HC Deb 16 June 1986 vol 99 c746
7. Mr. Tony Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what plans he has to promote the development of energy audits targeted on low income households.

Mr. David Hunt

The energy efficiency office continues to work on the development of home energy audits at a price that householders can afford.

Mr. Lloyd

Is not the question of the price that householders can afford the whole point? As I understand it, the pilot heat scheme has not been a great success precisely because people on low incomes cannot afford to pay for the energy audit. If we are to recognise the problems that that will cause this winter of deaths and of people who suffer greatly, would it not be sensible if we were to offer a free energy audit under, for example, the home insulation scheme, or must we wait for more bad headlines this winter and a change of Government?

Mr. Hunt

That question gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous impact made by the homes insulation scheme and its importance to overall energy efficiency. Under the homes insulation scheme 90 per cent. grants were introduced by this Government in 1980 and have so far helped over 300,000 elderly or disabled householders on low incomes to insulate their lofts and tanks. I highlight for the hon. Gentleman's attention the recently published monergy guide, which can be used as a basic but comprehensive do-it-yourself home energy audit. As I said earlier, we continually stress the importance of voluntary sector insulation projects. They have already insulated over 170,000 homes and expect to do a further 60,000 by the end of 1986. This is a speedy and effective way to get through to the people who need such help most.

Mr. Michael Morris

My hon. Friend will know that the trial energy audit schemes were not a success. As this is such an important subject, is there not a strong case for trying to target on new private and public sector houses so that at least we can start something positive?

Mr. Hunt

I agree with my hon. Friend. It is sad that that heat audit was not a success, but I defend my Department's participation in it because it was important to monitor its effect. My hon. Friend is right: the major focus of attention must be on new buildings.