HC Deb 03 November 1980 vol 991 cc934-5
Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on progress in energy conservation, with particular reference to petroleum in motor vehicles.

Mr. John Moore

Total primary energy consumption for the six month period March to August was about 8 per cent. below the level of last year. Oil consumption was down by 12 per cent.; petrol consumption was down by 0.1 per cent.

Mr. Chapman

Is my hon. Friend aware that those figures are to be warmly welcomed, especially the belated changing trend in petrol consumption? Does he agree that British Leyland deserves the thanks of the nation for producing the Metro, with its superb increased performance in miles per gallon?

Mr. Moore

It would be well for us all to compliment the Metro and to wish it well. It would be right and proper, in an impartial sense, to wish well to all fuel-efficient vehicles produced in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Does the Minister agree that one reason why there has been a reduction in energy consumption is the recession, and not conservation? Is it not unwise for the Government to charge British industry the world price for North Sea oil? Would it not be better to charge a lower price and have a two-tier system? Although that might not lead to energy conservation, it might enable British industry to compete more effectively with its overseas competitors.

Mr. Moore

I know, Mr. Speaker, that you prefer Ministers to answer one question at a time. My answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is that it is legitimate and fair to say that the recession is a factor in the reduction in energy consumption, but, equally, I do not think that anyone would deny that there has been considerable success in energy conservation programmes. I stress, as I always try to do from the Dispatch Box when given the opportunity, that these are long-term programmes that will have a long-term impact. We should not seek short-term instant results.

Mr. Ashton

Are the Government aware that the Labour Party also welcomes the Mini Metro? As the Government are so enthusiastic about the way in which the Mini Metro saves money, will they get the Ministry of Transport, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Department of Energy to do something about vehicle excise duty, so that the bigger gas-guzzling cars pay more tax? We proposed that in our manifesto, but the Government dropped the idea.

Mr. Moore

I shall ensure that the hon. Gentleman's words are conveyed to the Departments to which they are addressed.

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