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Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset) (Con) rose—

Mark Lazarowicz: I want to move on, but before I do so I give way to the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin).

Mr. Letwin: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Does he agree that one of the most encouraging things about this morning's debate so far is the sign that not only the shadow Minister for Energy, my hon. Friend
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the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin), and I, on behalf of the Opposition, but the Liberal Democrats and, it appears, the Government, support the general thrust of his Bill? Does he also agree that this should be the harbinger of things to come—a tripartite effort to advance the climate change agenda, of which his Bill could be the signal beginning?

Mark Lazarowicz: The more of a genuine consensus that we can achieve on the way forward—not only in Parliament, but among the public and communities as a whole—the better. I look forward to the Bill's proceeding through the House.

David Lepper : In the spirit of the comments made by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), will my hon. Friend also pay tribute to the role of the Co-operative party, the co-operative movement and Labour/Co-operative MPs in supporting his Bill and the principles behind it?

Mark Lazarowicz: As a Labour/Co-operative MP, I am certainly happy to pay tribute to us all individually, and to the Co-operative movement's support for the promotion of community energy, which is a key aspect of this Bill.

As I said at the beginning, this is an issue that requires not only individual and community action, but national and international action. An important part of this Bill is the clause requiring an annual report on the how the UK is performing in meeting its greenhouse gas emission targets; on areas where we have, and have not, been successful; and on what we are doing to ensure that we meet our climate change targets. We need to ensure that this issue is at the centre of Government policy, which is why we must also see micro-generation in the context of the contribution that it can make to the country's overall energy needs.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry (Portsmouth, North) (Lab): I, too, welcome this Bill, especially its emphasis on reporting on targets. Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be beneficial if, as part of corporate responsibility reporting, organisations reported how much of their energy is generated through micro-generation?

Mark Lazarowicz: That is an interesting suggestion. Some companies already do so, and such an idea is worthy of consideration by other companies as well.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex) (Con): I, too, congratulate the hon. Gentleman on getting his Bill before the House; he is demonstrating that it is great fun to introduce a Bill in the House of Commons. Should not Government Departments also be subject to the injunctions just described? Should they not have an obligation to generate a certain amount of energy from renewable sources? Is such an idea included in his Bill?

Mark Lazarowicz: This is only a humble Back-Bench private Member's Bill, and there are limits to how much I can achieve with it; but yes, it has certainly been fun introducing a Bill. I am not sure that Front Benchers always regard the introduction of Bills as fun, but I have certainly enjoyed introducing mine.
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I have been genuinely surprised at the level of support that the Bill has received throughout the country. There is a real wish on the public's part for the Government to facilitate the development of such activities. People want to contribute to tackling climate change, which is why it is important that the Bill proceeds and emerges at the end of the process—assuming that a Second Reading is granted—in sufficiently comprehensive a form to ensure that it makes a real difference.

I have had some productive discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Minister for Energy. I shall hear in due course what aspects of the Bill the Government are happy with; there are doubtless other aspects about which they have reservations. I certainly look forward to working with them to try to get a Bill that reflects my aspirations, and the aspirations of those who sponsored it. I hope that during its subsequent stages—if it gets that far—we will recognise that the public genuinely want us to allow them to make this contribution to tackling climate change. It is important that we do not let them down—either today or during the Bill's future stages.

Ms Dawn Butler (Brent, South) (Lab): I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend on the Bill. Does he agree that there is growing interest, especially among young people, in issues such as micro-generation, and that we must ensure that such technology is produced on a larger scale and more cheaply, so that low-income families can afford to use it and to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions?

Mark Lazarowicz: Indeed. The interesting suggestion has been made that every school in the country's having a micro-generation device would not only contribute to their energy needs, but would in itself be a good educational tool.

Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend on introducing this Bill. I want to point out that my local authority was the first in the United Kingdom to publish its own climate change strategy. My colleagues in, and the officers and members of, Bury metropolitan district council will be delighted to see the Bill before the House today. Clause 1 uses the phrase "viable . . . energy supply". The Government normally use the phrase "security of energy supply". Does my hon. Friend agree that the advantage of micro-generation is that it enhances our security in terms not only of self-sufficiency, but of safety? In the world post-9/11, can he envisage any circumstances in which a terrorist organisation would be interested in mounting an attack on a wind turbine?

Mark Lazarowicz: My hon. Friend makes an interesting point.

Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): I thank my hon. Friend for giving way and I, too, welcome his Bill. There appears to be an emerging consensus across the House. It will be interesting to see whether the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) enters into that consensus.

Mr. Forth : No.

Mr. Love: I thought that might be the answer.
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I am interested in my hon. Friend's speech—whenever he gets the chance to make it. He has talked about targets and encouragement: we definitely need the Government to move on research into renewable resources, but there is no mention of that in the Bill. Is that research an important consideration?

Mark Lazarowicz: It is, indeed. Obviously, the Bill as it stands will encourage research, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that it is a private Member's Bill and there was only so much that I could cover. I resisted the temptation to set out my personal energy policy on every aspect of Government activity, trying to restrict the Bill to some achievable goals.

Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD): In response to an earlier intervention, the hon. Gentleman made an important point about the role that schools can play. Is he as depressed as I am at the Government announcement on 2 November that the single source of grant from the Department of Trade and Industry for school and other community projects has come to an end? The replacement for photovoltaic and clear skies programmes will commit less money per year than they did. Are the Government not moving in the wrong direction?

Mark Lazarowicz: The hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, understand that I want to concentrate on the positive things that can be achieved from the Bill, but he has made his point.

Mrs. Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con): I thank the hon. Gentleman for being generous in giving way to me, having given way to so many hon. Members. Does he agree that setting clear targets for increased take-up of micro-generation will create the conditions in which a market can develop in that technology? Hopefully, that will bring prices down and make the technology more available to anyone who wants to be involved in cutting carbon emissions and tackling climate change.

Mark Lazarowicz: Absolutely. That takes me back to where I was a little while ago before I received a few more interventions than I had expected.

We have an opportunity to encourage the market and the industry to respond to undoubted public interest. If the Bill obtains a Second Reading today, we must make sure as it goes on that it reflects public concern and interest. This is an immense opportunity for the United Kingdom. Let us take it, and let us go forward on the basis outlined in the Bill.

10.12 am

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