HC Deb 03 May 1976 vol 910 cc823-4
12. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what progress has been made towards the introduction of legislation to encourage domestic energy savings in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Oakes

Enabling legislation exists in the Fuel and Electricity (Control) Act 1973. Similar powers have been proposed in the Energy Bill, recently introduced in another place. But the Government are not at present contemplating the introduction of statutory controls of domestic energy use. We prefer to rely on voluntary effort related to realistic pricing and helped by the provision of information on the financial advantages of energy saving.

Mr. Hannam

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a great opportunity has been missed in the new Energy Bill, in that measures are not introduced aimed at achieving a solution to the major cause of energy wastage, which is the lack of proper building insulation in this country? Is he aware that Britain is bottom of the European league in measures designed to achieve a solution to this great problem?

Mr. Oakes

Building insulation is one of the many matters that we are examining, but we have no immediate intention to introduce legislation on it. With refer- ence to what happened in the other place in regard to the powers that we were taking to control the use of energy, perhaps I may add that I hope that we shall have the hon. Gentleman's support, and that of his hon. Friends, when we seek to put those powers back in the Bill when it reaches this House.

Mr. Powell

Does the Minister agree that the public and all concerned are perfectly capable of adapting themselves to variations in price and can be hindered in doing this efficiently only by attempts at legislation and bureaucratic interference?

Mr. Oakes

The legislation, as contemplated, does not deal with that aspect of the matter. I repeat that when the Bill reaches this House we shall seek to put back those powers with regard to energy conservation which were taken out.

Mr. Palmer

Does my hon. Friend realise that he has just given an answer that appears to suggest that the Government have already rejected one of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Science and Technology for energy conservation legislation? In these circumstances, is it not imperative—I ask this as Chairman of the Select Committee—that we have the White Paper fairly soon?

Mr. Oakes

I hope that I have not misled the House. I assure my hon. Friend that it is not the case that we have so far rejected anything that the Select Committee has put before us. I was asked whether immediate legislation was envisaged. As I think I said in reply to another supplementary question, we are looking at the recommendations of the Select Committee, together with other recommendations, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will soon be in a position to make an announcement.