POLITICS
06/11/2013 06:05 GMT | Updated 06/11/2013 09:19 GMT

Michael Heseltine Attacks John Major's Call For A Windfall Tax On Energy Companies

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 9: British Prime Minister John Major (L) and his deputy Michael Heseltine answer questions at the morning election conference, 09 April in London, as sleaze promised to dominate the 22 days left to May 1 elections after local party bosses thumbed their noses at the national leadership and retained MP Neil Hamilton accused of taking bribes. Mr Major said that Mr Hamilton had the full support of the Conservative Party and hoped he would return to the House of

Former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major's idea of a windfall tax on energy firms, to "claw back" some of the profits they are set to make, has come under attack by his former deputy, Lord Heseltine.

The Tory peer told the Huffington Post UK that he did not back Sir John's idea to levy a tax on their "excess profits", saying: "I don't agree with it, once you start the concept of windfall taxes, where is it going to stop?"

He added: "There is an issue with pricing with the energy industry then let the government and the regulator look at these things."

Sir John made his suggestion in a speech to journalists in October, saying: "Sod's law being what it is, we will probably have a very cold winter and it is not acceptable to me and ought not to be acceptable to anyone that many people are going to have to chose between keeping warm and eating."

"The government, I think, will have to intervene. And if they do intervene I for one would regard it as perfectly acceptable for them then to subsequently levy and excess profits tax on energy companies and claw back money to the exchequer where their primary goal is to get the economy working."

Lord Heseltine dismissed Ed Miliband's pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months if he wins the 2015 election as "silly," adding: "It just means companies will put their prices up early or they will cut investment or both."

The former Conservative deputy prime minister, and adviser to David Cameron, spoke to the Huffington Post UK during an event for the Federation of Small Businesses in London.

Lord Heseltine refused to back calls by the FSB to cut business rates, a property tax affecting small businesses, telling HuffPostUK: "I'm not in the business of interfering with the govenrment's economic startegy. If you have to cut there, you have to cut somewhere else.

"There have been 400,000 new small businesses in the last year. It sounds to me as if something is going well."