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In any case, we do not feel that individual proposals for the reduction of carbon emissions have a place in this framework Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to set up mechanisms to introduce policy that will decrease climate change. Even those who feel that it is a good idea should object to the amendment on the grounds that the Bill should not be too prescriptive on policy to be implemented to stop climate change.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, made a perfectly valid geographical argument. It has been argued before and is of course quite right. That is not the issue. The fact is that the further north you go, the darker it becomes in winter, whether you like it or not. Of course, during the summer, you have the advantage of longer days altogether, both morning and evening. The issue that the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has put before us is a very good one. I am only too happy to have my name attached to the amendment, as it was before. She has argued the case before extremely cogently and has done so even more this evening.

All that we are asking for is that this is considered as a matter of energy saving. I am glad to hear that the Conservative Party considers that there are enough powers in the Bill for that to happen; it will be interesting to hear whether the Minister can confirm that. If that is the case, that helps the cause enormously. It is only a matter for consideration, because any achievement of daylight saving would have to be the subject of another, completely separate Bill.

My argument is in connection with energy saving. Most of the Bill has been about other methods of achieving that—carbon sinks and other things—whereas we are talking about saving quite considerable quantities of energy. In the two world wars, such measures were introduced for the obvious reason that we were extremely short of energy at the time and drastic measures had to be introduced. You could say that climate change, as a worldwide issue, is of a similarly disastrous and catastrophic nature. Therefore, I have no hesitation in supporting what the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, is trying to do. Like her, I would like to think that the Minister will be able to give us some words of comfort about this measure being introduced at some stage in the future.



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Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I hesitate to intervene in the debate because I hope that my noble friend the Duke of Montrose will remain my noble friend after I have spoken. I have a very dim and distant, though none the less real, memory of a wartime experience in the days when we had double summertime, which the noble Viscount has been talking about. The experience was actual.

Good little boys in those days were sent to bed at about 6.30 pm. On the other hand, work on the farm, which was where I lived, went on. It went on while daylight went on. Daylight hours had been altered to give the maximum hours for work for the whole country, which in those days included Scotland—if my noble friend will accept that description. So, I was sent to bed at something like 6.30 pm, and like a good little boy I went to bed and I went to sleep. About two hours later, the men came in from work—my bedroom overlooked the farmyard—and they woke me up. It was broad daylight and I thought, “My gosh! I’ve overslept”. I jumped up, got dressed and went downstairs, at which, my appalled parents were astonished and said, “What are you doing here, dear?”. I said, “Well, I thought it was early morning. The chaps are coming in down the yard”. I thought that they were going out to work, but they were not, they were finishing their day’s work.

Behind that silly little tale is a very serious issue, which the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has raised with her amendment. Although my noble friend the Duke of Montrose has chosen to disagree with her, I am bound to say that this matter, in the present circumstances, needs serious consideration. This is not a national emergency on the scale of World War II, for which I am immensely grateful, but it is an emergency on a global scale that we need to think about seriously. We need to think about everything that can be done to reduce our need for and dependence on artificial energy sources. If we can reduce our energy demand by altering our daylight pattern, it needs serious consideration at the highest level. I hope that that will happen.

Lord Lyell: My Lords, can I be impudent? I apologise very much to the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham—I was delayed by a few seconds, so I missed her opening remarks. She may remember that I impudently intervened the previous time she introduced this. I apologise to her and the House that I had not done the research to find the difference in daylight hours between Wick and Aberdeen, which is a good bit further north of me, let alone of my noble friend the Duke of Montrose and noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith.

Lest people think that I am growing roots or donning what people in Angus call “nicky tams”—my agricultural outfit—we should consider that, as my noble friend Lord Taylor would indicate, agriculture is not terribly relevant, apart from delivery and other work that tends to go on. I am thinking of the people in Aberdeen, Inverness and the north of Scotland who are dressed like ourselves, perhaps, and work in offices and other activities.

It may be simply lovely to have longer mornings, but I seem to remember—I may have raised this matter before; I have not been able to do all the

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research that I perhaps should have done—that when the noble Baroness moved her amendment so well at the previous stage, the Minister told us interestingly that some experiments had been done, perhaps on a theoretical basis. I am sure that the noble Baroness will take this on board. Applying these figures, it was found there was an increase in energy consumption. I do not know whether that was through heating offices or whatever, which you certainly need to in Inverness, Wick or Aberdeen because they are not exactly the Costa Brava, even in summer. I think the Minister indicated that the figures were marginally less favourable than might have been suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, because it can get quite chilly in Scotland. Farmers might be used to it, but office workers and others in administration are not entirely used to it. I have certainly taken on board the noble Baroness’s views. She presented them very well, and I very much look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say. I apologise if I was impudent and out of order.

9 pm

Lord Teverson: My Lords, if the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, decides to test the opinion of the House, the Liberal Democrats will have a free vote, and not abstain as our colleagues in the other place did. This is an area where there are a number of mantraps; no doubt I have already fallen down one. Personally, I agree with the noble Baroness; we need a wide armoury of policies and ways to tackle climate change. As we have all said before, the way in which individual citizens live their lives—those small things—can at the end of the day make enough difference to this global issue. The amendment is certainly the right way to do this. We need an objective view of what benefits would be gained, and the climate change committee is the way to have that. You often find that what you intuitively think is the answer is not necessarily always quite so straightforwardly so. I am sure that it will be of benefit, but we might find that other nuances come out to make that policy even more exact and helpful. From a personal point of view, I wish the amendment every success.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I can be extremely brief. It is most unfortunate that debates come again at this time of night—the wrong time of day. I have made my position perfectly clear. At this Dispatch Box, I always speak for the Government unless I speak for myself. I agree with daylight saving as a technique for lots of reasons. However, I have spent the best part of 14 days on my feet in this House trying to stop this House making the climate change committee an executive policy-making committee. I am therefore a little surprised by what I heard earlier. The amendment would amount to that. The only saving grace is that I will not even attempt to use my small speech. I will, however, answer the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, by repeating what I talked about before in the inadequate speech that I delivered. The evidence that I used was the specific Building Research Establishment evidence about buildings; it did not cover the totality of what would happen to society. Last Friday, I do not think the Government could give a view in the other place because the Bill was talked out. I am not wholly

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convinced that there is a total government-wide view on this. DBERR is the department that leads on this. If there was a lot of pressure on the department from business, you would think that it would be on the case, but it is not because there is not a lot of pressure from business in total.

There is the status quo—do nothing—because there is no pressure to do anything. I can offer only the reality. We are dealing with the Climate Change Bill. As I have said, I have spent all this time arguing that it should not have a policy remit to say how we meet the targets or the budgets that will be set by suggesting other things, such as different forms of power generation. There are all kinds of issues. We are trying to stop that because that is not the role of the Committee on Climate Change. I would be falling into a trap simply because I agree with the policy issue, but that is not the issue. That is not the role of the committee.

However, on the question about the committee advising on this issue, I would draw the attention of the House and that of the other place to the fact that about the only area of the Bill which would be relevant is Clause 30, “Duty to provide advice or other assistance on request”. The clause states:

a whole series of things. In other words, the committee has the power to consider this issue if asked to do so under Clause 30. I cannot go beyond that. It would not make sense from my point of view to make a long speech on this at this point.

Baroness Billingham: My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have contributed to this debate. It has been very helpful. I feel somewhat encouraged and I certainly have been very encouraged by the points made by the Minister. On some of the specific arguments, I am not surprised to see the Scottish question being raised yet again. I think that we all accept that RoSPA is the authority on this. It has stated:

daylight saving—

That very powerful argument has to be put into the equation. When we discussed this previously, a point was made about the greater good. Sometimes we have to look at that and balance it with the arguments against and the arguments for.

The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, always makes fascinating injections in debates. I do not know whether he saw the climate change committee chairman’s suggestion for people in offices. He suggested that in the winter, in order to cut down on heating, we should all wrap up warm, and that in the summer we should all pitch up in our shorts. Next summer, I shall look forward to seeing whether the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, shows his knees in the Chamber. If he does we shall know that he has taken that advice.



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Lord Lyell: My Lords, I would love to come to the Chamber in my kilt. Perhaps if the wind blows the noble Baroness might get a surprise.

Baroness Billingham: My Lords, I think that we should move on from that.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his support. He is right that we should look at this objectively and sensibly. I think of it as nothing less than a serious proposal. I am encouraged by the Minister’s support and I take his point about Clause 30, which I think will be called into play; that is, the climate change committee can be asked to look at daylight saving. With those assurances, and with my thanks to contributors, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 175 and 176 not moved.]

Lord Dearing moved Amendment No. 177:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall begin where the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, finishes. Clause 30 states that the committee must, if asked by a national body,

which was helpful in relation to daylight saving. I want to go one step further and say that the committee can do analysis, get information or give advice without being asked if it thinks it is relevant to helping the Government achieving the targets that it has set. The House will not be surprised that, as a former civil servant, once upon a time I read Machiavelli. I quote him bearing in mind the difficulty that Ministers have in doing unpopular things, which is why I want the committee to be able to take the initiative in raising issues. Machiavelli said:

If only Mrs Thatcher had read that before introducing the poll tax, she might have been wiser.

There is a risk that the Government will hesitate to invite the committee to look at issues that would be very challenging to a political party which has to get re-elected. I can think of nowhere where that is more true than in relation to domestic premises and our cars. As I said on the first day of Report, those two between them account for 35 per cent of carbon emissions. They hit everyone’s pocket and it is difficult stuff to go into. It will help the Government if the committee opens up some difficult boxes. I do not think the committee should have the power to say “thou shalt”, as was argued earlier today, but it should examine, comment and pass its advice and analysis over to the Government.

I am prompted a little in making the suggestion because it has been put to me that the Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board, set up after the 2003 energy White Paper, started off in good fettle but

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seemed to have its role gradually diminished because it was doing or saying some rather unpopular things. I do not know whether that is true—it has not been put to me by an energy body—but it is in the interests of the Government and us all that the Government should have, through the committee, the information and analysis required to formulate good policy even though they have been reluctant to ask for this box to be opened.

The Minister has said several times that he does not want the committee to be engaged in policy—and certainly not in decision-taking—but if a committee has, as this committee has under Clause 27(1)(a), the duty to advise the Government on energy budgets; and if, as under government Amendment No. 144, it goes into sectors where there are particular opportunities for making savings; and if, as required under the same section of the Bill, it has a duty to give the reasons for its advice, I cannot see how the committee can do that without evaluating the implications, benefits and costs of specific actions. If not, it is an empty box; there is no basis for its advice. It must give that advice to the Government, and we have agreed that it should be made public. If it is not, I guess it will be wheedled out under the Freedom of Information Act. Although the committee is not there to decide, it inevitably presents the Government with considerably worked-out policy options and it will be to the advantage to the Government to have this.

Once upon a time I was invited by the Government of the day to chair a committee on the future of further education. One issue was paramount—how it was to be funded. The place was in uproar about higher education. It is very handy in those circumstances to a Government—and perhaps even to an opposition party when an election is not very far off—to have independent persons, under a chairman of sufficient age that he is wholly expendable, to say the things that are very difficult to say and to present the Government with options for something as challenging as, for example, tuition fees. It is very tempting to leave such difficult issues on one side. Sometimes independent persons, such as the committee which is to be appointed, if given that extra bit of freedom, can tackle those issues, open the box for the Government and make it possible to debate them in public and move forward on policy issues.

I propose that it should be open to the committee to provide on its own initiative the advice that can be requested by a national authority under Clause 30. I beg to move.

9.15 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, this is the Frankenstein amendment. I cast no reflection on the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, whose contributions to the debates in this House are always of high value. This evening has been no exception. It is a pity, given the lateness of the hour, that there are not more noble Lords here to listen to his eloquence.

When I call this amendment the Frankenstein amendment I do so not only because it might frighten the noble Lord, given his aversion to executive powers, but because the amendment leads us to a place where,

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up until now, the Government have feared to tread. The amendment makes the Committee on Climate Change come alive with its own autonomous capacity to make recommendations where it sees fit. This seems to fit in with our overall approach to the Bill, which has been to empower the Committee on Climate Change to ensure that it is robustly independent and authoritative. At first glance, this might be even too far for our liking—that is, the Committee on Climate Change should be an authoritative and independent body but should not usurp the powers of the Government, in terms of the formulation of difficult details of policy or launching its own policy initiatives and agenda.

The amendment makes the committee much more reasonable. It simply powers the committee to provide information for which it was not asked directly by the Secretary of State. This seems like a very sound idea. What comes immediately to mind would be breakthroughs in the scientific community—or indeed even in industry—which would be very important to the Secretary of State and might affect government policy in an oblique way. The Secretary of State might not be able entirely to appreciate the import of some of the more abstruse breakthroughs and it would be extremely beneficial to put the committee in a position in which it could pass on this information. Although that would not be its primary function, the committee is perfectly poised to be the conduit between the scientific world and the political world. Providing information and advice to the Secretary of State would enable him to make better informed decisions.

We have to face the fact that, on these immensely complex matters, the Secretary of State might not even know when he should ask for advice. This is by no means a condemnation of politicians, but with the immense speed at which developments occur in this field it would be useful to give the committee this capacity to proffer its own advice. The Government would be hard-pressed to object to an amendment like this—it would seem that they would want the committee to be under the thumb of the Secretary of State if they reject it.

It would be interesting to hear further from the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, of situations where he feels that empowering a committee in this way would have strengthened the position of the committees and bodies on which he has served in his long public life. He has proposed a particularly useful amendment this evening.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, for having brought forward the amendment, to which I was pleased to add my name. I was quite surprised when the noble Lord first approached me, because I had assumed that the committee would have this power, yet when one goes through the Bill, one sees that that is not clearly the case.

The amendment is again in the area of executive authority versus advice. In no way does it introduce executive authority for the climate change committee in terms of placing obligations on government, but it legitimises the committee, keeps it intellectually alive, and makes it a much more useful instrument for government in that it gives them the ability, particularly in the areas of analysis and research, to look at

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particular aspects of climate change or adaptation which it feels are important, but are perhaps missed or are not high on the Government’s or the nation’s agenda at the time. Therefore, the proposed power is very important.


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