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Mr. Forth: It would be helpful to the House if the hon. Gentleman were to explain, in simple terms, how to deal with a typical example of an energy-inefficient old dwelling occupied by an average or low-income family. Who would tell them what they had to do? Who would pay for it? How and when would it be done, and by whom? Unless we have a much clearer idea of how the wand will be waved, some of us will remain to be convinced.
Mr. Stunell: The right hon. Gentleman makes a fair point; that is a reasonable question. I shall point out again what my Bill does and what it does not do. It does not introduce a new fiscal scheme of incentives and grants. Several exist at the moment, and for those who want more information about the warm front scheme and others, the Minister may have some information. My Bill is about enabling regulations to make the transition from an old inefficient building stock to a building stock that is more fit for purposefit for those who live in it, and fit to meet our Kyoto obligations. I would be more than willing to debate some of the incentives needed to make that happenbut I return to my point about this not being a sustainability Bill. In other debates I have strongly criticised the Government for not having the right incentives in place to bring about the changes to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. My Bill is one weapon in changing the process; it is not the only or the complete weapon.
Ian Stewart: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the argument of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) is predicated on an acceptance of the status quo? It does not recognise that we have some serious problems with our housing stock.
Mr. Stunell: I thank the hon. GentlemanI am inclined to call him my hon. Friend in this debate, for his support and help. He is absolutely right. I outlined a few moments ago the problems that we are facing with excess winter deaths; that is a bureaucratic-sounding phrase, but we are talking about people dying because they live in houses that are too cold, too expensive to heat and unhealthy to live in. We are talking about a huge waste of energy and a tremendously large and unnecessary contribution to our greenhouse gas emissions because our housing, commercial, retail and industrial premises are so inefficient.
Mr. Hammond: I want to take the hon. Gentleman back to one of his earlier comments, about which I am now confused. He said that we needed to examine how we can update the existing stock of buildings when they change. Building regulations already apply when there is a material change to a building, but the intention of his Bill, I think, is to apply those regulations when there is a change of occupant. Will he clarify that point?
Mr. Stunell: Yes, I shall deal with the detailed provisions of my Bill in a few minutes. Perhaps I should
The improvement and elimination of gross inefficiency of our building stock is essential. Unfortunately, however, it is currently illegalor at least, outside the existing scope of the existing legislationto require anyone to pay attention to it. I draw the House's attention to the Environmental Audit Committee's eighth report, published last year, recommendation 17 of which states:
What of the three tests that I set out? First, no one in the Housenot even the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth)has any doubt that there is a problem to be solved. We all believe that more should be done to increase awareness, prompt investment and encourage and inform the public. It is not all about legislation. Surely, however, when a Select Committee tells the Government to do something and the Government says that they cannot because the law does not allow it, it is time to change the law. That would constitute only a small step, not the whole journey, but a vital step none the less.
What, then, does my Bill propose? Most of the first six clauses make amendments to the Building Act 1984, which contains 135 sections and seven schedules. As far as I am aware, these are the first changes to be made to the primary legislation for 20 years, although many amendments have been made to the regulations arising from the Act, and there are also the approved documents, or ADs.
My Bill provides powers for more detailed regulations in two areas. It is not concerned with the intricacies of construction methods, heating technologies and so forth; it is concerned only with setting out the broad framework on which, at last, sustainability and crime reduction measures can be built.
Clause 1 makes two important changes. It provides additional fundamental purposes for the Building Act and the regulations that depend on it. One of those purposes
Clause 1(3) refers to demolition, which is more important than it looks. The reuse or recycling of materials requires the capacity to deal with what happens when a building is being demolished. The
Mr. Forth: Have all the experts and interested bodies whom the hon. Gentleman quoted so proudly earlier made any estimate of the additional costs involved at either the construction stage or the demolition stage? As the hon. Gentleman will doubtless know from his own research and expertise, recycling is not a cheap option; indeed, it can be very costly. Who would pay?
Mr. Stunell: There is quite a lot of money in the recycling of building materials. At present far too much is being taken away in trucks and dropped in holes, following which a landfill levy is payable. I am sure that this will be the subject of careful consultation, and the Minister may wish to comment on that. Following recent practical moves, recycling is more economic than it was under the old system. I am thinking particularly of the recycling of road surfacing materials. Once people's minds are focused on what needs to be done, it will be clear to them that in many instances the cost will be low.
Mr. Dismore: I assume that this part of the Bill deals only with new buildings. I suspect that the hon. Gentleman wants to ensure that a builder foresees the ultimate demolition of the building he is constructing, and the recycling of the materials used. Let us assume that the life span of a building is 50 or perhaps 100 years. Does he expect those who construct it to anticipate the recycling needs, demands and opportunities of 100 years hence? That is surely far beyond what can be expected.
Mr. Stunell: That would obviously be desirable. After all, people who make cars have to consider how those cars will be disposed of at the end of their lives. Any regulationsat least during the first few years of their existencewould relate primarily to buildings that had been built some time earlier being taken out of use, but the hon. Gentleman makes an important point: sustainability is not just about how a building is used, but about how it is built and what happens to it at the end of its life. As I said at the outset, there is a great deal more to be said about the concept of sustainability. Much of that is in the Library note.
Clause 2 deals with the contents of building regulations. Subsection (2) inserts the words "use and re-use" in the Act, and is of a piece with the recycling issue that we have just been discussing. Subsection (4) adds to the list in the Actcomprising 22 examples, it is not an exhaustive listof purposes for which regulations may be made. Two of the examples in the subsection relate specifically to the security of buildings, one in broad terms and the other referring to
Another example in subsection (4) is "energy efficiency of appliances". The fastest growth in energy use is taking place in appliances in commercial
Mr. Hammond: Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that building regulations should apply to the energy performance of photocopiers in offices?