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On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18 [Disputes between carers and disabled persons]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 27:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 19 [Charging of disabled persons]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendments Nos. 28 and 29:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 20 agreed to.

Clause 21 [Determination of living arrangements]:

22 Mar 2007 : Column 1426

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 30:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 22 and 23 agreed to.

Clause 24 [Amendment of the Mental Health Act 1983]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 31:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 24, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 25 [Inspection]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendments Nos. 32 and 33:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 26 agreed to.

Clause 27 [Advocacy]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 34:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 35 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Regulations and orders]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendments Nos. 35 to 37:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 36, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 [Commencement and extent]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 38:

The noble Lord said: I hope that I am in order in thanking the Deputy Chairman for conducting these proceedings in such a tactful and helpful way, for which I am most grateful. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 39 agreed to.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

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Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration Bill [HL]

5.02 pm

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Baroness Gould of Potternewton) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Energy rating of property to be included in home information packs]:

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Redesdale: In speaking to this Motion, I wish to speak also to the Motions that Clauses 2, 3, and 5 stand part of the Bill.

My purpose is very simple—to remove four of the clauses from the Bill. I always find this stage of a Private Member’s Bill slightly maudlin. I feel rather like a condemned man having his last cigarette before going to the Commons to be shot. However, the process of a Private Member’s Bill has been particularly successful in this case.

I seek to remove Clauses 1 and 2 because the Government have already dealt with those provisions in other legislation, for which I thank them. The work done on EPCs as part of HIPs was incredibly important. HIPs are unpopular but recent discussions with the installation industry, the boiler manufacturing industry and those dealing with all forms of energy efficiency revealed that they considered EPCs a massive boon in bringing to the attention of home owners the importance of improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Millions of tonnes of carbon could be saved by the Government’s action. I have one question for the Minister. I know that it is usually the role of those proposing a Bill to answer all questions but she may be able to satisfy me on this point.

The EPCs also set out to deal with residential and commercial property. When will those regulations come forward? There is a proposed meeting of the All-Party Group on Climate Change headed “Can EPCs save the planet?”. It would be great to find out if those regulations have come forward. Particularly heartening is that I was contacted by the Landlords’ Association, which is very keen on the issuing of EPCs for rental property.

Clauses 3 and 5 are also to be removed, though Clause 5 on mortgages was dealt with in the Budget yesterday. I am interested in how the Chancellor is going to change mortgages, because the Council of Mortgage Lenders was particularly opposed to this. When we talked about changing mortgages, it went back to the 1925 Act. If it were to change, we would have to change most of the mortgages issued in the last few years quite substantially. I believe there is some difficulty in that.

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: From these Benches we welcomed the opportunity at Second Reading to discuss the issues surrounding the noble Lord’s Bill. I reiterate my thanks to the noble Lord for bringing this important topic to us in this way.

I suspect that on all sides of the House we recognise that energy efficiency and microgeneration represent important elements in any strategy to deal with providing a balanced environment, in the battle against climate change and in creating a greener world. By focusing on the planning issues contained in Clause 4, the noble Lord challenges the Government to respond to the Bill’s provision for review by the Secretary of State of the planning issues presented by microgeneration.

Noble Lords will recognise that other elements of the broader debate embodied in the deleted clauses will not have gone away. We hope that the Minister can assure us that the Government acknowledge them and will give serious consideration to the Bill in its amended form.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, feels like a condemned man in the Committee stage of his important Bill. In thinking about what to say today, I looked at the Second Reading speech of my noble friend the Minister. I was delighted to sit next to her during that debate and was surprised to see so many mentions of kitchens and by the number of noble Lords who signed up to living in windy parts of the country. I notice that those elements of the debate are not necessarily to be continued in what will be a quick and efficient Committee.

I re-emphasise the comments of my noble friend at Second Reading about the importance of what she called, “a heroic debate”. She also commented that the Government were extremely sympathetic towards the intentions of the noble Lord in bringing this Bill forward. I thank him for providing us with the opportunity to discuss these important issues again.

As my noble friend Lady Andrews said at Second Reading, the Government welcome the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, to withdraw the four clauses. Clauses 1 and 2, on the promotion of energy efficiency ratings through the home information packs and estate agents’ property details, are, as we have already discussed, unnecessary because regulations are being laid before Parliament later this month which will implement these policies. The third provision required substantive changes to the current council tax and business rates regime, which we shall not consider before we have had time to properly examine the final findings of Sir Michael Lyons’s independent inquiry.

The Government also support the withdrawal of requirements on lenders to offer products supporting the take-up of energy efficiency and microgeneration measures. The noble Lord raised the timetable for the implementation of the EPCs for rented and commercial properties. I understand that he has an APPG meeting coming up; I do not know the date of that meeting. I reassure him that the timetable for the regulations will be announced very shortly.

22 Mar 2007 : Column 1429

Lord Redesdale: I thank the Minister for that response.

On Question, Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 1:

The noble Lord said: I will take a very short time over this. The purpose is to allow small microgeneration through wind turbines, dealt with in Clause 4, to become permitted development on agricultural land. I realise that there is a White Paper on planning, which is an opportunity that should not be missed by the Commons to take this up and debate this problem area in the planning process. The Climate Change Bill followed a previous Private Member’s Bill, the Renewable Energy Bill, that was introduced in this House two or three years ago. It put forward ideas about small microgeneration on buildings.

The problem with that is that it extends only to the curtilage of the building. Small microgeneration up to 50 kilowatts, which would be able to generate enough to run a house, can be put on the building but not in a field next to the building. This issue is causing some concern. As the planning process drags on interminably, it is almost impossible to get planning permission for what we believe should be a permitted development. I hope that the Government will bring forward some constructive proposals in their White Paper to cut down on planning time. The only purpose of the amendments is to take the Bill forward. I hope that those in another place might see the absolute merits and pass them into law. I beg to move.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: I hope I can encourage the noble Lord to feel optimistic about the concepts surrounding the debate going forward. As my noble friend Lady Andrews said last month, the Government are very much at one with the noble Lord over the importance of the climate change agenda and the promotion of microgeneration technologies. However, my noble friend also made clear that there is no need for primary legislation, as current government policy already deals with the actions that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, seeks to support.

The amendments would leave us with one substantive clause, the current Clause 4. As indicated by the proposed new Title, the resulting Bill will require the Government to conduct a review and report on the effect of planning requirements on the installation of energy efficiency measures and microgeneration equipment on, importantly, agricultural land. However, we feel that the clause is unnecessary. We have already strengthened planning policies over the past year. We

22 Mar 2007 : Column 1430

have issued a ministerial Statement that built on the existing policy in the planning policy statement on renewable energy—PPS 22—issued in 2004, and we launched a public consultation on a new draft planning policy statement on climate change.

The latter expects planning authorities to make the most of existing and planned opportunities for decentralised, renewable and low-carbon energy supplies to supply both proposed and existing development. Local planning authorities should expect substantial new development to gain a significant proportion of its energy supply on-site and renewably, and/or from a decentralised, renewable or low-carbon energy source.

We have also carried out a review of permitted development rights for the installation of microgeneration equipment by householders, as I am sure the noble Lord is well aware. In addition, we want to consider including agriculture in our response to the Baker proposal that permitted development rights for microgeneration should be further extended to uses besides domestic uses. The Government do not support the amendments to Clause 6 and to the Title.

Lord Redesdale: I did not think the noble Baroness would have a change of heart on that point. I am heartened by her statements. It is important that the Government note that although PPS 22, in my view, strengthens the case for microgeneration, at a recent planning appeal on the erection of a wind turbine, PPS 22 was used by those objecting to the planning appeal as well as those trying to support it. So the wording for making a case for moving forward with microgeneration, rather than preserving the landscape, needs to be strengthened substantially. On that basis, I very much hope that there will be an opportunity for many in the other place to see the merits of this argument and crusade forward with it. Even if the Bill does not get much further, the debates will feed into a growing change within government and outside on the need to increase the stock of microgeneration, which can only be for the good.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 2:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

In the Title:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 3:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

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