HC Deb 15 January 1975 vol 884 cc447-8
23. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now consider extending home improvement grants to include the installation of insulation schemes.

Mr. Freeson

The Housing Act 1974 requires as a condition of issue of an improvement grant that a property must conform to prescribed standards of insulation. Grant is not available specially for this purpose but the cost of insulation should pay for itself through savings on fuel.

Mr. Steel

Does the Minister accept that this should be a matter for the Department of Energy as well and that if we are to have a comprehensive energy conservation policy it makes sense to encourage people to save fuel by insulating their homes more effectively?

Mr. Freeson

I certainly accept the general point that the hon. Gentleman has put forward. All that we are doing in this matter, not only in connection with improvement grants policy but in other respects too, is being done in very close consultation indeed with the Department of Energy. There is an interdepartmental advisory committee on this very aspect as well as others connected with it.

Mr. Rost

Is it not time that the Government stopped talking about this and got on with it, in view of the fact that our insulation standards are about the worst in Europe? The urgent need to save energy could be partly satisfied by giving discretionary improvement grants for existing homes.

Mr. Freeson

I do not accept that it is necessary to pay out public money for the purpose, but I accept that there is a need to increase insulation standards in this country. This has been advocated for a long time, but it is the present Government who have taken action to improve insulation standards.