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I have already commented on the 300 megawatts net figure. I do not think that is a small proportion. The noble Lord asked whether that would mean that stations would be much larger. We will need to consider that factor and I am happy to take that point on board. The noble Lord asked me what will happen if the relevant technology does not work. We expect that it will work. He will know that we believe there are no major technical barriers to its working. All elements of CCS have been successfully used. There are examples in Algeria in relation to extracting CO2 from oil and gas fields. He will know that a small-scale project was developed in Germany. However, this has never been applied on a commercial scale or in a power station. We will, of course, need to have contingency plans available if the development of CCS is delayed. I very

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much embrace the point he made that of course we have to look at measures to reinforce reductions in emissions from existing power stations. He is also right to say that efficiencies could be undertaken now to reduce CO2 emissions. We will need to look at that matter but it will be very much subject to the consultative process.

2.08 pm

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I welcome elements of the Statement. First, it refers in very encouraging terms to the nuclear programme—something which was notably absent from the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech yesterday, when there was no mention of nuclear being a low-carbon solution to our energy problem. Secondly, like others who have spoken, I welcome the increase in the number of demonstration projects from one to up to four. I am not quite sure what that means but the noble Lord will know that during the past year or more I have voiced criticisms—indeed, my noble friend referred to this—about the inadequacy of having a single competition for a single demonstration project. I also welcome the fact that it is now open to the industry to produce designs for pre-combustion as well as post-combustion plants.

However, the Statement leaves a great many questions to be answered, and I shall take them in no particular order. I do not begin to understand the part about the,

When are we going to get an explanation of that? Will we have to wait for the consultation document that is promised? When will that come? We have discussed feed-in tariffs, as the noble Lord knows, in the context of microgeneration plants and so on, but I simply do not understand what is intended here and I would welcome an explanation.

Secondly, we are finding ourselves using the word “demonstration” in two entirely different senses, and I am not sure that the noble Lord has made that clear. Am I right in saying that we have understood that a demonstration plant means the full end-to-end plant that was, for instance, the subject of the initial competition? One reads:

“We will propose for consultation a requirement to demonstrate at least 300 megawatts of net capacity”,

on a new plant. What does “demonstrate” mean there? Is it a demonstration of an intention? Does it mean that the plant has to consist from the beginning of some element of CCS, even though we will not yet have had the full plant? I would be grateful for an explanation of that.

Another question seems to me to be left entirely unanswered. If there are to be a number of these CCS plants around the country, will there be any sort of a carbon dioxide grid to enable the CO2 that has been sequestrated to be transported so that it can be buried underground? Am I right in assuming that that will almost always happen offshore in the exhausted gas wells that have been drilled?

The Budget report says that the competition will continue. Are we therefore to have three or four winners of the competition, or is this a new stage with one winner, as in the original competition, and the others will need to produce something else? When will we know the details of that? The question of how one can

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put some details on to this is becoming extremely important, as we do not have nearly enough detail to know how this will work. I hope that the Minister can enlighten us.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not sure that I will satisfy the noble Lord on all those matters, because we intend to produce a consultation paper, which is due in the summer. I hope that it will contain a lot of the details that the noble Lord has rightly pointed out. Clearly, we want to get on with this, and the consultation paper will allow us to set out some of the challenges and get responses from stakeholders including, I am sure, Members of your Lordships’ House. I pay tribute, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, to the expertise and leadership in this area of the noble Lord, which I have long appreciated.

We recognise that nuclear will be an important component of our future energy supply; there is no question about that. What does “up to four” mean? It means up to four. I have tried to convey the Government’s enthusiasm for as many CCS projects as possible up to four. On what is meant by “demonstration”, clearly we wish to see an end-to-end demonstration. In building new coal power stations, we would expect the process to be up and running and that at least 300 megawatts net and 400 megawatts gross will go through the CCS process. We are glad to listen to views in the consultation about some of the issues around that but, at the end of the day, we hope that in 2020 it will be possible for an independent assessment to have taken place that can clearly show that the technology and the economic issues mean that this has been brought to a successful conclusion. At that stage, we will be in a position to require retrofit of the entire nature of those plants within a five-year period. That is the clear intent.

As far as winners are concerned, the 07 competition continues, albeit under the conditions that we are now setting. It is making progress. I have said that we will shortly be making invitations to negotiate. I cannot possibly say whether, if we get up to four, it will be one company or four companies or consortia. We will have to see how the competition process works through.

Lord Judd: My Lords, the Government are clearly to be congratulated on this significant and exciting Statement following so immediately after the Budget. Because of the dimensions of our economic crisis, as spelt out so honestly in the Budget yesterday, will my noble friend confirm that in this battle for the future of humanity, which is what this is, we must have a situation among all parties in this country that, whatever the economic pressures, priority must be given to projects of this kind, without which the economic problems today would seem small compared to the economic problems that would face us in the future?

I was glad to hear my noble friend saying that his approach was that he hoped that this would succeed, rather than talking about what the hell we would do if it did not succeed. Does he agree that, while of course it must be proven, there is a tremendous difference between saying that we are investigating a possibility with government finance and saying that there is a task for those involved to make it work? The command,

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almost as in a war situation, is to make it work and to make it work economically, rather than to look at it as a possibility to be equated against other possibilities not yet specified.

Finally, on sites, does my noble friend agree that the issue is not simply about the main installation itself but about the infrastructure as well? Therefore, if we are not to repeat the follies of the first Industrial Revolution, it is terribly important from day one that priority is given to social and environmental considerations in terms of location. What consultation is there with DfID about how, as we take this forward, we can right from the beginning be contributing to new methods of power generation in the third world?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. He is absolutely right that the effort to mitigate climate change has to be the greatest endeavour that we engage in. Long-term certainty and consensus across the Floor here and in another place are vital to that endeavour and to the industry in terms of the long-term investment decisions that it must make. In fact, if one goes to the heart of what both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord said, there is clearly strong consensus about carbon capture and storage. That is very important. There is also a great deal of consensus about the need to do all that we can to encourage renewables. Because of the renewable energy strategy, which is due, as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, reminded us, in the spring, I am not prepared to go further than that, but we understand that it is very important.

The environmental issues need to be considered, and environmental requirements and surveys will have to be undertaken alongside any consent given to new coal power stations embracing CCS. That goes without question. It is important that we get the siting right. Using extant gas and coal fields is one of the options before us, but there are other storage facilities that we can look at, such as deep saline aquifers. One of the advantages of having up to four projects is that that will allow us to explore different options.

Of course we should be looking at what help we can give the developing world in this respect. But given the scale of increase in coal plants that is likely to happen through the world, I believe that one of the greatest gifts that we could give the developing world is to develop CCS successfully so that we can then use it in other countries.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, now that this initiative has been announced, which I am sure will be greatly welcomed by Purge, what does my noble friend believe will be the future role of organisations such as One North East, Yorkshire First and the universities of Durham and Newcastle, which have done so much work in this area? How might their role change and how can they contribute in future to the debate on and the development of this technology?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I pay tribute to the work of those organisations and to other RDAs, which have a hugely positive role in enhancing and taking advantage of traditional industries, helping to bring them up to date and encouraging the development

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of new technology. From my own experience with Advantage West Midlands and other RDAs, I know that, if they are prepared to invest in renewables and to update, they can play a tremendously important role in the future. This Government believe that RDAs have played a hugely important role and will continue to do so in the future. I am sorry that the party opposite does not share that view.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, the Minister is obviously enthusiastic about this. Among possible locations for clusters, he mentioned the Firth of Forth, confirming that locations north of the border will be eligible for funding under the demonstration project. Can he say how that will link, if at all, with the conditions that he says will be applied to future coal stations, given that the Statement clearly indicates that the new conditions to regain consent will apply in England and Wales for obvious reasons with regard to the devolution of planning? Is there a link between the conditions on the one hand and eligibility for demonstration funding on the other?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, Scotland has a rich heritage and we very much want it to be embraced within these arrangements. We look forward to discussions with the Scottish Executive. As my right honourable friend in another place said, we would very much welcome any monetary contribution that the Scottish Administration would like to make. We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Executive on this matter for the very reason that the noble Lord gave.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, on balance, I strongly welcome the Statement. As the noble Lord implied a few moments ago, our focus on CCS is important in the British context, but it is vastly important in the world context. If we can give a lead there, it will help us down the line.

There are a number of obscurities in the Statement, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said, and I hope that some of them will be clarified. When the Minister’s department was set up, I said quietly that there were two decisions on which I was afraid it would be judged in the early years. One was Heathrow and the other was Kingsnorth. On Heathrow, the department lost rather disastrously. It was a perverse decision, in my view, although my noble friend Lord Soley is shaking his head. However, it was hardly the department’s fault; it was up against the strong, remorseless interests of the aviation industry. In this matter it has, in its own competence, balanced and seen off quite a number of pressures. That is commendable.

For how long does the noble Lord think that about three-quarters of the emissions of a new power station would be unabated? On some calculations, it seems to me that, if we gave the go-ahead to Kingsnorth or anywhere else too early, it could be up to 10 years, which is too long. Secondly, how will it be paid for? I declare an interest with regard to both questions. I am a member of the Environment Agency board, although I suspect that I will not be in 2020 when the agency will be called on to judge the robustness of the technology. I am also a representative of consumers through the Consumer Focus board, which I chair.

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For how long does the Minister think that we will have an only partially abated new coal-fired power station? On the cost, it would be wrong, as some newspapers implied this morning, if there were a sort of poll tax on energy consumers to pay for this. It surely must be paid for by those who persist in carbon-based energy generation through the purchase of emissions trading permits and, if necessary, an additional levy. This should primarily be paid for by the carbon-generating industry and not by the consumer. Of course, all costs eventually get passed on to the consumer, but in a fair way.

If the noble Lord can give me good answers to those two questions, I will give him at least seven out of 10 for this second decision.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, my noble friend is a hard taskmaster. I do not agree with him about Heathrow; I believe that the very strong conditions set for the expansion of Heathrow have shown that the Government came to a balanced view. Government speaketh with one voice, as ever. Both my departments, DECC and Defra, played a strong and positive role in relation to the final decision. I am glad that my noble friend recognises that we have the balance right for CCS. As for the length of time, our hope is that at 2020 it will be possible for the Environment Agency—the agency that is chosen to make the independent assessment—to make a positive assessment. It would then enable us to require retrofit in these new stations within a five-year period. That would be the ideal timetable.

As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, we will consult on money and pricing. The Statement has made it clear that we think that projects should receive payment once operational, based on either carbon or electricity price. Given the risks of being first in class, we will also look at whether help can be given with capital payments.

My noble friend spoke about the cost to consumers. That is a factor but, equally, I fully accept that there has to be the right balance. We have to be fair to consumers; we have to ensure that there is value for money and that the incentives in relation to concepts such as the EU ETS are that carbon emitters have to pay a price. However, I remind my noble friend that the IEA has said that, if we do not develop CCS, the cost of tackling climate change could be 70 per cent higher. In terms of cost-effectiveness, in one way or another I am convinced that it is right to make available the funding to help to develop CCS. There has to be some funding over and above what might come through the mechanism of the carbon pricing structure.

Civil Liberties: Electronic Surveillance


2.29 pm

Moved by Lord Craig of Radley

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Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, 12 years ago I chaired a Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into the use of digital images as evidence, in which we drew attention to civil liberties implications. My debate is to call attention to any effect on civil liberties on electronic surveillance today.

First, I pay tribute to noble Lords who have taken part in debates and inquiries into the digital age. Three weeks ago, the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, led a most interesting debate in your Lordships’ House. In February, the Select Committee on the Constitution published a report entitled Surveillance: Citizens and the State. I thought it significant that this constitutionally focused committee should have spread its wings to delve in considerable and knowledgeable depth into this issue. A Home Affairs Committee report last May was entitled A Surveillance Society?—and I note the question mark.

There are four points on which I shall dwell. What are civil liberties? What does surveillance imply? What might evolve in the future—and what will be the effect for individual members of the public? For me, civil liberties are freedoms which are, or should be, guaranteed to individuals. These range from rights to free speech, fair trial, property ownership, to free association, privacy and, most importantly, freedom from the abuse of power by those who have the means and methods of dictating and of enforcing it.

The concept of our civil liberties stretches back through the centuries, notably to the Magna Carta and, arguably, pre-1066 to the Anglo-Saxon witans. In more recent times, in the face of national danger and survival, the exercise of power by government to curtail or direct individuals has been accepted as a necessary restraint on civil liberties. But terrorism, however ghastly its manifestations, should never be equated with a threat to national survival. Curtailing civil rights is playing the game by terrorists’ rules. We owe it to not only ourselves but to future generations to do our utmost to uphold and safeguard our civil rights. Creeping irreversible curtailment is the danger today.

A decade or so ago, as the capabilities of information technologies expanded, we referred to the information age and the information society. Individuals were expected and encouraged to feast on the new capabilities to inform and manage their lives and aspirations. Browsers opened a vast new world of information and knowledge. The Science and Technology Committee, of which I was a member in the mid-1990s, completed a study called The Information Society; Agenda for Action. There was no question mark in that title. Ours was the first Select Committee report from either House to be published electronically.

We saw the information society based on an information superhighway as one of the most important technological developments of the century. Directly or indirectly, the digital and communications revolution would affect us all. So it has, and at astonishing speed. In the past decade, information society—no question mark—has morphed into surveillance society—question mark. For some the question mark is no longer apposite. In 2004, the Information Commissioner was warning that the UK must not sleepwalk into a surveillance society. There have been further advances in data collection and usage since.

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The various reports and debates, to which I have referred, dealt with perceptions of what forms a surveillance society, and what it now means for individuals going about their daily activities. Noble Lords will have an opportunity to consider and to debate the Constitution Committee’s hard-hitting report once the government response is to hand. The committee drew attention to the growing use of surveillance and data collection, which should be regulated by executive and legislative restraint. What, it asked, is the justification for the incessant creep towards every detail about an individual being recorded and pored over by the state? It also commented on the concept of a national DNA database, and warned that this could be used for malign purposes. It proposed new responsibilities for the Information Commissioner in overseeing the collection and use of digital data. I was pleased to note a reference to the Select Committee inquiry that I chaired way back in 1997.

While much of the report, understandably for a constitutional committee, is concerned with the impact of government and other public authorities’ activities, it notes the raft of data collection, storage, and dissemination undertaken in the private sector. I doubt, for all its good intentions, that the Data Protection Act 1998 is man enough to cope with new digital manipulations such as data matching and data mining. Marketing questionnaires, competitions, and card purchases provide a record of the interests and aspirations of individuals, which can be stored, compared and sold on. How useful for the producers of junk mail to target their activities towards possible customers. The rollout by Google of its Street View, available to all on the internet, has sparked a determined reaction by some who feel that their personal privacy and interests are being abused and even threatened. This Google activity does not seem to be troubled by data protection legislation or codes of practice.

Similar reactions have been sparked by the proposals for national identity cards. I and other members of the public have been caught by cloning of personal details through credit and debit card fraud. Noble Lords will be well aware of the explanations offered by government and others for the depth and coverage of personal data collection. CCTV, rolled out at considerable public expense over the past two decades, has certainly been an aid in identifying and tracking down suspects. Whether all the other asserted advantages of such widespread coverage in most urban areas have materialised is questionable. Crime on our streets has not significantly reduced. How many of the thousands of prisoners held in jails owe their convictions to being caught on CCTV? We know of a few high-profile cases, but I am not aware of any deep research that has upheld as cost-effective the decisions over the past 10 to 15 years to provide wide-scale CCTV coverage—one estimate is of over 4.2 million cameras—at a cost of several hundred millions of pounds to the taxpayer. Perhaps the Minister will be able to reassure the House on this.

In the inquiry into the use of digital images as evidence, we acknowledged that CCTV could intrude on individual privacy and civil rights, but we thought that it would be right to see public acceptance and approval of the use of surveillance in public places

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maintained and encouraged. Twelve years on, with the growth in coverage, image-matching and other techniques, we have learnt to live with it. Not all are relaxed or unfazed by the implications that it has for individual privacy, but live with it we surely will.

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