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Times Radio

A Tory MP got tongue-tied during Question Time when he tried to explain how the government’s £200 energy “discount” is not a loan.

Energy Minister Greg Hands was met with groans and laughs from the Canterbury audience when he last night tried to put a spin on the government’s energy price cut.

In February, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a string of measures to “take the sting out” of energy price rises. This included a £200 rebate for all British households on their energy bills from October - but the catch is the government will recoup the cash by hiking bills by £40 over the next five years.

So not necessarily a discount then?

Hands brought up the £200 rebate last night as he spoke about a range of measures the government was undertaking to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Host Fiona Bruce interjected to say: “The £200 is of course a loan”.

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Hands responded by saying it is not a loan, but a “discount which is taken back in the form of a levy”.

“You are not being given it, you have to pay it back,” Bruce said.

Hands replied: “No, not necessarily… it is taken back at the point at which it is levied.”

The audience started grumbling at this point, prompting Bruce to ask: “Sorry, you are all shouting, what are you all shouting?”

“It’s a loan,” the audience yelled back.

The audience chuckled as Hands continued tying himself in knots by insisting it’s not a loan, rather it’s “a levy on the price point” and “it doesn’t create an obligation on the individual to repay”.

Bruce asked: “Oh so we can say we don’t want to pay it back, we don’t have to?”

Hands responded: “No I’m not saying that”.

A mixture of laughter and groaning could then be heard from the audience, before he again tried to explain it in his own roundabout way.

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