Baroness Garden of Frognal: Tourism is one of the UK's biggest employers, directly supporting 1.36 million jobs. British tourism is expected to employ 1.5 million people directly by 2020, and nearly 3 million in total if indirect employment is included.
Lord Lee of Trafford: I am very grateful to my noble friend for that Answer. Does she appreciate that the British Hospitality Association estimates that 30,000 new beds will come on stream in the next two years, providing further employment, but that the current reality is that without our overseas nationals, our hotel and restaurant industry would probably collapse? A leading restaurant in Piccadilly employs people of 32 nationalities; a leading hotel on Park Lane employs people of 60 nationalities.
Parallel to that, we have a most serious youth unemployment situation in this country. Could not the Government therefore work in a creative way to try to build bridges between our hospitality industry and those who are unemployed, and to turn the negative attitude in this country to the industry and service industries generally?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: As my noble friend identified, the hospitality sector has long been reliant on migrant workers. Of course we value the skills that they bring, but we recognise that more needs to be done to attract and train people locally. Industry bodies such as People 1st and Springboard are working to improve the appeal of the industry and to demonstrate to young people the enormously wide range of job opportunities available to them.
Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke: I have a registered interest as a board member of VisitBritain. Does the noble Baroness agree that one of the great advantages of tourism is that it can bring economic development to parts of the country that other industries do not reach? There are great opportunities for British tourism over the next year to 18 months with the royal wedding, the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but there are challenges too with rising oil prices. Will the noble Baroness ask the department to come back on the issue of visas for those coming from emerging markets? Many people from countries such as China find it very difficult to come to the United Kingdom
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Baroness Garden of Frognal: The noble Baroness is absolutely right about the attractions of different parts of the country and the many big events that will happen around the UK, which we hope will bring an increase in tourism. On visas, there are figures to show that there has been a significant increase in the number of people from China applying for visas to come to this country, so the deterrent might not be as severe as the noble Baroness fears, but this is something that we keep under constant review.
Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: Does the noble Baroness agree that it would help recruitment to the tourist industry if the Government made clear that they are taking a positive view of language teaching in British schools not merely for academic high-flyers but for all children?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The noble Baroness speaks to an issue that is after my own heart but which is slightly wide of the Question. Teaching languages and training people in this country to speak other languages is vital on all sorts of fronts. Hopefully, with the Olympics, there will be a boost because people who have trained in the hospitality sector will need to converse with all the visitors in their own language.
Lord Elton: My Lords, if we are to have more people in the tourist industry, we must generate more visitors. A great deal will depend on repeat business. Can my noble friend tell us who in government is responsible for surveying and maintaining visitor experience in this country, and could she ask him or her to pay attention to terminal 3 at Heathrow?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Without wishing to move to another department, I think terminal 3 is slightly outside the responsibility of DCMS, but my noble friend raises a very valid point on it. Many of the responsibilities for tourist attractions are at local and regional rather than national level, but DCMS keeps the whole tourist experience under constant review and looks at how we can attract tourists and encourage them to come back again.
Baroness Wall of New Barnet: Does the Minister agree that the skills that are required in this industry are well catered for in the sector skills councils, in particular by People 1st, of which she has knowledge? Will she encourage government to ensure that apprenticeships are also made available within that industry?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The noble Baroness speaks with great experience of this area. Apprenticeships in the hospitality and tourism sector need to be encouraged. On the whole skills level, we hope that this sector, like others, will be given a terrific boost when the WorldSkills competition comes to London in October. We will be able to see the brightest and best of the UK competing against the best of the world. I encourage all noble Lords to go to the ExCeL centre in October to see how brilliant the skills of young people around the world can be.
Lord Tanlaw: Would the Minister not agree that north of the border the tourist industry would be greatly improved if daylight saving were in operation? Would it not help if time became a devolved subject so that the Scots could at least make their own decision on this, just as they do in Northern Ireland?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: A Bill on daylight saving is currently being scrutinised in the other place, so we probably need to await the outcome of that. It has been clear that there is no intention that time should be devolved between the four countries of the UK. We would like to see all four countries agreeing on the same time zone.
Baroness Billingham: As ever, the Minister has given us clear and concise answers and has answered many of the questions that I was going to put to her. I am sure she would agree that the people most at risk in our economy at the moment are young people between 18 and 25. Would she agree that the tourism industry is the one place where they could most easily be accommodated? What action are the Government taking to target more funds and resources on the tourism industry to stop a whole generation being denied their fair chance at employment in future?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: As the noble Baroness will be aware, the Government are making funding available to the tourism and hospitality sector. On encouraging young people, I mentioned the skills competition, but there are programmes, such as FutureChef, which appeal directly to young people to encourage them to come in. This is a two-way trade. Not only do the opportunities have to be there, but young people have to demonstrate commitment and interest in the jobs. The Government will do as much as they can to encourage the jobs and the young people to fit them.
Lord Stoneham of Droxford: On daylight saving, is the Minister aware of the research by the Policy Studies Institute that shows that up to 80,000 jobs could be created in the UK tourist industry? Can she think of any other government decision that would cost no public money to help thousands of our young people back into work?
Baroness Garden of Frognal: I thank my noble friend for that. Daylight saving is a timely issue. We have discussed it before, it is raised in the media and it is very much under discussion. However, it is currently under review in the other place, and I think we need to wait for the outcome of that Bill to see what happens following those discussions.
Lord De Mauley: My Lords, UKFI, which manages the Government's investments and financial institutions is responsible for devising appropriate exit strategies. Its mandate requires it to act in a way that protects and creates value for money for the taxpayer and pays due regard to financial stability and competition considerations. It is currently exploring the options available for disposing of Northern Rock plc. All exit strategies will be considered, including remutualisation.
Lord Borrie: I am grateful to the Minister for his moderately helpful Answer, especially the reference to the activities of UKFI. Does he agree that traditionally and well deservedly mutuals have had a very high reputation among customers generally for satisfaction with their activities, that mutuals have engaged less than banks in speculative and risky activities, and that certainly they have provided a great deal of competition and diversification over the years? In this new set up today, when there will be some sales of existing state-owned parts of banks, will the Minister ensure that the mutuals get a great deal of understanding in this regard? Perhaps the Government could initiate a feasibility study through UKFI, which would be most helpful.
Lord De Mauley: Yes, my Lords, I think I can agree with the noble Lord. The important thing is the stability of our financial system. The Government are committed to fostering diversity in financial services, including, where appropriate, mutual ownership, and to creating a more competitive banking industry. That is why we have set up the Independent Commission on Banking: to recommend reforms to the banking system that meet those objectives, including promoting financial stability and consumer choice.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: Will my noble friend confirm that it is the Government's intention that the shareholdings in question will be sold during the lifetime of this fixed-term Parliament? Will he also inform the House of the best estimate that the Office for Budget Responsibility has made of the proceeds of these sales?
Lord De Mauley: No timetable has been set. UKFI does not think that it is possible or desirable to set firm targets, such as time or proceeds, that would drive the Government's sale of shares. When UKFI has a proposal, it will offer it.
Lord McFall of Alcluith: My Lords, the Minister will be aware that all building societies that transferred into plcs in the 1990s are now no more. People realised that there was strength in the mutual principle and framework. Will he go further and assure the House that UKFI will engage with the Building Societies Association to ensure not just that there is a war on words but that there is a proposal on the table to ensure that we will have competition and diversity in the marketplace in the future?
Lord De Mauley: I think I can perhaps go a little further in saying that the Government are implementing a number of legislative reforms that will allow financial
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Baroness Kramer: My Lords, the noble Lord will be aware of the excellent report in 2006 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Building Societies and Financial Mutuals that identified the beneficiaries of demutualisation as essentially the directors, who saw their remuneration go up. Among the biggest losers were those who live more to the financial margins, require basic bank accounts and are at risk of financial inclusion. Will he ask that when a future is considered for Northern Rock and others that this test of serving the financially excluded is part of the specification and that the work that mutuals do in this area is recognised?
Lord Eatwell: My Lords, the noble Lord on a couple of occasions has referred to the Independent Commission on Banking. Will he confirm that in recent weeks there have been threats of resignation from the commission if its remit is in any way constrained?
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the major issues in this area is the lack of trust in the large banks? Does he accept that trust is much higher in organisations that retain a mutual element, such as the Nationwide Building Society or the John Lewis Partnership? Will he affirm that there is a need, whatever arrangements are being made, for real attention to be paid to the need for a restoration of trust within the sector, of which mutualisation might well be a very important part?
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that mutual benefit societies of a wide variety are perhaps one of the earliest manifestations of the big society working, and that we will partly judge the Government's views on the big society by the enthusiasm with which they pursue mutualisation in this area?
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My Lords, the Government are committed to the implementation of the Bribery Act. We are urgently working on the guidance to commercial organisations to make it practical and useful for legitimate business and trade. After the guidance is published, there will be a three-month notice period before full implementation of the Act.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I hope the Minister will forgive me for making my thanks for that not very satisfactory Answer fairly perfunctory. The fact is that the Act should be in force by now. Does he not agree that those who have been campaigning so vociferously against the entry into force of the Act have done Britain's industry no favours whatever by suggesting that it can export successfully only by the use of these dubious practices? Does he not also agree that suggestions that this piece of legislation was rushed through Parliament before the election are a travesty, considering that the matter was subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny for a lengthy period in a committee of both Houses?
Lord McNally: My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord's last point: the legislation was subject to very careful scrutiny. Since coming to office, we have also subjected the Act to a wide range of consultations aimed at making sure that the Act, which passed both Houses with all-party support, was fully understood and could be implemented fully. I take the noble Lord's point, as I think that the Government do, that any suggestion that British industry can only make advances in overseas trade by bribery does unjust damage to our reputation as a fair-trading nation.
Lord Bach: My Lords, I had the privilege of taking the Bill through this House. The Minister is quite right: it was received with widespread and vocal support from all sides of the House. That does not always happen with Ministry of Justice Bills. One criticism, however, was that legislation should have been put in place sooner, not as late as it was. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has reminded us, one year after the Bill became an Act of Parliament, we still do not know when it will be implemented. Does the Minister agree that this is totally unsatisfactory and that he needs to go back to his department and insist that the Bill be implemented as soon as possible?
Lord McNally: I hear what the noble Lord says. During the period we are talking about we have not been idle. My right honourable and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has met representatives of the CBI, the multinational chairmen's group of the International Chamber of
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Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that on boards of British companies that include American directors, British directors have long been embarrassed by the great enthusiasm with which their American colleagues cite the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, well ahead of anything we have had alongside it for a very long time? Despite what my noble friend has said, is it not the case that it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the delay, and that that is doing increasing damage to the reputation of British industry and, indeed, to the reputation of the Lord Chancellor himself?
Lord McNally: My Lords, again I cannot help but draw attention to the fact that there is a sense of unity in the House on this. We are proceeding with all due speed on the matter. One thing that gives me encouragement, having sat in on a number of the meetings the Lord Chancellor has had with industry, is that industry itself seems to be quite capable of living with this Act. I take note of what my noble and learned friend has said, but I do not think that this is a matter of the reputation of the Lord Chancellor, although there is the question of implementation on which I hope these exchanges will be duly noted.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that bribery and corruption are hugely damaging to developing countries, not least to those in North Africa and the Middle East, and that that is a very important reason why the Government should not delay any further in bringing this Act into force?
Lord McNally: My Lords, the Government are taking strong action on anti-corruption, including the recovery and freezing of corrupt assets in the areas the noble Lord has referred to, but the message is clear from this House that there is a matter of national reputation involved in any further delay. I duly take note of that.
Lord Davies of Stamford: My Lords, have any bribes, facilitations or other payments that might or could be bribes within the meaning of this Act been paid from public funds to Libyan officials over the course of the past few weeks? If so, at what level and by whom were those payments authorised?
Lord Campbell of Alloway: I am much obliged to my noble friend. This is not a long question. Is the noble Lord aware that nothing he has said justifies the conduct of the Government on this Bill-nothing at all?
Lord McNally: My Lords, one of the great advantages of this House is that a Hansard report is made of interventions. I will ensure that the Hansard report of the exchanges that have come from all parts of the House are duly reported back to the relevant government departments.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, we published Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer on 12 January, which sets out a range of actions to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Earlier diagnosis is crucial to improving outcomes, and we have set out plans to deliver this through improving GP access to diagnostic tests, supporting symptom awareness initiatives, and extending cancer screening programmes. We are also improving access to treatment and the quality of support for survivors.
Lord Patel: I thank the Minister for his Answer, which is very helpful because it prompts two questions. First, when does he think the procedures which he has put in place will succeed and cancer outcomes will improve, and in the mean time what is likely to happen to cancer outcomes? Secondly, could he also say what the state of radiotherapy treatment in England is?
Earl Howe: My Lords, the strategy we have laid out is an ambitious one. It aims to save an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15. That programme is supported by over £750 million of additional money over the next four years. It sets out actions to prevent cancer incidence and to improve the quality and efficiency of cancer services and of patients' experiences of care.
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Baroness Hughes of Stretford: My Lords, would the noble Earl agree that the regional networks of specialist cancer services, established through the co-operation of clinicians themselves, have been instrumental in improving outcomes for patients? If so, how does he think that essentially collaborative model fits with the rigid and mandatory price competition that the Government now want to introduce into the NHS?
Earl Howe: My Lords, the Government are not introducing price competition, it has never been our intention to do so, and the Bill that will come before the House will make it absolutely and abundantly clear that price competition is out of range. As regards the cancer networks, the noble Baroness is absolutely right. Over the past 10 years, these have played a crucial role in improving the quality of cancer treatment and the patient experience of care. The outcomes strategy that we have published explicitly states that next year there will be funding for cancer networks to support commissioning.
Lord Alderdice: My noble friend introduced the question of diagnosis, which is increasingly a multi-professional matter, involving pathologists, surgeons, radiologists and so on. This seems self-evidently a good thing. However, is the department accumulating evidence to show that it is actually improving the outcomes? It is of course an expensive procedure to involve so many senior professionals together.
Earl Howe: My noble friend is quite right. It does involve often a number of senior clinicians. The key to diagnosis, however, is to get in early, as I am sure he would recognise. The outcomes strategy commits us to saving the additional 5,000 lives very largely through additional identification of early cancer. In fact, 3,000 of the 5,000 lives that we are hoping to save will be saved, we hope, by earlier diagnosis. A good example of that is that over 90 per cent of bowel cancer patients diagnosed with the earliest stage of the disease survive five years from diagnosis, compared to only 6.6 per cent of those diagnosed with the advanced disease.
Lord Walton of Detchant: Would the noble Earl accept that this country has had a very proud record in carrying out clinical trials, not least in the field of cancer; and that since the passage of the European directive on clinical trials, the problem of getting ethical approval for multi-centred trials-in a variety of different centres-has become immense? Is he aware of the recent report of the Academy of Medical
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Earl Howe: My Lords, I am indeed aware of that excellent report. It is being studied with care in my department. We hope to make an announcement reasonably soon in response to it. It contains some extremely important recommendations which, if implemented, should do a great deal to restore the country's position as a destination of choice for clinical trials.
Lord Mawhinney: My noble friend, in his original Answer, talked about the importance of early diagnosis. Is he not concerned at the cascade of cases reported in the media of GPs sending patients home with flu symptoms and indigestion and not detecting the cancer until it is too late? What does my noble friend intend to do to improve GP training to assist the earlier diagnosis on which he rightly lays so much emphasis?
Earl Howe: My Lords, of course those reports are a matter for concern, which is why we are clear that GP consortia should be supported as much as possible in terms of commissioning guidelines and information. One of the tasks of the NHS commissioning board will be to provide that support and information based on quality standards produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My Lords, first, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in offering sincere condolences to the families and friends of Private Dean Hutchinson of 9 Regiment the Royal Logistic Corps and Private Robert Wood of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment the Royal Logistic Corps who were killed on operations in Afghanistan recently. My thoughts are also with the wounded, and I pay tribute to the courage and fortitude with which they face their rehabilitation.
"On 19 October last year, in the strategic defence and security review, the Government announced reductions in the size of the Armed Forces-reducing the Army by 7,000, the Royal Air Force by 5,000 and the Royal Navy by 5,000. This was to reshape the Armed Forces for Future Force 2020 and also to respond to the budgetary pressures resulting from the need to reduce the inherited deficit and deal with the black hole in the MoD's finances.
Following the announcement, normal procedure for proceeding with the redundancies was followed. Let me briefly describe this. The Armed Forces modelled the manpower they needed for Future Force 2020 and consulted their own people on the best methods and timescales for achieving this. The families federations have been kept informed. Following yesterday's announcement of the RAF programme, the Army and Navy will follow on 4 April with their programmes. The Army and RAF will give individuals notice that they will be made redundant on 1 September, followed by the Navy on 30 September. The exact timing of further tranches has not yet been decided.
Afghanistan is the Government's main defence effort. Decisions in the SDSR were therefore weighted towards the protection of capability for the mission in Afghanistan which, as the Prime Minister said, will see a transition to full Afghan lead in 2014.
Redundancy is never a painless process, whether in the Armed Forces or elsewhere, and it is sad to see committed and patriotic men and women lose their jobs. But in that process it is essential that they are made fully aware of the options available and the timescales involved. That means a timetable needs to be adhered to for the sake of themselves and their families.
It would simply be wrong to alter that timetable for the convenience of the Government. Personnel were expecting the announcement this week. To delay for political expediency would have been to betray their trust. Difficult though it may be, in this Government, political convenience will not be the final arbiter of our decisions".
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I join the Minister in offering condolences to the families and friends of Private Dean Hutchinson and Private Robert Wood. It is right that the Minister draws attention to the wounded, some of whom will carry the price of their bravery for the rest of their lives.
I thank the Minister for repeating the Secretary of State's response in another place as a Statement in this House and I thank him for giving me an early view of the Statement. This Statement, together with the Written Ministerial Statement yesterday, is about cuts in manpower and how they are to be achieved. It is extremely precise: it talks of 344 pilots who will continue training, another 170 who will not and so on. Sadly, we learn that even more precise details were supplied to the
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The Statement has to be taken together with yesterday's Written Ministerial Statement. The essence of the two documents is that there is some detailed grand plan of what we are trying to achieve. It refers to Future Force 2020 and the SDSR as the basis for this. It speaks with such precision that you would think there was a precise description of where we are trying to get to with this grand plan. I can only assume that, within the Ministry of Defence, there is a clear view of what the force strength will be in 2015 and what the force strength will be in 2020. I can assure the Minister there are no figures in the SDSR to enlighten us and there are no figures I know of in the public domain. The Royal Air Force and the fast jets in particular are in the top of our minds and the Statement is principally about redundancies in the Royal Air Force. Can he give us some statement or indication of what front-line force these manpower adjustments are designed to yield in 2015 and what front-line force we are looking for in 2020? Can he also assure us that this Government, if elected, will provide funding from 2015 to 2020 to deliver the so far undefined Future Force 2020 promise?
I am sorry that these days one has to read the press to keep up to speed with the Government's thinking on defence. In today's Times, it is suggested that a further £1 billion of cuts will be needed between now and April. Is that true? Is it likely that he will be coming back to the House to tell us about more cuts, and will those cuts involve additional manpower losses or additional losses of capability?
"I reiterate what I have said: that because we need to maintain the Afghan rotation, no one currently serving in Afghanistan, or on notice to deploy, will face compulsory redundancy".-[Official Report, Commons, 8/11/10; col. 13.]
Can the Minister confirm that anybody serving in Afghanistan on 8 November 2010 will not be made redundant under this? I believe that would be a perfectly reasonable interpretation of that promise. Unfortunately, yesterday's Written Ministerial Statement was much softer. It said it would be those who had "recently" served in Afghanistan. Can the Minister confirm that "recently" means 8 November 2010 and if not, and he is actually resiling on the promise made on that date, can he define what "recently" now means?
What of those who are made redundant? The Written Ministerial Statement, at the bottom of page 2, starts to talk about what we will do for them. It starts off with good words about how we have a duty to these people and about how they have served us bravely, and now that they are made redundant they must face a future. It ends up by saying:
"Over the coming months, Ministers will scrutinise those plans in detail, working closely with domestic departments, to ensure they are as good as can be achieved"-[Official Report, 1/3/11; col. WS 108.]
Surely, this is the moment to meet a promise that I thought I heard the Prime Minister make, to put the military covenant in law so that these assurances are tangible and can be delivered. The Minister has an opportunity, when he brings the forthcoming Bill to this House, to bring forward proposals to give a real, tangible base to the military covenant and I encourage him to do that. Will the Minister give us clarity on what sort of forces we are planning for, will he give us clarity on the Afghanistan promise and will he give us clarity on the military covenant? If he cannot, how does he expect to maintain the morale of our brave men and women?
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, this is no new announcement. The department briefed the press at 2 o'clock yesterday but those being briefed were not allowed to leave the building until the WMS was laid. That is exactly what happened when the noble Lord's party was in power; nothing has changed. We have gone out of our way to keep both Houses informed and will continue to do so. In the Oral Statement on the SDSR in October, the Prime Minister announced that the MoD would reduce the Armed Forces by 17,000 and that this would necessitate redundancies. That has been discussed in this House, including in an Urgent Question two weeks ago.
Yesterday, the Defence Secretary updated the other place, as I did here in a WMS, on the dates on which the various areas of the Armed Forces will look for redundancies. The RAF published its details yesterday; the Army and Navy will do so in April. Decisions on specific individuals will not be made until September. I must make it clear that we are not hiding anything and, as I have said before, I am always happy to organise briefings for any noble Lords in the MoD.
The noble Lord asked me about 2020. We have a clear view. As stated in the SDSR, the Future Force is structured to give us the ability to deploy highly capable assets quickly when needed but also to prepare a greater scale and range of capabilities if required. The aim is to do so affordably and in a way that minimises demands on our people, with five central concepts: readiness, reconstitution, reinforcement, regeneration and dependency. This flexible approach will allow us
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The noble Lord asked me about further cuts. I can confirm to him that there is still a lot of work to be done on this; we are having a lot of discussions in the department, and I assure the noble Lord that the House will be the first to hear.
The noble Lord asked me about Afghan redundancies. Those engaged in combat operations for which they are in receipt of operational allowance, within six months of deploying on or recovering from those operations, on the day when the redundancy notices are issued will not be made redundant unless they are volunteers for it. I hope that that makes it clear.
The final question was what will happen when a serviceman or servicewoman is made redundant. All personnel will be entitled to receive support to transition to civilian life. Personnel leaving under the redundancy programme will qualify for the level of resettlement support for which they would have been eligible had they completed the commission or engagement on which they were serving when made redundant. We expect most if not all personnel to qualify for the full resettlement programme and the comprehensive services offered by the career transition partnership-the arrangement between the MoD and Right Management Limited. The package includes training courses, job-finding and individual counselling, CV and job interview preparation, analysis of transferable competences, conversion and skills enhancement training and information services. Under this package, job-finding support is available for up to two years after leaving the military.
Lord Touhig: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I associate myself with the remark that the Minister has made concerning those who have given their lives or been injured in the defence of our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
The National Security Council was supposed to be at the heart of our defence strategic planning. On Monday the Government confirmed that they wanted to see a no-fly zone established over Libya, but on Tuesday they confirmed that 11,000 of our service personnel were to be made redundant. If this is the quality of our strategic planning, would it not be better to keep the troops and sack the National Security Council?
Lord Astor of Hever:Absolutely not, my Lords. We are reshaping our Royal Air Force to be configured for Future Force 2020. It makes sense that we reduce the number of pilots only if we are reducing the number of planes. On the question of a no-fly zone in Libya, no decisions have yet been taken.
Lord Boyce: My Lords, will the Minister confirm what I have heard at the coalface among soldiers, sailors and airmen-that the redundancy terms for
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Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, it is not necessarily meaner than last time. A full plan is in place for the military redundancy programme with full information available to all service personnel to make decisions for themselves and their families as soon as possible. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that the process and the practical application of this is both fair and understandable, and we are putting great effort into ensuring that it is communicated appropriately to all members of the Armed Forces.
The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, we on these Benches associate ourselves with the Minister's condolences. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Royal Army Chaplains Department, whose ministry is so appreciated by the bereaved and injured, and, indeed, to the chaplains of all our services.
I declare an interest as a former pupil of the Duke of York's Royal Military School, which still serves the needs of children of people serving in the Armed Forces. Will the Minister assure us that the children's places of those who have been made redundant will be safe at that school and that the educational arrangements that have been made for other children of those made redundant will be honoured by the Government?
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for his question. I agree with everything that he says about the Royal Army Chaplains Department. I was in Afghanistan last week and had the great honour to talk to a couple of those chaplains. They are doing very great work. I cannot give the right reverend Prelate an answer here and now on the specific case of the children about whom he asked, but I will write to him and deposit a copy of the letter in the Library.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, every case of wounded, injured or sick personnel will be assessed individually. No one will leave the Armed Forces through redundancy or otherwise until they have reached a point in their recovery where that is the right decision, however long it takes.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Urgent Question. This is a very significant reduction for the Royal Air Force. Is this the end of the reductions, or are there more to come? It is very important for the service to know exactly where it is.
Lord Astor of Hever: I thank the noble and gallant Lord for his question. As I said in my earlier answer, there is still ongoing work in my department on this issue and the House will be the first to hear about it. I very much hope that there will be no further cuts.
Lord Davies of Stamford: My Lords, the whole House holds the Minister in very high regard. We are all grateful for the attempts he makes to keep this House informed in what I am sure must be for him, as well as for many of us, very painful circumstances. However, these redundancies are not only very unfortunate but utterly short-sighted and irresponsible. The nation will rue the day when we lose those skills. In repeating the Statement, the Minister has increased the confusion about the nature of the guarantees that are being given by the Government to those who are serving in Afghanistan or who are on leave after operations there. How many more soldiers, sailors and airmen would have been covered by the guarantee had it been dated from 8 November than will be covered, given that the guarantee now runs only from the date of issue of the redundancy notices? If the Minister does not know the answer off the cuff-obviously, I forgive him if he does not-will he be kind enough to write to me and place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House?
Lord Astor of Hever: I thank the noble Lord for that question. These are very painful cuts. When I became a Minister I did not look forward to making lots of cuts. It is a very difficult situation in which I find myself but we inherited this black hole and we have to act.
Lord Astor of Hever: We did. The noble Lord asked how many people were affected. I cannot give him a figure at the Dispatch Box but I will write to him and deposit a copy of the letter in the Library.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, asked about the Royal Air Force. There will be cuts to two Tornado squadrons. This week's announcement to remove two squadrons of Tornados implements a decision taken by the previous Government during planning round 10.
Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, I associate these Benches with the earlier tribute. What effect does my noble friend think that all this uncertainty and these redundancies will have on recruitment over the next 12 months?
Lord Astor of Hever: My noble friend asks about recruitment, and I have an answer somewhere. The Armed Forces depend upon high-quality young men and women who want to join them for a rewarding and exciting career. The level of recruitment will be reduced during the redundancy period to suit new structures, but recruiting will continue.
Lord Stirrup: My Lords, these painful redundancies are an outcome of the strategic defence and security review, which, as the Minister said, was aimed at delivering Future Force 2020. Can he confirm that that Future Force, as planned, will be achievable only with specific real-term growth in the defence budget in the second half of this decade? What assumptions are his department making about the financial planning levels for those years?
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I can assure the noble and gallant Lord that that is the case. As he will remember, during the SDSR the Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that 2020 will be achievable only if we get more money.
Does this mean that in the Army and Navy, after 1 September and 30 September respectively, there will remain people who do not know whether the threat of redundancy will materialise for them? If it does not mean that, will he kindly say what it does mean?
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, will my noble friend be kind enough to revisit the answer he gave to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce? His question, as I understood it, was: will the redundancy payments that are being offered to these people be meaner than those offered to people made redundant previously? I do not think that my noble friend answered that.
Viscount Slim: My Lords, the impression abroad is that the delay in arriving at a good and proper military covenant is that the MoD and the Government wish to get this lot out of the way, as has been discussed in your Lordships' House this afternoon. Is it not a fact that great stress was placed in our debates in the past few weeks on the immediate need to bring forward a new military covenant that would not only set the scene for redundancies and everything else that we have been talking about, but would assume complete responsibility from the day that someone joins the services until he dies? It was made clear in several speeches that it was the responsibility of the Government to look after those who are being made redundant or who leave the services for any other reason. I say that because more and more evidence is appearing of soldiers, sailors and airmen slipping through the system, over the net and through the net, and now begging on the streets of Manchester, Birmingham and London. When will the military covenant be brought forward, so that we will know what the total responsibilities of this Government to soldiers, sailors and airmen are?
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the noble Viscount said that we give the appearance of wanting to get this lot out of the way. That is not the case. As the noble Viscount knows, we value all members of the Armed Forces. I understand that several service men and women will come forward for voluntary redundancy. The noble Viscount mentioned people slipping through the net. If he knows of any such cases, I would be very grateful if he could bring them to my attention.
As far as the military covenant is concerned, we are writing into law, through the Armed Forces Bill, the commitment that the Secretary of State for Defence will lay before Parliament every year a report on what is being done to live up to the covenant. We are committed to rebuilding the covenant to improve support for service personnel. We are doing everything we can to provide them with the right support, focused on the most important areas, despite the financial situation we inherited. We will soon publish a new tri-service Armed Forces covenant-the first of its kind. This will set out the relationship and obligations between the Armed Forces community, the Government and the nation. The report will also set out how we are supporting our Armed Forces, their veterans and families in such key areas as healthcare, housing and education. This will ensure that all future Governments must stand up for the Armed Forces.
Lord Laming: Could we return to the terms of redundancy? I am somewhat confused about the meaning of "meanness", compared with the meaning of "fairness". An earlier question was asked about meanness and the noble Lord described the terms as being fair. The question is: fair to whom? I simply ask whether the terms of redundancy are the same as before-the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, referred to them-or different.
Lord Richard: I am sorry to go on about this issue but when it comes to fairness and meanness, surely there is one way of answering the question. Will they get less this time, given the change in the value of money, than they got last time? If they will, prima facie it is meaner.
Lord Soley: With respect, that is not really satisfactory. Could the Minister, who is very thoughtful on these matters, give the matter some thought and maybe put it in writing in a letter to the House? That would enable us to make a comparison. The point that has been brought up by the noble and gallant Lord is a very fair and important one. To have the rumour running around that this is meaner but fairer, or something of that nature, just plays into a demoralisation argument. Please do not go there.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the noble Lord and the noble and gallant Lord raise a very important point. I am happy to put this in writing to the noble Lord, Lord Soley, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce. I will certainly deposit copies of those letters in the Library to clarify this issue.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for that. This is a very difficult issue. We have struggled with it for a long time and I can assure noble Lords that we are doing our very best.
(a) the achievement of the target contained in section 1(1) of the Climate Change Act 2008 (the target for 2050) and the carbon budget set for each budgetary period under Part 1 of that Act (carbon target and budgeting); and
(b) the elimination of fuel poverty by the target date required by section 2(2)(d) of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 (strategy relating to fuel poverty).
(a) the principal purpose set out in subsection (1); and
(b) the recommendations from time to time of the Committee on Climate Change where these are adopted by the Secretary of State."
These amendments are very similar to those that we brought forward in Committee, but we have taken into account the comments and concerns that the Minister expressed on that occasion. The amendments before us today seek two things. The first is the provision of an annual report to Parliament by the Secretary of State on how the ECO and the Green Deal are fairing. Secondly, they establish the purpose of both these new clauses in the Bill in terms of the Government's objectives as stated in previous legislation.
In Committee, the Minister was understandably concerned about not imposing a new duty on installers or providers to take account of the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. That is not unreasonable, and we took it into account before putting the amendments before your Lordships today. Therefore, these amendments have been slimmed down. They would impose no new duties on the Government other than to provide an annual report-something to which I know the Minister is sympathetic-on the goals and aims, as stated in the impact assessment on the Bill, for carbon reduction and fairness. It is a way of putting the Bill into the context of government policy.
A report by the Secretary of State to Parliament on the operation of the Green Deal would be extremely helpful. Indeed, when dealing with a point raised by noble Lords in Committee, the Minister said:
"The scheme needs to be road-tested to ensure that it works and we must keep a watchful eye on it. Getting these things precisely ordered is a very good thing for the Bill".-[Official Report, 17/1/11; col. GC 17.]
He will know of the criticisms that were made just yesterday of the Minister in the other place, Greg Barker, when he spoke at the Ecobuild conference in London. Concerns were raised by the UK Green Building Council, and the president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said that there was not enough certainty or incentives for the industry, and that, although they supported the Government's package of measures as being incredibly ambitious, they were concerned that it would not achieve the objectives. Like the Government, we want this Bill to achieve the objectives that have been set. They are ambitious, and some amendments have been tabled to help the Minister to achieve those objectives, to which we know he is committed.
Probably the most helpful parts of the amendments before us today relate to the annual report. The Secretary of State will have the opportunity to come back to Parliament, having looked at how the Green Deal is fairing. In the light of the commitments that the Minister made in Committee, there will be an opportunity for the Green Deal to be tweaked or changed and to see whether more can be done to create incentives. I beg to move.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I support the amendment. The Minister will undoubtedly have been advised by officials and the Cabinet Office that it is not normal to put purpose clauses into Bills. However, that has always been nonsense. It is particularly important that we set out clearly in Parliament the purpose of these measures.
I commend the Government on developing the plans for the Green Deal, but undoubtedly not all the details have yet been thought through. Some will be thought through before the scheme is launched, some will appear in codes, some will appear in regulations and some will have to be dealt with in subsequent practice once we see whether the market is mobilised as effectively as the Government wish. However, the purpose will not change. With any changes down the line that the Government find it necessary to make, it is particularly important that we go back to the purpose of the Bill. That purpose is, in effect, twofold: to save energy and therefore carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, and to reduce the incidence of fuel poverty. Both those need to be addressed and set out in something like a purpose clause with a requirement to report back.
As for fuel poverty, I speak as one of the two Ministers who drew up the original guidelines. My noble friend Lady Liddell was the other Minister who signed the original Act to set up targets for fuel poverty, and it is not an easy subject, but it is important that the Government and Parliament set out the objectives. The contribution towards the elimination of fuel poverty is clearly one such objective. That will not solve the problem, as other measures also need to be taken, but it is a contribution and any subsequent change down the line needs to be seen against it, particularly in relation to the Green Deal.
On the face of it, it is not clear how the basic principles of the Green Deal apply to the fuel poor, particularly those who are in tenanted accommodation, whether with social landlords or private landlords, because the best way of delivering that dimension of
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Although repetition is a good thing, we must bear in mind that the stated purposes have already been written into legislation and are already so ingrained in all our thinking habits that, frankly, to put them at the beginning of this Bill adds nothing. One problem with the amendment is that it requires "commensurate contributions" from two very diverse and very different things that will depend on a great deal of voluntary action by large numbers of people or groups, societies, local authorities, housing associations and so on. To me, the word "commensurate" makes this, worthy though it is, in effect meaningless because there are too many outside factors that mean that commensurate action will probably be only accidental because it depends on so many people, either tenants, landlords or the other categories of people whom I have already mentioned, volunteering to take part. It also depends on a lot of other factors, the primary one being the absolute certainty that the energy savings they will achieve, and the value of them, will be greater than the costs that they have to bear. Such arguments were expressed in Committee because of the uncertainty about what might happen with interest rates in the future.
The second point is that, even if we put this into place, the far more potent effect in reducing emissions from domestic households will be the work that will have to be done on the supply side of the energy industry to decarbonise the electricity supply. It is far more important to pay attention to that sort of aspect, where the effect can be far greater on a residential level, than this aspect, which will have a beneficial effect-there is no denying that-but not a huge effect because the amount of energy and the cost saved will be nowhere near the cost of making the domestic sector CO2-emissions free. In my view, the effect of the 2050 target implies that by 2050 the whole domestic sector has to be carbon-emission free. We need to focus much more on that effect and take this as it is now. It will be a benefit, of course, but it will be only a small benefit. I do not think that we should complicate the matter, and still less should we try to take actions that depend on the actions of others-that are commensurate-because we simply cannot control the situation with that degree of accuracy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken and want to tell everyone that I am on my best behaviour because my boss is watching, so I will not say anything too controversial or concede too much.
It is a great opportunity for me to thank all noble Lords for the time and effort that they put into Committee to identify issues and work together to make this a much more valuable Bill. That is the expertise of the House. We can contribute, and we have done magnificently. We have given the Bill a thorough road test with great cross-party agreement, and I pay my personal thanks to those on the Opposition Benches for all the work that they have done-through very difficult physical circumstances in the noble Baroness's case. I am delighted to see her able to get to her feet. She can always have assistance from our side, particularly when going into the right Lobby.
We have sought where possible to accommodate suggestions, but some cannot be achieved within the timeframe available on Report. However, we will endeavour to do so by Third Reading, and then further changes will be made in the other place. Of course, some amendments would not provide the functionality that is required, and even though we have listened very hard to them, unsurprisingly we will not accept them. I hope noble Lords will take that into account when they make their contributions. We have listened and we have all ridden together to make this a constructive document, and again I thank everyone for their support. I do not believe that it is necessary to set statutory powers, as referred to in Amendments 102 and 121, but I agree that there should be an aim for our energy efficiency policies. We will come back with proposals on that for consideration in the other place, which I hope will satisfy the noble Baroness. We cannot achieve that now, but we will be looking to achieve it as we go forward.
I am grateful for the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. I was pleased to see that he had a playful smile when he referred to fuel poverty, which is fundamental to what we are trying to achieve. Fuel poverty has increased exponentially and we must put the brakes on that. Much of what we are trying to do with the Green Deal addresses that. My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith rightly points, as he often does, to the issue of whether we should have continuing annual reports, and so on. Clearly the Government are committed to openness and transparency, and we have an annual report on progress towards our energy efficiency goals. We will consider the operation and performance of our energy efficiency policies, not least the Green Deal and the ECO, which will prominently feature in our reports published under the department's annual energy statements. Such documents will provide all the information required on the activity of the department, including the Green Deal and ECOs. I hope that that reassurance will allow the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I thank the noble Lord for the way in which he has engaged with the Opposition during the Bill's proceedings. He says that he will take things away and look at them again, which has been a theme throughout the Bill. All the amendments today are within that spirit of co-operation. I feel strongly about them, so I shall press the Minister for clarification. I think that what he is saying might satisfy our requirements, but we will test the will of the House unless I am clear about that.
There are two issues here. One is the annual report on ECOs and the Green Deal; the other is the purpose. Does the Minister intend to bring forward a purpose or aim clause which will specify what the Bill is to achieve in the context of government policy on emissions and other legislation? Will an annual report from the department include information about the Green Deal, such as how many homes have had Green Deal measures installed and what the emissions savings have been? If so, he has gone a long way to meet our concerns. If he is saying that those measures will be brought back either at Third Reading here or in the Commons, I will happily withdraw the amendment, but some clarification would be helpful.
Lord Marland: Forgive me; I thought that I was quite clear on the subject. The department's annual energy statement will provide details of the progress of the Green Deal and ECOs, which will answer the noble Baroness's question. Obviously, in providing information about the Green Deal, it will provide information on the amount of activity that we are able to create with it. We are committed to that.
As for the aims, I state clearly that we will look at them, refine them and come back with proposals in the other place, if we can in the timescale available for further debate. It should be very encouraging for the noble Baroness that that will carry on through the passage of the Bill.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I think that the noble Lord realises the effort it takes me to get my feet, but I will continue to do so throughout the evening. I am very grateful for that explanation; on that basis I am happy to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: This is a very small amendment aimed at clarifying the position of liquid petroleum gas under the Green Deal plans. Calor Gas, in particular, is anxious to have that clarification, and I am very grateful to it for briefing me on the amendment. Calor is very keen to involve itself in all ways which make its product as green-that is, as efficient-as possible; in particular, in the use of liquid petroleum gas in microgeneration boilers.
I understand that approximately 43 per cent of British homes are currently classified as hard-to-treat for greater efficiency purposes for a number of reasons, such as not having cavity walls or not being on the gas grid. A reasonable proportion of those homes appear to be unlikely to qualify for the Green Deal, either because they have little potential for improvement or because their heating bills are too high for the measures to have a positive financial impact. That could affect the position of those living in rural areas, where fuel poverty tends to be concentrated. Liquid petroleum gas systems, which are off the gas grid in hard-to-treat
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Lord Deben: My Lords, I commend this point to the Minister on behalf of people who live in rural areas. I hope that he will be able to say to us that it is perfectly all right, but the fact is that many people in my former constituency and constituencies like it rely on liquid petroleum gas. It would be a great pity if they could not improve their circumstances. It is an important part of our programme and it would be a pity if, by some oversight, it was left out.
Lord Teverson: I, too, speak as a rural resident. There is a point to be made about LPG. Some of us find LPG difficult and have to survive on gas oil instead; that comes into the same category of fuels. I would be interested to hear the Minister's comments on that.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: I have some sympathy with the objectives of this amendment, but what strikes me as a problem is the structure of the Green Deal, which requires suppliers of energy to recover the debt that will have been advanced for the improvement of the house and transmit it to the providers. If one is talking about gas, electricity, and, I think, fuel oil, that would not be difficult, but in relation to LPG, a great deal of which, particularly in rural areas, is delivered to individual householders in individual canisters that have to be replaced from time to time, this fits rather uneasily into the main structure of the Green Deal. If this amendment is to be accepted, it will be incumbent on my noble friend on the Front Bench when she replies to explain how the debt would be recovered in relation to supplies of gas in canisters. It is not quite the same as gas and electricity supplied through the mains. It may well be that when she winds up the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, will be able to explain what Calor Gas has in mind.
Baroness Northover: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for raising this issue and I also thank other noble Lords for contributing. The amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, seeks to include in the Green Deal measures that save liquid petroleum gas. As she and my noble friend Lord Deben indicated, this goes to the deeper question of how we tackle properties that are not connected to the main gas supply and ensure that the Green Deal is as inclusive as possible. I can assure the noble Baroness that it is our intention that the Green Deal is flexible enough to allow appropriate measures to be installed in the maximum number of properties. I assure her that the provisions in the Bill are already wide enough to allow this. This may also reassure my noble friend Lord Teverson. We are even now working with stakeholders to ensure that this can include measures that save energy in buildings that are not on the main gas network. In these discussions, some of the issues that my noble friend Lord Jenkin has raised will no doubt have to be addressed. I hope that the noble Baroness found my explanation reassuring and that on that basis she will withdraw her amendment.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: Before my noble friend sits down, perhaps I may say that these issues will have to be addressed, but are we not entitled at this stage to know what might be in the Government's mind as regards people buying cylinders of gas from ordinary retailers, as is often the case? If there are powers in the Bill that cover this, that is fine. I would be happy to accept that, but one needs to know how this is going to fit into the main structure of the Green Deal.
Baroness Northover: I am assured that there are indeed provisions in the Bill that will cover this. It may very well be that my noble friend Lord Marland would like to explain them in greater detail to my noble friend Lord Jenkin, to assure him that all is as it should be.
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: I think I will leave the noble friends to talk to each other. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, for the points he raised, and I thank the Minister for her response. I will refer the debate back to Calor Gas, which is very interested in the replies. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I shall speak also to the other amendments in this group in my name and those of my noble friends on the Front Bench. I also look forward to the contribution that my noble friend Lord Whitty will make to the debate on his amendment in this group.
As the Minister is all too well aware, we raised these issues in Committee. In particular, we raised them against a background of concern that we should be clear about what is in legislation and what will be enforceable in circumstances where such an important concept as the Green Deal is to be communicated to the nation. The expectation is to make as rapid progress as we can for all the objectives, which noble Lords share, in terms of achieving carbon emission targets and improvements in the fuel efficiency of households. That will be a massive exercise. Therefore, what is being constructed in the scheme needs to be absolutely clear in legislation. That is why we have tabled amendments seeking to make an obligation on the Government under this clause and subsequent clauses relating to this area. The concern is obvious.
However, I should first put on record my gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, who in Committee assisted us by indicating that we had used somewhat archaic phraseology when we introduced the concept of "shall" and that if we want to hit this objective we should insist on "must". The House will be pleased to note that our amendments are perfectly constructed to be entirely acceptable to parliamentary draftsmen and the language that they are wont to use in legislation.
We are concerned to ensure that the legislation lays clear obligations and not elements of discretion on the Minister-not that we have anything but total trust in this Minister and the person, who I imagine is from the Commons, to whom he referred as his boss. I understand that relationships in the coalition may be defined in all sorts of interesting ways, which is a dimension I suppose I am obliged to accept. I take it that the Minister recognises that, whatever assurances he gives, we are discussing here not the intent or good will of Ministers, which we take for granted and of which we had great evidence from this Minister and his colleague in the conduct of the debate in Committee. However, the intention and good will of Ministers is as nothing to the import of statute and the law of the land. That is why, despite the fact that we received from the Minister a constructive response in Committee, following which we of course withdrew our amendments for further reflection, we are still of the view that this clause will be improved if we substitute "must" for "may" on the part of the Government in order that the country can be entirely secure about what the legislation constructs and so that it is not open to determination or discretion at subsequent dates.
This is an issue on which the country has to be involved. This is so much a question of participants among so many people with regard to the delivery of the Green Deal that it behoves Parliament to be absolutely clear in the Bill, which will eventually, with the good will of us all, become an Act. The Act must be absolutely clear about the way in which the legislation intends to work. Accordingly, I beg to move.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, my Amendment 6 in this group provides the Minister with an option. I agree with my noble friend that in many respects what goes in the Act, and therefore in the regulations, would benefit from the Bill stating "must" rather than "may", but my proposal would leave discretion to Ministers because of what I spoke about in the first group of amendments today. We are in a situation where the Green Deal is being developed fast and furiously but without total clarity as to how it is to be structured and how different groups or different types of building can benefit from the terms of the Green Deal.
My amendment therefore gives the Secretary of State the option to put into those regulations, or codes, provisions that address the particular circumstances of particular groups. If, as I suspect, the fuel poor, in particular the tenanted fuel poor, will be difficult to deal with on the same basis as the bulk of the Green Deal arrangements, the Government will need some special regulations to address the problem, and to deal in particular with the relationships of the landlord and the tenant, who actually pays the energy bill.
For example, as we have just debated in considering my noble friend Lady Gibson's amendment, in rural areas there will be a lot of houses off the gas network that rely on either Calor gas or heating oil. For those people, there will be no attraction in the central mechanism of the Green Deal, as was rightly spelt out by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, and others who reflected on that. In some areas, such as the south-west of England, over 50 per cent of people are off the gas network. A larger number of people have houses which are difficult
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Therefore, I suggest that the Government recognise that they may need to make some special provision for chronic fuel poverty, chronic hard-to-heat or locational difficulties, which make the normal run of Green Deal structures and Green Deal arrangements, and the financial arrangements that lie behind it, not applicable. There is no reason why the householders in that situation should not benefit from something akin to the Green Deal. The power would, as I say, be discretionary, so I hope that the Government will recognise the necessity of having such a power, which would give them a little bit of elbow room down the line. They could either adopt my amendment today or promise to come up with something similar in subsequent parliamentary proceedings on the Bill. I think that they will find they will need it.
Lord Deben: My Lords, I hope the Minister will notice that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, in that very interesting speech, gives the key to why "may" is better than "must". It is simply that this is supposed to be a Bill that Ministers can apply most effectively to the particular circumstances. In many ways one of the reasons the Bill has had common support is that it is a brave Bill; it is an attempt to make a big change and to make a big change in partnership. It seems to me that to have "must" without any prioritisation or the like is a very difficult thing to have. You have to decide at any given time which provisions you are going to go for. Somebody could come back to you and say, "Well, you may have provided the first, second, fourth and seventh sets of regulations, but you have not provided the third". You have not done so because until those regulations go into operation you cannot do the other things. There is a question of practicality that makes "may" much more sensible, which is why the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, has raised his particular proposal in the form that he has.
However, it appears to me that the noble Lord's proposal may well be covered in other parts of the Bill. If he is right and it is not, it would seem sensible to make sure that it is possible for Ministers to make specific arrangements, which will reach out to people in peculiar circumstances.
One of the things that has happened in the course of discussion of the Bill is to recognise how many people are in peculiar circumstances. This is not an area where you have simple programmes, where you can say that everybody is like this. I listened to my noble friend talk about Calor gas. We have a totally different view of what Calor gas is. For me, it is a very large tank with a delivery, not these little pot things, which relate to a different circumstance. It is perfectly possible to deal with the very large pots where perhaps it is not so easy to deal with the small pots. I merely make the point because there is a fundamental difference in the ways these things happen.
I hope the Opposition will accept that, on this occasion, I am afraid that we will have to depend on the good will of Ministers, because otherwise they will be unreasonably constrained in how they implement
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Lord Jenkin of Roding: Another issue that this group of amendments raises was discussed in Grand Committee. Much of the detail of this legislation will be found in regulations, and indeed we have been told that there are to be 19 different sets of regulations. I think we have accepted that that is an inevitable feature. My noble friend assured the Grand Committee, and indeed the House at Second Reading, that there would continue to be a great deal of consultation, and I take some comfort from that.
I have had a report of a meeting, held by the senior official in my noble friend's department who is in charge of this activity, which was attended by 60 to 70 industry representatives. Apparently, she said that DECC is completely open-minded on the details and is listening to every point of view that is put forward-"listening" being the important word-and I welcome that. Furthermore, all the evidence will be published so that in due course we shall be able to see that other matters will be brought forward for continuing consultation. That is a reassuring point. Indeed, the issues raised by my noble friend Lord Deben and the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, are exactly what those sitting in the official Box will pick up on. They will recognise that when they come to draft the regulations, these things will have to be dealt with properly. From what I have heard from industry representatives, I am reassured about what the process actually is, and perhaps my noble friend will take some comfort from that.
With this in mind, will householders in fuel poverty be able to afford the cost of the assessor? I believe that this cost, which might be £80, £100 or £120-I do not know-could be a barrier to the take-up of the Green Deal. £100 may be the entire weekly income of some householders in poverty, so rather than spend £100 on the assessor, they will choose to buy food or whatever. I suggested in Committee that this cost could be rolled up into the Green Deal so that no one has any up-front costs. The Minister's response then was:
"As for rolling up the costs of the assessor, we would not encourage that, but there may be a framework in which it could happen. We will need to look into that further".-[Official Report, 19/1/11; col. GC69.]
Lord Marland: I thank noble Lords for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, has made a valuable point in asking whether the Bill should state "must" or "shall"-shall we or shan't we?-so there are many imponderables. I am also grateful for the contributions made by my noble friends Lord Deben and Lord Jenkin of Roding, both of whom speak with great authority on these subjects.
The most important thing is that, as we take this Bill through its meandering course, we have the flexibility and the opportunity, as Ministers, to consult industry and all bodies that have an idea on this, and eventually to tighten the code of practice. At this point, however, it would not be appropriate for us unilaterally to change these words, which currently give the Government flexibility. I am heartened by and grateful for the words of the noble Lord, Lord Deben, that for the authority of Ministers it is imperative to have that flexibility. In the spirit in which we have conducted this Bill, I am happy to consider Amendment 3 in principle, as it is very important that the Secretary of State establishes a scheme through regulation. In considering the matter, it is rather important that we remove any doubts about the issue. That is why we are prepared to consider this amendment, but as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, would suggest, we need flexibility in the other areas as we continue to go forward.
As to the cost of assessors, further consultation has taken place with industry. We strongly believe, as I said in Committee, that many of the suppliers will pay for the assessment, because it is to their benefit. Typically, I would imagine, if one went to B&Q, as one does when buying a home, one might be provided with a list of approved assessors and an assessor would then go in and make the assessment, which would be paid for by the provider. Our research with industry and with the potential providers suggests that that will, we hope, answer the important question of my noble friend Lord Cathcart.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful for the tone which the Minister has taken, as he did throughout the Committee stage, indicating that he will further consider our proposals. He will forgive me if I indicate that "considering" is not quite a promise of change, and he has had one further look at it as a result of our deliberations in Committee. I want to pay due credit for that deliberation.
I think that the noble Lord has an amendment on the code of conduct in the next group that would greatly strengthen his case and his position, and if he had prayed that in aid in relation to why "may" should remain rather than be replaced with "must", I would certainly have been floored. Possibly, however, he wants to make the case for the next group of amendments in his own good time, and I recognise that. What I am indicating is that it is an indication of the Government's approach to these issues. Our approach is as one. The
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On the structural issue, the reason why we think an obligation should be present is simply that we have got to communicate a message to many of our citizens who, as the noble Lord, Lord Deben, indicated, comprise an enormous variety. The enormous numbers of people in the nation who have to respond to this legislation, hopefully in a constructive way, are such that the legislation needs to be as clear as possible, so that the message that is sent out is sufficiently clear to be readily understood.
As I indicated, because of the Minister's response to these amendments and even more in his actions with regard to future intentions-I refer to the next group of amendments, which are government amendments that are constructively expressed-I am happy to withdraw my amendment at this stage.
Lord Marland: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, has telegraphed, this group of amendments respond to the excellent comments made by my noble friend Lady Noakes-such is the harmony that flows between the parties at the moment I was going to say his noble friend Lady Noakes-and my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding. The Delegated Powers Committee also prompted a number of these amendments. I hope they are self-explanatory and respond wholeheartedly to suggestions by my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, to whom we are, as always, extremely grateful. I hope that the amendments satisfy his requirements and those of the Delegated Powers Committee. I beg to move.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I am indeed entirely satisfied with this group of amendments. This gives me an opportunity to say that the Government tabled no fewer than 145 amendments to the Bill. I assure the noble Lord that I did not have to count them. He was kind enough to send them to those of us who are active on the Bill numbered one to 145. It was a little difficult sometimes to match them up with the numbers of the amendments that finally appeared officially on the list.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: Of course. I am not blaming my noble friend for that in the least. On the contrary, I found it all extremely helpful, accompanied as they were with helpful notes to explain the amendments. He has met our case splendidly with this group.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Sorry, my Lords; I was a little slow on my feet because I was somewhat taken aback by the speed with which the government amendment was moved, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, indicated. With this number to get through, I suppose the group needs to be disposed of with some dispatch, but I had anticipated a slightly longer description from the Minister of what the amendments in the group purport to do.
Suffice it to say that the burden of my remarks on the previous group of amendments is that Amendments 50, 51, 52 and 56, which relate to how the code will be considered as far as parliamentary practice is concerned, go a long way to meeting anxieties about how we can be responsive to the application of the new deal. We need a framework into which we can all contribute. I have not the slightest doubt that we have an exercise of considerable complexity and real challenge. It means the commitment of real resources for people against fairly distant objectives. For some people, the gains will be future gains on behalf of the community while there is an immediate practical personal cost. That is why Parliament must be assured that we have provided a framework that works effectively.
The Minister listened to our concerns in Committee and these amendments, particularly those relating to the code of practice, are extremely constructive. I will be happy to support the amendments when they are put before the House.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I proposed a similar amendment to this in Committee and was greatly encouraged by the Minister's response, which prompts me to bring it forward again today. In some ways, we might call this the big society amendment. My last role in Government was as Third Sector Minister and in it I saw-as I am sure many other noble Lords in their time in different departments, former Members of the other place in their constituencies and indeed noble Lords in their work in the community all have-how the role of the charitable sector and social enterprises in helping the most vulnerable in society, particularly those who are fuel poor or fuel vulnerable, is something society as a whole has welcomed. I know the Government want to attract those kinds of non-profit making or third sector organisations into public sector provision. However, there is an opportunity here for the wider charitable and social enterprise sector to be involved in the kind of work that it does best in conjunction with Government.
Although the Minister was very encouraging in Committee, I think some noble Lords misunderstood my explanation of this amendment, which merely seeks within the framework regulations, where a fee is
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I accept that many-indeed most-of the providers, installers and operations will be, as the Minister said, market-driven. However, we should do everything we can to encourage those charities, social enterprises and non-profit-making organisations that have a special and specific role in helping the vulnerable, those with special needs, the disabled and those with learning disabilities. I found the Minister's response last time very encouraging so I thought I would give him another opportunity to come forward. He has been very gracious today in accepting the proposal that has been put forward and I know that he would not want to see-as I would not-any potential assessor or installer excluded from the market when they have the ability to help those that most need it.
The amendment is also about ensuring that we have a Green Deal that reaches as many people as possible-I know we all want to see a big take-up. Attracting those charities, social enterprises and voluntary sector organisations into the market can only help increase the number of households that take up the Green Deal, as well as giving that specific help and support to the poor and the vulnerable. I look forward to the Minister's response. I feel strongly on this issue and I know he does as well. I hope he can satisfy me on this issue and we are able to withdraw the amendment. However, if we are unable to, we will want to test the view of the House on this.
Baroness Northover: I thank the noble Lords for their suggested amendments. This amendment seeks to ensure that where the code of practice specifies that an authorisation fee is payable by Green Deal participants, it should be reduced for charities and social enterprises. We recognise that these bodies will have-must have-an important role to play in helping to deliver the Green Deal. We are already considering how secondary legislation could allow for authorisation fees to be set at a variable level, depending on the nature or status of the organisation. We appreciate noble Lords' desire for more clarity on this matter and I assure them that we are continuing to consider this issue further and will bring back a government amendment if necessary to this effect in the other place. We are seeking to make sure that this is as comprehensive as possible.
I am sure the noble Baroness would agree that we do not want to end up in a situation where, by specifying one or two organisations, we thereby exclude others. We fully accept the notion she is putting forward that the authorisation fee might be variable. We are seeking to work out how best you take that forward so that it is as effective and inclusive as possible, as opposed to being too specific around some particular groups that might be identified now, thus inadvertently excluding others. That is why we are still looking at this. However, we fully support what the noble Baroness seeks to do and if this is best put in primary legislation, an amendment will be brought forward. That will probably be in the other place because of the timing, but we are seeking
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Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, the Minister's encouragements to me were certainly not misplaced and I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for that answer. I entirely agree. It was never my intention to specify individual organisations or their categories. The variable fees approach is very much the way to proceed and I am happy to work with her to see how best we can achieve that. I look forward to seeing the amendments, if necessary, in the other place. On that basis, I am again happy to withdraw my amendment.
"( ) The provision made by the code in relation to green deal participants must also extend to matters in connection with energy plans that are promoted or arranged at the same time as green deal plans."
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I feel that I have the appearance of a jack-in-a-box at this Dispatch Box. Hansard may make of that what it will. The amendments put forward in today's sixth group-I beg to move Amendment 8A and to speak to the others in the group-all seek to achieve the same aims. They are all supportive and reflect the discussion that we had in Committee. Certainly, our Amendments 8A and 8B look to ensure that protection is there if an assessor identifies within the Green Deal-this also expands to the energy plan-that plans that are promoted or arranged at the same time as the Green Deal plans should also have protection from the same code of practice, so there is no confusion for those who have work undertaken in their homes.
We are certainly very supportive of Amendment 11, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. I think he is trying to raise exactly the kind of issues that we raised in Committee. The amendments before us reflect our discussion in Committee, when I raised the point about having an energy plan from which the consumer could choose their Green Deal plan. That is in effect covered by this amendment. Much of his amendment, and ours, hits the key areas that concern people about the Green Deal. The assessor will identify what measures can be taken to improve energy efficiency. They must act in the best interests of the improver-that is, the consumer-but it is the customer or improver who chooses which measures in the energy plan then go into the Green Deal plan. Subsection (4) of the proposed new clause in Amendment 11, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, ties in with our purpose clause and reporting clause, which the Minister so graciously accepted the need for earlier, but on a smaller scale to let us know the impact by consumer.
Again, the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Whitty is excellent. One way to best protect the consumer at any stage is through transparency and openness. If we always ensure that we have those, that fits in entirely with the Government's approach on other issues as well. Our amendments are very much worth supporting. The key for consumer protection is that if consumers have a Green Deal plan, other measures introduced in their energy plan should all have the same protection, so that the consumer does not feel at a later stage that they have been somehow conned. I believe this will give confidence to the consumer and to the public in taking up the Green Deal.
Lord Teverson: My Lords, we have had a long and useful discussion about making sure that consumers receive the best deal that they can from the Green Deal. One of the areas that I felt was missing when we considered the original Bill in Committee was a duty for providers, for people who were bringing plans forward to consumers, to ensure that that was the right plan for that household and that family. I thank the Minister for the discussions we have had, and that I know he has had with other parties, on this area. I welcome the fact that the Bill is being brought forward relatively near the beginning of the parliamentary Session so that we can get the Green Deal implemented next year.
In putting the amendment forward, I was looking to get on the record the Minister's further thoughts about how this area will operate. I have wrestled in my own mind to a large degree with how the tripartite arrangement of the financier, the adviser and the person who does the work will come together. We must avoid a bias in the solution whereby the person who draws up the plan fits it to the provider whom they are dealing with or fits the term of the finance deal to the finance provider, so that we do not have a situation where a biased recommendation is put forward that the consumer then feels they have to accept. How will the people who do the assessment be paid for if they are not connected to the other people?
Lord Teverson: I hear shouts of derision. I am sure that the way this will operate-I do not say this negatively; it seems to be a fact of life-is that those three pillars of the deal that the consumer faces will be as one. I cannot see every potential provider, worker or builder going out there and getting the smart financial deals from the money markets, not just in London but worldwide or whatever, that larger organisations can. I cannot foresee a situation in which the advisers go out independently and then whether or not they get a deal depends on whether they get a fee. I do not think that any household will pay a fee. There is no provision for fees in the Bill.
The way in which this will work is that integrated major organisations-there is still a question about how smaller builders and SMEs will participate in the scheme, though maybe that is a broader issue-will come forward with major deals. There will then have
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I am interested to hear some further thoughts from the department about how this will effectively operate from the consumer's point of view in terms of whom they come into contact with and who the deals will be sold by. How will we make sure that the competition is sufficient and that people feel confident enough that they take advantage of inviting more than one potential provider into their household? How will the Minister ensure, whether through a duty or through quality assurance, that those plans, even when there is competition, really reflect the best interests of the consumer? This whole area, as the Minister has said many times, is critical to ensuring that the scheme has credibility. It will roll out in the volume that we all want only if consumers find this to be a credible option that they can trust and that they know is going to give them not just a good deal but the best and the right one.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My noble friend's meagre intelligence has led him to ask a series of very important questions. I put "meagre" in quotes; it would be quite wrong for him to stand by his own words.
I have a slight anxiety about this matter. As my noble friend rightly said, a number of parties are involved in producing the Green Deal for the customer. I had assumed that it was the role of the assessor to determine whether a proposal being put forward by a provider would achieve the objectives of the Green Deal. It seems to me-certainly a lot of people in the industry think that this will be the case-that a very wide range of bodies will wish to become providers under the Bill, not just banks, building societies or financial institutions. It has been suggested that major retailers might wish to become involved as well as local authorities, housing associations and a range of other bodies. I am not entirely clear how far the responsibility for ensuring that the plan is in the best interests of the consumer can necessarily rest with the provider.
My noble friend's amendment emphasises the provider in this regard. The provider is entitled to rely on the advice of the assessor as the assessor will advise all parties on the validity of the proposals being put forward. Therefore, it would be very helpful if my noble friend could make this clear when he replies to the debate. I quite understand that these matters are being discussed with all the interests involved, but we must have some idea where the responsibility primarily lies. It is difficult to suggest that it lies with the provider, as my noble friend's amendment does. The provider is entitled to rely on the advice of the assessor. As my noble friend rightly says, I hope that these matters can be decided in a competitive environment so that the consumer has a choice.
Lord Oxburgh: My Lords, I wish to pursue the point made by the two previous speakers. This is an extremely important area in which the fine detail will determine whether the scheme works. I draw attention
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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I support all the amendments in this group and wish to speak specifically to Amendments 14 and 15. These are the remnants of a pretty broad discussion that we had in Committee about the need to ensure consumer confidence in this scheme. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, has just referred to that matter. The noble Lords, Lord Teverson and Lord Jenkin, have indicated in relatively few sentences what a complicated arrangement this might appear to consumers. One of the reasons they need assurance is because this is more than a trilateral arrangement. In most cases there will be an assessor, who should be independent, and a provider, who will be the main provider and deal with the scheme, but the actual installer might be someone entirely different and under a certified, authorised subcontract to B&Q, the bank, Marks and Spencer or whoever might be the main provider. Then behind all that, financial arrangements that are closer to the householder may or may not come further downstream. It will be confusing. For that reason, the consumer-the householder or the landlord-needs serious confidence-building measures.
We were assured in Committee that some of those measures, apart from a bit of tweaking in the Bill, are already on the statute book in the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act and that they apply in this case. Most of those measures are, in fact; I am greatly reassured by that and I am grateful to the Minister for spelling that out. However, some areas are not so clearly covered by the consumer credit arrangements, and there are other markets where the consumer credit arrangements have not proved to be sufficient.
My two amendments address cross-selling and mis-selling. Amendment 14 talks about the assessments being dealt with by assessors who are independent of the providers. That does not mean that they will be totally independent, but that their assessment should be made on an unbiased basis and that they do not make recommendations that are geared to the specific offers of particular providers. Were that not to be the case, not only would the consumer interest be damaged but the Government's desire-rightly so-to make this a competitive market would be seriously undermined.
The noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, is right to say that there is ultimately no such thing as a completely objective assessment. However, it has to be an honest and clear assessment that is clear of bias towards any potential provider or installer. Amendment 14 deals with that, because there are no measures in the Bill to prevent Green Deal assessors being incentivised by providers to make assessments in their interests. It is important that the consumer is reassured on that. Similar provisions in other areas of financial credit have not proved to be sufficient to avoid biased financial advice appearing in some markets. Indeed, the FSA is still struggling with some of those issues.
My second amendment deals with transparency. Again, I am not sure that the Consumer Credit Act is sufficient. There are references to fees at various points in the Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, referred to the fee for assessment, and I agree with him that it would be highly desirable if in all cases, not simply for the fuel poor, the fee for assessment was rolled up in the totality of the deal and arrangements were made for cross payment, as necessary. If you are faced with a threshold fee, that is a discouragement. You might end up paying the same money, but it should be part of the credit arrangement, not a separate arrangement.
There are subsequent references to fees, not all of which are entirely clear, and some of which may relate to exit fees. I understand that exit fees are an important provision for some credit providers in different markets, but it has to be made absolutely clear in the original agreement if there is to be an exit fee. We know that in other financial markets-mortgages and others-the regulations relating to exit fees are not clear enough. Certainly in the information provided to a person taking out a mortgage it is not always spelt out sufficiently when there is a substantial exit fee. In this case, the fee may relate to the owing of money, not to the person with whom you have dealt or who installed the energy-saving measures but to a financial company that lies behind that, via an energy bill from your energy supplier, and it is important that exit fees, if they exist, are specified. It is highly desirable that exit fees should not be another inhibition to the householder or a subsequent householder when deciding to move away from a particular supplier or form of credit.
Transparency is very important, and the current provisions of the Consumer Credit Act do not seem to tie this up sufficiently for application to these deals. The complexity of the arrangements, and the difficulty of explaining the range of organisations that will be involved in the totality of the deal for the average householder, make it even more important than in some other markets-where there is clearly a bilateral arrangement-that transparency exists. I therefore hope that the Government will take these amendments seriously.
Just to underline this, the real danger for the Government seems to come at the beginning. If one or two of these things go wrong because consumers are put off taking up the scheme, or very early on have some misunderstanding-to put it at its most neutral-with the installer, the provider or the financial vehicle, the rumour that this is not a good scheme will spread rapidly. We all want the scheme to succeed-to have a wide take-up and make the maximum possible impact on energy efficiency. However, it could stumble at a very early hurdle unless consumers are reassured. These two measures would help to reassure them.
Lord Marland: My Lords, I have just been handed a speaking note, which has slightly confused me. Ireland has beaten England in the one-day cricket-so much for the Green Deal. I am sorry to take away from the serious aspect of what we are talking about and I hope noble Lords will forgive me for imparting that. I know the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, will be as distraught as I am to hear that news.
The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, makes a very serious point, as always with his knowledge of consumers. At the heart of the Green Deal must be consumer confidence. Without consumer confidence we will not get this deal off the ground. It is imperative that the Government do this. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, raise what I think are probing points that need to be ironed out in the passage of this Bill. The ironing out will be carried out with the platform of the Green Deal being very much consumer confidence, as we have debated in this Chamber and in Grand Committee rather exhaustively. On that basis, noble Lords will forgive me for reading out my speaking note, which is unusual for me. I will do it on this occasion because I want to get it right. Like the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, I suffer from meagre intelligence, so this has to be done in very big language.
Amendments 11 and 14 seek to ensure that consumers are offered the best possible energy efficiency solution. Clause 4 is central to the Green Deal and sets out the circumstances in which a Green Deal plan can be offered to the consumer. We envisage that a standardised methodology-mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh-will be used to carry out the assessment. This will ensure that the assessment is carried out in a robust, impartial way so that any measures recommended are suitable for the property in question and not influenced by other considerations.
Where the responsibility lies was the question asked by my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding. Assessors are responsible for getting the technical impartial assessment right. The Green Deal providers will be able to rely on this. They are responsible for financial advice. Installers will be responsible for the standard of installation.
I carry that theme a little further in response to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, on how the financing will work for small builders, for example. Assessors and installers will not need to raise the capital. The Green Deal plan is between the Green Deal provider and the consumer, but that does not mean that assessors and installers will be paid a commission. Nor does it preclude independent assessment. In addition, Clause 3 provides for the code of practice that will regulate the proficiency of the Green Deal participants. The provisions in this clause seek to ensure that consumers are offered the best possible energy efficiency solution for their property.
Amendment 15 seeks to ensure that the consumer is made aware of any applicable fees in a clear and transparent way. The consumer credit regime applies to domestic Green Deals and already imposes requirements to ensure that consumers are made aware of the total cost of the finance, including any fees that may be incurred. However, we recognise that the consumer credit regime, to which the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, referred, might not capture all possible situations when fees may be incurred, and we will look at this issue in more detail. However, Clauses 4(1)(b) and 5(1)(b) will enable us to set out in framework regulations any conditions that must be met before a plan is entered into or matters that must be addressed under the terms of the plan.
Amendments 8A and 8B seek to extend the provisions of the code to all energy plans that are sold or promoted at the same time as the Green Deal. I reassure noble Lords that we will make provisions within the scheme and the code to ensure that consumers are made fully aware of the differences between measures sold under a Green Deal plan, with all its safeguards, and those that fall outside such a plan. Clause 3 already enables the scheme and code of conduct to be applied to energy plans that are not Green Deal plans. It is our intention to seek to ensure, where appropriate, that elements of the scheme or code can apply to wider energy provisions
In conclusion, I believe that the consumer credit regime and the Bill already contain all the necessary requirements to achieve what is intended in these amendments. I reiterate that confidence is absolutely fundamental to what we are trying to achieve. On that basis, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I am grateful to the noble Lord for another very helpful answer. Perhaps before I say anything specific about the amendments, I may offer him some helpful advice. Both he and I are new to our roles in your Lordships' House. I am told that one thing that no noble Lord or Attendant ever does is tell my noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham the result of a cricket match. I am also informed that he is rather grumpy because, having recorded the match to watch later, he now knows the result. Therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Marland, should be grateful that it is me and not him sitting next to my noble friend.
The noble Lord has gone a long way towards understanding our concerns. As my noble friend Lord Whitty said, the relationships between the assessor, the installer, the provider and the customer are very complex, and this scheme is not going to work unless we have consumer confidence. However, I am reassured by the Minister's comments that he understands the nature of the problem and is seeking to resolve it. If, at a later stage, he is able to bring forward regulations that show that energy efficiency improvements under the energy plan that are not part of the Green Deal can still be subject to the same consumer protections, that will be very helpful. It might also be helpful to investigate some of these matters further at Third Reading. However, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I think that he understands why we have concerns-they relate only to a wish to make this work and today he has gone a long way towards reassuring us. Therefore, I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
(a) sit outside the green deal; or
(b) collectively exceed the total amount qualifiable under a green deal plan, where this is clearly identified on the assessment."
Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, the amendments in this group are again about consumer choice and consumer confidence. As we said previously, the main objective of the Green Deal is commendable, although it is possible to go beyond the Green Deal with what is before us. Again, the assessor could potentially also be an improver.
There is no problem in identifying measures over and above those which can be provided by the Green Deal which improve energy efficiency. We welcome that. However, there could be a problem with an assessor who is paid or contracted by an installer or a provider, as the noble Lord said previously, as there could be a conflict of interest. In that relationship, who would make the decision on what are the appropriate measures to be undertaken under the Green Deal?
That is appropriate. Our major concern is that if the assessor tells the customer that a number of measures can be undertaken under the Green Deal, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, who decides what is appropriate? If the relationship between the assessor and the installer is a financial one, we are then concerned that the customer receives the correct information from the assessor. We have raised this issue before and we are trying to avoid any possible conflict of interest between an assessor and an installer. The Minister also said in Committee:
"In many cases, we envisage the Green Deal provider employing or contracting the assessor. The assessor would identify the potential for energy savings using the standardised methodology".-[Official Report, 19/1/11; col. GC 66.]
I do not think we have got to the bottom of this difficult point about how the appropriate measures for a home are decided on. In Amendments 12 and 13 we are trying to ensure that any assessment clearly identifies everything that qualifies under the Green Deal. It has to include all energy improvement under the Green Deal; but there is nothing to stop an assessor identifying energy improvements in the early assessment outside the Green Deal or going over and above what the Green Deal includes. Any potential conflict of interest
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The excellent amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, comes back to the points made at the beginning, which the noble Lord was happy to look into further as regards an annual report and having further information. This is the transparency issue. If the Secretary of State can do a cost-benefit assessment, to identify the benefits of the Green Deal, that would give confidence not just to the consumer but also to the energy industry. Much of it will be in terms of the Green Deal and the industry having the confidence to invest in undertaking the Green Deal.
I hope that the Minister understands why these measures have been brought forward today. We want to ensure that consumers have absolute confidence that they are not being given information that serves the commercial interests of others and to ensure that whatever measures are recommended to them, or that they choose, are in the best interests of energy efficiency for their homes. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: I shall speak to Amendment 160A which is in this group. It follows on from what my noble friend Lady Smith said about transparency, information and confidence in the field of energy conservation. As noble Lords will know, this is a rerun of Amendment 34 in Committee. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, for her tireless work in supporting energy conservation and for moving the amendment eloquently in Committee. She emphasised the lack of interest of Governments over the years in the issue of saving energy rather than producing more to meet an often unnecessary demand. My noble friend Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan supported her and urged publication of the information.
I am trying again to see whether I can squeeze a little more out of Ministers at this stage. I pay tribute to the Association for the Conservation of Energy which has been tireless in promoting this part of the energy debate on conservation, which is often put into the "too difficult" category by government. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, responded in Committee and said that the Government are already obliged to report annually to Parliament on the progress towards legally binding carbon budgets. She also said that,
I remind the House of a few facts given in Committee. The European Climate Foundation reports that emissions from buildings can be reduced by 95 per cent, which
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It is also worth reminding the House that Chris Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said that the cheapest way of closing the gap between energy demand and supply is to cut energy use. Many other Ministers have said similar things. The Association for the Conservation of Energy has been calling for a cost benefit assessment of energy saving for many years and it asked the Government about six months ago whether they had carried out a long-term assessment of the costs and benefits of energy saving and efficiency as against those of energy generation. The answer was that there was nothing specific in the public domain. I suggest that there should be because consumers need that information. I hope that when the Minister responds he will accept the principle of the amendment and agree that the Government should publish a cost-benefit assessment. How can the Government have properly thought through their overall energy policy without that? If they do not have that information, they should have. If they do have it, perhaps they should publish it.
Baroness Maddock: As has already been said, I moved a similar amendment in Committee so I am happy to support the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, today. At a time when we are trying to persuade people about all the things we need to do to tackle climate change and CO2 production, we ought to have the best analysis and figures to back up our arguments.
There is little I can add to what the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, but if we are to persuade the sceptics, we need the very best figures. I withdrew my amendment in Committee-we were in Grand Committee and we could not go any further-but I hope that since our discussion the Government have looked at this and thought, "Why on earth can't we do it?". It is not that difficult. There is lots of information available to draw the figures together. That would be very helpful for all of us. A lot of time and energy is going into the Bill because we believe that it is the right way forward. Let us have the complete evidence to back it up.
Lord Marland: My Lords, as always, there have been some valuable contributions for which I am extremely grateful. To deal first with the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, it is clearly fundamental that there is transparency and
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, whose thoughts on energy efficiency are extremely well known. We are extremely sympathetic to them. Unless we educate people to use less electricity, we will end up using more, and the quickest way to reduce consumption is by using less energy. A lot of the work that we are doing on smart meters in homes will give people an everyday assessment of what electricity they use in their homes. At times, they will find it quite frightening, as I do with my children, whom I have referenced before, when I point to the excellent device we have that is also extremely frightening. The noble Lord, and the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, rightly referred to the work that ACE has done, which we applaud and listen to in detail. It is fundamental that we develop a pattern of education so that energy use is reduced.
We can readily identify that with the levers that we have available. In October of this year, we will produce our fourth carbon budget report, which will provide evidence of the cost-effectiveness of economy-wide packages under consideration. That report will continue. The costs and benefits to society of particular technologies are assessed through extensive consultation within industry, so a lot of information is provided to us from industry groups. In addition, we provide publications on carbon budgets, energy market reform, feed-in tariffs, CERTs and green deals, so a huge amount of information is provided, which helps us readily to assess the extent to which carbon production and energy use are being reduced.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I am grateful to the Minister, who has sought to be very co-operative and helpful in his comments. However, two things stand out for me. One is that he is right that there is a great deal of information out there for the consumer. In fact, there is so much that it is totally confusing for most people. The simple cost-benefit assessment that is referred to in the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, would not only help the Government in developing policy but would be helpful to the consumer. Having information readily available is something that we all require.
The Minister welcomed both our amendments, but he did not pick up on one point. If he is able to assure me that he will come back on it later, it would be helpful. The issue relates to information being provided to the improver and the bill payer about the relationship between the assessor and the installer. That is necessary for transparency and openness. If that relationship is open, there can be no suggestion that there is anything underhand or against the interests of the consumer. If there is a doubt in the consumer's mind, people will not have confidence in the Green Deal. I can see the noble Lord nodding at me, which is always a welcome
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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, we discussed this issue in Committee, and the Minister gave, as ever, a constructive response, but to the wrong anxiety as far as we were concerned. He seemed to construe our concern as being about the Green Deal being forced upon someone. Consent is clearly the basis on which we seek to proceed, but there might be a tenant who comes under some degree of pressure, so the Minister's response was to indicate that the Bill would have a framework of regulations that would give protection. I accept the Minister's position on that without reservation, and I am very grateful to him for expressing that concern.
It might have been my fault in not making it explicit enough when speaking to the amendment, but my concern was almost entirely the other way round. The improver and the bill payer are two different people, and I envisaged that the improver might be involved in the improvement of a substantial number of properties, such as a block of flats which he owned. He might get improvements from 99 out of 100 tenants, but what if one objected and said he was not prepared to sign up to this deal and what if it is difficult for the work to go on without the issue being considered in its totality? We have to envisage that with certain kinds of improvements, the whole building has to be improved or nothing is effective. I was concerned to express the anxiety expressed in this amendment about what happens when an improver is bent upon improvements to the property that meet the objectives of the Green Deal, subscribe to all the benefits that the Bill contains and therefore fulfil the objectives of everyone in this House, but one person stands out against them.
I think that that is a genuine anxiety. I tried to raise the issue in Committee. As I have said, it may have been entirely my fault in that I was not explicit enough or that the amendment was not drafted as accurately as possible, but the response that I received was not directed at this specific problem. I want reassurance from the Minister that he has considered my anxieties
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However, what about the minority position in extreme cases in which someone is excessively affected, not least because, as we all appreciate, for some individuals the benefits from the improvements to the property might look fairly limited? They know that they will get an increase in their bills pretty soon. The benefits might lie in the future and such individuals might consider that their personal circumstances, in a long-term perspective of that kind, are too long term for the pay-off. I am interested in where ordinary citizens, to say nothing of the awkward squad, might find themselves in a position in which they see no benefit but where they are a very small minority and all other tenants in the building see the advantages. I am interested in how the Bill copes with that issue. I beg to move.
Lord Deben: My Lords, I was very attracted to this proposal, but I should like to share with your Lordships why I do not think that it is sensible in the end. I am attracted to it because there are a lot of curmudgeonly people in this world-you do not even have to have an argument to say that people have a good reason to do something. There are curmudgeonly people who say, "I don't want this. Why have I got to do this?". I can quite see the argument. I also have a concern for those who think that other people might benefit and therefore have a slightly dog in the manger attitude.
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