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Mr. Forth: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has illustrated why it is always risky—not just risky but, for Conservative Members, unacceptable—to seek to interfere through legislation in such market forces, which would operate perfectly well without such intervention. I have no conceptual or principled opposition to the idea of people doing their own thing on micro-generation and having their own arrangement with the central supplier. That would work perfectly well, but we are apparently being asked to sign up to some socialistic, interventionist, central, regulated arrangement of the kind that is supposed to be anathema to us. I choose to dissent from that, if from nothing else.

In clause 8, we come on to green energy certificates, the acme of intervention and regulation. Apparently,

and here we come to the first laugh we have had in the whole Bill—

I do not know how anyone could keep a straight face while claiming that this sort of Bill could, by statute, minimise costs and administrative burdens. The whole Bill is about costs and administrative burdens, not least in the area that my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean just highlighted. We have a complete disjunction between the words in the Bill and the almost inevitable outcome, and that cannot make sense or add   to the credibility of the parliamentary process. Clause 8 will require a fair bit of examination by the Committee and by the Minister.

Next comes "Promotion of community energy". I am sure that that is a worthy aspiration to which we would all want to sign up, but quite how it will work, whether it is working, whether it is likely to work more, and whether people fully understand the concept remain to be seen. In essence, however, that goes in the right direction. We are all signed up, are we not, to local decision making, in theory at least, even if, in fact, one keeps finding in practice that it does not quite work that way and that all politicians, when it suits them, will seek to override local decision making when they think it inappropriate or going the wrong way. At least in this regard, though, let us say that we can be comforted that the Bill gives an explicit reference to localism in the promotion of community energy. That is something on which we can all feel rather warm and fuzzy.—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) is helping me with a prompt, to which I may, on this occasion, pay some attention, just so that I know what it feels like.

There has been some discussion of clause 10 and "Renewable heat obligation". It may be one of the more difficult areas in the Bill. Rather oddly, in all the paeans
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of praise heaped uncritically on the Bill by all the colleagues scrambling to say how much they supported it, there was, I thought, just a slight hint of unease about that part of it. I can see why. Requiring

may be a pretty tall order, and it implies an underpinning of a degree of bureaucracy or intervention that it may be difficult to achieve.

Then we have our old friend "establish targets", and we have been through all that before. We also have the dreaded "penalties". Sadly, these days, one can rarely have a Bill of this sort without the old enemy, "penalties", arising. I am all for incentives and encouragement, but when we get into penalties, it is a sad day. I wonder whether full thought has been given to what those penalties might be and on whom they would fall. Would it be reasonable that they fell on the people concerned, and what would happen if they did not pay? Hiding behind that, presumably, although it has never been spelled out, lies the threat of custodial sentences—who knows?—for contempt of court, or the like. Before we go down the penalties road, I urge colleagues to think carefully, including the Minister—and, indeed, the other members of the Committee, since I must not keep assuming that the Minister will have some sort of hold on the Committee. Of course he will not, and it will be up to him to persuade the Committee of his view, which he set out so ably earlier, and for the members of the Committee to respond to it. Then it will be for those of us present for Report to assess the state of the Bill after Committee. Today is just a preliminary canter across the broad provisions of the Bill. When we get down to the real nitty-gritty of the detail, in Committee and on Report, the serious business of scrutiny will begin. All the questions that have been raised today can be fully considered.

We face a conceptual problem with this Bill. I am not sure that the case for climate change has been made satisfactorily. I have touched briefly today on the excellent work of their Lordships and the excellent book by Mr. Bjorn Lomborg. There is the important question about climate change, but there is also the issue of the extent of the causal connection between climate change and emissions, the breadth of possibilities that that gives rise to and the differential between the effects that it might have on temperature and on sea levels. That in turn gives rise to the important question of mitigation versus adaptation, although unfortunately that went unmentioned by hon. Members today. However, it must be of key importance to the effect that the policies in the Bill are likely to have on the standards of living of our people, the prospects for economic growth and the costs of mitigation. By implication, and more importantly, those policies will have an effect on the developing world, which is not only likely to be the main generator of emissions and the main cause of global warming, but is also much more likely to suffer from the effects of that warming. That is where technology development and transfer, and adaptation, come much more into play.

Colleagues are entitled to think that the Bill is wonderful, but we have an obligation, when we seek to make law, to be careful about whether it is soundly based. Even more importantly, we must ensure that its policy thrust is in the right direction.
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Justine Greening : My right hon. Friend makes a valid point. Above all, we need consistency. On the one hand, we are constantly told about the need to reduce CO 2 emissions, but on the other, the Civil Aviation Bill will remove the cap on the number of flights landing at Heathrow, which is one of the main causes of the rise in CO 2 emissions. The main answer will come from individuals changing their own behaviour, but the best way for them to do that would be for the Government to provide a consistent lead in policy making—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Interventions should be brief.

Mr. Forth: My hon. Friend makes a fair point. If she were to have the privilege of serving on the Committee, she could seek to table an amendment to strengthen the Bill in the way that she suggested.

As I said earlier, there is just enough scope—especially given what the Minister said—for the House to give the Bill a Second Reading. The Minister can attempt to persuade the Committee of the strength of his arguments and then we can all look forward to Report, when we can give the Bill an even more thorough going over.

1.29 pm

Mark Lazarowicz: With the leave of the House, I shall reply. My hon. Friend the Minister suggested that he would require certain changes to the Bill before it received Government support. That will be a matter for the Committee, but I am happy to work with the Government to that end. My hon. Friend said that there will be room for discussion in Committee, which I welcome, and it will no doubt be vigorous. I ask the House to support the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills).

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Management of Energy in Buildings Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

1.30 pm

Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I declare an interest, in that the sustainable energy partnership assisted me in the preparation and some of the details of the Bill.

I am delighted that the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz) received a Second Reading. My Bill considers the planning and building regulation environment for how we heat our homes and for how we can, I hope, generate power in our homes. There has already been discussion of that issue in the Chamber today. However, there has been no mention of the fact that about 28 per cent. of all the energy consumed in heating and power is in the domestic sector; it is the largest single sector.

The energy goal set out in the 2003 White Paper was embraced by all parties. It is no less than a 60 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide by 2050 from the 1999 levels, which is a large goal to achieve through energy policy.

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