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Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I support this amendment; I have put my name to it. The noble Baroness has laid out the important points. In responding to the previous amendment, the Minister said that we were being unfair in saying that the Government did not bring forward legislation. This target was set in the Sustainable Energy Bill, which was a Private Member's Bill that I saw through this House. Other targets have been set in other Private Members' Bills. Admittedly, we cannot get them through without Government support, but many of them have been Private Members' Bills.
However, this target was in the Government's own energy White Paper and is supported by the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit. At a time when climate change is so important, when gas prices are risingwe see rises in the paper every dayit seems that that is not the time to go back on targets that will help to ensure that we have more energy efficient homes and will tackle the problems that we face with climate change. This amendment has my full support and the full support of my colleagues on the Liberal Democrat Benches.
Lord Monson: My Lords, once again I run the risk of being accused of casting aspersions on motherhood and apple pie. This is a more extreme amendment than the previous one, which embraced only social housing. This one refers to "residential accommodation", which, as such, is not defined separately in the Bill. So it must include all residential accommodation in the country; that is, all houses and flats, including owner-occupied freeholds.
If just new housing was included, that would be all right. There would not be a problem. But this must apply to existing housing, so it would involve a considerable degree of compulsion. Again, I am surprised that it is proposed by the quarters from where it comes.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, should apologise for picking out the inconsistency of the Opposition: they are on a roll. We may have been caught out on this, but, in mitigation, I make the following plea. The Government have a coherent, consistent, informed and sensible approach to energy efficiency. That is the final sentence of my brief, which I thought that I would get in first before I give some information. I really resent the words used earlier, "The Government reneged". That is very unfair.
In the previous debates on this amendment, which my noble friend Lord Bassam has dealt with in the main, we have referred to the Government's existing aim, set out in the energy efficiency plan of action published last April, to secure annual carbon savings from the UK household sector of around 4.2 million tonnes by 2010.
We pointed out that savings of that size would be broadly equivalent to the 20 per cent improvement sought in this amendment. I can confirm today that
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that is indeed the case. Achieving 4.2 million tonnes is roughly equivalent to doubling the historic 1990s rate of energy efficiency improvement. As I have said, the action plan published in April sets out a robust and substantial package of measures to deliver the savings that we need.
We have also pointed out that we have the flexibility for review and, if necessary of course, to increase the aim; a flexibility that would not be afforded under the amendment. I can confirm today that this is indeed the case. Achieving a saving of 4.2 million tonnes is roughly equivalent to doubling the historic 1990s rate of energy efficiency improvement. The action plan published in April sets out a substantial package of measures to deliver the savings we need.
We have also pointed out that we have the flexibility for review and, if necessary, to increase the aima flexibility that would not be afforded under this amendment. I can also confirm today that we are taking up this opportunity to look again at the target as part of the Climate Change Programme review, on which Defra will be consulting shortly. We will also be formally reviewing our energy efficiency aim in 2007, ahead of the next phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment that is to begin in 2008.
We have an appropriate vehicle in the Sustainable Energy Act 2003 for prescribing and reviewing energy efficiency targets. The Government remain committed to energy efficiency as the most cost-effective way to meet our Energy White Paper goals and we are determined to make steady progress towards the kind of sustained savings that have been discussed.
Savings of 4.2 million tonnes of carbon represent a very significant increase in activity from current levels, and achieving those savings will require a demanding increase in activity for the energy efficiency industry. It is also important to note that the reduction in carbon savings from the household sector, compared with the White Paper estimatewhich I think is what was meant by "reneging"will be more than compensated for by an increase in projected savings from the business and public sectors. We estimate that the measures set out in the action plan will achieve carbon savings of around 12 million tonnes per year by 2010 across all sectors. That is 20 per cent greater than the original White Paper figure of 10 million tonnes and will save households and businesses more than £3 billion a year on their energy bills by 2010. If that is called "reneging" on our commitments, I am a Dutchman. I say in genuine mitigation that we have a very good tale to tell on this. A degree of inconsistency has been shown and I certainly hope that the amendment will not be pursued.
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I was the person to use the word "reneging", but I do not propose to say any more. It
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was no more fair of me to accuse the Government of"reneging" on something than it was for the Minister earlier to try to pin various things about home improvement packs on the Opposition. We are quits.
I hear what the Minister has said. It is clear that the Government are making some efforts, and I recall quoting all those carbon emissions targets in my speech on Report. The noble Lord did not go through them all as I did and I would not dare to go through them again because I do not remember them all. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
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