HC Deb 20 January 1975 vol 884 cc996-7
5. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied that his recently-announced measures will conserve as much oil as he has envisaged.

Mr. John Smith

As my right hon. Friend made clear at the time, it is not possible to estimate with any precision the energy saving flowing from the interim package which he announced on 9th December. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that these measures can make a valuable contribution, and he intends to extend and reinforce them in future.

Mr. Adley

Is not the Minister aware that the position of rural dwellers as first highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Hicks) must be compared with the comfortable conditions of city office workers and people with oil central heating who live in a comparatively warm temperature of 68 degrees which is considered by the Government to be adequate? Will not the hon. Gentleman realise that the country faces an economic crisis because of the oil situation and that unless the Department sets an example and takes firm action we shall not save as much oil as we otherwise would?

Mr. Smith

In common with many who have criticised the Government's energy-saving campaign, the hon. Gentleman has not put forward one single constructive suggestion.

Mr. Adley

Sixty-eight degrees!

Mr. Smith

In civil offices and defence offices the Government have in hand a programme of energy conservation. The House would benefit if hon. Gentlemen, in considering the Government's proposals, while by all means criticising them, at the same time put forward constructive suggestions.

Mr. Lipton

Does my hon. Friend have any figures showing the extent to which the cause of oil conservation is being supported by the inhabitants of Christchurch and Lymington? Are they backing Britain in that part of the world?

Mr. Smith

That is perhaps a question for the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) to answer. There is a serious aspect to this matter. Everybody must co-operate in the energy-saving programme, and the Government are about to embark upon an extensive publicity campaign so that everybody at home and in an industrial capacity can get together to save the maximum amount of energy, which costs us so much at the moment.

Mr. Charles Morrison

While expensive publicity campaigns may be all very well, if the Government are really serious about the need to conserve energy should they not cut down the amount of lighting on motorways? It is ridiculous to have lighting the whole way from the outskirts of London to Maidenhead on the M4.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman referred to an expensive energy-saving campaign. We hope that the energy-saving campaign which we are about to promote will give value for money. If it can attract considerable savings and produce the right public spirit, it will he money well spent. The lighting of roadways involves my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport, and there are different considerations here. We must balance road safety with energy saving.