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My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) talked about prices and their impact on industry. We need to be careful when making comparisons, because they are quite complex. Indeed, available data suggest that for industry, gas prices for medium consumers were above the median in the UK, while prices for small and large consumers were below the median. Similarly,
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in the case of electricity, some people are better off than in Europe and some are worse off. I shall happily send my hon. Friend the detailed data.

Of course, energy security cannot be seen in isolation but must be addressed in the context of the need to tackle climate change internationally. Global warming is, by definition, a global problem requiring global solutions. Domestically, and even individually, we need to tackle it by reducing demand and decarbonising our energy supply.

Let us be careful about European comparisons. We have heard a lot about feed-in tariffs, but I do not think that any of the Members who spoke acknowledged the very important fact that per capita CO2 emissions are higher in Germany than in the UK. We must also be aware of some siren voices that argue that, faced with rising energy prices, we cannot now afford to tackle global warming. I judge that that would be the wrong signal at precisely the wrong time. We must rather pursue the most economical and cost-effective climate measures. Those are among the greatest challenges that Governments around the world face, and although there is no doubt that the current high prices place a strain on households, motorists and businesses, the UK is in a fundamentally strong position for the following reasons.

First, I emphasise the policy strategy. Our policy of a diverse and increasingly low-carbon energy mix is surely the right way to ensure security of supply. I want to be absolutely clear about that, because one sometimes hears particular interests proclaim that one solution is the answer. Sometimes it is nuclear, sometimes it is renewables. Those voices are surely mistaken. Putting all our energy eggs in any one basket would seriously reduce our nation’s security.

Mr. Redwood: Will the Minister give way?

Malcolm Wicks: I beg the right hon. Gentleman’s pardon; I do not have time. I heard his earlier comments, which were interesting. Turning our back on coal and encouraging a new dash for gas would be foolish and against diversity, and it would certainly not help our nation’s security.

Secondly, we have taken, and continue to take, the tough decisions required for the long term, including our decision in January in favour of new nuclear power stations and our proposals last week for a massive expansion of renewable generation by 2020. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald), who was passionate about the need for renewables, but not in his own constituency. That is surely the problem. I often meet Members who support renewables in the Chamber but are opposed to them when it comes to proposals in their own backyard.

Mr. Heald: Will the Minister give way?

Malcolm Wicks: The hon. Gentleman has already expressed that approach, and I cannot now give way to him.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) talked about the importance of biofuels, and I agree that they are important. The Gallagher review, which will examine the issue of sustainability, will be published very shortly. We have announced today proposals that will push forward carbon capture and storage—a vital technology in the fight against climate change. Indeed,
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my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State noted that we have published today a consultation document on CCS. Although that consultation is ongoing, we intend to continue to process power station applications and take decisions under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. [Interruption.] I judge that there is an appetite for CCS, but along only with Norway and possibly the United States, we are one of the leading nations in the whole world on it. It is right to have had a proper competition to decide who should build the demonstration projects, but apparently some on the Opposition Benches say that we should have simply given the contract to one company that had a proposal. That would have been wrong, and it was absolutely right that we went for post-combustion technology because of its application to China.

Some interest was expressed in marine funding for wave and tidal power. We are interested in that, but I warn hon. Members that it is new technology and not an alternative to wind. We have spent a great deal of money on research and development and we hope that two projects will be funded through the marine deployment fund this year. It is a deployment fund, not a science fund, and when the technology is ready, we want to spend the money. However, it is clear that we cannot do that until the technology is ready for deployment.

We are making the tough decisions on renewables and nuclear. We need to do more about energy efficiency and we will. I repeat that I am proud that we are one of the leading nations in the world on carbon capture and storage. We take the nation’s security, and therefore energy security, most seriously. We are tackling the biggest challenges of all—climate change and global warming. We are mindful of the social aspects and the need to protect our most vulnerable citizens against rising prices. We have one of the most sophisticated social policies on tackling climate change.

I judge that the Opposition have an appetite to hear more from me and I am happy to comply. We need to be consistent about planning. The Opposition spokesman talked about gas storage. Our planning system is one of the barriers to gas storage and we therefore introduced the Planning Bill, which the Opposition opposed. One cannot talk about the ends without willing the means. The Planning Bill is the means and will enable us, while always taking account of public opinion, especially local public opinion, to make the necessary decisions speedily.

Let me deal with nuclear—I am happy to discuss the subject of the debate all night.

Mr. Heald: The Minister criticised me for saying that it was wrong to put three wind turbines in a small valley in Hertfordshire with a domestic landscape. Is he aware that landscape is one of the most important aspects of the planning systems in Scotland and France? It is mentioned in their planning notes. Will he take note of what is done in Scotland and France when deciding where wind turbines should go?

Malcolm Wicks: I take note of what happens all over the world. I cannot comment on the projects that the hon. Gentleman mentions because I do not know the details, but he may wish to listen because I gave way to him. Given that we have an hour or so of the debate to go, I shall give way to anyone who would like to
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intervene. However, I was gently chiding the hon. Gentleman because he made a passionate plea about the importance of renewables and I believe that he was gently criticising the Government for our policy. However, he then got most passionate in saying that the projects should not be in his constituency. That is the problem.

Mr. Redwood: When does the Minister believe that the first new nuclear power station under the Government’s plans will open? Will it be agreed under their new planning system? How long will it take, given that there is to be two more years’ delay before setting it up?

Malcolm Wicks: I recall how many power stations were built under the Administration of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished member. I listen to the talk, but I also look at the record, and I find one more impressive than the other. On a cautious estimate, the first new nuclear power station should be up and producing clean and green energy by 2020—some optimists say 2017-18.

Mr. Bone: The Minister did not deal with my earlier comments about his banging his head against the bedroom door and the European Union’s failure to liberalise its energy policy. On many occasions, he has promised that the EU would liberalise—when will it happen?

Malcolm Wicks: I do not know how up to date the hon. Gentleman is with the recent Luxembourg meeting of Energy Ministers that I attended, where legal unbundling was agreed. We did not get all the unbundling that we wanted, and we will continue to press for full liberalisation, but it was a significant step forward, of which we can be proud.

Mr. David Hamilton: There was a question earlier about nimbys in England. I assure my hon. Friend that there are as many nimbys in Scotland as in England, irrespective of the planning system in Scotland. Members of the Opposition parties are the very people who behave like that, yet they always profess to be in favour of renewable energy.

Malcolm Wicks: Let us be clear: when there are good environmental or other reasons for saying no to a project—a power station or a wind farm—the answer should be no. That is right and proper. However, we must say yes if we want energy security and if we wish to tackle global warming. That is why the not-in-my-backyard people need to be faced down.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con) rose—

Malcolm Wicks: I am happy to give way to the eminent Whip.

Mr. Robathan rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 183, Noes 279.
Division No. 237]
[7.4 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howell, John
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Milton, Anne
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob

Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Teather, Sarah
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Viggers, Sir Peter
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Nick Hurd and
Mr. Richard Benyon

Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)

Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn

Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Tony Cunningham and
Mr. Dave Watts
Question accordingly negatived.
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30 Jun 2008 : Column 655

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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