HC Deb 15 July 1985 vol 83 cc9-10
10. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what requests for information have been received by the Energy Efficiency Office from local authorities regarding capital investment in energy-saving measures.

Mr. David Hunt

Local authorities have achieved a great deal, but there is considerable scope for further improvement. The Energy Efficiency Office has had some requests for information about the provision of additional funds for energy efficiency.

Mr. Beith

How can local authorities make the energy efficiency improvements which will really help their tenants if they cannot spend capital on doing so? Would not the most practical contribution that the Government could make in this area be a relaxation of the capital restraints on local authorities spending money which they already have in the bank from the sale of council houses, in order to improve the energy efficiency of their properties? Will the Department take the initiative in ensuring that that is done?

Mr. Hunt

Within existing limits, considerable savings can be achieved by local authorities with only modest investment. I hope that, in 1986, which will be energy efficiency year, there will be a substantial increase in this area.

Mr. Forman

Is the Department taking steps to encourage the production of energy from the combustion of domestic and commercial waste? What progress is being made in that direction?

Mr. Hunt

The answer is yes. My hon. Friend is right to highlight the considerable scope for improvement in the burning of domestic and animal waste and in the general area of biomass. That featured largely in our recent statement about the allocation of research and development funds for the coming year.

Mr. Rowlands

Is not the simplest form of energy efficiency for householders, whether tenants or owner-occupiers, the home insulation grant? Is the Minister aware that in 1983–84 there was a 33 per cent. reduction in such grants in Wales alone, which has been mirrored in other areas? Would it not be better to give maximum encouragement to home insulation grants?

Mr. Hunt

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the history in this area is of an underspend. However, according to the latest figures, there is clear evidence of a substantial take-up of those grants. I hope that this area of funding will be fully spent this year.