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Malcolm Bruce: Does the Minister accept that the Bill is one of a series that have come to the House over many years with all-party support? All sides of the House are telling him that there is an overwhelming demand that the Government have that target. By accepting the Bill, they would have.

Mr. Meacher: I accept the Bill; I make that clear. I am seeking support from across the House for putting it

10 May 2002 : Column 455

through today. What has emerged clearly today is that there is support from both sides of the House for a marked and substantial improvement in energy efficiency. I say to all Members that the way to achieve that is to support the Bill as it stands, so that what all Members want is achieved.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South–East (Dr. Iddon) asked if I was backing off the 30 per cent. target. The 30 per cent. figure was never a statutory target. It was set by the previous Government in the guidance that they gave to local authorities in terms of drawing up reports about how local authorities should improve energy efficiency in their areas. It has never been a statutory requirement. I am keen to have the highest targets that I can fund and that I can therefore justify. I repeat that I do not have the funding at this point to justify setting a target at 30 per cent. That does not mean that I would not like to reach it or that the Government do not want to achieve it, but I must have the funding before I can commit to a particular target.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire rightly said—I think we agree—that we want enforceable targets and time scales. However, all I would say to him, if he is responsible and if he aspires to government, is that it is also necessary to have the funding that will deliver the agreed objective—a statutory requirement in a certain time scale. He must accept that.

The hon. Gentleman also referred, very generously, to my being overruled. That is absolutely not the case. I repeat: the problem is not other Ministers, who want the Bill as much as I do—there is no doubt that all Ministers want it, including those at the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions—but the funding, which he never speaks about and gratuitously avoided. It has nothing to do with being overruled.

The hon. Gentleman also made generous comments about my being an environmental fig leaf. Well, this pretty good environmental fig leaf has produced the climate change programme, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the home energy efficiency scheme, the energy efficiency commitment and a commitment to end fuel poverty within 10 years. Those are enormously powerful objectives and if that is being a fig leaf, I am extremely happy so to be.

On that basis, I commend amendment No. 11 and ask for support from across the House, as I believe that it is the heart of the Bill and that it will deliver exactly what all Members on both sides want.

Dr. Desmond Turner: On some Friday mornings, it is a pity that we cannot keep the Front Benchers quiet, because they cannot resist shooting at each other and that obscures what we are trying to achieve through a private Member's Bill.

I fear that the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Barker) is wrong to suggest that amendment (a) would give the Bill teeth—it would do no such thing. I should know because, as he rightly said, he cribbed the words from an amendment that I did not pursue. He

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changed the PIU target of 20 per cent. between now and 2010 to the HECA target of 30 per cent. between 1996 and 2010. That is the only change.

Hon. Members also pointed out that that is window dressing. They are absolutely right, and I should know that too, because I was responsible for it. The proposal was intended as window dressing—constructive window dressing, but window dressing none the less. It has no statutory meaning whatever. I have just taken advice from a learned Queen's counsel colleague, who confirms that that is the case. It is also the opinion of the independent parliamentary counsel who drew up the words.

I appeal to all Members of all parties on both sides who want the Bill, and I say to the hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce) that accepting amendment No. 11 would constitute not a reversal, but a massive step forward. It is the means by which we shall reach the targets that we all want and achieve energy conservation and safety standards in houses in multiple occupation, which is a long-standing, treasured ambition of all in the House. It is the means by which we will make further inroads into fuel poverty. In all earnestness, I ask the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle and his supporters not to press amendment (a) to amendment No. 11. If they do, I ask all hon. Members who really want what this Bill has got—and it has got a hell of a lot—not to vote for that amendment. If they do, they will be walking into a trap. That is my appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Amendment proposed to the proposed amendment: (a), in line 1, at beginning insert—

'(A1) The appropriate Minister shall in exercising any functions under this section or under the principal Act, and in considering whether or not to exercise those functions, have as a principal aim the achievement of an improvement in energy efficiency in residential accommodation of at least 30 per cent. by the end of 2010, taking 1st January 1996 as the base line date.'.—[Mr. Barker.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 87, Noes 62.

Division No. 234
[1 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Austin, John
Barker, Gregory
Barnes, Harry
Best, Harold
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brazier, Julian
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, Ann
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Curry, Rt Hon David
Doughty, Sue
Drown, Ms Julia
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Foster, Don (Bath)
Garnier, Edward
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Kidney, David
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Tony
Luff, Peter
McDonnell, John
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Maples, John
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Murrison, Dr Andrew
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prisk, Mark
Randall, John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spring, Richard
Swayne, Desmond
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Wilshire, David

Tellers for the Ayes:

Sir Sydney Chapman and
Alan Simpson.


Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Challen, Colin
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Follett, Barbara
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Kelly, Ruth
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McIsaac, Shona
McNulty, Tony
McWilliam, John
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Mole, Chris
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Pond, Chris
Purnell, James
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Ross, Ernie
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Shaw, Jonathan
Soley, Clive
Squire, Rachel
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi

Tellers for the Noes:

Jim Fitzpatrick and
Angela Smith.

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 May 2002 : Column 457

Amendment No. 11, as amended, agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 12, in page 2, leave out lines 19 to 22.—[Mr. Meacher.]

Clause 2

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