HC Deb 09 February 1984 vol 53 cc1010-1
9. Mr. Speller

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider relief from taxation on money spent on active and passive energy saving measures.

Mr. Moore

Relief is already available in appropriate circumstances for expenses incurred for the purpose of a business.

Mr. Speller

Is my hon. Friend aware that over the past four years the amount of cash paid out by the Treasury on fuel supplements has escalated from £150 million to £350 million compared with a mere £40 million of grant paid on loft insulation? Would it not be both logical and humane to allow more money to be spent by the individual who makes his own home more energy efficient, instead of spending vast sums on an ever-increasing scale?

Mr. Moore

I know that my hon. Friend is a distinguished member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy. Without wishing in any way to pre-empt my right hon. Friend's Budget, I do not believe that tax relief is a suitable way of encouraging such measures. The value of the relief is likely to vary according to personal circumstances, and in a world of high energy costs it is in the interests of individuals to carry out their own energy efficient investments. Where help is provided to those in particular need, clearly the fuel subsidies are beneficial to those people in helping them to cover the economic cost of fuel. I should have thought that grants from the Department of the Environment were the best way to help energy efficiency schemes.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Would not the Minister save a lot of money if he spent a little more on alternative energy sources and on an investigation into those sources? I believe that the Government spend about £12 million at the moment, which is about what the expenses bill will come to for the people who are giving evidence at the Sizewell inquiry. Is that not a scandal?

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman should address that question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. However, I know from my previous involvement in this subject that the hon. Gentleman might be interested to look at the data for his own Government's period of office, when an insignificant amount of money was spent on alternative energy sources, as opposed to the very large amounts of money that are being spent currently. The amount of money spent in this way has increased enormously during this Government's period of office.

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