Energy secretary Amber Rudd has responded to a rumour that her department could be merged with BIS by emphasising the "incredibly important" work it carries out.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change, like other unprotected government departments, has been asked to draw up plans for savings to its resource budget of both 25% and 40% ahead of the government-wide Spending Review in November.
The new Conservative government has so far avoided merging or scrapping any departments, although the Spectator's Isabel Hardman last month reported that there was "sympathy all the way to Cabinet-level" for reducing the number of departments as the government seeks fresh savings.
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Speaking at energy questions today, Tory backbencher Peter Bone – a long-standing critic of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) who has tabled a private members' bill calling for it to be scrapped – said Downing Street was considering rolling the ministry into the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in a bid to cut costs.
Bone asked: "I wonder if the secretary of state has heard the rumour from Number 10 that in its desire to cut the cost of politics, especially when we're reducing the number of MPs, that her department is going to be merged into BIS? And as a champion for cost saving, would you recommend that move?"
The energy secretary batted away the question, joking that the Conservative MP had "teased" her about the abolition of the department before.
She added: "I would say to him that this is an incredibly important department at delivering secure, affordable energy. And I would also like to scotch the rumour that the constituency for Wellingborough [represented by Bone] is in any danger as well."
Duncan Brack, a former special adviser to ex-energy secretary Chris Huhne, has previously told Civil Service World that he believes there could be a consolidation of the departments with responsibility for the environment after this year's 2015 UN climate change conference.
"I think it is possible DECC will be wound up after the Paris summit and moved into Defra,” he said. "It won’t happen before then because that would not look good politically."