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Dr. Iddon: I want to make three brief points.

I am concerned about fuel poverty. My right hon. Friend the Minister said that 120,000 people were in that position, but I believe that a 10 per cent. fuel price increase would return 500,000 people to fuel poverty. We are on a treadmill, and I remind my right hon. Friend that fuel companies are making obscene profits: I think they amount to £8 billion. I hope that he will discuss with his friends on the Treasury team the possibility of a windfall tax so that we can really help those who are being subjected to fuel poverty by price increases. I have signed an early-day motion on the subject.

I raised the second point in Committee. We are setting different decent home standards for the public and private sectors. I am grateful for what the Government are doing in the private sector. Improved building control procedures are beginning to deliver better decent home standards, along with better architectural design and other features, but we are not catching up with that in the public sector.

The third point is this: we have wasted an awful lot of money trying to bring homes up to a decent standard in terms of fuel efficiency. We began with draught stripping, then dealt with cavity walls and UPVC double glazing. We improved central-heating systems in a thousand and one different ways. My plea to any Government, including this one, is that they take a holistic approach rather than persistently going back—three or four times, in fact—to trying to bring houses up to decent home standards.

Keith Hill: I shall try in the short time available to me to respond to all the points that have been raised.

The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) expressed his personal passion for the warmer homes programme, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson), observed, that passion was clearly not shared by his Tory colleagues, for the Tory Benches were empty throughout his speech. In fact, his colleagues missed the wrong speech on the wrong subject. However, since despite his weasel words and disavowals he spoke in favour of the amendment and is likely to divide the House, I think we can assume that he has committed the official Opposition to expenditure of at least £28.5 billion to achieve SAP 65 rating. No doubt the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), will be most interested to learn of that not insubstantial spending commitment. The hon. Gentleman may find himself out of a job rather sooner than he has a chance to succeed me in mine.
8 Nov 2004 : Column 666

I was grateful for the "little sympathy" expressed by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Matthew Green). He drew attention to the qualification

in the amendment, and argued that it would mean lower costs than I had identified. But where does that observation get us? It is as long as a piece of string. The amendment either indicates a serious attempt to attain a SAP rating of 65 or it does not. I have described the financial implications of taking it seriously, which are immensely costly. I have argued that it is a misplaced policy because, in the social sector—the amendment refers to the social sector—fuel poverty is a limited phenomenon that can be tackled by individual households.

That brings me on to the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South. He is right. We have spoken about the matter on many occasions. I respect his commitment and his long-term campaign on these issues.

9.30 pm

The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings drew attention to observations by ministerial colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. However, DEFRA has not said that a SAP rating of 65 is necessary in all stock. What it has said is that removing fuel poverty depends on the characteristics of the individual household, but that SAP 65 is the level at which there is a minimal risk of a household being in fuel poverty. The precise answer given by the Minister for the Environment and Agri-environment to the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) was that removing fuel poverty depends on the characteristics of the individual household. I recognise that we may be in an era of rising energy prices, but we cannot base an expenditure commitment of that scale on a relatively unquantifiable guess.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South rightly talked about the warm front programme, but I remind him that that programme deals exclusively with   the private sector and that that is where the problem of fuel poverty is immensely more extensive. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) was right when she identified that the kernel of the fuel poverty issue is in the private sector, but the amendment is about the social sector, not the private sector. My contention is that, because the standard is much higher in the social sector, the issue is much more manageable through interventions other than this blunderbus approach to SAP 65. I was grateful to my hon. Friend, a distinguished former housing Minister, for her support and for exposing the hypocrisy of the Conservative party.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) that I will certainly draw to the attention of colleagues in the Treasury his observations about fuel prices and a windfall tax. I thought that he was wrong when he said that we were not catching up with the private sector. For all the reasons that I have mentioned, I believe that we are doing and will do better in the social sector. However, as he demonstrated to me when I visited him in the Haulgh in Bolton, it is best to do it together. I accept his observations about a holistic approach.
8 Nov 2004 : Column 667

I know that, in some respects, my response will be a disappointment to colleagues on the Labour Benches, but I have attempted to be precise and accurate and to demonstrate the Government's commitment to dealing with fuel poverty. It will be dealt with in the social sector by techniques that are different from those proposed in the amendment. For all those solid reasons, I invite the House to disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 156.

Division No. 313
[9:34 am


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Corston, Jean
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Margaret
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Soley, Clive
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gillian Merron and
Vernon Coaker


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Barnes, Harry
Baron, John (Billericay)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Cash, William
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Corbyn, Jeremy
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Efford, Clive
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grogan, John
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lilley, rh Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Redwood, rh John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Dame Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruddock, Joan
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wareing, Robert N.
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. David Wilshire and
Mr. Crispin Blunt

Question accordingly agreed to.

8 Nov 2004 : Column 670

Lords amendment disagreed to.

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