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Mr. Clarke : On consultation, Sir Roy Griffiths and his team went round all those concerned with the subject in the first place before introducing their report. On production of the report, all those concerned made representations in the light of it. We received over 200. The Royal College of Nursing, which did not agree with all Sir Roy's recommendations, was one body which put representations to us, and we considered them carefully.
I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman that nothing worries a family more than the whole process of seeing an elderly relative reach the stage where some care will be required to ensure that he or she can cope and the transition period may be worrying. That is why I emphasise that all those who are in private residential homes and nursing homes now, and all those who will be there in 1991 when the new system starts, can rest assured that their present entitlement to social security and their resort to the social security system will continue unchanged. We do not want to start reopening the provision for all those who are now resident in private nursing homes. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the discharge of mental patients. I do not think that this was what the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) had in mind but, in case it was, I said that we could not take responsibility for each patient. Plainly, we accept responsibility for monitoring the performance of health authorities and ensuring that they carry out the clear policy of the Government and the National Health Service that mentally ill patients should not be discharged from hospital unless satisfactory arrangements for their care await them in the community. Through our accountability procedures, we shall seek to ensure that all health authorities live up to that.
Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton) : Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there will be a widespread welcome for the consultations which preceded and are to follow today's statement? Is he also aware that we welcome the emphasis on public moneys devoted to such purposes being concentrated wherever possible on keeping people at home and in the community? Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware, however, that Tone Vale mental hospital is in my constituency, and staff and the families of patients are anxious that patients should not be discharged until proper mental care and social support is available?
Mr. Clarke : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he said, consultation will continue after today. There will be a White Paper in the autumn, but before we produce it we must start discussions with the local authorities and with health authorities about how we should prepare for the
Column 987new policy in 1991. That will include discussions of the resource implications, about which Opposition Members have asked.
I know of my hon. Friend's interest in the patients in the mental hospital in his constituency and I share his desire, and that of the staff, to ensure that no patients are discharged unless good-quality community care is available for them. The mental hospital in my constituency was closed about six months ago and I believe that in that case, over a long period, the transition was achieved successfully. The policy has certainly been implemented successfully in other parts of the county, although I quite understand how annoyed and distressed people become when the policy falls down in practice, as it has in the past.
Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon) : Does the Secretary of State accept that, if people welcome the general direction that he is taking towards more community care, it will be to the extent that community care is right for the individual and not because it is a cut-price option? Does he accept that, in providing the right domiciliary services to enable people to stay in the community, we shall inevitably incur expenditure on services such as paramedical services--physiotherapy and so on? Does he realise that his statement cannot mean anything unless it is accompanied by additional resources to make it meaningful to those dependent on it?
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman also clarify the position on the Disabled Persons (Services Consultation and Representation) Act 1986, in view of the doubts arising about section 7 from his earlier comments? Does he not realise that that Act provides a specific mechanism for assessing people's needs before they return to the community--an essential feature of any structure such as this? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not know the answer to that question now, can he arrange for a statement to be made on the 1986 Act as soon as possible?
Mr. Clarke : I agree with the hon. Gentleman's first two assertions. Community care is not a cut-price alternative to institutional care and it is not being promoted as a means of cutting expenditure. We foresee greater expenditure as demand increases, with the changed age profile of the country. As I have already said, expenditure on Health Service community care has increased by more than 40 per cent. during the Government's term of office, and expenditure on local government personal social services has increased by almost 39 per cent. My statement made clear our views about resources for the future. All that we can do at this stage in preparation for 1991 is to say that the final decisions must be made in the public expenditure round.
Now I have forgotten the hon. Gentleman's last point.
Mr. Clarke : Our policy on that Act has not changed. We made it clear at the time that, although the Act had been passed by the House, we could not commit ourselves to providing resources for it. We are not bound by that Act in tackling community care. I do not find section 7 very attractive. It tries to lay down a legalistic basis on which to assess individual patients and divides the mentally ill into categories, setting out one method for dealing with those
Column 988who have been in hospital for more than six months and another for dealing with those who have been in hospital for less than six months. As the new policies unfold, we shall all have the opportunity, no doubt, to re-examine the continued relevance of section 7.
Mr. John Hannam (Exeter) : I welcome my right hon. and learned Friend's statement, but I am slightly disturbed by his last answer. Does he accept that an integral part of care in the community must be efficacy, assessment, rights of appeal and pre-discharge planning? Does he agree that the 1986 Act contains the necessary statutory requirements for all those facilities to be provided? I therefore plead that he again looks at sections 1, 2, 3 and 7 of the Act to ensure that the patients' interests are properly met.
Mr. Clarke : As I said, I was not proposing to announce a change of policy on the 1986 Act. I had better repeat that I do not believe that I have. The Act was passed by the House, and the Government made their attitude to it quite clear then. What we have announced today is an improvement of policy. It opens the possibility of more service of the kind that my hon. Friend, who always closely follows matters concerning disabled people, was quite rightly urging. We have not changed the policy. We do not think that, on this occasion, it is right to use the 1986 Act to implement any part of what we are doing today.
Mr. David Hinchliffe (Wakefield) : The free-market experiment in private care may have done a great deal to revive the fortunes of rundown seaside boarding houses and dilapidated Victorian institutions, but it has set back the development of genuine community care for generations. I am concerned that the public perception of care has been affected by the fact that people now believe that an institution is the only answer to elderly people's needs, the consequence being many elderly people in institutional care when they do not need to be.
In proposing to leave determination of provision largely to the private market, what guarantee have we that the market will help to develop alternatives to institutional care? In changing the role of local authorities to that of enablers rather than providers, what will a local authority's role be when it is asked to provide part III accommodation for people who are turfed out of the private sector and whom it does not want to know, and it no longer has that part III accommodation available?
Mr. Clarke : If I can disentangle what the hon. Gentleman said from the political jargon in which he wrapped it up, there is not a great deal between us. I agree that there should be no prejudgment in favour of residential institutional care vis-a-vis community care. We want someone to make a sensible assessment of what best suits an individual, taking account of that person's own wishes and desires. That is the key role that local authorities should play. There should not be any prejudgment that a local authority should provide it all. It is for a local authority to decide how best it can make suitable provision for individual people. I do not think that there is much difference in policy. I always find it difficult when the hon. Gentleman insists on seeing everything in terms of free-market this or local authority that. [Interruption.]
Mr. Clarke : The hon. Gentleman attended, uninvited, my meeting in Leeds the other day on the National Health Service review. I hope that he found it interesting. When he realised that it was a serious discussion of how we were to implement it, he promptly left. No doubt he was expecting to listen to a debate about free-market versus Socialist solutions. He knows perfectly well that we are talking here about the sensitive delivery of care to individual people in the way that best suits their needs. That is what we want local authorities to do.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire, West) : Bearing in mind that some appalling local authorities despise private enterprise and involvement in this matter, when drawing up the legislation, will my right hon. and learned Friend take care to ensure that, in exceptional circumstances, he has power to step in to ensure that services are provided properly if a local authority abysmally fails, as some hon. Members may expect them to do?
Mr. Clarke : As I have said, I agree that this is important. I am proposing to take additional powers to ensure that I can inspect and call for reports on the way in which local authorities are carrying out their responsibilities. When drafting legislation, I will certainly consider what my hon. Friend says about the need for possible reserve powers to step in and provide services, although the experience of central Government in trying to step in and provide services when local authorities completely fail is not very happy. I hope that we are making them draw up care plans alongside the other agencies that are responsible--health authorities and voluntary bodies--and then giving my inspectorate the right to get in in time and give warning that they seem to be falling down on the job. The vast majority of local authorities will improve on the very good job that they are doing now in the light of the new policy, and we will take some new powers to ensure that we can chase the few that lag rather badly behind.
Mrs. Rosie Barnes (Greenwich) : The Royal College of Nursing has made it clear that, according to its calculations, the number of totally dependent elderly people will increase by 100,000 by the year 2000. At present, more than one in five people over the age of 75 suffer from dementia and need round-the-clock care, and there is no evidence that this ratio will decrease. I am therefore interested to know what increased levels of funding the Secretary of State expects to be made available to increase the number of residential places available for a clearly defined and growing need.
Mr. Clarke : I agree entirely with the hon. Lady's analysis of the growing demand and the growing need. The continued expansion of psycho- geriatric services will be very important, exactly as she described. Today, we are dealing with a policy which will increase local authorities' ability to provide social services support to those people and to their friends who look after them in the community, or to pay for them to go into private residential or nursing homes, as many will, because that is the best way in which to care for them.
Other aspects of the policy need to be looked at, however. I quite agree that, when developing community health services within the National Health Service, we must give ever-increasing priority to psycho-geriatric
Column 990services. We will have a huge rise in the number of elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other psycho-geriatric disorders.
Several Hon. Members rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. It is clear that it will not be possible to call every hon. Member who wishes to ask the Secretary of State a question. I shall therefore call four from each side, and then we must move on.
Sir Geoffrey Pattie (Chertsey and Walton) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that there will be widespread support for his statement today, particularly that part of it which relates to the mentally ill? Will he repeat the assurance that no mentally ill patients will be discharged into the community unless resources for their care are made available?
Mr. Clarke : I will certainly repeat it. I note again my right hon. Friend's interest in this matter, which I suspect is connected with his concern for the mental hospitals near his constituency. I think that the policy has always been correct in principle, but its implementation in practice has often left a great deal to be desired. Although things are improving, we now have to ensure that patients are not discharged unless there is adequate provision, and arrangements are improved to keep in touch with them once they are discharged.
Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) : Does the Secretary of State accept that, in two respects, he has left some confusion about the care of the mentally ill? First, he referred to giving money to allow local authorities to start pump-priming projects. Such projects start things off and someone else picks up the funding later. Who will pick up the funding later?
Secondly, it will be for the hospital boards to give a grant to local authorities when they are satisifed that a patient will be well looked after. What successful precedents have there been for one authority giving money to the control of another, thus losing control over the budget? That has been one of the problems with the current policy. Will the Secretary of State comment?
Mr. Clarke : I will attempt to clarify that. I am sorry if I have confused. I used the expression, "pump-priming" because we are talking about specific grants to be used for new services. Local authorities already provide some community care services for mentally ill people, although it is only about 1.5 per cent. of total social services expenditure. I used that phrase to make it clear that we are talking about a specific grant to encourage new provisions. I also used the word "pump- priming" to make it clear that it would not be the only source of finance for new services. We want local authorities to carry on expanding of their own volition. There are plenty of precedents for specific grants, and this one will mean that the money is made available only to provide community care for mentally ill people--it is ring-fenced and can be used only for that purpose.
There is no exact precedent for the health authority acting as my agent for the release of that money in response to bids. However, I see no difficulty in that arrangement. It will ensure proper collaboration between the health authority and the local authority and will ensure
Column 991that the local authority's provision matches the health authority's expectations of needs for service arising from, for example, the pending closure of a hospital.
Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there was a typical misuse of statistics when the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) claimed that the statistics on home helps show that care is failing, when many local authorities such as mine are pioneering new services that are much better targeted than the old home help service? Does he further agree that the central pivot of the new process is the assessment procedure and that that entails collaboration between the Health Service and social service departments, which will be professionally touchy and difficult to achieve? Will he give an undertaking that, over the next two years, training will be made available for both sides involved in that difficult procedure, because otherwise I suspect that it will run into great difficulties?
Mr. Clarke : I agree with my hon. Friend's first point. The Opposition will never accept the inescapable fact that the background to this is 10 years of growth of expenditure and, even more importantly, of growth of the service for all the people we are talking about. At the moment, there is a growth of successful provision in most local authorities.
I also agree that collaboration between the health authorities and the local authorities is a key feature. We have introduced two new ways of encouraging that directly. The first is that those authorities will have to work together to draw up the community care plans. The second is that a specific grant will be released by the health authority when the local authority plans and the health authority plans for mentally ill people have been put in line. We are now starting a process of discussions with local authorities and health authorities about the implementation of the policy. I am not sure that it requires the training of the senior staff concerned, but my Department's efforts will be bent to ensuring that, as they both prepare for the new policy, we do everything we can to encourage them to get together at local level in every case, involving the county councils and district health authorities.
Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South) : Social workers and those who train them will read the Secretary of State's statement with interest, but they know--and surely he knows--that the reality is vacant places and case loads which have increasingly reached intolerably high levels. What is the Secretary of State going to do about the current national shortfall of social workers and especially about the crisis in London, where there are real problems in the recruitment and retention of social workers, because unless those central issues are addressed, all else is rhetoric?
Mr. Clarke : Of course, there is likely to be a continuing need for a growth in the number of social workers. The policy that I announced today of reinforcing the responsibility of local authorities and of the pending transfer of resources to enable them to do that will further that process. I know that the provision and condition of social services varies from place to place--this is not the time to go into that--but it is the management of the services in some of the London boroughs to which the hon.
Column 992Gentleman has referred which most urgently needs to be addressed if the authorities are to get the best out of the opportunities that we have announced today.
Mr. Keith Raffan (Delyn) : Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that his statement will be especially welcome to hon. Members such as myself who represent seaside communities, who have witnessed with considerable concern the proliferation of residential homes of an uneven quality in recent years, and who want to see a much better balance between home care and institutional care? What further measures does he envisage to raise the standard of those residential homes, following the Registered Homes Act 1984?
Mr. Clarke : Local authorities and health authorities have an existing duty to inspect and register such homes. The position remains unchanged for those who are residents in public homes. Residents of private homes who need public support will have help from the local authority in financing their place. Therefore, the local authority will not only inspect and register the home if it is a residential home--the health authority will perform that function if it is a nursing home--but will be buying that provision, having decided and accepted the responsibility for saying that that is the most suitable accommodation for the old person in question. The risk of people with public support entering homes that are sub-standard or to which they do not want to go will be greatly reduced by what we have announced today.
Mr. Terry Davis (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) : Is the Secretary of State aware that many elderly people in Birmingham prefer to live in homes that are run as a service by the city council instead of living in private homes that are run to make a profit? Why does he insist on continuing what is, in effect, a financial penalty on the city council for seeking to meet the wishes of elderly people?
Mr. Clarke : We have all been around many old people's homes and nursing homes. I have not found many people who are obsessed with whether the home that they are in is being run for profit or by the council. They are more concerned about whether a good standard of care is achieved in a good residential setting. That depends on the quality of the staff and on the quality of the care provided, regardless of ownership.
We are not changing the method of financing residents in local authority homes and we see no case for doing so for the reason that I gave earlier. No new discrimination is being introduced. We believe that most local authorities will want to concentrate on their new responsibilities and will not want to see a big expansion of their own management role in providing a service that they can get from others.
Mr. Alastair Goodlad (Eddisbury) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that his statement will be widely welcomed in many homes throughout the country and by those who work in community care--especially his confirmation that the arrangements affecting the mentally ill will be amplified by the Under-Secretary tomorrow? Does he recognise that the availability of hospital treatment for those who need it--especially for those suffering from conditions such as schizophrenia, which recurs at unpredictable intervals--depends as much as
Column 993anything else on the continued dedication and skill of those who work in our much too frequently maligned mental hospitals?
Mr. Clarke : I gladly agree with that. Schizophrenia is a particularly worrying condition ; hospital treatment is absolutely necessary for all those who suffer from acute schizophrenia. Sometimes people are released into the community where they can satisfactorily enjoy a higher quality of life, but if they suffer a recurrence of acute schizophrenia they may require urgent readmission to hospital. I hope that the arrangements that I am proposing will enable us to keep in touch with those patients to ensure their prompt return to a secure and caring hospital setting whenever that is required. At the moment, such patients sometimes get lost and are found acutely ill and not being cared for, and that is something that we wish to avoid.
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West) : Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that he will have to clarify the question about section 7 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 before he leaves the Chamber? If he has a word with his right hon. Friend the former Minister for Health, the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he will find--this will be confirmed by his hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) and by the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), among other sponsors of that Bill--that that section, which the Secretary of State has criticised today, was included at the positive insistence of his right hon. Friend the former Minister for Health? Furthermore, some of the criticisms that we have heard this afternoon were advanced by the sponsors at that time. However, the then Minister for Health refused to budge one inch, and it would have jeopardised the whole Bill had we insisted upon the measures that the Secretary of State has advanced this afternoon. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman clarify that position?
Does the Secretary of State accept that, although the laudable objectives that he explained to the House about making proper arrangements and assessments for psychiatric patients leaving hospital and going into the community are welcome, they are not, at the moment, embraced in any legislation? If the Secretary of State is not going to implement section 7, is he going to amend it or to introduce new legislation to achieve his own objective? Has he therefore changed Government policy? Every Minister, including the Prime Minister, has said that it is the Government's intention to implement section 7 when the resources become available.
Finally, when the Secretary of State said that a White Paper would be made available in the autumn, did he mean during the recess?
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I will gladly take the opportunity, when next I get it, of refreshing my memory of the debates in which I did not take part a few years ago. If I find that the hon. Gentleman was then expressing the doubts about section 7 that I have expressed today, I will review the position in the light of that.
I am not changing policy in relation to the 1986 Act and I am certainly not announcing today the implementation of section 7. We must now proceed with the new policy
Column 994which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. Goodlad) said a moment ago, will be widely welcomed ; we must then reassess the relevance of section 7 in the light of that.
The White Paper will be produced in the autumn. I do not have a firm timetable in mind, but it will probably be in the recess. If it is, I am sure that there will be plenty of opportunity to talk about it thereafter, because the policy will not be brought into effect until 1991.
Several Hon. Members rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. Let me get my point of order in first. I am sorry that I have not been able to call those hon. Members who were rising today, but I will certainly bear their claims in mind for the next opportunity to discuss the matter, possibly when we have Health questions.
Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Secretary of State's statement skipped over the important issue of housing. Could we have a report on the important issues of aids and adaptations to stairs in housing at some time in thefuture--
Mr. Cryer : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any requests from the Secretary of State for the Environment to come to the House to make a statement, because many important matters are at issue, about the selling off of old people's homes by the Tory spivs on Bradford council? This was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), but the Secretary of State did not respond to the point, possibly because it is not his direct responsibility. It is something of serious concern about which we should have a statement.
Mr. McKelvey : Yes, Sir. Is it in order for an answer to be given in reply to a written question on an important issue affecting the whole of Scotland, when the planter is not here to hear the debate and there is no Minister for Scotland on the Government Bench? It is disgraceful that that practice is allowed to continue.
Mr. Frank Cook, supported by Ms. Marjorie Mowlam, Mr. Ted Leadbitter, Ms. Joyce Quin, Mr. John Cummings, Ms. Hilary Armstrong, Mr. Don Dixon. Ms. Joan Ruddock, Mr. Allan Roberts, Mrs. Ann Clwyd, Mr. Tony Lloyd and Ms. Joan Walley, presented a Bill to protect the environment by controlling the manufacture and by regulating the disposal of toxic waste residues ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 181.]
Mr. Malcolm Moss (Cambridgeshire, North-East) : I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to introduce compulsory labelling of all domestic electrical appliances and devices to indicate the amount of energy that they consume ; to impose penalties upon manufacturers and retailers who fail to provide such labelling ; and for connected purposes.
One of the most surprising results of recent opinion polls on the environment was that in The Times, in which 12 million people said that they were prepared to pay substantial premiums for "environmentally friendly" products.
Without question, one of the most significant environmental problems facing the planet today is that of global warming, or the so-called greenhouse effect. While in no way would I wish to pre-empt the report of the Select Committee on Energy on the linkage between energy and the greenhouse effect, many facts pertaining to that phenomenon are already in the public domain.
It is generally agreed that about 50 per cent. of the contribution to greenhouse gases is made by carbon dioxide gas--the rest is made by methane, CFCs, nitrous oxide and surface ozone. At the Toronto meeting of world experts last June to consider the threats posed by changes to the global atmosphere, it was agreed that substantial global reductions of carbon dioxide emissions would be necessary over the next 40 years.
The United Kingdom production of carbon dioxide is 542 million tonnes a year, of which 205 million tonnes--about 38 per cent.--are produced by generating electricity, mainly from coal-fired power stations. To emphasise the direct link between electricity and carbon dioxide emissions, I shall take the simple example of a 100 W light bulb. When lit for 10 hours, it produces 1 kg of carbon dioxide. Over the average lifetime of 1,000 hours, 10 such light bulbs would produce 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. If we continue much as we have in the past, carbon dioxide output is likely to increase by more than 100 million tonnes--20 per cent.--by the year 2005. Any reduction, therefore, in electricity consumption will have a direct effect on carbon dioxide emissions and help to combat the greenhouse effect. At a time of economic growth--both actual and predicted--demand is more likely to increase than decrease. The options are consequently rather limited and range between fuel substitution--that is, substituting gas for coal in our power stations--more nuclear power, which produces no carbon dioxide, and more energy conservation and efficiency.
The opportunities for improvements in energy efficiency lie in four main areas. First, the generation of electricity could be improved. It is worth noting that, for every 1,000 MW of coal-fired capacity replaced by renewable or nuclear generation, there is a reduction of 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is 3 per cent. of our total electricial sector emissions. Secondly, we could improve electrical motors, which is by far the largest single category in industry. Thirdly, we could improve lighting. Fluorescent light bulbs are already available in this country that reduce the running costs of lighting and the consumption of electricity by a factor of 80 per cent.
Fourthly, by the use of the correct electrical appliances, there is potential for a reduction in electrical consumption.
Column 997There are wide differences in electrical consumption between appliances available in this country. A closer look at the differences between appliances reveals some remarkable figures. The average United Kingdom stock of refrigerators will each consume about 1,100 kW hours per year, but the best available mass produced refrigerator consumes only 180 kW hours per year, which is a reduction of 80 per cent. The same figures are true for freezers. For washing machines and dishwashers, the energy saving is 50 per cent. Those machines are manufactured in Canada, the United States, Japan, West Germany and Denmark. I point especially to the latter two producers, because, come 1992, I can see that we will have considerable competition for appliance imports from those sources. It has been postulated that if each household replaced current appliances with the best available, annual running costs would reduce by 75 per cent. Such a reduction in electricity consumption on electrical appliances alone would cut the United Kingdom's carbon dioxide output by almost 6 per cent.
It is generally agreed that no one policy option alone can ensure the necessary reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The Toronto conference suggested 20 per cent. reductions by the year 2003. However, in a recent paper to Ministers, Mr. Ken Currie, of the energy technology supply unit, said that the Toronto targets were going to be very difficult to achieve.
The debate raging at present--manifested in the amendment to the Electricity Bill before their Lordships--is whether or not the newly privatised electricity supply industry gives sufficient powers to the Secretary of State or the director general to ensure changes in energy efficiency practice that will make progress towards a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The Bill states categorically that the director general will have powers to promote energy efficiency, but it stops short of ideas such as "least cost planning" and any fiscal measures.
According to Mr. Currie, energy efficiency offers on paper the greatest scope in combating global warming through carbon dioxide emissions. However, despite great economic and technical potential for improved efficiency, it is very difficult to make it happen. The reasons are that it requires very large numbers of small and disaggregated actions--every light bulb in every home, so to speak ; those actions are peripheral to the interests of many consumers ; there is a slow turnover in equipment and buildings ; and the problem is exacerbated by market imperfections, such as the lack of specific and unbiased information for the users.
I submit that it would be irresponsible not to make a start somewhere to break into this somewhat vicious circle, and where better than in the task of educating the public, as responsible consumers, by providing better information on energy efficiency? As a first step, we could introduce an energy efficiency labelling scheme for electrical appliances, which is exactly what my Bill attempts to do.
At present it is impossible to discover in the showroom or in the literature whether an appliance is efficient. A simple labelling scheme would give customers such information and would allow them to take energy and environmenal effects into account at the time of purchase. Schemes have been tried in the United Kingdom--unfortunately, unsuccessfully. John Lewis undertook a scheme for fridges and a pilot scheme was undertaken by Eastern electricity under the guidance of the Energy
Column 998Efficiency Office. Ecological labelling has been a feature in many other countries. Consider, for example, the success of the Blue Angel scheme in West Germany. Currently, Ministers of the Department of Trade and Industry and of the Department of the Environment are discussing a green labelling scheme for this country. Labelling is not therefore a new concept for the country or the Government. To be effective, labelling must not be over-regulatory or nit-picking. There is little point in using labels on those appliances where the difference in operating costs is minimal--for example, on microwave ovens, televisions, clothes dryers and home-heating equipment. Labelling would be of little use on those appliances that have small electricity consumption--for example, toasters and blenders.
Labelling therefore must be concentrated on those major appliances that have the most significant differences in electricial consumption-- refrigerators, fridge-freezers, freezers, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers and room air conditioners. Successful appliance labelling schemes are in operation in Germany, Australia and in the United States, which has by far the most comprehensive scheme.
The three essential characteristics of a good labelling scheme would be simple and clear presentation, relevant and understandable information and attractive, eye-catching design. My Bill would make it compulsory for manufacturers and retailers to label their electrical appliances to a standard and a regularised format. There would be three types of label, along the lines of the American model. First, an energy cost label would apply to fridges, freezers, water heaters and washing machines. That would show the actual electricity consumption, the estimated annual cost to operate based on average electricity prices, and the range of operating costs of competing brands of similar size and features. Secondly, there would be a generic label for boilers and furnaces ; and, thirdly, an energy efficient rating label that would apply to air-conditioning equipment. The labels would have to be prominently displayed on the appliance and of a standard size and design, and would comply with European Community regulations.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who said last December at the Royal Academy that we must heed the dangers posed by the greenhouse effect and that to ignore it could expose us to climatic changes whose dimensions and effects are unpredictable. She also said that energy efficiency is crucial.
Energy efficiency is a complex subject, not open to simplistic or easy solutions. Energy efficiency measures should be practical and workable. My Bill seeks to achieve those ends, and I commend it to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Malcolm Moss, Mr. John Hannam, Mr. Roger Knapman, Mr. Michael Morris, Mr. David Curry, Mr. Michael Brown, Mr. Chris Butler, Dr. Michael Clark, Miss Ann Widdecombe, Mr. Ian Taylor and Mr. Peter Rost.
Mr. Malcolm Moss accordingly presented a Bill to introduce compulsory labelling of all domestic electrical appliances and devices to indicate the amount of energy that they consume ; to impose penalties upon manufacturers and retailers who fail to provide such labelling ; and
Column 999for connected purposes ; And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Monday 24 July and to be printed. [Bill 182.]
Not amended in the Committee (and as amended in the Standing Committee), further considered.