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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We should bear in mind that we are one of the first countries to turn back to nuclear power after a moratorium of a considerable number of years. No one would be better pleased than me if we saw the opening of a new nuclear power station earlier than the end of 2017. We will do-and are doing-everything we can to ensure that progress is made as quickly as possible, and that the UK gains enormously from the development of an enhanced supply chain within the UK.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I welcome the Minister's assurances and confidence that security of supply will be maintained, but does that not depend on 20,000 megawatts of wind power, which may or may not be built and which is totally unreliable? Is there any news about the development of wave power in the Pentland Firth, which would provide far more reliable power to around 750,000 homes?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Yesterday the Government published the Marine Action Plan, which very much takes the noble Lord's point about the potential importance of wave and tidal power in the future. However, wind also has an important role to play. I look forward to the building of many wind turbines in the next 10 years.
Lord Dykes: Further to that, the Minister was uncharacteristically reluctant in yesterday's Written Answer to say how many wind turbines he thought there would be by 2015, both onshore and, more importantly, marine. Could he give at least an estimate of the percentage of total energy that will be created by wind farms in 2015 and 2020?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are not in the business of forecasting the exact number of wind turbines that we require. At the moment, 5.5 per cent of electricity is generated through renewables. By 2020, we expect that to be around 30 per cent, and I would expect the contribution of wind to be around two-thirds of that.
Lord Grocott: I welcome and thoroughly with my noble friend's cast-iron assurance that in 10 years the lights will not go out, but is it not worth recalling that the last time the lights went out was under a Conservative Government?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I look, alas, to see whether the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, is here. My noble friend is absolutely right. It would be better for the party opposite to come forward with a rather more cohesive energy policy than we have seen so far.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, given that all this new capacity is about to be built, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has said, and that in the next few years most of it will be gas and gas turbines-that is what is being built at the moment-and that if we rely on more wind farms they will need gas turbine back-ups because in cold weather they do not produce any electricity, can he reassure us that our gas supplies will be reliable and secure, given that the North Sea supplies are now running down?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the North Sea supply may well be in decline-as it is-but our projection for 2020 is that it will still provide more than 50 per cent of our needs. The United Kingdom continental shelf has many more years of gas security to offer. When one puts that alongside the increase that we have seen in import capacity and storage, I am confident that we have the security which the noble Lord desires.
Lord Brett: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have provided the following aid in response to requests for assistance from the Chilean Government: £250,000 on 1 March to the Chilean Red Cross to deliver immediate water, sanitation and shelter emergency relief on the ground; and 600 tents by Ministry of Defence flight to Concepción for distribution by the relief agency World Vision to people left homeless by the earthquake.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, that is extremely encouraging and very generous so far, but is the noble Lord aware that President Sebastián Piñera, the new president of Chile who took office last Thursday, has appointed a committee to study what will be required to achieve an orderly reconstruction process in Chile, which is a highly organised country? Will he therefore ensure that his department keeps in close touch with the Chilean embassy in London in order to find out exactly what will be required and when?
Lord Brett: My Lords, I appreciate the noble Viscount's Question. He is a great friend of and expert on Chile. We received the request from the Chilean ambassador and looked at the areas where we could offer assistance most effectively-as opposed to other areas where it would come more quickly from regional partners-and at our understanding of the humanitarian need; hence the items that we chose. We will, of course, look at any list provided by the new presidential committee to see whether there are other areas where we can give humanitarian aid and immediate assistance. In the long term, reconstruction is thought to be within Chile's own ability as it is a relatively wealthy country in Latin American terms. The new president has already announced that he expects reconstruction to be borne by the Chilean economy.
Lord Naseby: Is the Minister aware that what the Government have done so far is most welcome, but should we not have learnt from the experience of the tsunami when the United Kingdom contributed Bailey bridges and enormous help, particularly to the charitable
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Lord Brett: I appreciate the noble Lord's sentiments about the United Kingdom Government's endeavours in this area. Bailey bridges are available within Chile. I am sure that the expertise that we have in their construction in an emergency could be made available if that were requested by the Chilean authorities. There is no good news in a national disaster. However, compared to Haiti, where 230,000 people have lost their lives, the Chilean death toll is 500. That is helped by the fact that the detonation was at a much greater depth and therefore caused less damage, although it was larger on the Richter scale. Chilean society is more robust in the buildings in which people live and the civil defence and other emergency services; hence it has emerged from this with much less trauma and devastation than Haiti.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: Given the expertise of the British search and rescue teams that have to go into an area very rapidly, are the Government part of any international initiative to try to decrease bureaucratic delays when earthquakes occur in at-risk countries in earthquake zones? We saw delays occur in Haiti, where some lives could have been saved if our own teams had been able to get in more quickly.
Lord Brett: My Lords, the UK Government put a search and rescue team on standby, but it was not required to go to Chile, as I have said, because of the enhanced nature of that country's civil defence and other mechanisms. However, the noble Baroness makes a good point; it is essential for those countries which live on earthquake fault lines to recognise, when these situations occur, that search and rescue is the most essential and immediate requirement. It may well be that the advice to Governments such as Chile and others is to make sure that they have search and rescue teams in place.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, to what extent has there been a restoration of water supplies, a rebuilding of temporary shelters and so on in the weeks since the earthquake? Does he agree that Chile's ability to cope with emergencies is highly developed? Did the Chileans have any special needs which the British Government have been able to supply?
Lord Brett: The most immediate response was of course that of Shelter, whereby we were able to dispatch 600 tents by RAF flight. The Americans, for example, were able immediately to provide a substantial number of satellite cell phones. That is the kind of immediate external help that Chile requires. Beyond that, I am sure that the new president-and we wish him well-who faces enormous tasks in reconstruction, is confident that he has both the resources and expertise within his own nation to do much of that. But of course, as Europeans, as Brits, and as part of the nation of humanity within the United Nations and beyond, we will offer such assistance as we can and as is appropriate.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, as the Minister knows, Chile is highly vulnerable to earthquakes as it is situated on the Pacific ring of fire on the edge of the Pacific and South American plates. The Chilean Red Cross has responded quickly and efficiently. What further support are Her Majesty's Government giving to the Chilean Government, even though they are very well organised, to help particularly the poorer areas and to develop better earthquake resistance?
Lord Brett: Our endeavours at the moment and those of the Chilean Government are, first, to get people back into shelter, and to reconstruct and rebuild people's lives that have been shattered by this experience; and secondly, to learn the lessons and to seek to avoid such things in the future. In addition to immediate UK aid, some €3 million is being provided by the European Commission for further assistance, and pledges of some $29 million have been given via the United Nations-$10 million has been provided from the Central Emergency Response Fund. The UK contribution to CERF is 16 per cent or $1.6 million, so I think that we are doing all we can. However, it is for the world to learn, not just from this disaster but from the disaster of the tsunami in south-east Asia and from the experience in Haiti, that we have to do better. That is where the United Nations has a responsibility; its specialised agencies need to co-ordinate better, not only in the aftermath of these natural disasters but, by greater endeavour, to prevent them or to recognise as early as possible that they are going to happen and to respond more effectively.
That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with tomorrow to allow the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill to be taken through its remaining stages that day.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, as there is no speakers list for this afternoon's debate on the guide to the code of conduct and the rules governing the use of facilities, it may be helpful if I say a few words about the expected running order. The debate will be opened by the Chairman of Committees, the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who will be followed by my noble friend the Leader of the House, by the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord McNally, and by the noble Baroness, Lady D'Souza. At that point, the House may wish to hear from the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, before other noble Lords rise to speak. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, will reply at the close of the debate.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): My Lords, I shall speak also to the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper, which invites the House to agree the second report from the House Committee. These Motions represent the culmination of almost a year's work by the two committees, by the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, by the Leader's Group chaired by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and by the various domestic committees. I thank all Members and staff who have contributed to this work.
Noble Lords will recall that following publication of the report of the Leader's Group last October, the House agreed, on 30 November, a new code of conduct. At the same time, the House debated the report of the Leader's Group, and in particular the group's proposal for an accompanying guide to the rules on the conduct of Members. The House also agreed that the report of the Leader's Group,
After the debate in November, I wrote to the chairman of the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests, the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, to request that she and her colleagues undertake a detailed review of the guide. I trust that noble Lords will agree that the sub-committee did an impressive job. It consulted widely, and, in respect of the rules on the use of facilities, invited the domestic committees of the House to agree appropriate rules in each area. These rules are set out in the House Committee report, which I shall come to shortly.
The guide produced as a result of the sub-committee's work, and the further scrutiny of the Committee for Privileges itself, closely follows the guide that was originally proposed by the Leader's Group. That guide was fully debated on 30 November, and therefore I do not intend to describe its contents in detail. However, noble Lords should be aware of the few significant changes that are proposed.
First, there is the date of commencement. The resolution agreed by the House on 30 November stated that the new code of conduct would come into effect on 1 April this year. Noble Lords will appreciate that such a start date might, as it turns out, be inopportune. We therefore propose that the new code, and the accompanying guide, should come into effect from the start of the new Parliament. Before then, the Registrar will contact all noble Lords to ask them to update their entries in the Register of Interests, in light of the new categories set out in the guide. As long as noble Lords respond promptly, this will allow for publication of the new Register in time for the new Parliament.
Noble Lords will also be interested in the process of appointing the new House of Lords Commissioner for Standards. A lot of work has been put into defining the terms of appointment, and I confirm that the post has now been advertised. It is unlikely that the commissioner will actually be in post at the start of the new Parliament, but I expect him or her to start work not long after. In the mean time, the sub-committee will continue to be responsible for investigations.
We have also proposed certain changes in nomenclature. In line with the changing nature of their work, we recommend that the Committee for Privileges and its Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests should be renamed, respectively, the Committee for Privileges and Conduct, and the Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct. These changes will require several technical amendments both to the code of conduct and to Standing Orders, which we hope will bring greater clarity to the roles of the committee and sub-committee.
Noble Lords will recall that in November we debated at some length the proposal from the Leader's Group's that, as part of the ceremony of taking the oath, noble Lords would be required upon introduction, and at the start of each subsequent Parliament, to sign an undertaking to abide by the code of conduct. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, tabled an amendment to remove that requirement from the code, although he did not press it to a vote. We have explained in paragraphs 8 and 9 of our report how the undertaking will be made, and noble Lords will wish to pay special attention to those paragraphs. Similar guidance will be sent to all noble Lords, by means of a Lords Notice, at the same time as the Writ of Summons is issued ahead of the new Parliament.
We have also sought to clarify the status of this undertaking. Noble Lords should be in no doubt, first, that the code is binding on all Members of this House who are not on leave of absence, regardless of whether they have signed the undertaking, and secondly, that under the code the signing of the undertaking is mandatory. It therefore follows that any noble Lord who attends the House without having signed the undertaking will be automatically deemed to have
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I do not intend to spend more time speaking to the report of the Committee for Privileges at this stage but, before turning to the House Committee report, I should remind noble Lords that the guide is intended to be a living, evolving document. While the guide before us today is, I believe, workable and comprehensive, it is not the last word. The sub-committee is charged, under the code, with keeping the guide under regular review, and if any difficulties emerge, or if any changes are required as a result of new case law, then the sub-committee will no doubt propose amendments. I hope that on that basis the guide before us today will enjoy the support of the whole House.
I turn now to the 2nd Report of the House Committee regarding the use of facilities provided by the House. Noble Lords will recall that the original Leader's Group report accepted that these facilities were the responsibility of the various domestic committees, under the guidance of the House Committee. The Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests therefore sought the views of these domestic committees on the various facilities for which they are responsible, and their decisions are reflected in the House Committee report before us today.
We have sought to avoid excessive detail and bureaucracy. The overriding principle must be that facilities and services available to Members which are either provided or subsidised at public expense are intended primarily to support Members in their parliamentary work. While respecting this principle, the House Committee and the domestic committees have also sought to provide sufficient latitude to enable Members to continue working on their outside interests, as they have a right to do in an unsalaried House which relies on the experience and expertise of its Members, as this one does. I hope that noble Lords will feel that the report strikes the right balance.
I should also point out that the report must be read in conjunction with the House Committee's 3rd Report of 2008-09. This sets out the rules on banqueting functions and has already been agreed by the House.
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