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Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, would my noble friend consider that one highly important way in which the Government could start to encourage the saving of household energy is in your Lordships' House itself? Judging by the dilapidated windows in this place and the amount of cold air coming through them and elsewhere, there is more wastage than in many households throughout the country.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am surprised to hear my noble friend say that. All noble Lords are highly conscious of energy issues, but if there is any waste of energy in your Lordships' House I am sure that the authorities will do their utmost to stamp it out at once.

Lord Dykes: My Lords, given the recently announced European Commission proposals for the first steps in creating a co-ordinated energy supplies market throughout Europe—now also with the 10 additional countries—will the Government make a special point at the next council of energy Ministers of discussing energy saving by households, factories and office buildings in all European countries, so that the best ideas come from all member states about how to make a real breakthrough in energy saving?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I shall certainly pass on the noble Lord's idea.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, following on from the question put by my noble friend Lord Watson, will the Minister indicate whether the Government have seriously considered the proposal put forward by the Energy Saving Trust that direct fiscal incentives should be given to householders to save energy by reductions in council tax?

Lord Bach: My Lords, the Energy Saving Trust, which has existed since 1992 to promote the sustainable and efficient use of energy, received £27 million in government grant in the current financial year. It has an important role in helping to
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meet the Government's climate change targets. I do not know the precise answer to the noble Lord's question, but I shall write to him on that.

Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, will the Minister explain to his noble friend that any cold air getting in through the windows of this building is more than fully compensated by the hot air that is generated inside?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I would not dare do that.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner

3.28 pm

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, following assurances given to the Metropolitan Police Authority that calls will not be recorded without the participant's consent, Her Majesty's Government consider the matter closed. We continue to have full confidence in Sir Ian Blair and support him fully in his vital role. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, will shortly be issuing guidance to forces on the recording of telephone conversations to eliminate any future uncertainty in this area.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. We share the hurt and pain that must have been caused to the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General. Does the Minister accept that we have the most disaster-prone Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police? He assumed a political role in relation to ID cards; he prevented the IPCC conducting a legal investigation; he made insensitive remarks about the Soham murders; and now he seems to have been found recording private telephone conversations. Will the Minister, first, ask HMIC to discover how many such conversations have been recorded and, secondly, ask the police committee of the Greater London Authority whether Sir Ian is a fit and proper person to run the Met?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, first, my noble and learned friend the Attorney-General believes that the matter is closed and has been absolutely properly dealt with. Secondly, I fundamentally disagree with the noble Lord that Sir Ian Blair is a disaster or an accident-prone commissioner. If one looks at the safety of London since he became commissioner, one sees that he has discharged his duty with honour. The numbers of violent and other offences have been dealt with, and we know that Her Majesty's Inspectorate will continue properly to discharge its duty.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Metropolitan Police
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Authority, which is, incidentally, not the police committee of the GLA. Does my noble friend the Minister recognise that under the leadership of Sir Ian Blair as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police we have seen crime in London at its lowest level for five years, the number of non-terrorist murders at its lowest level for 10 years and the sanction detection rate increase by 70 per cent? As for the transformation of the Metropolitan Police, we are now seeing 50 per cent of those who are applying to join and to train as police constables coming from black or minority ethnic communities. Is that not a record that should be supported, and should we not do all in our power to sustain it into the future?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend without reservation.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, will the Minister take the opportunity to repudiate some reports that have appeared in newspapers suggesting that the story may have come from people in the office of the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General? It would be very helpful if the Minister made it clear that no one in the Government had any association with briefing the newspapers about the story.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I have absolutely no indication that that is the case. We are clear that the Government have behaved appropriately in the matter and have responded in a way that is proper.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, when I ring the Minister's office, I assume always that someone will be listening and writing down what I say or recording it in order that there is a proper record. Would the Minister agree with me that that is a regular part of good administration? I, for my part, cannot understand what the fuss is about on that particular point. Could she clarify that?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I could not have put it more elegantly.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, will my noble friend agree that there have been too many slurs on the commissioner in the House today? Does she agree that the attacks that have been made on him from the Liberal and Conservative sides of the House are utterly wrong?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, as far as I am aware, the only side of the House that has attacked the commissioner has been the Liberal Democrat Benches. I may have been wrong, but I did not take it that there had yet been an attack on the commissioner's integrity or the way in which he had discharged his duty from Her Majesty's loyal Opposition.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, following the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Lester, could
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the Minister clarify where the law is in that regard, quite apart from recent events? I understand that it is legal if one records a telephone conversation without telling the person on the other end but that it is not if the recording is passed to anybody else. Does that mean that a secretary cannot in fact produce a transcript of that conversation?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, to give a full answer I would have to take some time, not least because the noble Baroness is touching on the interception of telephone calls, which is covered by Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and we would have to talk about the RIPA position. In essence, what the noble Baroness said is right, but I can write to her about the detail. Nothing that she has said at the moment would cause any difficulty. The secretary keeping a note and not publishing it to anyone would not, as far as I am aware, contravene any provision—but I shall write more fully to the noble Baroness.

Lord Imbert: My Lords, we have heard the case for the prosecution; is it not now time to pause and hear the case for the defence? We are awaiting a report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and that should be brought into the public arena before we have a public hanging.

I speak as a redundant commissioner, and I confess that whenever talking to senior public officials I would make a record of our conversation. As a young constable, I learnt to write shorthand at over 100 words a minute, so I did not have to resort to the modern method of recording. I confess also that I did not tell my correspondents that I was making a note, and they did not tell me that they were recording what I said.

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