HC Deb 28 June 1957 vol 572 cc595-615

11.45 a.m.

Mr. Nabarro

I beg to move, in page 4, line 36, to leave out from "plans" to "that" in line 37, and to insert "unless they show".

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it would be for the convenience of the House to consider, at the same time, the four remaining Amendments on the Notice Paper. All five Amendments are consequential upon the replacement of the former Clause 3 by the new Clause which we approved at the beginning of our proceedings today.

Mr. E. Johnson

I beg formally to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 4, line 39, after "In", insert "subsection (1) of".

In line 40, after "reject", insert: for the purposes of this Act".

In line 42, leave out "any such" and insert "a proposed industrial".

In page 5, line 9, leave out: for the purposes of this Act". —[Mr. Nabarro.]

11.47 a.m.

Mr. Nabarro

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The Bill has had a relatively rapid passage for a Private Member's Measure through its earlier stages and in Standing Committee. It was introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule on 30th January, 1957, it received a Second Reading on 15th March, it took one morning to deal with, in Standing Committee on 28th May, and I have hopes that this morning, in addition to the Report stage, we shall complete our Third Reading proceedings.

As the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. C. R. Hobson) wisely observed a few moments ago, this is an urgent Measure, having regard to national fuel deficiencies. I should like the House today to endorse the fact that it is legislation of an entirely unique character, being without parallel anywhere in the world, notably in industrial countries.

The reason for this is not far to seek. There are few, if any, industrial nations which are faced with the fuel problems which confront our country during the next few years. I thought that that fact was brought out admirably in a speech by the Paymaster-General during the debate on energy resources on 30th April. It is inescapable that, during the next ten to fifteen years we shall face a continuing and a continuous deficiency in respect of the fuel required to match our energy needs.

In saying that this legislation is unique in character, I think we underline the fact that it will be somewhat difficult to frame the necessary regulations. In that connection, we have not too much reliable statistical data to guide us. One of the handicaps with which I have been confronted in this matter throughout the last four years in putting the Measure together—for, I assure the House, it has not been hastily conceived—has been the lack of reliable information as to the thermal insulation of buildings in this country, notably factories.

It is extraordinary that, for instance, when I asked the Board of Trade, a few months ago, to tell me what was the square footage of factories in the United Kingdom, it could not tell me, not even to within 50 per cent. of accuracy. Of course, with the absence of such an essential statistic, it became nearly impossible to arrive at any reliable conclusion as to what would be the fuel, in terms of tons of coal or coal equivalent per annum, which could be saved by efficient and proper insulation of industrial buildings.

This is the Third Reading debate, and I may apply myself only to what is in the Bill. An essential element of the Bill is that, after 1958, or such earlier date as my noble Friend the Minister of Power may decide, all new factory building will be required to be thermally insulated to minimum standards. What we can obtain from that simple fact is approximately the amount of fuel that the Bill will save in the years ahead. In that connection, I think that we may claim that it will be complementary to the earlier Clean Air Act which passed through the House during the last Parliamentary Session.

Mr. C. R. Hobson

That was a bit "phoney."

Mr. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman says that it was a bit "phoney". It is certainly analogous to what we are discussing today in this important respect, that it is essentially a fuel conservation Measure. Although many concerned with medical matters would prefer to put the emphasis on the health of the nation, I always, in matters of clean air policy, prefer to place the emphasis upon the vital and urgent need to conserve our national fuel resources.

When we were legislating for clean air, a fuel efficiency Measure, we had to guide us the precedents of many large American cities which had adopted policies of that kind. We could go to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, or St. Louis, Missouri, and study their city ordinances, as I did, extract from them which sections had proved efficacious and those which had proved failures, and it was then relatively easy, with the aid of the Beaver Committee Report, to prepare legislation for this country. But here, in the matter of thermal insulation, we have nothing at all to guide us other than the experience of enlightened industrialists, aided by the manufacturers of insulating materials in this country, of which there are many, the great majority of such insulating materials, of course, being indigenous in preparation and manufacture.

This Measure will save coal. The fact is that it is estimated that, in the first year of operation, it will, applied only to new industrial buildings, save 175,000 tons of coal, worth, in terms of imported fuel, £1 million to our balance of payments. The following year, the saving will be the same amount, provided we continue building new factories at the rate of 40 million square feet per annum, which is the rate maintained in the last two years and which, I understand, is likely to be the rate maintained during the years immediately ahead.

Thus, in the first year, the nation will save £1 million worth of imported fuel; in the second year, £2 million worth; and in the third year, £3 million worth; and so on, in arithmetical progression. By the middle 'sixties, we should be saving about £10 million worth of fuel per annum, all of it as marginal supplies imported.

I claim, and I have always taken the view, that, had the House of Commons applied itself to Bills of this kind, dealing with clean air or thermal insulation, eight to ten years ago, when the grave fuel shortage first became apparent, we should not have found it necessary to import a single ton of American coal.

Although it is late in the day, I hope that the House will bear in mind that it is not only a question of bringing in American coal, paid for in dollars. We must consider also what is used in substitution for coal so widely today in industrial establishments in this country namely, oil. On 30th April last, my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General rather startled the House, I think, when he said that, notwithstanding the huge investment in atomic energy during the next few years, and notwithstanding the fact that by 1965 we shall have built 12 or more large atomic energy generating stations, the whole contribution made by nuclear power to our energy needs by 1965, eight years hence, will be only 18 million tons of coal equivalent. In 1965, we shall still be reliant as to 80 per cent. upon indigenous coal for meeting our fuel needs.

Here, also, is the significant fact which my right hon. Friend brought out and which, I consider, will bear repeating this morning, since it has a direct relevance to this matter. He said that, whereas, this year, we bring in 26 million tons of oil, in 1965, to balance our energy account, we shall have to bring in 40 million tons of oil, an additional 14 million tons of oil a year, that is, largely in substitution for coal in supplying our energy needs.

I claim that the huge capital investment required to build pipe lines from distant places in various parts of the world, to build all the pumping installations needed, to construct the vastly expensive oil tankers to bring the fuel to our shores, and to provide the installations necessary for discharge, refining and processing in this country, should surely be judged in relation to a Measure of this kind which is based upon the simple concept that it is far cheaper, far better, and far more efficacious to save a ton of coal or a ton of oil by greater efficiency in the combustion of fuel in our factories than to have recourse to these enormously expensive projects which are now in view. Of course, we cannot meet all our energy requirements or the gap in our energy needs by greater fuel efficiency, but I claim that this Measure we are now considering makes a direct contribution towards it.

On 1st July, coal prices are to go up. This time, they are to be raised by an average of 6s. 6d. a ton. Last year, they went up by 18s. a ton. They have gone up on thirty different occasions since nationalisation, ten years ago, and, while I do not wish to introduce a controversial element into the debate, I should point out that the dearer coal becomes the greater is the need for efficiency in the use of it. There are, of course, schools of thought in this country, notably among economists, which say that the way to save coal is to make it so dear that it will become scarce, and everybody will have much greater regard to efficiency in the combustion and use of it.

I am not a dear coal "fan". I would have coal as cheap as possible, compatible with good standards in the mines and high wages for miners, in view of the nature of their work and other factors which the House has debated on so many occasions.

There is an increasing urge for greater fuel efficiency in industry and elsewhere, as a result of the many increases in the price of coal and the continuing rise in cost of both coal and oil for industrial fuel purposes. All I say to all my fellow industrialists up and down the country who will need new buildings and installations in the course of the next few years—and they are legion—it is much cheaper, in the long run, to look to combustion appliances and methods of using fuel than to continue, as we have done in the past, to use costly installations and wasteful methods, endeavouring to recover increased costs by raising prices. I claim that this Measure will have a marked effect in conducing to greater industrial efficiency and stabilising prices.

Further, the Bill is exactly in consonance with established Government policy. The House will recall that three years ago, following the Pilkington Com- mittee's findings, the then Minister of Fuel and Power—it is my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) to whom I am referring—arranged that a Government loans scheme should cover fuel efficiency in industry and the cost of insulating buildings, and that such loans should be available to industrialists on favourable terms, for that purpose. That gave the insulation of industrial buildings an official stamp and ring.

Also, it is significant that, in the Finance Act, 1956, investment allowances were specifically retained for industrial fuel efficiency equipment, and they were retained in a separate provision of the Act for industrial insulation capital costs. That has all added to the interest in insulation. Now, by this Bill, we are seeking to make it compulsory in all new factories put up and completed and brought into use after 1958, or such earlier date that the Minister of Power may be able to arrange.

I do not intend to dwell any further upon the risk of fire because I think I dealt adequately with that matter, earlier this morning. It was thought when I first brought the Measure to the House that it would be dangerous, in that it might enhance the risk of factory fires. I think that those fears have now been dispelled. We were all greatly distressed by what occurred at Coventry, by the Jaguar fire—especially are we now, in view of the Le Mans performance last week, when British Jaguar cars led the world. And they were all stock models. I should think that should increase the number of Jaguar cars sold in the United States of America and elsewhere. However, we cannot afford that type of fire in industry, and it is for that reason, in adding the terms of the new Clause to the Bill this morning, we were particularly stringent in dealing with any suggestions that fire risks might be enhanced by this Measure.

I wind up by expressing my appreciation and thanks, first, to 11 Members of this House, six Socialists, and five Tories, who have joined with me in the promotion of this legislation and who have assisted me so greatly in carrying through its various stages.

Secondly, I express my appreciation and gratitude to my noble Friend the Minister of Power, to my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General and to my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power, who have provided so much help of a technical character during the last few months in assisting the passage of this Measure, which is complex, of course; and without the enormous fund of knowledge and experience which reposes in Government Departments in matters of this kind I doubt whether it would have been possible to have evolved such a satisfactory general proposition.

Thirdly, I express my thanks to those professional bodies and industrial undertakings—for it is an industrial matter this—who have joined with me in the last two or three years in devising how best we could give legislative effect to our desires to secure insulation of industrial buildings. I refer to such bodies as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Chartered Institute of Surveyors, the representative manufacturing organisations and the firms and trade bodies connected with them, which are responsible in great part for the manufacture and production of thermal insulating materials.

I hope that the House will give an unopposed Third Reading to the Bill as a constructive and genuine effort to conserve our fuel resources and as a complement to the generally accepted legislation on clean air which we passed earlier in the lifetime of this Parliament.

12.4 p.m.

Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)

As one who, two or three years ago, persuaded this House, on a Private Members' day, to accept a Motion calling attention to the immense importance to the economy and security of this country of conserving its existing fuel resources. I am very glad to give the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) what support I am able to give in getting this quite important and very useful Bill upon the Statute Book.

As a result of the Motion which I moved in the House a few years ago the then Minister of Fuel and Power made an offer to industrialists of loans for improving their thermal installations with a view to conserving heat. I do not think that very much came out of that, for Questions put to him later showed that the response was not quite what one hoped it would have been.

This Bill now goes a step further. It imposes a certain element of compulsion on industry, with adequate safeguards, of course, and with time provided, and insists upon a certain standard of insulation which will have the effect of conserving fuel. The hon. Member for Kidderminster cited a number of figures, but he said that he was unable to get from the Board of Trade the number of superficial feet and cubic content of industrial buildings, so it is very difficult to estimate what will be the result of the provisions of the Bill. I am a little hesitant about accepting figures as estimates of the results of this Bill when it comes into force. Nevertheless, I entirely agree with the hon. Member that it does look as if a quite important contribution will be made by it towards fuel saving, even though we do not know the figures.

But this we do know, that the position in which this country is placed today is such as to make it absolutely vital to do everything we can first to secure adequate fuel resources throughout the world for our expanding industries, and, secondly, to conserve what we can of them, and the two things go together. We have had in the last year a good example of the kind of danger the country faces in depending, and depending to an increasing extent, upon oil lying in the most politically disturbed part of the world. A gentleman called Nasser, in Egypt, can hold us up for months, make us go back to rationing and all that, and it may happen again. Who knows?

Therefore, it is very desirable to look about for all means possible to get, first, the oil here by means other than the Suez Canal and, secondly, to conserve our fuel resources and to use them as efficiently as possible. We have nuclear power coming, which will make an important contribution. Even so, there is still very much room for a Bill of this kind. We have absolutely no right in domestic or industrial heating to waste in any way this enormously valuable raw material for our industries.

The Bill has undergone considerable change since it was introduced. The hon. Member for Kidderminster has been quite wise in agreeing to those changes, in withdrawing the first six Clauses as they were originally drafted and substituting for them those others which we now have in the Bill, because they bring the Bill into line with the Public Health Act, 1936. That was concerned with health factors in domestic and industrial buildings, and it does not cover insulation, but I think it desirable that the Bill, which is an addition to the provisions of the Public Health Act, 1936, should not stand entirely on its own but should be worked into the provisions of the previous Act under which the Minister lays down regulations and local authorities have the duty of enforcing them.

I think it right that the provisions of this Bill should be worked into the framework of existing public administration, both national and local. Therefore, I think the hon. Member was quite right to agree to those modifications which have now been made to the Bill, so that the Bill is a worthy Bill and has the blessing of the Government. I have very great pleasure, as one of the six hon. Members on this side of the House who gave the hon. Member support in promoting this Bill, in asking the House to give it a Third Reading.

12.10 p.m.

Sir L. Joynson-Hicks

I should like to add a few words in commendation of the Bill, not so much to the House because I think the house is already prepared to commend it, but particularly to the industrialists in the outside world. This really is a great day for my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), not only because of the passage of this Bill but because of circumstances which, I understand, have taken place in the West Country. Everybody, I think, is likely to be very happy, at any rate on this side of the House, and I hope that as this is such a non-controversial Bill we shall be happy on both sides of the House.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster not only on his pertinacity in the work that he has done to make the Bill possible before it was printed but particularly on the work he has done in piloting it through the House. It is not always easy to persuade twelve people that their interests are identical, but on this occasion he has succeeded in doing so. I think that he is greatly to be congratulated and thanked on behalf of those people in industry who will benefit when the provisions of the Bill come into operation.

I would say to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) that when he was speaking of days which now seem to me almost a previous incarnation, when I was in a different position, I recalled the efforts that he himself was making to try to gain greater recognition of the benefits and merits of insulation in industrial buildings.

There has undoubtedly been a great deal of mutual feeling throughout the House in order to achieve the results now contained in this Bill. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West dealt with the advantages of the Bill rather from the national standpoint. I should like to stress very shortly indeed that I believe that the advantages are even greater from the individual standpoint of industrialists because the Bill will achieve three things from their point of view: first, economy, second, efficiency, and, third, comfort.

These three things are all very meritorious. Economy will directly result from a saving of fuel consumption in the heating of buildings. We are continuously urging industrialists to reduce their costs of production, and I think that it is gratifying to feel that we here in Parliament have at last taken one step which will enable them to do something towards achieving that object.

So far as efficiency is concerned, the Bill is a fuel saver in that it means that the fuel that is used is used more efficiently and not wasted. It frequently happens, particularly in old buildings, that the amount of heat generated by appliances in order to heat a building passes almost straight through the building and out through the roof. Nothing is so wasteful as burning fuel in order to heat the outside air.

If one is wasteful in that way in a factory, one has generally no incentive not to be wasteful in other ways. We find very often, in practice, that where there is waste in a factory in one way there is automatically an atmosphere in that factory which encourages, or does not discourage, waste in other ways. Therefore, I believe that, simply through the introduction of greater efficiency in this one direction, it will be a very real and practical encouragement to industry as a whole to be more efficient in the operation of its factories in other ways as well.

Thirdly, and by no means less important, is the element of comfort. Draughts are horrible things to sit in, whether one is intent on listening to other people talking or whether one is talking oneself, as we know very well in this Chamber. But they are even worse things to work in if one is in a factory. It is thoroughly bad for people to have to work in a badly ventilated and heated building.

One of the first essentials, which I think everybody now recognises in theory and a very great many people recognise in practice, too, is that if we are to have an efficient factory it must be a happy factory and it cannot be a happy factory unless there is a reasonable and proper standard of comfort for those who are employed in it. The first essential towards a standard of comfort is proper heating and ventilation. The first essential towards proper heating and ventilation is to provide a standard of insulation. I believe that the Bill will help in that direction very considerably indeed.

I am glad that neither my hon. Friend nor the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West claimed that this was a useful little Measure or anything of that sort. I do not believe that it is. I believe that it is a Measure of considerable substance and great importance, because it is the thin edge of the wedge and we shall get to the point, after this Bill has become an Act of Parliament and after it has been in operation for a time, when the standard which will result from the conditions provided under the Bill will become general standards, probably of the minimum quality, which will be recognised throughout industry as a whole both for old and new buildings—and not only throughout industry.

When an industrialist, whether a manager, a director or an employee, learns of the advantages of good insulation in the place where he is working, and when architects learn the advantages of good insulation in the buildings they are putting up, they will be very remarkable people if they do not apply those advantages in their own homes as well. Therefore, I foresee that the effects of the Bill will be to make a very substantial impact upon the efficiency, economy and comfort of our community as a whole, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on having introduced it.

12.19 p.m.

Mr. C. R. Hobson

Very little can usefully be said at this late stage in the passing of this important Bill, but as one of its supporters I should like to add my meed of congratulation to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on the way in which he has taken this Bill through all its stages.

It is not easy to get a Private Member's Bill through this House. There are very few Ten Minutes Rule Bills which reach the Statute Book, but I feel convinced, even in anticipation of what may happen in another place, that this Measure will be placed on the Statute Book. That is a tribute to the way in which it is drafted, apart altogether from the ideas behind it. I am very pleased to speak in this strain because there have been many occasions both in the House and in Committee when the hon. Member for Kidderminster and I have been at daggers drawn. I recall the hours spent in almost violent controversy on the Electricity Act. Nevertheless, on this Measure we all readily agree.

Its main recommendation is that it saves fuel, and anything that we can do to save fuel for the country we should do. We ought to introduce legislation to compel people to save fuel. It will be found from statistics that we shall be short of fuel for many years. That is something that people do not realise because we have all been brought up and taught at school to believe that there is a sufficiency of coal here. We have always been told that there is plenty of coal in the ground and plenty of fish in the sea, but we have been a coal-importing nation now for quite a while, apart from the difficulties that we have experienced with oil.

Apart from the saving of oil and other kinds of fuel, there is an indirect effect of the Bill which will ultimately show itself in the saving on the production of tankers to bring in the fuel. That is a considerable consideration, because the amount of steel-plate which goes into the building of these tankers is something which could be very well used for other essential purposes. This is a useful Bill and I am sure that the House in its wisdom will give it a Third Reading, with the result that by 1959 we shall at least begin constructing factories thermally insulated which will add not only to in- dustrial efficiency but to the comfort of workpeople, which is also essential. I again congratulate the hon. Member for Kidderminster on his success.

12.21 p.m.

Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)

I should like to reinforce what has been said in support of the Third Reading of the Bill, of which I am also one of the sponsors. It has been a disappointment to all of us that the production of coal has been so little increased during the last few years. As everybody knows, the country is a very big importer of oil and unhappily we have so little natural gas that it is not worth speaking about.

The whole fuel situation was very neatly summed up by my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General on 30th April when, speaking of the nuclear programme he said of nuclear stations: By the end of 1965 … these stations should be producing electricity equivalent to that produced from about 18 million tons of coal a year, though in 1965 itself it will be about 14 million tons. So, if we look again at this gap of 60 million tons of coal equivalent in 1965, we have towards it 20 million tons of additional coal, and 14 million tons from nuclear energy—leaving another 26 million tons of coal equivalent to be made up by imported oil. My right hon. Friend added that this would involve an increase of over 50 per cent. on our present imports. He also added that he was speaking of coal equivalent, when, in reply to an interjection by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) he said: I was talking in terms of coal equivalent. A ton of oil works out at 1.7 tons of coal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th April, 1957; Vol. 569, c. 42–3.] Therefore, it is common ground between all of us that the need for fuel conservation is very great indeed. That means that the more efficiently we use all the available sources of fuel and power the better. There is, furthermore, a constantly rising demand, at the rate of about 10 per cent. per annum in arithmetical progression. In those circumstances, it must be agreed that we simply cannot afford any waste whatsoever and any Measure which the House can produce which will avoid waste is obviously to the good.

It was said earlier that about nine out of ten of even the new factories built last year have no satisfactory thermal insulation. It is with that in mind that this Measure is now passing through its Third Reading. It is a matter of regret to me, and undoubtedly to some other hon. Members on both sides of the House, that the rather more ambitious ideas which my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster had earlier are not able to be carried out fully. The reasons for that are clear to all of us, but the result of those ideas not being included in the Bill is that the saving is not anything like as great as some of us had originally hoped it might be. Nevertheless it is very worth while indeed.

The possible saving estimated, at a reasonable guess today, is between 150,000 tons and 200,000 tons of coal a year which, roughly speaking, is the amount that can be dug in one year by 600 to 700 miners working on the basis of 300 tons a year per man. Not so long ago this country was a fuel exporter. It is now a very heavy fuel importer and therefore the contribution that the Bill will make towards the solving of our balance of payments problem is of real importance.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks) spoke about the importance of increased comfort for those who worked in factories. This is something to which too little attention has been paid in the past. In the great majority of factories in these days there are extremes of temperature, too darned hot in one half and too darned cold in another, with draughts as well. Greater comfort and better working conditions for those at the factory bench will result in more production at lower costs in happier circumstances, and efficient low-cost production is the key to our industrial future and indeed to the raising of the standard of living in this country.

If the Bill makes a contribution, and not such a modest contribution at that, to that end it will have performed a very useful function. In new factories men and women will be working in conditions not dissimilar to those in this Chamber, where we enjoy the benefits of what has been described as a cool spring day, be it hot or cold outside. That others should enjoy working conditions as good as those we enjoy here seems to me a perfectly reasonable suggestion.

To heat a new factory properly and then fail to give it proper thermal insulation is just as stupid as to go to bed in an icy cold room with no central heating and use hot water bottles with no sheets or blankets on the bed. The hot water bottles would not remain hot for very long in those circumstances. Heating without thermal insulation, thus allowing up to 50 per cent. of the heat to escape, is like going to bed with hot water bottles and then failing to put any covers on the bed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster is to be sincerely congratulated on bringing in a pioneer Bill of this kind which may well provide a model for many other countries. I regard the Measure, as do other hon. Members, as very sensible and well-thought-out and as having been very well-piloted indeed. I therefore congratulate my hon. Friend on his successful work, on the tenacious way in which he has set about it, and on the able way in which he has guided the Bill through the House.

12.30 p.m.

Mr. E. Johnson

I am glad to take the opportunity also briefly to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on his enterprise in introducing this extremely valuable Bill, and on the way he has brought it to this stage.

The Bill is of a somewhat technical character, but even to one who is not expert in those matters it is obvious that it does some important things. Perhaps the most important is that it saves fuel, as it undoubtedly will do on an immense scale. It will thereby save the country millions of pounds in the cost of imported fuel at a time when that is so vital to our economy. The Bill will reduce the costs of production to industry where this Measure is put into effect in the new factories, and thereby it will also increase our opportunities of selling our exports abroad in what is becoming a highly competitive world. Also, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) said, it will add much to improved comfort in factories, in which there is a great deal of room for improvement.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks) pointed out, if that is done in factories it will have the further effect of encouraging people to take similar steps in their own houses. I do not know the figure, but I believe it to be a fact that every year millions of pounds go up in smoke in our traditional open fire places. Few of the older houses in this country are free from draughts, and I believe that the Bill will have the effect of removing that discomfort.

The other thing one hopes it will do will be to prevent disastrous fires such as that which took place at the Jaguar works and the one which took place earlier at a works in Crewe. Undoubtedly, the Jaguar fire would not have taken place on the scale it did if this Bill had become law some years ago and the factory had been built according to the specifications provided by the Bill. There was no doubt that it was a disaster, although the firm made an astonishing recovery. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster said about the great success of that firm not only at Le Mans, but in the way it recovered from the disaster and turned out new models with astonishing rapidity.

It is, therefore, not in the least surprising that my hon. Friend has had the co-operation of hon. Members on both sides of the House and also of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power and of my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. He is to be greatly congratulated on what he has done, and the best way to congratulate him and to show our appreciation is to give the Bill an unopposed Third Reading.

12.34 p.m.

Mr. Renton

I want to join with those hon. Members on both sides of the House who have congratulated my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on his initiative in introducing this Bill and also, if I may say so, upon the most able and co-operative way in which he has piloted it. Needless to say, on behalf of the Government I commend the Bill to the House and I hope that it will have a smooth and rapid passage through another place.

As has been said, this Bill is a valuable step forward towards the better use of fuel. In the discussion we have had, Mr. Speaker, you have been good enough to allow hon. Members to describe the background to the Bill, and it is, indeed, necessary for us to bear that in mind. The Bill has—one cannot get away from it—a somewhat limited object. It applies to the thermal insulation of new industrial buildings, but of its kind it is a pioneer effort, and one hopes that it may point the way to further efforts towards fuel efficiency and fuel economy. In saying that, I hope I will not be held to indicate that a great deal of legislation is necessary. There are various steps short of legislation which can do much in that direction.

For example, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) rightly said that we should encourage people to take similar steps in their own homes. I fully agree, and last year I had the pleasure of opening an exhibition at the building centre which was built around the theme—and there was a pamphlet which bore this title, "Make your homes cosier in winter." There is so much that can be done not only to achieve greater comfort but, in doing so, to find that one can do with less fuel than one has been in the habit of using.

It is interesting to speculate how much fuel this Measure will save. What are likely to be the practical results of the Bill? As I understand, and based on information supplied by the National Industrial Fuel Efficiency Service, my hon. Friend has said that it is likely to save 170,000 tons of coal equivalent in the first full year of operation, and that this is likely to increase as the years go on and be an impressive cumulative total. That may well be so. The truth is that nobody can tell with complete accuracy and certainty.

I should point out, however, that my hon. Friend's estimate of 170,000 tons a year in the first year, increasing later, makes no allowance for those buildings which would have to be exempted under the Bill, or for buildings which, in any event, would have been insulated by voluntary action on the part of the building owners if this Bill had never been passed. Nevertheless, do not let us quarrel about that; do not let us quarrel as to whether this Bill will produce a splendid result or a very splendid result. It is a Bill worth having from every point of view.

I do not know whether my hon. Friend was trying to bait me when he mentioned, for example, coal prices, a cheap coal policy and a dear coal policy. All I wish to say about that is that I would have thought the criterion which my hon. Friend himself applied to the price of coal is the one which is being followed by the National Coal Board. What he said was that the price of coal should be sufficient to cover wages and other costs and to ensure the solvency of the industry, and that is what the prices are based on.

My hon. Friend also referred to the clean air legislation in which, it is well to remind ourselves, he also played a notable part in using his initiative with the Government of the day. We can all agree that clean air and fuel efficiency are Siamese twins. They stand still together or they move forward together. What this Bill perhaps does is to give a bit of power to the elbow of that member of the Siamese twins which is labelled "fuel efficiency."

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) referred to the fact that several years ago he had suggested that there should be loans for securing fuel efficiency, if I understood him rightly.

Mr. Philips Price

What I said was that as a result of the Motion which the House accepted from me the Minister proposed to give loans to industrialists for this purpose. I think that something was done about it.

Mr. Renton

A lot has been done. I think that in his speech the hon. Gentleman indicated that not enough has been done, but what has been done is impressive. These are loans interest-free for two years, although there are certain conditions which obviously have to be satisfied as to the ability of the borrower to repay. Also, there is necessarily a means test. If the person or undertaking has sufficient capital or cash in hand to do the work, loans would not be granted. Bearing those things in mind, I think that it is good that, so far, £4 million have been advanced. It is interesting to note that very few of the loans advanced have been for structural insulation of factory buildings, which the Bill will cover. In fact, we have had only about fifty such loans, and the total amount involved is about £50,000.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks), whom I venerate as my predecessor in office, referred to three important and, in a sense, separate factors—economy, efficiency and comfort. Comfort was also referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish). We ought to get our minds clear about this. For many years now the necessary standards of comfort in factories have been assured under the Factories Acts. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, whose Department still has some responsibility in regard to the Factories Acts, will no doubt bear me out when I say that the standards of heating, both minimum and maximum, and the standards of ventilation which have to be obtained in factories are governed by the Factories Acts.

The Bill will not, in any event, vary those standards, and to that extent it may fairly be said that the Bill will not necessarily increase comfort; but what the Bill will do is to ensure that the standards of comfort which by law have to be obtained will be obtained by means of greater economy in the use of fuel.

Sir L. Joynson-Hicks

Perhaps I might suggest that the standards will be obtained in a more comfortable way.

Mr. Renton

That may well be so. I will not dispute that with my hon. Friend.

I have dealt with the principal points which hon. Members have raised today. However, one or two points arose in Committee, and when they arose I felt obliged to intervene to assist the Committee, and I gave undertakings to look into one or two matters. I hope, Mr. Speaker, you will give me a small amount of indulgence just to mention those points.

First, there is the question of the sanction provided by this Bill. This is not a Bill which creates new criminal penalties, and about that we can all rejoice. It will be enforceable as follows. If a building which is erected fails to comply with the prescribed standard, those who erected it may be compelled to pull it down provided that they are ordered to do so within twelve months of erection.

It was that limitation of twelve months which was questioned in Committee. It is a period which is used in relation to the building byelaws procedure under the Public Health Act, and it has been found to be the right period in practice, and we observe it not only for the sake of continuity and consistency but also because we think it is necessary to have a limitation of time of about that length. Therefore, I hope that hon. Members will feel that there is nothing wrong in having that limitation.

The Bill presents a sanction which has only to be placed on the Statute Book for it never to be used. Obviously, people will be so afraid of having money thrown away by being compelled to pull down an expensive building that they will take very good care to ensure that the building complies with the prescribed standard. Therefore, although the sanction is there, we hope that the fact that it is there will in itself be sufficient to ensure compliance and that this somewhat unpleasant sanction will, consequently, never have to be used.

Two Scottish hon. Members who were on the Standing Committee have apologised for their inability to be here today. Out of respect to them, I think I ought to mention why it is that my noble Friend the Minister of Power is made solely responsible, and not jointly with the Secretary of State for Scotland, for drawing up regulations under the Bill. The answer is a simple and straightforward one which I trust the House will accept.

The Minister of Fuel and Power under the 1945 Act, from which his authority is derived, has a general responsibility for co-ordinating fuel and power matters and for ensuring fuel efficiency and fuel economy throughout Great Britain, which includes Scotland. The only way in which that power is limited is under those statutes which deal with electricity in Scotland. The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and the South of Scotland Electricity Board both come under the Secretary of State, but other Scottish matters come under the Minister of Power. For example, my noble Friend appoints the Scottish Gas Board. There is a Scottish Division of the National Coal Board, and my noble Friend has an overall responsibility for helping those who are trying to achieve fuel efficiency in Scotland.

There is a further reason why it should be the Minister of Power and not the Secretary of State who should have the responsibility for making regulations under the Bill, and that is that in the Ministry of Power we have a number of fuel engineers and other experts who are the best and most appropriate people for taking part in the consultations which will precede the regulations and, finally, for drawing up the regulations. The Secretary of State for Scotland would either have to take advice from outside or add to his staff if that responsibility were placed upon him.

With all those factors in mind, after very careful consideration, and with the greatest deference to those north of the Border, it has been decided that the Minister of Power should be the responsible Minister under the Bill.

We all hope that this country will have the power which it needs to increase the standard of living, to provide for increased industrial production and for everything to which we have looked forward in the years to come but our success in obtaining it will depend mainly upon following an old American maxim, "It is what you do with what you have got that counts." We have to make the best possible use of our own indigenous coal supplies, and to do so for the rest of our lifetime. It is because the Bill will help us to make a better use of those supplies than we are doing that we are grateful to my hon. Friend and glad to commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.