HC Deb 08 December 1980 vol 995 cc611-2
9. Mr. Jim Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement on the need for energy conservation measures in the home.

24. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether tie will take steps to encourage consumers in the United Kingdom to install insulation, solar heating and other energy saving or energy creating methods.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. John Moore)

The best incentive for householders to use energy efficiently is realistic pricing of fuels, coupled with a vigorous information and advice campaign. We have increased expenditure on publicity by 30 per cent. in real terms, and backed this with research to identify additional steps which may become cost-effective.

Mr. Marshall

Is not that reply somewhat hypocritical at a time when real expenditure on home insulation grants is decreasing? Will the Minister urge the Secretary of State to confer with the Secretary of State for the Environment, in order to increase those grants, both to assist the comsumer in the long term and to improve employment prospects in the glass-fibre industry?

Mr. Moore

I do not think it in the least hypocritical to face the reality of the difficulty of allocating a rare resource such as public expenditure. To the extent that, in an ideal world, it would be pleasant to be able to fill all grant needs and all grant requirements, obviously I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but to the extent that it is in householders' and tenants' interests to invest in energy conservation methods, one hopes that they will be able to do it with their own funds.

Mr. Jessel

If people wore an extra layer of clothing, such as an extra vest or an extra sweater, not only in homes, but in offices, shops and factories, might there not be a massive saving in fuel?

Mr. Moore

I am sure that my hon. Friend will have been delighted to notice the attractive sweater that the Secretary of State is wearing—clearly to draw that point to the attention of his ministerial colleagues at the IEA meeting later today.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Minister aware that what is required is not more money for publicity, but more money for insulation grants? Is he aware also that the murderous assault by the Secretary of State for the Environment on the housing investment programme is totally undermining the Government's programme for domestic insulation?

Mr. Moore

No one would deny that investment in insulation—in energy efficiency, in that sense—is cost-effective. The only question that seems to be at issue is: who is to foot the bill for the investment—the State or the individual? I think that all of us, on both sides of the House, recognising the priorities for public expenditure, would expect people to do this themselves, as it is in their long-term interests to do so, and that decisions which they themselves take about their long-term investment would be much more effective and genuine and would lead in the long term to changed demand patterns. Investment comes better from the individual than from the State.

Mr. Banks

When does my hon. Friend expect to introduce standards for new housing, to ensure that adequate insulation measures are incorporated?

Mr. Moore

That is a matter for the Department of the Environment, which is still involved in the process of consultation. We have been involved in that process. We expect improved insulation standards to be recommended when the DOE document finally sees the light of day.

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