HC Deb 04 August 1975 vol 897 cc16-7
15. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the progress of the Government's energy conservation programme.

Mr. Eadie

The Government's energy conservation programme continues to progress and the figures for energy consumption this year provide grounds for encouragement. The publicity campaign is continuing with increasing emphasis on advice to industry for which a pamphlet will shortly be published.

My right hon. Friend will now be taking into account the recommendations he has received from his Advisory Council on Energy Conservation and looks forward to reading the report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

Mr. Rost

When will the Government stop tinkering with energy conservation matters and give them a higher priority? If the Government can find £1 billion to nationalise North Sea oil and can find a further £1 billion to set up the BNOC, why cannot they find relatively small sums to indulge in constructive capital investment in fuels which will produce a more rational energy use and bring a positive return to the national economy?

Mr. Eadie

If the hon. Gentleman will not believe the Government's reply on this subject, perhaps he will believe the evidence in the large industries concerned which have made substantial savings in energy conservation. That is the important fact, and the evidence can be examined. The hon. Gentleman will know that there is a scheme covering grants and loans which is of assistance to industry. Nevertheless having heard the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, and remembering that he fought the last election on a freedom platform, I am beginning to conclude that he sees the conservation campaign being achieved only by the introduction of the most Draconian measures.

Mr. Michael Marshall

Will the Minister confirm that among the energy conservation measures which should commend themselves to the House are long-term contracts such as those between the British Gas Corporation and ICI? Will he take the opportunity, since the Secretary of State for Energy would not do so, to apologise to, in addition to the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), the Chairman of the British Gas Corporation for the partial, selective and misleading information he gave to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries? Will he tell the House whether he agrees that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is slipping badly even in his new job?

Mr. Eadie

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend is "slipping badly" but certainly the hon. Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall) must have defective hearing. His supplementary question was answered previously by my right hon. Friend. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman has to pose a point which has already been answered.