HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 cc650-1
4. Mr. Sackville

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what steps his Department has taken since 17 February to promote energy saving by industrial firms.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. David Hunt)

The Energy Efficiency Year campaign has continued to gather momentum. In the last three weeks my Department has contributed to a wide range of seminars and exhibitions, including major events in Manchester, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Wakefield, Cambridge, Sheffield and Cardiff. In addition, demand for the services offered by the Energy Efficiency Office has continued to increase. Overall, the action stimulated by the office so far is leading to savings of at least half a billion pounds a year in industry and commerce.

Mr. Sackville

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his Department's efforts towards achieving energy efficiency, but is he aware that manufacturing companies which invest in anti-pollutant thermal oxydisers, which recover energy from solvents and other fumes emitted from their processes, are forced to pay a tax on all the energy recovered? As that represents a disincentive to the installation of energy-saving equipment, does that not contradict the Department's campaign, and will he make the necessary representations to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Hunt

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern, but I stress that the duty on recycled solvents is very low—0.77p a litre. That figure has been unchanged now for five years. The duty has only a slight effect on the economics of installing thermal oxydisers, and to exempt users of recycled solvents would be unfair to the users of competing fuels. I shall, of course, mention his points to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

Mr. Speller

Will my hon. Friend give the House something more concrete than round billions of pounds? Can he give us any idea of what the savings will be for the first full year in terms of percentage of use or actual direct money rather than a nebulous round figure?

Mr. Hunt

My Department has been delighted at the tremendous upsurge in applications for energy surveys. From survey reports received to date, measures have been identified that will save £160 million a year. That is equivalent to the total energy bill for industry and commerce in Devon and Cornwall.