POLITICS
29/11/2013 04:24 GMT | Updated 29/11/2013 08:39 GMT

Downing Street Denies It Has Asked For An Energy Price Freeze

Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron is shown works during his visit to the "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting: 700-1900" at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as days before his second visit to China as Prime Minister, Cameron has been boning up on the culture of the far eastern giant.

The political row over energy bills raged on today as Labour and the Tories battled to persuade voters they could control rising costs.

Ed Miliband is pledging to end the energy "rip-off" as he details proposals for reforming markets but Prime Minister David Cameron continued to claim Labour's plans were a con.

It comes as Government sources denied reports that the big six energy firms are being urged by the Government to hold prices until the middle of 2015.

Speaking from Vilnius in Lithuania where he is attending a summit, Mr Cameron said: "I want to help households and families by getting sustainably low energy prices.

"Now, the only way you can do that is by increasing competition and eroding the costs of some of the levies on people's bills.

"I said that's what we were going to do, that is what we are going to do and I think that's a very positive step forward.

"That's a world away from making a vague promise about something you might do in 20 months' time with no idea about how you are going to do it.

"That is a con. What we are dealing with is real policy that can make a real difference."

Industry sources had told the BBC that government had asked them to try to avoid another round of price rises, barring any big increase in wholesale fuel costs.

But the Downing Street dismissed the claims as "utterly misleading".

A Number 10 source said: "This story is utterly misleading. The Government has not asked for a price freeze. People should wait for us to announce our plans."

At a regular Westminster briefing, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The Government has not asked for a price freeze."

Asked why energy companies might have had the impression they were being asked to keep bills down, he replied: "The Prime Minister, the Government, other ministers have been clear that we want to see cost pressures going down and not up when it comes to energy bills, we've been very clear about that.

"Given that we are looking at rolling back the cost of some of the levies the only surprise would be if we weren't in discussions with the energy companies."

Mr Miliband accused Mr Cameron of being a "weak and flailing Prime Minister".

He said: "What we now know is that while David Cameron has in public been opposing an energy price freeze, in private he has been pleading with the energy companies to get him off the hook.

"This is a weak and flailing Prime Minister.

"What Britain needs is Labour's strong, credible plan that we're publishing today to freeze energy prices until 2017 and reform a broken energy market so it properly works for business and families."