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Mr. James Paice (South-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Notwithstanding the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack), Professor Bourne has said that the Government ruled out a widespread badger cull from the outset of the study by the Independent Scientific Group. Does that
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not prove that the consultation that took place more than a year ago was a complete waste of time? We know that the final report was on the Minister of State’s desk a month ago—

Barry Gardiner: That is not true.

Mr. Paice: The Minister should read the ISG report, which clearly identifies the date on which the Minister of State received the final report. Ministers had a month in which to come up with conclusions, yet all that they have announced is further deliberation and delay. Moreover, it is four years since the Conservative party advocated the polymerase chain reaction test. It has taken four years—until next month—for research to begin on that.

Is not the record of the last 10 years one of constant delay and prevarication in dealing with TB, while taxpayers, farmers and cattle have had to suffer? When will the Department make some real decisions, and get a grip on this dreadful disease?

Barry Gardiner: I find it difficult to respond to that, because it was not really a question. It was a rant, and uncharacteristically ill-judged on the part of the hon. Gentleman—in stark contrast to the contribution of the Chairman of the Select Committee, the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack).

I am well aware, as is the whole House, of the cost of bovine TB to farmers and, indeed, the taxpayer. It is absolutely right that we should look at the ISG report. The hon. Gentleman made some remarks about the timing of the report. He will know that draft chapters are very different from a final report complete with recommendations and conclusions. That certainly did not arrive at the time that he suggested.

We will consider the report carefully, and will give it due importance in policy making. We will listen to the industry and take account of the Select Committee report, and we will make our policy decisions in due course.

Energy White Paper

4. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): What input he had into the preparation of the energy White Paper. [144186]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Ian Pearson): We had a range of discussions at ministerial and official level across Government to agree the package of measures in the energy White Paper. Those measures will have a powerful impact on our carbon emissions goals.

Lynne Jones: The energy White Paper is enthusiastic about encouraging decentralised renewable energy generation. The main mechanism for that is the renewables obligation, which costs the average householder £7 a year on energy bills. At a cost of only £5 a year more, the German system—which is common in most of Europe—has been far more successful in stimulating investment in decentralised renewable energy generation. Although there is to be a reform of the renewables obligation—

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Mr. Speaker: Order. I must appeal to the House. This does not apply only to the hon. Lady, but the supplementary questions are very long. They should be short and sweet. I know that the hon. Lady can do that, but I think that the Minister can manage an answer to what she has already said.

Ian Pearson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know of my hon. Friend’s interest in, and commitment to, feed-in tariffs. Our energy market is different from that of Germany, and our electricity is cheaper. There is no clear evidence that alternatives such as feed-in tariffs would produce a better performance. When we had a similar measure—the non-fossil fuel obligation—it did not really work for us; between 1990 and 1998 it delivered 770 MW, and the renewables obligation has done a lot better than that. Our proposals in the energy White Paper to band it will make it even more effective as a policy instrument in future.

Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): My apologies, Mr. Speaker, for my phone going off like a rocket earlier; I meant no discourtesy to the House. I have a new piece of parliamentary kit that is more persistent than I expected; I thought that I had turned it off before I entered the Chamber.

The possibility of there being new nuclear build is anticipated in the energy White Paper, and that will have an impact on renewables. Has the Minister estimated by how much new nuclear might reduce the contribution of renewables in meeting our likely future electricity needs? I ask that in particular because the capital costs of building a nuclear power station are so great that the intention would be to run it constantly at full blast, in contrast to carbon capture and storage or coal, gas or oil stations whose outputs are variable.

Ian Pearson: The answer is that we need both if we are to achieve our climate change targets and move the UK economy on to a low-carbon basis. The Government believe that there is a case for nuclear new build and we are consulting on that, but we also have a strong policy framework to encourage significant growth in renewables. We want renewables to account for 15 per cent. of electricity by 2015. The simple answer is that we need both.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North) (Lab): Following on from the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones), my hon. Friend the Minister will be aware that 100 times more solar panels are fitted in Germany than in Britain, so is it not time to suggest to the Chancellor—who will soon be our new Prime Minister—that the cap on grants for solar panels should be removed so that we can invest massively in them, as Germany does, instead of some of the nuclear proposals?

Ian Pearson: One of the things that we are doing through the energy White Paper is doubling the size of the energy efficiency commitment, which is being renamed the carbon emissions reduction target—CERT. The doubling of the size of that scheme will provide opportunities for significantly more microgeneration in future. I am also aware that there are issues to do with making sure that suppliers stick to their commitments to make it easy for microgenerators
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to sell their electricity into the grid. All the major suppliers have stated their commitment to publishing transparent and easily accessible tariffs. Good progress is being made and we are continuing to work closely with suppliers on this important issue.

Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con): Did the Minister’s Department make representations on the Severn barrage proposal and its damaging impact on biodiversity and the environment? Is he aware that a meeting of the increasingly large and powerful body of objectors to this daft proposal will take place at Slimbridge in the next couple of weeks. Will he ensure that an official from the Government office for the south-west is present so that the serious objections of the environmental lobby can be properly put?

Ian Pearson: The Severn barrage proposal has been widely discussed for the best part of 20 years. The Sustainable Development Commission is considering it and is due to produce a report in September. I am aware of the potential environmental consequences of a Severn barrage, but I would also point out the potential benefits. A Severn barrage could provide up to 5 per cent. of the UK’s electricity. It would be a renewable source, and given what we know about climate change and our targets in addressing it, it is only right that we seriously consider this option and look at the benefits and costs in that context.

Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): The trouble with the energy White Paper is that it flags up many interesting ideas, but totally fails to set a coherent strategy for ambitious implementation. Take combined heat and power, which has huge potential. Did the DEFRA team point out that exemption from the climate change levy, which is trumpeted in the White Paper as the principal policy incentive for more CHP, lasts only until March 2013? Given that it takes up to five years to get a large project up and running, the exemption for new projects is almost worthless. Is it not the case that the Minister’s—

Mr. Speaker: Order. That is more than one supplementary.

Ian Pearson: I met representatives from the Combined Heat and Power Association earlier this week and they told me how encouraged they have been by the fact that the Government have been listening to their concerns. The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the climate change levy exemption and we will need to look at that. We need to send the right long-term signals and the Government believe that CHP will be an important element of the UK’s energy mix for the future.

Bromborough Dock (Landfill)

5. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): What representations he has received on the future of Bromborough Dock landfill. [144187]

The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): Until my hon. Friend tabled his question, we had had no representations about that site. My understanding is
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that its owners stopped disposing of waste on it last August and have been restoring it. They have also applied for final closure, the conditions of which are being discussed with the Environment Agency and the local authority.

Ben Chapman: Does my hon. Friend understand that the people who live around that site have suffered from the loss of view caused by the mountain growing in front of them, from plagues of flies, rats and other pests and from smells from an associated water treatment plant? Now that the site has stopped taking landfill, will he do his level best to ensure that it is greened, topped off and made environmentally friendly as soon as humanly possible, and that it is given appropriate priority under Newlands 2?

Mr. Bradshaw: I certainly understand the impact because my hon. Friend has just drawn it to my attention. He is right, and he makes a wider point about the environmental impact of landfill, which is one of the reasons why we are trying to move away from landfill as a major source of waste disposal. I will be in contact with the Environment Agency and the company concerned, Biffa, as well as the local authority, to try to encourage them to move as quickly as possible to agree the closure process for the site, which has to be done in an environmentally sensible way. It must not be closed too quickly without the right conditions, because that can lead to problems further down the road, which my hon. Friend’s constituents would not want.

Greenhouse Gases

6. Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Co-op): What assessment he has made of the likely effect of the UK’s membership of the EU emissions trading scheme on future emissions of greenhouse gases. [144189]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Ian Pearson): The EU emissions trading scheme is a key part of our emissions reductions strategy. The scheme’s next phase will provide business with greater certainty, and we expect the scheme to deliver additional savings of 29.3 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Mr. Bailey: Will my hon. Friend ensure that the European Commission does not relax the tough national allocation plans in phase 2 and does its utmost to develop other schemes in other parts of the world, so that the EU is not alone in that particular approach to carbon reduction?

Ian Pearson: The Commission has already taken a robust approach to the phase 2 national allocation plans—NAPs—of member states, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so. It is vital that we ensure scarcity in the market, and that is what will happen in phase 2. My hon. Friend is also right to point out the importance of the potential for linking the EU emissions trading scheme to other trading schemes that are being discussed in other countries. Certainly, the review of the directive that is taking place—in which we are fully participating—will allow that possibility. I
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want to see the growth of a global carbon market in the future, because that will be good for the world in limiting CO2 emissions. Carbon trading offers significant potential for low-cost carbon abatement.

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): A major purpose of the emissions trading scheme is to create a carbon price to guide long-term investment decisions. Will the Minister say whether the Government endorse the conclusion of the Stern report that the appropriate price would be of the order of £75 per tonne of carbon?

Ian Pearson: As a Government, we do not seek to set a particular carbon price—in a market mechanism, it is the market’s role to establish that. The Government’s role is to ensure sufficient scarcity, and that the market functions properly. The benefit of a cap and trade scheme is that setting a cap gives a certainty that carbon dioxide emissions are being controlled. The EU emissions trading scheme is a significant policy instrument because it covers about half of all Europe’s CO2 emissions. We want to make sure that it works even more effectively in the future.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey) (Con): The EU emissions trading scheme should play a part in helping Europe meet its commitment to derive 20 per cent. of total energy from renewable sources by 2020. However, the UK derives only 2 per cent. of its energy from renewable sources, and that is less than half the EU average. Does the Minister seriously think that existing policies give us any chance of getting anywhere near 20 per cent. in 13 years’ time?

Ian Pearson: Certainly, the UK is starting from a low base when it comes to renewables, and no one is under any illusion—the 20 per cent. target agreed across Europe is extremely challenging for the UK and for all EU member states. We will have to look at the division of responsibilities that will determine the target to be set for the UK, but I emphasise that the measures on renewables in the energy White Paper envisage a significant growth in that sector over the next 10 years.

Climate Change

7. Mr. Jim McGovern (Dundee, West) (Lab): What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the climate change agreement between G8 countries reached at the recent summit. [144190]

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Miliband): Before I answer the question, Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will permit me to thank you and the House for allowing me to be a few minutes late for today’s Question Time. I was detained by the extraordinary nature of the Cabinet meeting that took place earlier. I am sure that the House’s tolerance is related to the fact that it understands that it takes a very long time indeed to enumerate all the achievements of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, and still more time to cross the floods of tears now trailing down Downing street. However, I am grateful for the House’s tolerance over my lateness.

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The G8 made unprecedented progress on climate change. It provided a vital signal to the United Nations framework convention process on the importance of early progress towards a global framework for emissions reductions beyond 2012—a process that I know has support right across the House.

Mr. McGovern: I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. The G8 agreement was welcome not so much for its detail as for the fact that the USA was party to it. With Australia making similar noises, perhaps we can focus on the developing world, and in particular countries such as Brazil, India and China. What steps are being taken to bring those countries on board, and what assistance can the USA provide in its proposed role as a bridge between the developed and the developing worlds?

David Miliband: My hon. Friend makes a very important point. An important step was taken when the US accepted the science and the need for large global cuts. We now need to move on to the detailed and urgent discussion about the nature of the emissions reduction commitments that countries such as the US and Australia—which my hon. Friend also mentioned—need to make. There are, I think, 12 Bills currently before the US Congress, but it is worth pointing out that even the most ambitious of them would mean only that, come 2020, US emissions would still be at 1990 levels. Major issues therefore remain for the biggest industrialised countries, but he is right that we are more likely to get stronger action from the US and Australia if we can get some action from China, India and other developing countries.

I was in Sweden last week for a meeting of 28 countries brought together by the Swedish Government. Countries such as South Africa and Brazil are playing a pivotal role in helping to forge the basis of an agreement under which developing countries would take action appropriate to their level of development, consistent with the 1992 agreement. That agreement talked of common but differentiated responsibilities, with the richest countries doing the most but with the developing countries also playing a clear role.

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): I welcome the Secretary of State from his Cabinet meeting—I hope that it went well for him.

The right hon. Gentleman is confident that the Americans have accepted the science behind climate change, but is he aware that not long after the G8 summit George Bush commented:

Nicolas Sarkozy said:

The Chinese science and technology Minister said that the G8 summit was not specific enough—

Mr. Speaker: Order. Question Time is not an opportunity for Front-Bench spokesmen to make a speech. I am sure that the Secretary of State can manage to answer.

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David Miliband: I said last week that the G8 agreement deserved one and a half to two cheers, so the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) is right to suggest that we have further detailed work to do. But the signals the President of the United States was talking about were not the smoke signals referred to by the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack); they were the signals that come from tight caps in developed countries to create a carbon price that drives technological innovation.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Does my right hon. Friend agree that everyone should be congratulated on the G8 agreement on climate change? I have just taken my Select Committee to China, so will he take it from me that many senior people in China are keen for partnership over climate change? They are concerned about their environment and they want to be engaged. They have huge research potential, so will he not undervalue—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I remind hon. Members that I need to get through the Order Paper to help Members who have tabled questions.

David Miliband: I have only one thing to add to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), but it is an important point: nothing is more calculated to annoy Chinese and Indian colleagues than saying that we think they should start to take action. They are insistent that they are already taking significant action on energy efficiency and renewable energy, so with that caveat I strongly support my hon. Friend’s remarks.

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