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Better energy efficiency will not only considerably reduce the overall energy demand but also support our ambitions to reduce fuel poverty. Focusing on low-carbon supplies ensures that we generate our energy in a cleaner and more sustainable way than fossil fuels do. Increasing the amount of renewable generating capacity not only adds to this, but also helps to meet the UK's share of the EU 2020 renewable energy targets.

Carrying out any functions under the Bill requires that we have regard to this principal purpose as well as to the reduction of fuel poverty and the desirability of securing a diverse and viable long-term energy supply.

Clause 2 requires the Government to publish a strategy for the promotion of microgeneration in England. Prior to the publication of that strategy, the Government are required to consult the microgeneration industry,

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and to do so within six months of the Act coming into force. It is indeed a "must", as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said. As some of your Lordships will recall, the previous microgeneration strategy was published in March 2006 with the objective of creating the conditions for microgeneration to become a realistic alternative or a supplementary source of energy generation. We made considerable progress on that strategy and reported on achievements last year.

The purpose of the revised strategy would be to promote microgeneration defined as the use of plant for the production or generation of heat and electricity, where that plant has a generation or production capacity of less than 50 kilowatts in respect of electricity and 300 kilowatts thermal in respect of heat. The Government are keen to promote microgeneration, but believe that the 300-kilowatt thermal limit for heat technology adds real value to work that is already under way; for example, to allow consideration for larger-scale heating systems. Giving scope in the strategy to consider these wider developments will help in ensuring that microgeneration plays its part in achieving the 2020 renewable energy target and tackling climate change.

It is important that the new microgeneration strategy takes careful account of the strategies published in the summer and those to be published in the future relating to generation of electricity and heat from renewable or low-carbon sources. This should ensure that the new microgeneration strategy builds on the renewable energy strategy and the forthcoming heat and energy saving strategy.

It is difficult to be clear on the precise content of the strategy until the work begins in earnest. I do not therefore want to get into the details of what the strategy might contain, as that is for the consultation, but a number issues have already been raised, both before the Bill reached this House and in our debate this evening.

I shall deal first with supply chain issues. Here, work is in progress to develop industry skills in microgeneration. I understand that SummitSkills is doing some excellent work in developing the required standards and qualification units for both new entrants and existing workers. We want to reduce some of the current confusion in the marketplace and make it easier for designers and installers of microgeneration to know what training is required and how to go about it. The strategy may be able to help facilitate work in this area.

A systems approach, as opposed to a technology approach, has been raised. This looks at how the technologies interface and integrate with each other. Both storage and controls become technologies in themselves.

The microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) is now making good progress, although there is still much work to do. MCS has been opened up to new certification bodies, which is helping to create a competitive market for certification services. Certification has an important role to play in providing assurance to customers on the performance and quality of microgeneration installations. Connecting to the grid is another area where we might be able to do further work in the strategy.

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We know that more needs to be done on information provision, to inform consumers and build confidence in microgeneration technologies. Those consumers who want to install microgeneration technologies require easy access to relevant information to inform their purchasing decisions. I have just highlighted some issues that we may consider in the future, but, as I have said, this will be covered in more detail as part of the consultation.

Clause 3 relates to microgeneration for dwelling houses and requires that, within six months of the Act coming into force, permitted development rights be introduced for domestic installations of micro wind turbines and air source heat pumps. It will mean that householders wishing to install these technologies will be exempt from the time and cost associated with making a planning application. It will be a big step forward in promoting microgeneration and complement similar measures that the Government introduced last year for other domestic microgeneration technologies, including solar panels.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, asked particularly about listed buildings. Listed buildings are already fully protected from unauthorised alteration by the requirement to obtain listed building consent. If permitted development rights were applicable to a listed building, they could not be exercised without first obtaining that listed building consent. I hope that that answers her question.

Clause 4 relates to microgeneration for non-domestic land, and requires that, within six months of the Act coming into force, consideration be given to extending permitted development rights for microgeneration technologies installed on non-domestic land. There is real scope here for green energy generation on non-domestic land, and we hope that, by our removing the burden of applying for planning permission, businesses and other groups will be more willing to do their bit to address climate change.

For the purpose of the clauses focused on permitted development rights, the definition of microgeneration uses the ordinary capacity limits of 50 kilowatts for the generation of electricity and 45 kilowatts thermal for the production of heat. The Government will very shortly publish a consultation document setting out our proposals for permitted development rights for dwelling houses and non-domestic land. The consultation document has been a long time coming, but some very complex technical and practical issues have required careful consideration. A particular sticking point in developing the proposals for wind turbines and air source heat pumps for both dwelling houses and non-domestic land has been the problem of noise. We propose to consult on a noise level of 45 decibels for wind turbines and air source heat pumps for both dwelling houses and non-domestic land allowed as permitted development. There are concerns about this noise limit and we will want to look carefully at the consultation responses. As for dwelling houses, we will review the effect of the amendment to the General Permitted Development Order as soon as reasonably practicable after the amendment has been in force for two years. This will provide an opportunity to assess how well the permitted development rights are working

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and particularly to assess the appropriateness of any noise limits that might be contained in the legislation.

Perhaps I may answer some of the points made in the debate. My noble friend Lord Giddens has helpfully written his own book, The Politics of Climate Change, published as recently as this April. I take the view that what my noble friend has written is very much in line with what is contained in the Bill, and it was the basis of his speech today. The message that the radical restructuring of energy, transport and production systems by a few pioneers is also the best chance of achieving technological breakthroughs essential to enable all human societies to adjust to climate change is one that all Members of this House can subscribe to.

My noble friend Lord Hunt of Chesterton referred to bureaucratic difficulties for small schemes and made the point that local authorities might be more involved in the process than central government. This is an issue to which we obviously need to pay some attention, but I would caution my noble friend on the question of amendments to the Bill. Although my noble friend Lord Whitty did not make this point, this is not a Bill that will stand a great deal of amendment in Committee if we are to achieve the objective of getting it into law by the end of this Session. However, my understanding is that the question of local government involvement is one that we can come back to.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked about the timetable for feed-in tariffs. The Government are committed to having feed-in tariffs in place in April 2010. The summer consultation, which concludes on 15 October 2009, sets out our proposals on how we intend the FIT schemes to work, including the proposed tariff levels. These proposals have been developed with input from the various stakeholders-energy industry trade associations, energy suppliers, Ofgem and the NGOs-and the consultation will constitute a more formal opportunity for all interested parties to have their say.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, also asked when the consultation on smart meters will be concluded. It already has and the government response is expected shortly.

The noble Baroness gave me notice of two other questions, for which I am very grateful because it allows me to get something on the record this evening. She asked about the electricity infrastructure and whether it would be able to support the level of air-source heat pumps that may be installed as a result of this legislation. It is undoubtedly the case that the legislation will lead to an increase in the installation of air-source heat pumps. That is indeed what it is all about. But our view is that the infrastructure will be able to cope with that demand.

The Government recognise that a key element of a future energy system is the network infrastructure to support and facilitate the shape of demand and supply in meeting our long-term climate change objectives. The Government are therefore considering how they will work with the regulator and in consultation with the industry to develop a long-term vision for the industry, including the investment that will help contribute to the government policy objectives including the ones contained in the Bill.

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The noble Baroness also asked about microhydro. On that, I am pleased to announce that the Hydropower Good Practice Guidance for small-scale hydropower was published this August by the Environment Agency. The document describes how environmental concerns can be mitigated when planning hydropower schemes. It is a useful tool providing information on the design standards for hydropower to encourage its development while ensuring an appropriate level of environmental protection, and includes a checklist for developers on standards for flow, fish pass, fish screening and flood risk assessment. In formulating the guidance, the EA has worked with the British Hydropower Association and consulted fisheries stakeholders.

Achieving our energy objectives requires action at all levels and we all have responsibility for safeguarding the future of our planet. The action that we can take as individuals can make a difference by providing benefits in terms of reducing energy bills and success in the fight against climate change and by avoiding the consequential higher costs of inaction now. The benefits far outweigh the costs with potential for job creation, economic security, technical innovation and investment. I hope very much that all your Lordships will join me in supporting this important Bill and that we will do our best to ensure that it reaches the statute book by the end of the current Session.

8.12 pm

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am deeply gratified-as no doubt is Mr Ainsworth-by the range of support for the Bill not only here and in another place but from some of the most expert commentators on the economics of climate change and on climate change itself in my noble friends Lord Giddens and Lord Hunt. In the course of the debate, I learnt that we apparently also have the support of Gandhi and Chairman Mao. I had not hitherto realised that this had quite such a wide base.

It is important that we move forward with consensus on the Bill. Although I agree with most of what noble Lords have said, there was one point that I may have misheard when the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said that this was not the big deal. No, it is not the big deal in the sense that we still need to decarbonise the big generators of electricity and we still need massive efforts at energy efficiency around the economy and society. But it is a big deal in this sense: it enables local people, individual households, small businesses, farmers and other landowners, without huge bureaucracy, huge costs and huge expenditure of their time, to install these technologies in their own premises at cost savings to themselves and as a major contribution towards carbon saving in society as a whole.

A number of points have been made and I will comment briefly on two of them. Both the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, referred to the role of local authorities. Local authorities can take advantage of and facilitate this legislation. There are other aspects of local authority activity, particularly planning standard activity in relation to both small and medium-scale green technologies, which need addressing. As the Minister has indicated, we may have to come back to that.

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There are also areas where we need to speed up the process. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that the "must" addressed to the Government in this legislation is an important feature of it. Within six months the Government have to come forward. Some of the things that help this also need addressing. The Minister referred to the supply chain. It is important that we ensure that we have an adequate supply chain for these technologies and, indeed, for the larger technologies using low-carbon and nil-carbon energy. There is a skill issue involved here. I happen to be chairing a conference in Liverpool next week, organised by the British Wind Energy Association. My session deals specifically with skills. We do not want a bottleneck in this area because the skills and industrial back-up are not there. However, we are allowing the demand to be created and are therefore stimulating those industries. The UK, having been behind, as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, has said, could move ahead in these technologies, to great economic, as well as environmental, benefit.

When I sat in my noble friend's place as a Minister, I would never have dared indicate to the Chamber that we did not really want any amendments to this legislation. The Minister is much braver than me. I was going to mention it gently in winding up, but at this stage in the parliamentary cycle it is not helpful to have amendments, particularly on new areas. I address this in particular to my noble friend Lord Hunt, however worthy his amendments might otherwise have been. If we are to get this on the statute book, after all the effort in the Commons to get consensus and the clear consensus across the parties here tonight, we have to try to ensure that it gets through fairly speedily. In no sense am I trying to close debate on the issue but I think noble Lords will, in the process of this Bill, bear that in mind, given the enthusiasm that has been shown around the Chamber tonight. I will leave it as delicately as that. I thank noble Lords for their support and beg to move that this Bill receives a Second Reading.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

8.18 pm

Sitting suspended.

Policing and Crime Bill

Bill Main Page
Copy of the Bill
Explanatory Notes
10th Report from JCHR
15th Report from JCHR
9th Report from DPC

Committee (4th Day) (Continued)

8.28 pm

Debate on whether Clause 33 should stand part of the Bill.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, before the dinner break we raised a large number of concerns about all the clauses grouped with Clause 33. We on these Benches remain unconvinced that these provisions on gang-related violence should be in the Bill at all. We would like the Minister to list the powers that the police already have to deal with these situations. They have very wide-ranging powers to deal with public disorder, intimidation or anti-social behaviour. The Minister has not explained why special measures

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are needed to deal with this issue-indeed, not just special measures but ones which take us down a completely different line in terms of restricting the liberty of people who have not done anything wrong. The Minister clearly stated that sometimes it will not be a case of someone having done something wrong, and that the measure will be imposed for their own protection. That precedent was ably expanded on by my noble friend Lady Walmsley. We have not yet heard from the Government a sufficient explanation of why such an extraordinary measure is needed.

Between now and Report, we will look again at everything that has been said in these debates and at some of the very constructive suggestions, including the one from the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, because at least tightening up the definition of when these measures must be applied is the absolute minimum that we should be looking for. There is a great deal to question here. I shall not repeat all of our questions, because they are already on the record, but we are not convinced by and not happy with these provisions as they appear in the Bill. We are unconvinced of the need for these clauses.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, as I am sure noble Lords will appreciate, these provisions form part of a package, so I should like to set out the Government's thinking behind the gang injunctions and speak on Part 4 as a whole. I know that a lot of these issues have been raised already, but if noble Lords would bear with me I should like to give an overall flavour of them. I am aware of the concerns.

All of us in this House realise that violence is unacceptable in a modern society and that the Government have a responsibility to reduce violent crime. It is important that we tackle the disturbing trend of violent crime being committed by young people for the most trivial of reasons. We know that a significant proportion of such incidents are related to the gang culture that we are seeing, and the disputes that we see between gangs over the most petty drug dealing, involving very distorted values of respect and even who lives in which postcode. That can even cause people to shoot each other; that is quite extraordinary. These incidents are not only costing the lives of the unfortunate young people who become involved but, as we know from the media, it can also affect innocent individuals who happen just to get in the way of gunfire or fighting. There was the very sad and high-profile case of 11 year-old Rhys Jones, who was killed in Croxteth Park in Liverpool.

Our view is, as I have stated a number of times, that where a crime has been committed, the perpetrator should be pursued to the full extent of the criminal law. However, the deterrence created by the sanctions of the criminal law, I am afraid, does not always seem to be sufficient to prevent offences being committed. We are firmly in favour of prosecuting offences where the evidence is sufficient and the public interest is such as to support that prosecution. Of course we are committed to improving the awareness of young individuals to give them the level of social understanding that enables them to make the right decisions in life. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, is absolutely

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right to say that there is a whole raft of important issues and that it is important for there to be ways to make these things change, but very often one cannot do that straightaway. We want to steer young people away from damaging gang culture and violent crime, but that is difficult and takes a lot of co-ordinated effort to achieve.

However, it is our view that where lives are at stake-which in respect of gang-related violent crime they clearly are-police and local authorities should be adequately equipped to intervene before it is too late. That is the role of Part 4. The new provisions enable police and local authorities to apply to the courts for a new injunction to prevent gang-related violence.

Birmingham City Council used injunctions granted under the inherent jurisdiction of the courts, and applied for under Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972, to put in place similar provisions that contributed to a significant reduction in gang violence and robberies. The director of the Safer Birmingham Partnership, Jackie Russell, recently wrote to inform me that:

"Injunctions were able to reduce serious harm offences by 15%, robbery by 12.5% and violent crime by 6%".

I believe that we can build on these successes-which were constrained in how they had to be applied-by giving the gang injunction a firm statutory basis and issuing helpful guidance to applicant authorities.

Another key element of the injunctions is that they should attract significant public support. We know that in Birmingham there was strong public support for the approach in neighbourhoods where gangs are a problem. I received another letter, this one from Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport of the West Midlands Police, which said:

"The community recognised the importance of these orders. Some mothers implored us to seek an order for their son so that 'he doesn't end up dead'".

We believe that the community support was due in no small part to the fact that the injunctions did not criminalise the respondents. I have placed copies of both letters in the House Library.

I shall now briefly explain the nature of our provisions, which are very similar to those used in Birmingham that attracted the support that I have mentioned. Before the court grants a full injunction, it must be satisfied that the two conditions set out in Clause 33 are met. The first is that the court should be satisfied that the respondent's past conduct has included engaging in, encouraging or assisting gang-related violence. The court must consider evidence of past behaviour to a civil standard, on "the balance of probabilities". This is a completely civil tool that does not include a criminal conviction for breach-one of the key factors behind community support in Birmingham.

The second condition is that the injunction is necessary to prevent the respondent engaging in, encouraging or assisting gang-related violence, and/or to protect the respondent from such violence. It is important to refer to what is meant by "gang-related violence", which Clause 33 establishes as,

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