|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Ezra: My Lords, in order to deal with a possible energy shortfall, should not the Government be taking a wider range of measures beyond the support presently being given to wind power? For example, France, Germany and Italy store gas at an equivalent of up to 20 per cent of annual consumption.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is correct to say that we have considerably less in the way of storage facilities for gas than is the case either in France or Germany, and of course that is due to the fact that we have had the flexibility of our own supply and therefore have not needed to store it. As we move into the new situation of importing more gas, obviously we shall need greater storage facilities. It is important to point out that activities are already being undertaken in the marketplace which will increase significantly the amount of gas storage capacity in this country. However, such storage will be required only when we do not have the flexibility of our own gas supplies.
As for the question raised on the use of coal for the generation of electricity, it is really for the supply industry to pick up on those technologies if coal is to continue to play a part in our energy generation.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I suggest that the Minister is mixing two issues here. His noble friend asked him a question about energy shortages, but the Minister replied by saying that we are well on our way to meeting our Kyoto target of supplying 10 per cent of our energy needs from renewable sources. However, the reality is that the offshore wind farms announced earlier today will be accompanied by the closure of five nuclear power plants, which means that there will be no increase in our energy supplies. However, does he not agree that if we had the courage to go nuclear, we would be able to achieve both targets; that is, we would more than meet the Kyoto renewables target and secure our future energy needs?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I did not quote the Kyoto target, rather this Government's aim to provide 10 per cent of our energy supplies from renewables by 2010 and subsequently 20 per cent by 2020. I wish to make that point clear.
Noble Lords will see that the White Paper sets out exactly the courses of action we are taking. The main vulnerability seen was that we would not reach the renewables target, but it looks much more likely that we will meet it. However, if the target is not reached, then the further question is left open; that is, we shall return to considering nuclear power. But that is not for consideration at this point; it is for later on.
Lord Palmer: My Lords, does not the Minister agree that this report highlights and reinforces the useful role which can be played by British agriculture in the production of bio-diesel and bio-ethanol to help to meet our energy requirements? It would also solve so many problems virtually overnight. As usual, I must declare an interest as the unpaid president of the British Association of Biofuels.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, natural gas is an extremely convenient domestic fuel and valuable industrial raw material. Although when burned it produces only around half the carbon dioxide of coal and therefore assists our immediate desire to meet the Kyoto target, is not the widespread use of gas for the generation of electricity rather unfortunate both in terms of security of supplyreferred to in this reportand for wider environmental reasons? Is this not in fact a rather short-term policy when in reality we should be looking at energy provision for the coming 50 to 100 years?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, three factors must be balanced here: security of supply, the environment and cost. We shall not be able to rely on gas as a part of our very long-term strategy, which is why it is so important that in the short term we put a great deal of effort into building up our renewable supplies. However, I do not think anyone is suggesting that we can move faster on the renewables front than we have planned; indeed, most people consider the target to be very challenging.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, after the excellent questions put by the Minister's noble friend during which he mentioned deficiencies, along with the other excellent contributions from around the House, can the Minister say, first, why he is not actually answering the questions being put to him about those long-term deficiencies? It is not very good simply to say in passing that we shall return to the question of nuclear supply. If we are going to deal with nuclear power, then it has to be dealt with now. That is a matter for the Government.
Secondly, is it not true to say that the tests put in place by the Government as regards the reliability of long-term energy supplies depend on their total commitment to those aims? They have appointed a new Minister for energy, but it is only a part-time position. The Minister also has to deal with the Post Office and e-commerce. It is extraordinary that such an important responsibility is so dealt with. Indeed, all that the noble Lord has given the House today is information about the proposed wind farms. In fact, the wind farms are full of holes. I wish to make the point that the Minister announced the plans on the BBC, but did not make a Statement in the House of Commons, which could have been repeated in this House, thus giving noble Lords the opportunity to ask the Government what they really mean by this action and holding them to account.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, an announcement has been made simply on another round of tendering for licences on these particular sites. There is nothing complicated about that and no matter of principle has been raised. One round of tendering has already been completed and this is the
Turning to the question of the long-term situation, let me make the position clear. If the renewables figure comes through, that will enable us to achieve very effectively our desired targets. However, if we do not achieve our targets on renewables, there will be a considerable problem. If that situation were to arise, we have made it clear that we would look again at nuclear provision.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, Her Majesty's Government, the United States and the Canadian Governments are represented on France's Normandie Memoire 60eme Anniversaire Comite which is developing a full programme of commemorative events in France from 4th June 2004 onwards. The British Military Attache in Paris represents the United Kingdom. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans will today write to all Members of this House with more details of the consultations, and a copy of that letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his reply. Is he aware that on the 50th anniversary, nine years ago, several heads of state attended ceremonies on the Normandy beaches? While the number of surviving veterans continues to decline from natural causes, the French, Canadians and Americans are likely to make special arrangements for this 60th anniversary.
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am aware that the 50th anniversary was particularly significant and that a very large anniversary commemoration of D-Day was held. A 50th anniversary is particularly significant and those commemorations staged of the 50th anniversaries of events during the Second World War were mounted on a special scale. They should not be considered as setting a precedent for any future event in deciding the extent to which other anniversaries should be commemorated. If at all, priority must be given to primary defence tasks.
I have to say that we understand that the Canadians are planning to send over one band and a guard of honour, and that we are not yet aware of what the Americans might be doing. No doubt in due course we shall know. However, events that are already in train include the provision of two military bands, representation at both ministerial and senior Armed Force level at all events, a free one-year passport for those veterans wishing to travel who do not currently hold a passport, and assisting with a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in October 2004. Continuing discussions are also being held with ferry operators to try to secure travel concessions for organised groups of veterans. It is hoped that an announcement can be made about that very soon.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page