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30 Oct 2006 : Column 35

David Miliband: I have a lot of respect for the hon. Gentleman so I hope that, on reflection, he will see that his statement that nothing we do will make a blind bit of difference is too strong. There are two tangible ways in which our action can make a difference. The first is that unless we show willingness to act, as sure as night follows day, the Chinas, the Indias and the other developing countries certainly will not want to follow suit. That is the first reason why it is important for us to take action. Secondly, every business organisation to which I have talked has said, “We want long-term certainty and stability so that we know the rules of the game—the carbon price game. Once we know those rules, we will compete and win in those markets.” That is a second reason why there is strong self-interest in this country, as well as social interest, in taking the sort of action that I think the hon. Gentleman, on reflection, will not want to dismiss so lightly.

Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab): Forty-five pages of Sir Nicholas Stern’s report are devoted to adaptation, out of 711 pages. I note that my right hon. Friend referred to adaptation in his statement, whereas both the Opposition Front-Bench spokespersons completely overlooked it. My right hon. Friend referred to his Bill with four pillars. Can I suggest a fifth pillar for the Bill—if not a fifth column—to deal with adaptation, which is pressing? Climate change has already started, and we need to adapt to it now, in terms of flood defences and many other things.

David Miliband: The adaptation challenge that my hon. Friend refers to is important in this country, as well as abroad. I think that it is less a matter of legislation than it is one of expenditure.

To answer him and my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Rothwell (Colin Challen), who asked the previous question, there will be global flows into energy over the next 30 years. The International Energy Agency estimates that there will be $17 trillion of investment over the next 30 years. The question is: does that investment incorporate assumptions about the carbon price, or not? If it does incorporate those assumptions, it will support low-carbon sources of energy. If it does not, I am afraid that we shall be in very serious trouble indeed. It is not only public spending that is important; directing private expenditure is critical, not just in this country, but around the world.

Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con): In seeking to win the hearts and minds of our electors on the economic logic of the Stern report, will the Secretary of State confirm to those who argue that there is really no point in us in the United Kingdom doing anything because it will not make any difference if China and others are not doing it, that the average African consumes one sixth of the energy that we in this country consume? Also, as we approach the annual Christmas electronic binge, will he suggest that we look at ourselves for an example, before we say that there is nothing that we can do?

David Miliband: I think that I might be able to arrange to use certain offices for a meeting between the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples), so that they can try to persuade
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each other. The hon. Member for Salisbury (Robert Key) is absolutely right that we have a responsibility to take action. But, in an age of $60 and $70 dollar oil prices, it is also in our economic interests to take action. Energy efficiency is the most obvious win-win that I have ever seen.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): The Stern report is most welcome, and it is an excellent example of this Government’s substantive approach to the problem under discussion. My constituents in Bishop Auckland find it absolutely incomprehensible that a rail ticket to London is three times more expensive than a plane ticket to Rome. Will the Secretary of State say a little more about when he thinks that aviation will come into the EU trading system?

David Miliband: My hon. Friend raises an important point. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and I were in Berlin the week before last, talking to our German counterparts in anticipation of their presidency of the EU next year. Our position is that aviation needs to come into the EU emissions trading scheme as soon as possible, and we are looking forward to the Commission producing its proposals on when that should happen, and we shall certainly be pushing for as early entry as possible.

Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): May I welcome the publication of the Stern review and the Secretary of State’s statement, in particular his comments on domestic action, and can I share with him my sense of urgency? When he introduces the enabling legislation that he discussed, can he also produce detailed proposals, which are thus far missing, to do many things, not least to reduce the cost of connectivity to the grid, so that we can finally harness the carbon-free offshore wind power in the north and west of Scotland, which will thereby lead to the carbon reductions that we all wish to see?

David Miliband: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. In the energy review that was published in July, there was extensive discussion both of planning issues and of some of the other barriers to micro-generation and selling into the grid. I can assure him that there is a study going on with Ofgem, the regulator—and, my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy assures me, with the Department of Trade and Industry as well—to address those barriers to that sort of renewable energy, which is so important.

Mr. Mike Hall (Weaver Vale) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is aware that one of the most effective ways of reducing carbon emissions is to convince high energy-using British companies to convert to electricity produced by combined heat and power. Can he give an assurance to the House that those companies that have already converted to CHP, thus effecting massive reductions in their carbon emissions, will not be penalised in phases 2 and 3 of the EU emissions trading scheme, as they have been in phase 1?

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David Miliband: My hon. Friend raises an important point. I think that I am right in saying that CHP can boast a 40 per cent. energy efficiency gain. I know that he met my hon. Friend the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment to discuss that, and I know that there are particular constituency interests as well, as there are some innovative companies in his area. Certainly from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry, there is a real commitment to using the energy review and its processes to push forward the agenda on CHP.

Mr. Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): Can the Secretary of State confirm whether the Government share the view, expressed in the Stern report, that a global stabilisation target of 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide or its equivalent is almost out of reach, and that we have to settle for a range between 500 and 550 parts per million, even though that appears to accept the probability of temperature increases of at least 2 degrees, which was previously thought to be a dangerous tipping point?

David Miliband: The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. All that I want to say at this stage is that we agree with Sir Nicholas that staying below 450 parts per million looks well nigh impossible, because according to the latest data, there are already 430 parts per million of CO2 or its equivalent in the atmosphere, and according to Sir Nicholas’s estimate, that figure is rising by 2 to 2.5 parts per million per year. Equally, once we reach 550 parts per million, there is a likelihood—a better than 50:50 chance—of catastrophic climate change in the second half of this century, and every step that we take between 450 and 550 parts per million makes that likelihood greater. So I would not want to pluck a figure out of the air and suggest that it is “safe” and other figures are not. What is clear from Sir Nicholas—perhaps this point lies behind the hon. Gentleman’s question—is that we must keep the figure as low as possible and take action as early as possible.

Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): I am sure that everyone in the House—I hope—recognises the importance of setting an example if we are to make any progress in the international forums. Will my right hon. Friend reflect on the need to argue for the establishment within the European Union of an international body with powers such as those that the International Monetary Fund possesses, so that it can monitor developments in reaching international agreements, make suggestions and conduct an international education programme?

David Miliband: My hon. Friend speaks as a former Europe Minister and I share his commitment to a big role for the European Union in tackling this issue. Let me reflect on his point about a new body in Europe and speak to or write to him.

Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): I welcome the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions. Bearing it in mind that growing economies like ours
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and the emerging ones of India and China are energy hungry, what role does the Secretary of State see for nuclear power in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels?

David Miliband: As the energy review made clear, nuclear power constitutes just under 20 per cent. of the total electricity supply. We believe that it is right that we start by reducing demand and promoting energy efficiency, but equally, if there comes to be a choice between oil, gas and nuclear, for me, as the Secretary of State pursuing climate change objectives, it is obvious that nuclear has the lowest carbon emissions of those three sources. We have also made it clear, however, that it is not for the public purse to subsidise nuclear investment; public investment should be restricted to renewable technologies that are further from the market. We are also clear that, in a world where carbon has a price, the economics of nuclear versus other energy sources changes.

Mr. Eric Joyce (Falkirk) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will be aware of Scottish Power’s and Scottish and Southern Energy’s plan to build a power link to carry renewables from Beauly, in the north of Scotland, to Denny, in my constituency. Does he agree that such projects are crucial to our ability to hit our targets?

David Miliband: I would probably be wise not to venture into commenting on individual projects, but the general point that my hon. Friend makes is a very important one. I know that he has campaigned for a long time on the importance of renewable energy and renewable electricity, and I support him 100 per cent. in that drive.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): On taxation, may I echo what my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) said earlier? While UK tax policy may well have a role to play, does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that climate change should not be used as a cover for increasing net taxation in the United Kingdom, and that the introduction of any green taxes must be balanced by a net reduction in other taxes?

David Miliband: The Chancellor addressed this issue this morning when he pointed out that, for example, the climate change levy has been balanced by a significant reduction in employer national insurance contributions, and the same is true of the landfill tax. As I said earlier, at every stage of our tax and spending policies the Government have pursued the principle of fairness.

Mr. David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): My right hon. Friend referred to domestic action. Does he agree that it would simply be daft to reverse long-standing developments that are helping us to build a stable, green, environmentally sound economy, by allowing the short-term exploitation of open coal sites, as is being proposed in my constituency? That will have a drastic impact on an area that has been devastated by the coal industry and is trying to move forward.

David Miliband: My hon. Friend raises an important issue and, as a fellow north-east MP, I know that he has been campaigning on the subject in the region. I can
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tell him that my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy set up a coal forum to discuss issues of precisely that kind, and I hope that the subject will be on its agenda.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): If the right hon. Gentleman intends to lead by example and practise what he preaches, how confident is he that he will return to the Dispatch Box in a year’s time to report that, right across Government, the use of ministerial cars has declined significantly, and the use of public transport has increased significantly?

David Miliband: I would like to claim that ministerial transport carbon emissions had been reduced, because obviously that is the most important thing. I am very happy with my Toyota Prius, and I recommend it to others.

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Points of Order

4.31 pm

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You are aware that many of us are concerned about the length of time taken up by both questions and answers in Question Time and in statements. I am not referring to the statement that we have just heard, but rather to business questions last Thursday, and Defence questions earlier today. I know that you sympathise on that point, because you have said that you will make a statement about the length of interventions from Front-Bench Members and others. When will that statement be made?

Mr. Speaker: I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for raising the matter with me. May I compliment the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the way in which he answered supplementary questions? It allowed me to call a great many Back Benchers, and it was a help. The older and more experienced Secretaries of State can learn from the young. I should say, too, that today’s Question Time was a case in point: I had to go beyond the rules of the House and take a further question at30 minutes past the hour, because I felt that the Ministers were taking too long in answering the supplementary questions. I hope that that will be borne in mind. On the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s main point, I hope to make my statement on Wednesday. I add that Back Benchers have a responsibility, too, and they should not ask more than one supplementary question. In the new Session, we can start afresh, and I will apply the rules that I shall set out in my statement. I hope that that helps the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Hogg: I am most grateful to you, Mr. Speaker.

Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed out that there had been administrative problems to do with the publication of hard copies of the Stern review, but this morning, I was at Millbank, and I could not help noticing that a large number of my journalist former colleagues had hard copies. Could someone gently suggest to the Treasury—I understand that it is responsible for the matter—that it should practise what it preaches when it comes to outsourcing, and that if it has difficulties printing such a document, it should get someone to trot down to Prontaprint on Victoria street and make the requisite number of copies?

Mr. Speaker: I was here in the Chamber when the Secretary of State addressed the matter, and I think that we will leave it at that. The Secretary of State will deal with the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises.


Passenger Car (Fuel Consumption and Carbon Dioxide Emissions Information)

Colin Challen presented a Bill to introduce additional conditions on the display of information relating to passenger car carbon dioxide emissions in
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all promotional media relating to motor vehicles: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 17 November, and to be printed [Bill 237].


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A(6) (Programme motions),

Question agreed to.

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Orders of the Day

Violent Crime Reduction Bill

Lords amendments considered.

Clause 13

Designation of alcohol disorder zones

Lords amendment: No. 27.

4.34 pm

The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. Tony McNulty): I beg to move, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

The Lords amendment inserts a new subsection into clause 13, which sets out the procedure for designation of an alcohol disorder zone or ADZ. It is worth briefly reminding the House of the nature of the ADZ process. In outline, designating an ADZ is a joint police and local authority decision. First, the local authority must propose an ADZ, followed by a 28-day consultation period involving licensees and the wider community. As soon as is reasonably practicable after the 28 day consultation period, the local authority and the local chief constable must publish an action plan setting out the steps that the police and licensees should take to avoid designation. The action plan will contain a number of preventive steps that licensees should take to help prevent alcohol-related crime and disorder, which will vary from one area to another. Typically, they might include premises-specific action such as introducing proof of age policies or using toughened glasses. The plan could also include financial contributions towards preventive schemes, such as the employment of a taxi marshal to avoid pinch points or putting on a late-night bus service. If licensees implement the plan, an ADZ is not designated, but if they do not comply with the steps in the action plan, the local authority may designate one.

Non-compliance criteria for designation are as follows: if, after eight weeks following publication of the action plan steps are not taken or are not sufficient to enable the local authority to consider designation unnecessary; or if the local authority, before or after the eight weeks, is satisfied that the plan will not be implemented, that steps required are no longer being taken or that any effect is no longer being given to arrangements made in accordance with the plan.

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