HC Deb 14 November 1977 vol 939 cc7-8
5. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what plans he has for improving the Save It campaign.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Dr. John Cunningham)

The Save It publicity campaign forms an essential part of the Government's developing energy conservation programme, which has achieved significant energy savings. The campaign, whose present phase highlights the need to avoid energy waste and shows how to save energy, will be developed in the light of continuing research.

Mr. Arnold

Since the net savings might be considerable, why have no additional allowances been made available to local authorities or private builders in order to improve thermal insulation levels?

Dr. Cunningham

I do not see what that has to do with the Save It publicity campaign. If the hon. Gentleman would like to put a Question down about it, perhaps I can give him the details of that.

Mr. Cartwright

Will my hon. Friend agree that, even though this may not have a direct link with the Save It campaign, dramatic improvements in energy conservation could be secured if we had a sensible level of insulation in local authority housing? Could he tell us how his discussions with the Department of the Environment have been progressing on this important issue?

Dr. Cunningham

The view of the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) is totally misconceived, because he regards the Save It campaign, which is a publicity campaign, as the Government's energy conservation policy, which clearly it is not.

As for my hon. Friend's point, it is quite right to say that both in public sector and in private sector housing we can save a significant amount of energy by insulation and other measures, such as draughtproofing and the lagging of hot water tanks, and, as my hon. Friend is aware, these matters are under consideration.

Mr. Rost

Is not the answer from the Under-Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove typically complacent, and does not it show a complete ignorance of the real problem? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that this is the only country in the European Community that does not provide incentives for domestic thermal insulation?

Dr. Cunningham

I think that the ignorance was wholly on the part of the hon. Member for Hazel Grove in making a complete confusion between a publicity campaign and the Government's conservation policies. There is also, apparently, considerable confusion on the part of Opposition Back Benchers as a whole, who are now apparently yet again calling for massive public expenditure at a time when their Front Bench is continually calling for reductions in public expenditure. As for financial assistance being available, considerable assistance is already available. It is a fact that the hon. Gentleman's friends in Tory-controlled local authorities will not get on and utilise it.