What subsidies is Geoffrey Lean talking about here?

He announced that he would write to Comrade Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, to urge him to end green subsidies. Will he add a plea to Commissar George Osborne to drop the plans for a “generous new tax regime” for shale gas he announced at the conference?

Failing to tax something is not a subsidy.

We can show this quite simply. Fossil fuels in the UK pay tax of some £40 billion a year. Renewables do not pay such taxes. Do we say that renewables are subsidised by £40 billion a year because they are not taxed so highly?

No, we don\’t: and the greens certainly don\’t. Therefore, a tax regime for shale gas that is less extortionate than the tax system for other minerals is not a subsidy, is it?

7 thoughts on “What subsidies is Geoffrey Lean talking about here?”

  1. Surely it’s a little less clear cut than that? If everything incurs a sales tax of 20%, which pays for defence and policing and a legal system, but the govt exempts The Guardian from it, it’s pretty indistinguishable from a subsidy, no?

  2. You’ve forgotten that all money belongs to the State so any money not taken in tax is a subsidy. And that not taxing ‘things that we like’ such as wind power is a good thing, so we won’t mention it, whereas not taxing ‘things we don’t like’ such as shale gas is a very bad thing, and therefore can be denounced as an immoral subsidy.

    Keep up at the back.

  3. What Matthew said. It’s all a matter of where you consider your datum to be. One example that comes up now and again is charidee shops. Because they are exempt from many taxes, they are effectively given an advantage over commercial shops, which could be reasonably classed as a subsidy.

  4. Ian. It is a bit like saying; because you didn’t get your pocket picked last night, the contents of your wallet this morning count as income.

  5. bloke in spain-

    Not really, because in the social democratic model (which like it or not is what we actually live in) the money is redistributed in the form of services (and indeed direct subsidies). Thus, those paying tax are subsidising those not paying tax. There is a financial transfer from taxpayers to non-taxpayers. You can reasonably call that a subsidy.

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