HC Deb 13 June 1988 vol 135 cc6-7
4. Mr. Hind

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what will be the key priorities for energy efficiency in the next decade; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I recently announced that the energy efficiency office is entering a fresh phase. It will run a targeted regional service of advice and support for industry and commerce. At the same time it will continue to help the domestic consumer, through the community insulation programme and research into energy efficiency in housing.

Mr. Hind

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the major initiative taken by the building societies to promote energy efficiency among home owners is a major contribution towards energy efficiency in this country?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. I put the proposition to the building societies about four months ago and said that this was something that we could do together. What particularly pleased me was the reaction of the Building Societies Association and the fact that all the major building societies are now taking part.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

Will the Minister confirm that the fresh phase for the energy efficiency office is a cut in the budget from £24 million to £15 million and that there is to be no major promotional advertising campaign by the office in the following year? Is the Minister telling the House that energy surveys are no longer necessary because people have somehow magically learnt the lessons that the energy efficiency office was set up to teach?

Mr. Morrison

I can confirm that the campaigns of the energy efficiency office will be specifically targeted. The success of the monergy campaign has been such that I believe that the general message has got across. There is awareness in industry, commerce and the domestic household of the need for and the advantages of saving energy. As for the survey schemes, half of those who have taken them up say that they would have done it anyway, without any input from the taxpayer. That seems to be a wrong use of taxpayers' money, so there will therefore be a reduction in the use of taxpayers' money for that purpose.

Mr. Rost

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the biggest contribution to improved energy efficiency over the next decade can come from improved thermal efficiency in electricity production—from the present 35 per cent. that is achievable for electricity-only production to the 80 per cent. potential that is achievable when heat that would otherwise be wasted is used?

Mr. Morrison

I note what my hon. Friend says about combined heat and power, and we take it very seriously. The benefits that will result from competition in a privatised industry will lead to improved efficiency.

Mr. John Garrett

Does the Minister accept that the Opposition are stunned and overjoyed to read of the honour that has recently been conferred upon him? However, does he agree that he is not being entirely frank with the House, in that there is to be a cut of one third in his Department's expenditure on energy saving programmes next year, and more the year after, and that this is hardly the time to embark on such a cut? A recent EEC study shows that Britain has made virtually no progress on energy saving since 1983. I am sure that the Minister has read the report. Does he agree that getting building societies to hand out a few leaflets is not the way to mount a major initiative on energy saving?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman knows that at this time of year all Departments of State negotiate with the Treasury. To anticipate the outcome of those negotiations would be wholly to mislead the House. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not more effusive in his praise of the building societies' initiative. It will reach millions of householders and potential householders who in the past did not have such a checklist before them.

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