Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Alan Simpson rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, but Mr. Deputy Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

Dr. Iddon: Bolton has set itself a target of 20 per cent. energy savings in a 10-year energy strategy that has been drawn up recently with the help of an energy consultant. We heard references to cost during the debate. I can give some costs for our town. The implementation of that strategy will cost £187 million at today's prices. To achieve the Government's target of 30 per cent. energy savings, an additional £81 million would be necessary to provide condensing boilers throughout the borough.

A quarter of households in Bolton do not have adequate loft insulation. It would cost only £200 per household to provide it, and would result in annual savings of £65.

Bolton is a member of a consortium of 12 other local authorities, one utility company, one manufacturer and three private contractors, who have successfully bid for Government funds for a project appropriately named Millenergy. The group will raise awareness of energy saving and promote a bulk discount purchasing scheme for energy, along with a home energy efficiency grant top-up scheme.

Bolton is also a member of the north-west energy forum, which will act as a regional pressure group for the purpose of attracting funds to the region, and it is a leading authority in promoting the local Agenda 21 strategies.

Fuel poverty can be tackled by various measures, including the renovation and insulation of homes and the promotion of all forms of energy efficiency. That is good for the economy, creating, as we have heard, 30,000 new jobs and many new small and medium-sized enterprises. I am pleased to hear my hon. Friend the Minister say that he supports the Bill, and I wish it well.

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, but Mr. Deputy Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

2.4 pm

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries): In that case, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall make a contribution to the debate. I shall be brief, as the subject has been well aired and the Bill looks as though it is about to receive a fair wind.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) on his Bill, and thank my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Sutton (Mrs. Gilroy) and for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson) for the tremendous work that they have done.

Many more of my hon. Friends from north of the border would have been present today, but they are attending the Labour party conference in Scotland. My hon. Friends the Members for Ochil (Mr. O'Neill), for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), for Falkirk, East (Mr. Connarty) and I have made the effort to be in the House today.

10 Mar 2000 : Column 1357

One of the underlying problems causing modern social ills is poor housing. That has been said time and again. Most hon. Members will have had contact with constituents who have complained bitterly about their home, whether on a housing estate in a town or city, or in the countryside, perhaps a property privately rented from the local estate.

Living in poor properties can lead to despair. Inadequate, or--even worse--inefficient heating, damp and poor maintenance leads to poor health and all the social problems that flow from such conditions.

I welcome many aspects of the Bill, especially those that mirror parts of Government policy. It is appropriate to tackle fuel poverty while protecting our environment. The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) is anxious about the Bill, especially its financial aspects. However, a warm and dry home should be a basic right in our country in the 21st century.

I shall confine my remarks to the subject of alleviating fuel poverty. Although the number of households that have to spend more than 10 per cent. on fuel fell by approximately a fifth between 1991 and 1996, we are in no position to be complacent, especially when many more than 4 million households can be classed as fuel poor. I appreciate that the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst would argue against the concept of fuel poverty.

Far too many elderly people are at risk, and the dangers of hypothermia, asthma and respiratory infections as well as coronary heart disease are far too common. We have an average of 30,000 more deaths each winter than would normally be expected. Approximately 90 per cent. of those deaths are of people who are over 60. It is a blight on our communities. As we heard earlier, the figures for many Scandinavian countries are lower than those for the United Kingdom. That is simply because they appreciate the social benefit of better heated and insulated homes.

The Government have taken action to assist the most vulnerable through the reduction of VAT on domestic fuel to 5 per cent.; a 5 per cent. VAT rate on specific energy-efficient materials; winter fuel payments for our 7 million pensioners and cold weather payments for many vulnerable groups. Those are only a few examples.

I appreciate that the Bill is relevant to England and Wales, but it is appropriate briefly to mention that the Scottish Parliament, in tackling fuel poverty, has committed a further £300 million to housing in Scotland. That will enable us to build and improve some 18,000 homes in the next three years and will target improvement and repair grants at those who are least able to pay. The Scottish Parliament's new housing Bill offers a tremendous opportunity to give young people a great start in life by living in a home that is free from damp and cold conditions.

Energy efficiency can provide a permanent solution to the problem of fuel poverty, benefit the environment through reduced carbon dioxide emissions, create jobs in the insulation industry, reduce expenditure on housing maintenance and repairs, and cut the cost of treating cold-related illnesses. It can also reduce fears of debt and disconnection for low-income families through making the cost of heating their homes more affordable.

10 Mar 2000 : Column 1358

The Bill has genuine potential, and I hope that the House will support it.

Mr. Amess rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:--

The House divided: Ayes 143, Noes 0.

Division No. 101
[2.9 pm


Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Amess, David
Austin, John
Baldry, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Benton, Joe
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Brake, Tom
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burnett, John
Butler, Mrs Christine
Cable, Dr Vincent
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chaytor, David
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drown, Ms Julia
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Evans, Nigel
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gale, Roger
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Edward
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Green, Damian
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harris, Dr Evan
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hill, Keith
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, John
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hunter, Andrew
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Loughton, Tim
Love, Andrew
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McIsaac, Shona
McNulty, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Merron, Gillian
Miller, Andrew
Moran, Ms Margaret
Mullin, Chris
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Paice, James
Palmer, Dr Nick
Perham, Ms Linda
Rammell, Bill
Randall, John
Rendel, David
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sedgemore, Brian
Shipley, Ms Debra
Skinner, Dennis
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walker, Cecil
Waterson, Nigel
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wilkinson, John
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Wise, Audrey
Wray, James

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Simon Burns and
Mr. Alan Simpson.


Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Maclean and
Mr. Eric Forth.

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 Mar 2000 : Column 1359

Question, That the Bill be now read a Second time, put accordingly and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills).

Next Section

IndexHome Page