now settled and all sides are on board.

He stresses that the prospective changes to the way Britain is powered, are “bigger than a single government, bigger than a single party, about strategic changes in the way that we deliver power, the way we deliver energy for both national economic interest and to maintain wellbeing”. He says the Bill is a “defining piece of legislation for him [Davey] and me, I guess, in terms of our ministerial careers – that’s bound to create a coincidence of interest, as well as a coincidence of purpose.”

But isn’t it true that his Secretary of State took legal advice on whether Hayes’ comments on windpower could prompt a judicial review? “It’s a question for him not for me, really” the minister answers diplomatically.

He also rejects suggestions that Davey has demanded joint sign-off on any decision Hayes takes on renewable energy. “Ministerial responsibilities are, as you know, clearly defined and so whilst a Secretary of State may have a strategic responsibility for all aspect of a what a department does, individual minsters, on a day-to-day basis, take particular decisions about areas for which they’re responsible” Hayes insists. Referring to the Energy Bill, Hayes is expecting to make decisions on a regular basis: “There will be countless debates in committee, then on all stages on the floor of the House, and I’ll have to make judgment calls every day about where the Government stands on different aspects of that legislation. Of course, it couldn’t be any other than that.”

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