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Although it appears on the nation’s balance sheet at present, the issue that the noble Baroness has to address—as do her colleagues in the Commons—is not whether Northern Rock appearing on the public accounts together with Granite is an embarrassment to the Government. Let me say that it is a short-term embarrassment to the Government because the Government will resolve this issue in due course. It would be a greater embarrassment if the Opposition had to spell out how the resources—which now, in the national accounts, have to be devoted to Northern Rock on the debit side—would be withdrawn from the Government’s spending side. If the Government are being pressed to take account of Northern Rock in the national accounts in a matter of weeks, and therefore to take out of the Government’s spending pattern the very significant resources and obligations

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that Northern Rock represents, I can only say that the Opposition, not the Government, should answer the questions.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, it is not for the Opposition to answer such questions, but we have never suggested that the inclusion of Northern Rock’s liabilities properly in the Government’s accounts would lead to either tax increases or expenditure cuts. We are asking the Government to report honestly on the effects of what they have done, which is to take Northern Rock into public ownership and, with it, all its liabilities, including those of Granite, thereby busting their own fiscal rules. That is the point we have been making and no other.

8.30 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for rephrasing it in those terms—it has not always been expressed by opposition spokesmen in quite those terms in public print. However, I accept what she says and the answer, which I have already given, is straightforward: the taxpayer is not underwriting Granite and is not responsible for any losses which Granite might incur. That is the answer with regard to the bond holders.

The noble Lord, Lord Newby, pressed me further, as did the noble Baroness in her opening remarks, on the question of the timing of the business plan and framework agreement. I am grateful to him for distinguishing effectively between the two. The framework agreement traces how the relationships to Northern Rock will obtain in the future when Northern Rock is at arm’s length from the Government and is responsible for its own business plan. It is the business plan that has to be submitted to Brussels. We recognise that during the passage of the legislation there were constant calls for both the agreement and the business plan to be made public. That will be done all in good time. It is of course necessary that these documents come into the public domain, but it will be appreciated that at present the issues relating to the business plan have to be agreed with Brussels and we have to pass the test with the European Commission. The framework agreement will come into the public domain in the very near future and I cannot be any more precise than that.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, during the passage of the Bill, the Minister used the words “as rapidly as possible” in relation to the framework agreement. Indeed, he implied that it might even be available before the Bill completed its passage through the House and then retracted from that. I do not understand why he is now using the time-honoured formula “as soon as possible”, which usually means some distance into the future. What is so difficult about publishing the framework agreement, which governs the relationships between government, shareholder, lender and Northern Rock? What is the problem with that? We will come back to the business plan as a separate matter but let us just deal with the framework agreement.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, these issues are not quite as easily resolved as the noble Baroness suggests. She will appreciate that we have one fixed

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date for this work—17 March in Brussels, or it may be 16 March but the House will forgive me if I am one day out. However, it will certainly be next week in Brussels, and that will help to dictate the time at which we make public the framework agreement.

The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, asked me about other aspects that should be made public. I think he will realise that there is a difference between the framework agreement, the business plan and the arrangement with Goldman Sachs. I have just had confirmed to me 17 March as the date in Brussels. The arrangement with Goldman Sachs was a private arrangement between the Government and the company for some very difficult work to be carried out, and I do not see how the noble Viscount can make out that the details of that need to be in the public domain at present. However, it will be appreciated that the Government believe that every arrangement should at some stage be in the public domain, and of course aspects of the Freedom of Information Act will guarantee that in any case.

The noble Viscount commented, as did the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, on the process that the Government followed from last September. Of course the Bank of England carried out due diligence when it was proposing to lend £30 billion of the nation’s money, and a very thorough examination was carried out at that time. It will be recognised that since August last year—in fact, some time before that—the Treasury has been involved in intensive work on Northern Rock. I cannot give him the answer that I owe, first, to my noble friend Lord Barnett about how much detail I am able to identify on due diligence. If the House thought that the Government had entered into this enterprise with such significant national resources without being involved in due diligence on the survey of Northern Rock’s condition, that would be greatly underestimating the Government; they will be able to stand that test on any occasion when it presents itself.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Climate Change Bill [HL]

8.35 pm

Further consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 28.

[Amendments Nos. 158 to 163 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 164:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Teverson moved Amendment No. 165:

On Question, amendment agreed to.



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Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 166:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, government Amendments Nos. 166, 168 and 170 extend the deadline by which the Committee on Climate Change must lay its annual report in the second year after the end of the budgetary period from 30 June to 15 July. It is a small change. Having considered the arguments made by noble Lords in Committee, we agree that there is a case for extending this deadline. At the end of the budget period, the Secretary of State has until 31 May in the second year following the end of the period to lay the Clause 14 report before Parliament. As drafted, Clause 28 would then give the Committee on Climate Change only until 30 June to lay its progress report before Parliament. The Government now accept that that period may be too short and we therefore believe that a short extension of two weeks will ensure that the Committee on Climate Change can take into account the contents of the Secretary of State’s final Clause 14 statement of emissions.

We have opted for a short extension of only two weeks as we should remember that, by this time, there will already be a large amount of information available that the committee can use to make significant progress in preparing the report in advance of 31 May. It will have information on the UK’s emissions and net carbon account for each year of the budget period, based on the annual emissions statements to Parliament under Clause 12. The committee will already have made four annual progress reports of its own, which will have been laid before Parliament, and the Government will have responded to each of them. So the committee will already be well placed to start making its assessment of the way in which the budget for the period was or was not met and of the action taken during the period to reduce emissions. That is why we think that a short, two-week extension is sufficient. It will provide adequate time for the committee to make any final adjustments to its report to take account of the Government’s final statement. It will achieve this without delaying unnecessarily the committee’s report or allowing the report to be laid during the parliamentary Recess.

Amendment No. 167 would extend the deadline for the committee to submit all its Clause 28 reports until 31 August, which seems excessive. For the years one to four of the budget period, the Government will have tabled the Clause 12 emissions statements by 31 March. The Bill as drafted will then give the committee three months to write its Clause 28 report. We are not sure why it would require a further two months’ extension to 31 August. We also note that this date falls in the parliamentary Recess, which could complicate matters. The only occasion on which we think an extension is justified is for the progress report at the end of a budget period under Clause 28(2). As I have explained, we think that two weeks are sufficient.

Amendment No. 169 would remove the Secretary of State’s power to extend the period allowed to the committee for laying its annual progress report. The power in Clause 28(4) is included and the reporting dates in the Bill have been chosen to allow the

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committee to consider, before making its progress report, emissions data made public by convention and under international and European Union reporting requirements. This power would allow the Secretary of State to make appropriate adjustments to the date if the international reporting requirements were altered. If, for example, that information were to become available later in the year, it might make sense for the committee to be able to delay each report until it has had the opportunity to consider the information.

The power cannot be used to prevent the committee from reporting earlier if it wished. If the Secretary of State wanted to delay the report but the committee did not want a delay, the committee would still be perfectly able to submit its report whenever it wanted. It simply leaves open the possibility of the committee delaying its report should it wish to do so. Reports must still be made annually. We believe that the flexibility to alter the dates by which the reports are required is an essential part of the Bill, so I hope that noble Lords will not press their amendments. I beg to move.

Earl Cathcart: My Lords, our amendments in this group are designed to give the committee slightly more time—an extra two months—to prepare its annual report. Given the extra burden that we are placing on it, if we are asking for a more thorough report, it is only reasonable to allow more time for it to be completed. However, having heard the Minister say that he does not think that extra time is needed and that the Government are confident that the report will be done on time, we will not move our amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 167 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 168:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 169 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 170:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29 [Response to Committees reports on progress]:

[Amendment No. 170A not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 171:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 171A not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendments Nos. 172 and 173:



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On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 173A not moved.]

8.45 pm

Clause 30 [Duty to provide advice or other assistance on request]:

Baroness Billingham moved Amendment No. 174:

“( ) advise the authority on the potential for reducing the effects of climate change through the adoption of a daylight saving scheme.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the last time we proposed this amendment, it triggered some responses that were supportive and others that were clearly not. Throughout the months of deliberation, a great deal of emphasis has been laid on the need for consensus, and the passage of the Bill so far has largely reflected that position. Our amendment is in exactly that mould. We do not urge or demand; we simply request that the climate change committee advise the authority on the potential for reducing the effects of climate change through the adoption of a daylight saving scheme. Whether or not to explore daylight saving is a matter entirely for the climate change committee.

Since the publication of the Bill last May, there has been increasing concern that the severity of the threat has grown and that targets originally contained in the Bill appear not only daunting but even inadequate to fulfil the objective of radically reducing UK carbon emissions. As David King said only last weekend, the challenge is so great that we are going to need every tool in the bag. We must assume that measures will need to be adopted that will not always be comfortable and that changes to individual lifestyles will inevitably sometimes be very painful.

The Stern report categorically told us that the sooner we tackle climate change, the cheaper and more effective our action will be. Daylight saving could be just one tool in the bag. By matching daylight hours more closely to waking hours, the use of electricity would be reduced. Use of the most basic model of daylight saving would yield a 2 per cent reduction of electricity consumption. With even more stringent daylight saving schemes, even greater economies could be made. The resultant decrease in carbon emissions could prove invaluable. Add to that equation the possible threat to our energy supply and reducing the use of electricity becomes even more desirable.

We are confident that the climate change committee—the committee of experts that we have discussed—will look at the suggestion contained in the amendment as it sees fit. Having seen the list of members appointed to that committee, we have total confidence in their judgment. They would be in a position to judge the value of daylight saving against the outcome of similar schemes in the USA, Australia and 70 other countries. We are convinced that, given the global concern at the

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gravity of the climate change threat, all industrialised nations will be forced to do the same. We could learn from one another.

There are, of course, traditional objections to a UK daylight saving scheme, all of which are valid to varying degrees. The experiment in the 1960s was abandoned for a variety of reasons; it is oft cited as the prime objection to any scheme. However, that was 40 years ago. Factors that seemed overwhelming then may appear less significant now when judged against the relatively new threat of climate change. Actions taken now can reduce that threat and protect our planet.

Finally, I draw your Lordships’ attention to last Friday’s debate in the other place, when Mr Tim Yeo advanced the Energy Saving (Daylight) Bill as a Private Member’s Bill, using evidence, statistics and arguments almost identical to those that we used at the previous stage of this Bill some weeks ago. It is encouraging and reassuring to see such consensus and agreement on this issue. While fully appreciating the reasonable opposition to the amendment—too controversial, too early, or even unnecessary—we would be grateful if the Minister could at least hold the door ajar for what we believe to be a constructive and sensible proposal. I beg to move.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, it falls to me to speak to the amendment. I remind the noble Baroness that in almost exactly two weeks’ time we will be experiencing daylight saving in the UK, as happens every year. I think that she is asking that the clock should not be put back to Greenwich Mean Time in the winter.

Here we enter an area where many Scots might like to think about increasing the definition of the line that crosses between Berwick and Carlisle. I am not sure that this is proper but perhaps I can put a little conundrum to your Lordships. If you are trying to progress as the crow flies between Carlisle and Edinburgh, do you envisage yourself moving a bit to the east or a bit to the west? That is the sort of question that you put to secondary school students. The answer is that Edinburgh is to the west of Carlisle and the majority of Scotland is to the west of that line. So not only is it further north, but it is further west, which affects the rising and setting times of the sun. Where I live, in winter time, it begins to get light at about 8 o’clock and we are used to getting darkness at about 4.30. We are not terribly keen on the idea of it getting light only at about 9 o’clock in the morning in the winter time.

As the noble Baroness said, this proposal has already been covered many times in different guises in the House. In the many debates, it always seems to fail to gain enough support. I am willing to inform the House that it does not have my support now as it comes back again. As far as I understand it, there is enough power in the Bill for the Committee on Climate Change to consider the issue if it wants—it has a very broad remit—but I am not desperately in favour of putting it to the committee as a special case.

The amendment goes only so far as to allow for a change in daylight saving schemes to be considered, but we feel that even to make that definite emphasis is

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going too far. This sort of amendment is characterised as a way of making evenings lighter; some of us see it simply as a way to make mornings darker. Postmen, farmers and construction workers depend on early light. People often talk about schoolchildren. One thing that we are trying to do at the moment is to get schoolchildren to walk to school. Their parents will never let them walk to school if it is pitch dark.

As the noble Baroness told us, the experiment was tried and abandoned for what I think were perfectly good reasons. The statistics gathered for the experiment between 1968 and 1971 showed a decrease in the number of people killed or seriously injured because of the shift in the clocks, but those statistics are skewed because they do not seem to account for the fact that drink-driving laws had not yet come into effect.


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