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Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business),

Question agreed to.


Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 90(6) (Second reading committees), That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to the Joint Committee on Tax Law Rewrite Bills, pursuant to Standing Order No. 60 (Tax law rewrite bills).


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52(1)(a), (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills),

Question agreed to.
21 Dec 2004 : Column 2036


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Terms And Conditions Of Employment

That the draft Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, which were laid before this House on 8th December, be approved.—[Paul Clark.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

Common Agricultural Policy: Reform Of The Sugar Sector

That this House takes note of European Union Document No.11491/04, Commission Communication on accomplishing a sustainable agricultural model for Europe through the reformed Common Agricultural Policy—sugar sector reform; and supports the Government's objective of achieving a more sustainable, market-based approach, in line with the reforms already agreed in June 2003 and April 2004 in other sectors, and consistent with the EU's wider trade and development objectives.—Paul Clark.]

Question agreed to.





10.51 pm

Jane Griffiths (Reading, East) (Lab): I am pleased to   have been asked by the organisation Carers Unite to present a petition on its behalf to Parliament. It contains the signatures of 4,876 people and states:

To lie upon the Table.
21 Dec 2004 : Column 2037

Hydrogen Technology

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Paul Clark.]

10.52 pm

Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): I am pleased to have secured this Adjournment debate on what is, from my constituency perspective, a very important topic. In the course of the next half hour, we will bandy around a lot of talk about renewable and sustainable energy. From the point of view of my health tonight, this has taken on a more personal nature than I anticipated when I applied for the debate.

Much has been said about the emergence of the hydrogen economy. That term describes the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel or energy carrier, typically into three main applications: first, as a replacement for petrol or diesel for powering vehicles; secondly, in a stationary fuel cell to provide electricity for buildings or remote power applications; and, thirdly, for portable power applications, where the fuel cell provides an alternative power source to batteries for laptop computers or mobile phones.

One of the attractions of hydrogen as an energy carrier to the oil and automotive industries is that it can be produced from nuclear power and renewable sources through electrolysis or from hydrocarbons through reformation. The obvious synergy with the existing oil and gas industries makes the concept of a hydrogen economy compatible with all existing and emerging forms of energy production and applications, from nuclear and hydrocarbons to renewables.

The Promoting Unst Renewable Energy—PURE—project in Shetland in my constituency uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen by electrolysis to provide a direct fossil fuel substitute. It has shown that it is technically possible to produce the island's energy needs locally, without any carbon emissions, and for the local community to own that means of production. That is why there is a growing sense of excitement in communities such as Shetland about the potential for others from the development of hydrogen technology. It has the potential to revolutionise and empower some of   our most economically fragile and peripheral communities.

When the draft report on hydrogen technology in the United Kingdom was presented in January 2004, the point was made that energy security is regarded as an even greater political priority than the reduction of carbon emissions and the production of clean energy. The report highlighted several weaknesses in the Government's approach. Interviews with 14 senior civil servants involved in hydrogen policy revealed a need for a

However, it was also made clear that United Kingdom resource availability is a limiting factor and that

Although it is acknowledged that hydrogen technology cuts across many Departments, it was also stated that there was no clear framework for leadership
21 Dec 2004 : Column 2038
and communication. Officials admitted that there was no champion Department for hydrogen and that they did not know what other Departments were doing. They   also acknowledged that there are too many funding streams with not enough resources and that there is no single point of contact for external stakeholders.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I suspect that I am one of the few hon. Members who has driven a hydrogen fuel cell car, thanks to siGEN Ltd, which is based near Aberdeen airport.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many companies that are involved in such technology argue that the Government require a clear strategy for deployment? Although a massive amount of research is taking place elsewhere in the world, especially in the United States, the opportunity that rural Scotland offers, with massive energy resources but an inability to get them to the point of use, could be addressed by a Government strategy on deployment.

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