HC Deb 06 April 1989 vol 150 cc367-407

'. The Director shall have a duty to promote the efficiency and conservation of energy and in carrying out that duty shall in particular—

  1. (a) ensure that public electricity suppliers take such active steps as, in his opinion, are reasonable to maximise energy efficiency and conservation; and
  2. (b) set annual targets for improvement in energy efficiency for public electricity suppliers which he shall publish and on the attainment of which he shall report to the Secretary of State'.—[Mr. Blair.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.17 pm
Mr. Tony Blair (Sedgefield)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 12—The Deputy Director General of Electricity Supply for Energy Conservation—

'. —(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint an officer to be known as the Deputy Director General of Electricity Supply for Energy Conservation (in this Act referred to as the Deputy Director for Conservation) the purpose of carrying out functions relating to energy conservation and efficiency.

(2) The Deputy Director for Conservation shall have a duty to exercise the functions assigned to him by this Part in the manner which he considers is best calculated to secure—

  1. (a) that all functions relating to the supply, generation and transmission of electricity are carried out in a manner that requires the most efficient use of electricity;
  2. (b) that all functions relating to the supply, generation and transmission of electricity are carried out in a manner that requires the conservation of energy;
  3. (c) that no new plant is developed unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the Deputy Director for Conservation that the required capacity cannot be met by additional measures of efficiency or conservation.

(3) An appointment of a person to hold office as the Deputy Director for Conservation shall be for a term not exceeding five years; but previous appointment to that office shall not affect eligibility for re-appointment.

(4) The Secretary of State may remove any person from office as Deputy Director for Conservation on the grounds of incapacity or misbehaviour.

(5) Subject to sub-sections (3) and (4) above, the Deputy Director for Conservation shall hold and vacate office as such in accordance with the terms of his appointment.

(6) The provisions of Schedule 1 to this Act relating to the director shall have effect with respect to the Deputy Director for Conservation.'

New clause 14—Environmental Duties— The Secretary of State and the Director shall each have a duty to exercise the functions assigned to him in this part in a manner which is best calculated to preserve, protect and improve the environment and to this effect shall place on all licence holders a duty:

  1. (i) to achieve target improvements, which shall be set annually, in the efficient use of energy;
  2. (ii) to achieve target reductions, which shall be set annually, in pollution.

Amendment No. 117, in clause 7 page 6, line 17, at end, insert— '(c) such conditions as the Director may determine which enable the holder of a licence to conform to pollution legislation through:—

  1. (i) energy efficiency measures;
  2. (ii) the expansion of alternative renewable generating sources;
  3. (iii) a system determined by the Director which allows one licence holder to offset the reduction requirements of another licence holder.'.

Amendment No. 124, in clause 8 page 7, line 4, alter 'supplier', insert '(a)'.

Amendment No. 126., in clause 8 page 7, line 6, at end add— '(b) to promote energy conservation in the supply and use of electricity to his consumers.

Amendment No 128, in clause 8 page 7, line 11, after 'competition', insert 'and energy conservation.'.

In connection with this grouping, I am prepared to allow reference to new clause 17 which is an amended version of former clause 13. I have not selected it for a separate division.

Mr. Blair

The purpose of new clause 7 is to impose on the Director General of Electricity Supply a duty to promote the efficiency and conservation of energy and in carrying out that duty … to ensure that public electricity suppliers take such active steps as, in his opinion, are reasonable to maximise energy efficiency and conservation and set annual targets for improvement in energy efficiency. New clause 14 supplements that by imposing a duty on the director general and the Secretary of State to set targets for improvements for the emission of pollutants.

We will debate energy conservation and more environmentally beneficial ways of generating electricity under this group of amendments. Later we will combine heat and power and discuss other matters relating to the environment. This is effectively "environment day".

I want to begin by referring to an intriguing press release from the Press Association the other day. It revealed that next week the Secretary of State will have talks with Soviet Ministers about energy use and the need to safeguard the environment. He will do that during his five-day trip as head of a delegation of top business men. I found it rather intriguing and not a little bizarre that he should go abroad next week to promote environmental concerns in the Soviet Union—matters over which he has no responsibility—while he does not take the opportunity to promote environmental concerns this week during the Electricity Bill debates, a matter for which he is directly responsible. It occurred to me that perhaps he was not acting so much in his capacity as the present Secretary of State for Energy, but in the capacity of a future head of the Department of Trade and Industry—a position he desires to occupy in future. Perhaps we will find out about that later.

The Bill is the most important single measure touching on the environment that we shall debate this Session, yet virtually nothing in it provides even the mildest encouragement to energy conservation, which is the biggest contribution to meeting concern about the environment that we can make. The new clause sets the Government a fundamental test of their sincerity. Is green just the colour of the Prime Minister's rhetoric—a passing flag of convenience to protect her in dangerous political waters—or is she prepared to match words with action and to stand up to the industry's Nested interests? So far, from the evidence in the Bill, the answer is a resounding no.

Every amendment promoting vigorous action to conserve energy—they numbered about 30 in Committee —has been defeated. Instead, we have a derisory and pathetic response of such inadequacy that it casts doubt upon the commitment of those who make it. We debate energy conservation against the background of a Select Committee report on privatisation that wanted the regulator to require public electricity suppliers to come forward with energy conservation schemes. We debate it against the background also of our European obligations to promote energy conservation. However, clause 3, which lists the director general's primary duties, does not include energy conservation or efficiency. They are only mentioned as a secondary duty, subject to the primary duties, in subsection (3). The Bill contains nothing specific.

If one examines the licences that will govern both the public electricity suppliers and the generators, one finds an alarming state of affairs. All that is said in specific terms about energy efficiency in relation to the area boards that will supply electricity appears in condition 18 on page 83 of the draft licence. Licensees—the area boards—will be obliged to prepare a statement of general information about electricity efficiency and make a copy of such statement available for inspection by members of the public at each of the relevant premises during normal working hours. The notion that that is an adequate contribution to energy efficiency is laughable. However, we find that in the terms of the licence for those generating electricity—the Secretary of State or his hon. Friend the Minister will advise me if I am wrong—there is not one single specific duty in relation to energy conservation. It is scarcely any wonder that the Bill's existing provisions have provoked the ridicule of every serious environmental lobby group.

The one argument that is not available to the Government is that energy conservation does not matter. It is not disputed that energy conservation is important. The question is how best to promote it. The Government fail in terms not only of the test that we set them but of the test that they set themselves. That is of a piece in the policy of the Government, who cut the budget of the Energy Efficiency Office, ceased to allow home insulation grants, and scrapped industrial energy schemes. Soon, all that will be left is a massive television advertising campaign—the usual substitution of style for substance that has become the Government's hallmark.

It is vital that action is taken in respect of the greenhouse effect, for example, which may be small in its terms of global impact but is still of importance in relation to the electricity industry's emissions. Also, acid rain has been established as an environmental problem. What is unbelievably depressing about the Government's response is that they see in the evidence about greenhouse gases or acid rain, not an opportunity to promote environmental concern but a chance to make the case for nuclear power.

Those environmental hazards first came dramatically to public notice last year, although many people had known about them for a long time. The Prime Minister, in an interview in The Times, commented: Had we gone the way of France and got 60 per cent. of our electricity from nuclear power, we should not have environmental problems. That statement is about as bold as it is possible to imagine.

I do not know whether the Secretary of State will give the House the benefit of his views on that remark, but I can guess his views on the statement made subsequently by the Secretary of State for the Environment, who commented: There is absolutely no doubt that if we want to arrest the greenhouse effect we should concentrate, like the French, on a massive increase in nuclear generating capacity. It need only be said that not only is such utterly impracticable—as to swap from coal to nuclear would mean building nuclear power stations at a rate that not even Lord Marshall foresees—but radioactive waste is itself a major environmental problem and one for which we have no easy answer at present. When people learned from television that nuclear reactors must be left for 100 years before final decommissioning takes place, it provided them with a considerable education in the environmental implications of nuclear power.

Even on the most optimistic forecasts, the demand for energy conservation will rise—at least in the short term. We are talking not about reducing that demand but rather how to reduce or contain an increase. That re-emphasises points that we made in Committee about the desirability of ensuring that before power stations of whatever type are built, it should first be ascertained whether it will not be more cost-effective—quite apart from environmental considerations—to put more money into energy conservation and less into new build. Under the proposed new clause, that aspect is one that the director general could consider. That is done in the United States and in Norway with considerable success, and it is difficult to understand why such planning should not be adopted in this country.

The amendment does not stop there. It would ensure that we promote not only energy conservation but environmentally clean technology. Later, we shall debate the subject of combined heat and power. At this point, I wish to raise a specific point concerning the future of the fluidised bed combustion plant at Grimethorpe, which is a subject dear to the hearts of many of my hon. Friends.

I understand from the Financial Times that a director of British Coal who appeared before the Energy Select Committee yesterday morning said that that project provides an opportunity to burn coal in an environmentally beneficial way, but that it is at risk because of the Government's refusal to come up with what is, by comparison to the sums put into the nuclear power industry, a small amount of money. He said that £11 million is still wanted, but believes that the Government will not make that commitment. In debating the new clause, it is entirely appropriate to ask the Government to make that commitment, and to ask what are their intentions in respect of a project that has widespread support and shows that the industry is prepared to take seriously its environmental responsibilities.

Earlier this week, four environmental groups—all of which have a long-standing commitment in the environmental field and are well respected—jointly urged support from all political parties for the amendments and new clauses that we propose. They mentioned many ways in which energy could be used more efficiently and to reduce environmental difficulties. Those proposals are at least worth examining. History has taught us that there is no possibility of encouraging a greater measure of concern for the environment unless one is prepared to interfere with the vested interests that wish to carry on burning energy in the least efficient way, which does not put care for the environment at the top of the agenda. If we are serious about promoting environmental concern, it must mean intervening in the market place to do so. That is what the new clause would do.

Without obligations on the electricity supply industry and without legislative duties—in other words, without interference in the market place—the degree of care for the environment that we desire is simply highly unlikely to happen. If the House takes the environment seriously, that interference should not happen at the whim of industry but by the will of the people. If the Secretary of State was prepared to set aside market forces to protect the nuclear industry yesterday, why does he not set them aside today —this time for the good of the environment and the country as a whole?

5.30 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) may seek to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to discuss some clauses dealing with the conservation aspects of the amendments.

I shall refer to new clause 17, as Mr. Speaker said I could, because another version of the new clause was selected with this group yesterday. It is about rural areas. People in rural areas have a particular reason to be concerned about the conservation and energy efficiency aspects of the Bill. It is in rural areas that green field sites are sought for the new power stations which would not be needed if proper energy efficiency and conservation were applied. The race to find, buy and use green field sites could be halted if we had proper conservation and an energy efficiency-based policy were followed. Therefore, one of the first interests of rural areas must be that part of the new clauses.

Several other aspects must also be considered. One is the duty to supply, on which I dwelt yesterday. The weakness of the duty to supply aspects is only one of the problems that the Bill presents for rural areas. That is why my hon. Friends sought to incorporate into the Bill two deputy directors of supply, one to deal with conservation and one to deal with the particular problems of rural areas.

There are a series of such problems. One involves the compulsory purchase powers in the Bill. For example, the National Farmers Union remains deeply concerned that the private electricity companies will have compulsory purchase powers which have previously belonged only to a Government body—a nationalised industry—and will therefore be able to take from agricultural use land which is of agricultural and environmental importance in the same way that a public body was able to do. Draconian powers are to be in the hands of private companies. That is another matter in which a deputy director general concerned with rural affairs would have a role to play.

The Bill's most alarming feature for rural areas is that the electricity supply companies could choose to impose a higher tariff on rural customers than on urban customers. That provision would allow a private company a power which no public company would surely ever have dared to use. That is why it has not been an issue in the history of nationalised electricity.

Within the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board area, the common tariff—the right of every customer to pay the same tariff, regardless of where in the board's area he or she lives—has been enshrined in legislation and will continue to be so enshrined in the area of the north of Scotland electricity supply company. But in the rest of Scotland and in the whole of England and Wales, it will be open to the new electricity supply companies to choose to charge their rural customers more than their urban customers. It is common for commercial organisations to say, "It is costing us a lot of money to deliver to little villages and to go to the heads of valleys and supply goods. Therefore, we will impose a surcharge and charge them at a higher rate." That cannot be an improvement for such a basic commodity as electricity, which has hitherto—certainly since the war—been supplied by public service bodies.

The chairmen-designate of the new companies have given indications that they might not choose to use that power for the first five years after privatization—but five years only, and not beyond that time. The very way in which they have given such Indications suggests that they will seek to use that power. There was a trial run of the problem in the Isles of Scilly. From the consumers' point of view the outcome was rather satisfactory. At the end of the day, primarily because of EEC involvement in the provision of a new electricity service on the Isles of Scilly, it was determined that a differential tariff could not be required of consumers there. They have the guarantee that they will pay the same as consumers in the rest of their board area. We have the EEC to thank for that, not any provision in existing legislation or in the Bill.

Hon. Members should think of what the companies can do now. The company supplying north Wales could decide to charge Anglesey at a higher rate than the rest of its consumers. North Yorkshire consumers could be charged at a higher rate than the rest of the Yorkshire consumers. The company in the north-east could decide to charge Northumberland at a higher rate than Tyneside. The appropriate board could charge rural Devon at a higher rate than the city of Plymouth. Such practices could be tempting if companies want to load higher charges on rural consumers who have fewer alternatives. Those consumers will not have access to gas as an alternative fuel for cooking, for example, and therefore will not be able to offset any higher costs by turning to alternative fuel.

These are grave prospects for abuse of a monopoly at the expense of rural consumers, in the absence of any protection provision. They were not seriously considered by the Government when the legislation was framed. That is why we sought in Committee to build in a right or guarantee that there should be a common tariff and that there should be no discrimination against any geographical area. The Government failed to accept that. We said that there should at least be someone in the controlling mechanism—a deputy director, for example—with a specific responsibility to prevent boards discriminating against their customers on the ground that they live in a rural area. I fear that that will happen unless some such provision is incorporated in the Bill. That is why we will continue to press in the House and through our friends in another place that rural areas should be much better safeguarded than they are at present.

Mr. Peter Hardy

(Wentworth) Unfortunately and sadly, I must make an extremely critical speech about Her Majesty's Government's record in energy conservation and the environment. Last night, the Secretary of State said that the Government's approach was one of diversity to maintain security of supply. If the Government were keen to enhance the security of supply, they would not have such an appalling record in energy efficiency and energy conservation. When I made that point last night, the Minister looked shocked. He should not be shocked. He should be aware that Britain's record is deplorably below those of other advanced European industrial countries. That is sad. We would not have needed a nuclear ring fence. We would not have had nuclear power stations if the Government had wanted to avoid the massive capital costs of such installations. It would have been cheaper to save that energy through proper energy efficiency.

I am sure that the Minister has seen the claim by conservation bodies that we could halve the present use of electricity by using new kinds of light bulbs, save three quarters of the amount of electricity consumed by freezers and refrigerators if modern technology were applied, and save two thirds of the electricity consumed by washing machines, not by having dirtier clothes, but by having modern, technologically advanced energy-saving electric washers. We could certainly reduce the energy required to warm our homes by at least 20 per cent. if we reached the standards which are the average in western Europe, rather than lagging so far behind. We have been in that position for a long time and the Government's response to the case for energy conservation has been to adopt the policy that, if the price is high enough, the brutal effect will be to compel people to insulate, conserve and act with energy efficiency in mind.

A little while ago, I was advised by some of the groups that do splendid work in seeking to advance those most in need in society of the comparative position of a four-bedroomed detached house occupied by people in comfortable circumstances who invested in conservation, insulation and energy efficiency, who had the maximum possible insulation and the most efficient and effective forms of heating. They could maintain their four-bedroomed detached home at a comfortable heating level for less than the cost incurred by many hundreds of thousands of elderly people living in little, old, drafty houses and having to spend a fortune on electricity for unsuitable appliances. From an economic as well as a social standpoint, the case for a much higher priority for energy conservation should have been adopted long ago.

I said that I would be critical of the Government and I hope that the Government will accept that their record on conservation and efficiency deserves condemnation. An even greater criticism should fall on the Government if the work of such people as my hon. Friends the Members for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) and for Barnsley, East (Mr. Patchett), in whose constituency lies the Grimethorpe research centre, is ignored and the centre is allowed to founder simply because the Government are not prepared to support it. The Government should understand that Britain's record in research and development is deteriorating and that this is one area in which international advances and economic benefit could accrue. I hope that the comments already made about Grimethorpe will lead to a more favourable decision, especially if the Minister takes note of the work of the Select Committee on Energy.

I may be more critical of the Government than ever in regard to the environment. The Minister heard me say in Committee—and it is worth repeating—that the words of schedule 9 in regard to the "preservation of amenity" sound attractive. They were attractive, forward-looking words of high quality prose and literary merit in 1957.

The Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Cecil Parkinson)

I am not used to hearing praise from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hardy

I am delighted that the Secretary of State is taking credit for the words of 1957. Unfortunately, whereas those words were commendable in 1957, the record of Governments in the 32 years that have elapsed since suggest that we need a rather different approach. A mere reliance on words that have already been frequently ignored and which receive a deteriorating priority is not acceptable. The Government have included the words in a series of pieces of legislation far too frequently, but having used the words, far too frequently no relevant action has followed. I am reminded of the Government's approach in a series of ways. As the Secretary of State knows, I could continue at length in giving illustrations, but I shall illustrate my point by the examples of one current event and of another that took place a little while ago.

On 16 January 1989, as the Secretary of State knows —I am sorry if some of my hon. Friends have heard this before, but I do not apologise if Conservative Members have heard it before—at the centenary of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Prime Minister, dressed in green, made a splendid speech. In terms of literary quality, her words were as good as those in schedule 9. The Prime Minister advised us to protect our natural heritage and she expressed her disapproval of the fact that 120,000 miles of hedgerow had been destroyed in the past four decades. I was delighted to hear her speech. That afternoon, I presented the Hedgerows Bill and I thought that the Prime Minister's words would allow my Bill to succeed, but it failed because the Government blocked it. I wrote to the Prime Minister because she was supposed to have been converted to the cause of greenery and the environment. I shall not bore the House by reading out her letter, but I was somewhat annoyed when I read that she believed that other matters should be considered as well as conservation.

5.45 pm

The second incident is, perhaps more venal. My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) was drawn in a high place in the ballot for private Members' Bills. He tabled a Bill in 1985 of considerable environmental relevance—the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Bill, which had six particular points in it. The Government disfigured the Bill by leaving only one of the points in substance when the Bill went to the other place. I mention that because when the Bill was considered in the other place, the five points that the House had removed from the Bill as a result of Government pressure were restored. The Government were then left in a bit of a dilemma. They had to decide what to do about the five Lords amendments. Grudgingly, belatedly and at the last minute, following the most concentrated telephone lobbying the House of Commons has ever experienced, the Government decided the following day that they would not oppose those Lords amendments. What was nasty was that later that day, the appropriate Department issued a press statement claiming the credit for my hon. Friend's Bill and describing it as a Government measure.

No doubt the Government advance that Bill as evidence of the fact that from time to time they have paid attention to the words included in schedule 9, but those words, lifted from the Electricity Act 1957, have been far too frequently ignored. They have been too widely disregarded by this Administration during the past decade for us to have any trust or faith that the words in schedule 9 will receive a response. That is why environmental organisations throughout the country are deeply worried about the Bill. They believe that when the Government finally complete the privatisation of the industry —and the transactions for the water industry give us no cause for relief of that anxiety—perhaps substantially into the ownership of those who have no interest in these islands, the environmental consequences may be tragic. That is why I hope that the amendments will be accepted. If they are not accepted here, I hope that they—or similar amendments—will be passed in the other place. I hope that when the Bill returns to this House, suitably amended, the House will ensure that it provides better arrangements and safeguards to assist the causes of energy conservation and the environment.

Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen)

Since last September, we have become familiar with the Prime Minister's conversion to green, environmental issues and to beliefs that we did not realise she had ever had over the previous 10 years. The privatisation of the electricity industry was an opportunity for her to put some of those sentiments into legislation, because in dealing with the electricity industry, we are dealing with Britain's largest polluter. In terms of air pollution, it has no rival. It is responsible for about half our total air pollution, 73 per cent. of sulphur dioxide emissions, 35 per cent. of nitrogen oxide emissions and 40 per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions.

Surely the Bill could have given the Government the opportunity to legislate to improve their environmental record? However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) said, there is nothing in the Bill on environmental protection, conservation, energy efficiency or cutting pollution. There is some access to information via leaflets that may be distributed, but we already have that because information on insulation comes with our electricity bills. If ever there was an opportunity to try to do something about conservation and pollution, the Bill was it.

In the past 20 years, conservation has had far too little attention paid to it by both this Government and their predecessors. However, conservation has a critical role in energy policy. It can contribute as much as oil, gas or coal and certainly far more than nuclear power to our energy needs. In that sense, it is properly described as potentially the "fifth fuel".

Over the next 20 or 30 years planning is vital because if we adopt strict policies on energy conservation it will be possible to double our living standards without any growth in energy demand.

Despite the Government's green claims, their record speaks otherwise. In the past few years the budget of the Energy Efficiency Office has been cut from £25 million to £12 million, giving the lie to the Prime Minister's green claims. In new clause 7 on energy conservation, we are asking the regulator to take measures to instruct the distribution companies to improve energy efficiency. We should like an annual energy audit and annual records kept to show how efficiency is being improved.

In Committee, we debated at length the idea of least-cost planning, which has been adopted in the United States. Instead of building more and more new power stations, it would be better to invest that money in home and factory insulation, in combined heat and power or simply in demand management to iron out the peaks in the demand for electricity in the evening and during the day. If we did so, we would not need such capacity to meet the demand.

Least-cost planning is very much in the consumers' interest. It is designed for consumers because ultimately it means that the electricity produced is cheaper. It aims for the lowest cost of electricity. Rather than consumers paying for the four PWRs or for new power stations, they would be paying for insulation, which is much more efficient. Such measures could be adopted in this country and new clause 7 would help the regulator to acquire those powers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) talked about energy efficiency and appliances, such as washing machines, refrigerators and television sets. He also mentioned light bulbs. It is possible to produce such things with between two and four times their present efficiency. In that context, one danger of the Bill is that the research work carried out by the CEGB may be cut. Therefore, in new clause 7 we are asking that the regulator be given powers so that conservation and energy efficiency become part of the role of the privatised industry.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth also said that we have a sort of conservation policy at the moment. It is conservation by price. It means that in the winter pensioners, who often live in draughty houses, cannot afford to switch on two bars of their electric fires. That social problem applies especially to the poor, the elderly and families. It is a cruel kind of conservation.

Since 1973 energy efficiency has improved in the advanced countries by 20 per cent. I hasten to add that Britain is pretty well at the bottom of that league. Far more is possible, and our new clause asks that there should be action.

New clause 14 refers to pollution and environmental protection. Opposition Members acknowledge that coal is dirty. We realise that sulphur and nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are all by-products of coal combustion. However, they need to be and can be tackled. Sulphur dioxide and acid rain pose a serious problem. Acid rain is killing our trees and affecting water supplies and the tributaries of rivers in upland areas. The drinking water in my constituency has a high aluminium level, often in excess of the EEC limit, simply because of the problem of acid rain.

The Government's record on acid rain is appalling. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) was in Japan a few weeks ago and visited a power station that was built in 1974 and which had flue gas desulphurisation installed then. That was about 20 years ago but not one of our power stations has such FGD equipment. The Government did not recognise acid rain as a problem until 1986 and it was only then that they started to take some action. Under the present programme, none of our power stations will be cleaned up until 1997. We are dragging our feet. For years the Government refused to join the "30 per cent. club", and a 30 per cent. reduction by 1997 is now completely out of the question. The Government have agreed to a European Community directive to cut sulphur oxide by 60 per cent. by the year 2003, but that is now impossible under the Government's present policies. Nothing in the Bill will help to achieve those targets.

We believe that part of the regulator's role should be to monitor the amount of sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide that is emitted year by year. The regulator should set targets for reduction in line with those of the EEC directives.

Clean combustion technology and the work of Grimethorpe was commented on earlier. It is appalling that the Government are placing such important long-term research in jeopardy. Grimethorpe is the power station of the 1990s. It is the way to produce electricity in the next century, yet under this Government that programme is threatened. I hope that we shall receive some assurance today from the Secretary of State that the money that is needed will be found. It is a small amount —£11 million—which is pathetic when compared to the money that has been given to the fast breeder reactor programmes and to nuclear power in general over the years.

There can be no doubt about the greenhouse effect being the most intractable environmental problem. I read in the New Scientist last week that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now passed the 350 parts per million barrier. In was 290 ppm, but it is now 350 ppm. It has increased by 20 per cent. during the past century and it is increasing at the rate of an extra 1 per cent. per year. That could lead to global warming and to the climatic effects that we have all heard about. Exactly what may be implied there is not very clear, but it would be prudent to take action now on the greenhouse effect.

At last year's United Nations conference in Toronto on the global climate, Britain agreed with other countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. over the next 15 years, but we saw in Committee that the Central Electricity Generating Board projects an increase of generation of 25 per cent. over the same period and of 60 per cent. over the next 50 years. So our assurances and our promises to that conference were not worth the paper that they were written on.

The only way to cut those CO2 emissions is by conservation. Nuclear power stations are almost irrelevant. Conservation is the answer, and that is where the two Opposition new clauses tie together.

I end by quoting something said by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield—it deserves to be a "quote of the week". In a recent article he said that in the 1970s conservation was about saving money; now it is about saving the environment.

6 pm

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

It has been a joy to watch the greening of the Government over the past 12 months. I remember that in July 1984 the Government's delegate to an international acid rain conference in Munich, the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), did not even bother to turn up to present the United Kingdom's case and had one of his civil servants read out Britain's excuse for not joining the "30 per cent. club", despite the fact that the Government were well aware of the outrage felt at the time by Scandinavian countries at having to suffer the noxious and destructive effects of United Kingdom sulphur emissions. At the time, Britain's most notorious trained scientist, the Prime Minister, had decided that the evidence on acid rain was inconclusive and had forbidden right hon. and hon. Conservative Members to support any shade of green—although rumours abounded that a few were secretly wearing green underpants as a gesture of concern for the environment. They are now retrofitting green garments at a far faster rate than they are retrofitting flue gas desulphurisation equipment in the nation's power stations.

Nevertheless, I welcome the plan to retrofit 6,000 MW of coal-fired capacity over the next eight years. I also welcome the plan to install low nitrous oxide burners at the CEGB's 12 largest power stations over the same period. But I do not welcome the Government's continuing refusal to sign the Helsinki protocol to undertake the reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions or their trans-boundary fluxes by 30 per cent. from 1980 levels by 1993.

The Government's new air quality standards for nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxides comply with EC directives and are most welcome but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) has already said, the directed levels are unlikely to be reached by the dates set.

Retrofitting is one answer, but it has limited application and it is very expensive. What is needed is a general transformation in our attitudes towards the fuelling and production of electricity in this country, one which posits an altogether more imaginative and environmentally sensitive approach than is encapsulated in the present Bill. I am not trying to defend the status quo. The attitudes towards energy production of virtually all the interested parties over the past decade have been partisan, unimaginative and generally governed by a notion that energy conservation and efficiency, and environmentalism as a whole, meant job losses, additional expense and consequent political unpopularity.

The Bill strengthens rather than weakens that notion, and I commend new clause 14 as a measure which may encourage a different attitude towards the fuelling and production of electricity. The development and application of the kinds of energy technology already mentioned by my right hon. and hon. Friends might be encouraged—for example, the various renewable sources of energy, the greater efficiency of existing technologies, and moves towards the proper uses of materials with which we can make better use of our energy.

If we adopt this new attitude we shall see that environmentalism and efficiency will mean more jobs, not fewer. They may be different jobs, and that is a problem that the trade union movement must take on board, no question about it. If we support those new clauses we shall be doing a very constructive thing in that we shall not merely force the Government to act upon some of their protestations about being a green party, a party that cares about the environment; we shall encourage all levels of society to adopt a much more imaginative and realistic approach to the great problems of fuel production, electricity generation and the protection of the environment.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

I have tabled an amendment calling for a deputy director of conservation.

It is my view and that of my colleagues that that issue ought to be at the heart of the debate about the Bill. It is very unfortunate that we have been diverted into a debate about nuclear power which, although interesting, has allowed the Government to avoid confronting the fundamental issue of how we can use energy much more efficiently.

Our record of energy efficiency is extremely poor compared with that of our competitors. It is difficult to understand why, given the number of times that Ministers have come to the Dispatch Box and claimed that they are in favour of conservation, we have fallen so far short of the objectives declared by the Government to be both achievable and desirable and to which they are committed. It is something that we really ought to take on board.

For example, in 1986 the Prime Minister opened the Milton Keynes energy week. She said that Britain's total fuel bill was £35 billion, which could be reduced by £7 billion. The Secretary of State for Energy tells us that the energy bill is £39 billion and could be reduced by £8 billion. In other words, nothing has changed except the figures, which have, in both cases, gone up. We have failed to achieve any significant move towards the reduction in energy use that the Government say they want to achieve and which they believe can be achieved.

I suspect that the reason is that the Government believe that it is not their responsibility, that the market will solve the problem and that it is up to everyone except the Government to take appropriate action. Given that this is one area where the Government and my colleagues and I share common ground, the Bill should have been seen as an opportunity. The common ground that we share is a complete dissatisfaction with the way in which the industry has been run over the past 10 or 15 years. It has been centralised and inefficient. It has over-invested. It has been generation-biased in the extreme; its response to forecasts of rising demand has been the desire to build more power stations instead of asking how it can ensure that the demand can be met with the existing capacity, because the technology exists to do that.

The irony—I may be giving the Minister the lead to his reply—is that it is cost-effective to invest less money to achieve greater profitability. It is true—I have some common ground with the Government on this—that the industry in the public sector has manifestly failed to grasp that issue, but I part company with the Government in that I believe that they can and should do a great deal more, and that the Director General of Electricity Supply should have been—and would be, if our amendments were carried—charged with a specific responsibility to promote energy conservation.

Significant benefits will flow from energy conservation. The first benefit is environmental. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, investment in energy efficiency and conservation is seven times more effective than nuclear power in abating global warming. I do not believe that the Government will get very much mileage from suggesting that their nuclear programme is a contribution to dealing with the greenhouse effect. It is irrelevant. The programme, as promoted in the current state of the electricity supply industry and as endorsed by the Government as their future direction, will, in fact, lead to a 20 per cent. increase in carbon dioxide emissions from the United Kingdom by the end of the century.

It has already been stated that the original reasons for introducing energy conservation were financial and were connected with the oil crisis of the 1970s. At the risk of boring the House, I would point out that I wrote a pamphlet in 1979 in which I stated the environmental benefits and urged action to be taken. I regret to say that nothing has changed. My pamphlet is just as relevant today. The problems are even more severe, and no action has been taken to confront the issue.

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

It has been recycled.

Mr. Bruce

It has not even been recycled. It has been shelved.

The second benefit from energy conservation is economic. It would lead to a cheaper unit cost of energy. That would be beneficial to industry and to our ability to compete in world markets. I hope that the Government would regard that as desirable, because at present we are not competing very successfully as a trading nation. That is possibly because we use energy substantially more inefficiently than our major competitors, Japan and West Germany. The Japanese use half as much energy per capita as we do and the primary energy consumption ratio to GDP in West Germany is half that of the United Kingdom. Therefore, effectively, it is twice as good as we are at using energy efficiently, which possibly explains why it is twice as good as we are at securing shares in world markets.

That benefit also has a social relevance as it helps to deal with the problem of fuel poverty. I worked for a number of years for a Norwegian-based oil and gas industry publishing company, and travelled to Norway fairly regularly during that time. I found it extraordinary that the issues of fuel poverty and condensation which are so alive in this country are almost unknown in Scandinavia. That is, first, because the Scandinavians have learnt that they live in a climate that requires a particular standard of building. They build to meet the climatic conditions and, therefore, they have houses that are fundamentally efficient and warm and do not suffer from condensation. Secondly, they ensure that their energy is relatively competitive. They have, of course, for a long time had the advantage of hydro-power, which has obviously been an additional helpful factor.

Perhaps the even more extraordinary situation is that investment in energy conservation would actually make money. The science policy research unit has estimated that every pound spent on conservation—this is not an airy-fairy proposition, but is based on spending money on existing conservation methods, which are specific and known—would save 38 kW, would cut carbon dioxide discharges by 42g and would save customers £1.90 each. Will the Secretary of State tell us what other investment in the United Kingdom could give a 90 per cent. rate of return? He must address himself to why we do not manage to achieve the target savings for which he has said that we should be aiming.

6.15 pm

The Association for the Conservation of Energy has recently carried out an analysis of some fairly simple measures that would produce significant benefits. It has assessed that simply by ensuring that lights, old fridges and freezers are replaced with the state of the art, best available technology, demand for electricity would be cut by 12 per cent. That means that it would cut the demand for electricity by the equivalent of four and a half Hinkley Cs. That reinforces the point that I have often made—that, if the electricity supply industry had any imagination, it would recognise that instead of spending money on wasteful public inquiries and the building of unnecessary power stations, it should spend that money on conservation, and thereby improve the profitability of the industry as well as reducing the cost to its consumers. That should be at the heart of the post-privatisation regulatory system.

In anticipation of the Minister's response—although I hope that I am wrong—I must say that it is not good enough to say that the figures I have quoted are so dramatic that once the industry is privatised the problem will solve itself. All the evidence from other countries shows that there must be a specific Government momentum behind the problem in order to solve it.

I know that the Minister is not enthusiastic about all its aspects, but the regime that has operated for a number of years in the state of California for promoting conservation and alternative energy required legislation, funding and tax benefits to ensure that it was stimulated. Once there was that framework, people were prepared to make investments because they were required to do so. They were astonished to find that under the regulation system that this Government so often denounce they were able to make greater profits than they would if they had pursued their desires in a free market, which was their initial wish.

The other sources of benefit are closer to home. The Select Committee on the Environment, when considering especially the problems of air pollution, stated: However, if the world wants light, heat and energy in constant and increasing supply, the choice might resolve itself between a source which is deliberately and constantly poisoning the atmosphere and one whose misadventure would have catastrophic global results"— that is obviously between fossil fuels and nuclear power— but an alternative would be energy conservation and reduction in demand". Energy conservation and improved energy efficiency is the absolute key to dealing substantially and significantly with the problems facing the energy industry of high costs and great environmental concern.

The proposals put forward by a variety of organisations have all reinforced that message. What should concern the Government now is how they will retain credibility as a Government who are putting forward the privatisation of electricity as an environmentally and economically beneficial measure, when all the indications are that without substantial action by the director general prices will rise, our competitive relationship with other countries will continue to deteriorate and the output of carbon dioxide and the aggravation of the greenhouse effect will continue to escalate between now and the end of the century.

I am led to believe that the Prime Minister is specifically concerned about the greenhouse effect and that that is her major environmental concern. Unlike many sceptics and cynics I welcome her conversion and believe it to be sincere. I believe that she has come to terms with the problems. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh yes. But I do not believe that she has appreciated that a commitment to deal with the greenhouse effect and the associated environmental problems is, unfortunately, incompatible with Thatcherism. When the Prime Minister discovers her dilemma I suspect that she may suffer a severe attack of schizophrenia. The one great thing about schizophrenia is that it reduces the patient to immobility and a little immobility on the part of the Prime Minister would, I suspect, be attractive to the majority of the country.

The market will not succeed in dealing with the environmental and economic problems of high energy costs and inefficiency energy use—that must be the duty of the regulator. The Director General of Electricity Supply —the regulator—may be correct in believing that the effective operation of the market may help to achieve a solution to the problems. He may consider that more information should be made available to people to enable them to make rational decisions which will be of economic benefit to them. If that is so, I wonder how the Government justify the reductions, and the forecasts of further reductions, in the budget of the Energy Efficiency Office. Its budget is small in any case and I believe that its role must be encouraged and intensified if we are to ensure that rational decisions are made by individuals and by companies in the private sector to take advantage of the economic benefits of investment in energy conservation. Surely the Government should do their best to make that happen.

It is not good enough to believe that market factors will determine the solutions to the problems. We need direct regulations. The hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) has already mentioned "least-cost" planning. The Minister will know that that terminology has been imported from the United States where it is used as part of the criteria to assess operators' plans. When an application is made to build a new power station, the question asked is whether that represents the least-cost method of meeting the required capacity that the operator wishes to provide. Almost inevitably the answer is no. Using the same or a smaller amount of money to invest in energy conservation measures always proves to be more cost effective within existing technology. In other words, every pound or dollar invested in energy conservation will yield substantially more saved units of electricity than that same pound spent on investing on new generating capacity. It is a radical concept, but it works. The Minister should tell the House why he has not adopted that method here and why he does not believe that it is a good way of ensuring that conservation becomes central to our thinking.

Earlier, I noted that the Secretary of State nodded in agreement when I expressed my dissatisfaction with the way in which CEGB has worked as a result of its centralist mechanisms. However, the right hon. Gentleman has not said—even if he believes it to be true—how the proposed privatisation will substantially change the bias towards generation. The newly privatised industry will still say that demand is rising and that, therefore, new and bigger power stations should be built. I do not believe that we need any more capacity; what we need is more variety. We need greater flexibility and smaller-scale generation. That opens up all the market opportunities about which the Secretary of State and the Minister are so enthusiastic. If we followed that course there would be a great deal more enthusiasm for a privatised electricity supply industry.

Given that privatisation will take place and that the Director General of Electricity Supply will be appointed, I hope that he will have the power to pursue developments that will lead to greater flexibility. The new clause would help to achieve that aim. Without the new clause and the associated amendments I am not convinced that the Bill will ensure that the critical issues, which should be at the heart of the legislation, are properly addressed. Even at this late stage I urge the Minister to consider the need to amend the Bill to put conservation at the heart of it. If he does that he will put on the statute book a Bill which, however controversial it is in other ways, will advance the electricity efficiency of this country by a marked degree and which will benefit every individual and company throughout the land.

Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse (Pontefract and Castleford)

The House will be aware that in June 1988 the Select Committee on Energy produced a report arising from the White Paper and the subsequent Bill to privatise the electricity supply industry. I appreciate that there is not much evidence to suggest that the Government take a great deal of notice of the Select Committee reports, but I believe that we should be able to rely on the Government's observations on that report. If that is so, the Secretary of State should have accepted the new clause today.

No doubt the Secretary of State will recollect what the Government said about energy efficiency in paragraph 39 of the third special report on the report from the Select Committee: The efficiency with which the electricity industry uses fuel will significantly affect its costs, and hence its ability to compete successfully. The increase in competition which is central to the Government's proposals will provide a major incentive to the electricity companies to use fuel efficiently. The Government believes that pressure to find ways of increasing fuel efficiency to obtain competitive advantage will be an effective pressure for improving efficiency of fuel use in the industry. There will also be a general duty on the Secretaries of State and the Director to promote efficiency on the part of licence holders. If that does not mean what new clauses 7 and 14 mean, I do not know what does. If the Government were genuine in their response to the Select Committee, what are we doing here today? The new clauses should be unnecessary as their provisions should already be a part of the Government's programme.

We have heard much about the greenhouse effect. At present the Select Committee on Energy is taking evidence about that. I wish that its report was available now, as it would provide a great deal of ammunition for this debate. The House will agree, however, that, unless such information is leaked, we must await the publication of that report.

Research and development have an important part to play in energy efficiency and the greenhouse effect. In paragraph 54 of the third special report, the Government, in response to the original report from the Select Committee, state: The Government accepts that its role in assessing long term energy R & D is an important issue. The nature of the programme overall will be determined by the inter-action of the industry's R & D programme with the Government's existing policy on R & D as set out in the 'Annual Review of Government Funded Research and Development'. The electricity industry has been asked to submit proposals for the organisation and implementation of research after privatisation and expects to receive these in the near future. When these have been reviewed it will be in a position to consider the appropriate role for the Government. The Secretary of State may be in a position to tell us whether they have received that information. If so, what are the Government's views on it and what action will they take?

6.30 pm

We have recently heard much about the intentions of the Government and the Prime Minister to control the greenhouse effect. I wonder how serious those intentions are. The Secretary of State did not respond last evening to a question that I put to him about the Grimethorpe complex. He has had time to consider the question. The evidence given by Mr. Edwards of British Coal was that the Grimethorpe complex was under threat because the Government were not willing to provide £11 million for it to continue. If that is the case, how serious are the Government about efficiency and about research and development to protect the environment? Mr. Edwards told the Select Committee that if that scheme failed, very little other research and development would take place on the technology for sulphurised beds. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State is talking to his colleague. I hope that he is listening to what I am saying because it is very important.

The Government's case is that nuclear energy is much cleaner. They have also said time and again that they believe that coal has a great part to play in the future of British energy. If they are serious about that, why will they not put money into research and development? If they are not serious about it, they should say so. If they do not want to put money into R and D, that may be why they are not keen to support the new clauses.

I hope that the Secretary of State will attempt to convince people that the Government are serious about protecting the environment and about coal having a part to play in the future of British energy. Will the Secretary of State give us an assurance that the Grimethorpe complex will be funded and that research will continue there?

Mr. Malcolm Moss (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

Energy efficiency makes economic and environmental sense. I do not think that proposition is opposed by Members on either side of the House. But all energy sources have an environmental impact. Burning fossil fuels contributes not only to acid rain but to the greenhouse effect. Nuclear energy produces radioactive waste which needs to be disposed of safely. The solution is not to transfer to renewables because to produce energy from wind farms we would need thousands of acres, and tidal barrages have detrimental environmental effects of their own.

The question is: how best can we achieve energy savings? Should we do it via the amendments under discussion, with their emphasis on a more direct and hands-on procedure, with more direction and regulation by the director general? It is ironic that at a time when the Government are seeking to remove themselves from day-to-day involvement in the running of the electricity supply industry we should be discussing amendments which would give future Governments the potential to get their hands back on the industry. Or should we achieve energy savings through the operation of a free market within the framework set out in the Bill for the privatisation of the electricity supply industry?

Whichever way we go, there are things that the Government can and should do. They have some influence, although sometimes one doubts it, with local authorities. I understand that the Audit Commission is to re-examine how local authorities in England and Wales manage energy in their own properties. The new initiative follows an earlier study completed in 1985 which established that at least £130 million could be knocked off fuel bills. However, an initial survey of progress undertaken last year suggested that only a tiny proportion of the anticipated savings is being achieved. The survey found that only about 13 per cent. of the investment opportunities have yet been taken up on the energy management side.

The Government should also consider their own buildings. Of all public sector buildings, 50 per cent. or more are occupied by Government Departments. When the Back-Bench committee on energy invited a consultant from an energy management firm to talk to it, he pointed out that whenever his firm was called in on a consultancy basis to examine Government buildings and spoke to the Property Services Agency, it got short shrift and got absolutely nowhere. The Government have a direct responsibility to make sure that the doors are open to proper consultancy so that savings may be achieved.

What is happening in industry? To hear the CBI talk, one would think that putting up prices this year would have a serious effect on the performance of industry. A survey last year, I think, by March Consultants in the north-west region showed that savings of 30 per cent. or more could be achieved by business and commerce. Yet very little was done. Even when showed the possibilities of energy saving, efficiency and conservation, few firms bothered to invest the money necessary or to employ within their structure people who could deal directly with the problem.

Where will energy efficiency fit within the newly privatised electricity supply industry? Surprisingly, some interesting information has come to light recently. Only the other week Mr. Malpas, the chairman-designate of PowerGen, spoke to a meeting of the Fellowship of Engineers. He said that most national energy policies focused too much on how energy was generated and far too little on the concern for its use. When challenged as to how that view fitted in with making profits in a privatised electricity supply sector, he said that PowerGen was considering taking a leaf out of the books of many American power companies and positively assisting the introduction of incentive schemes to promote the installation of energy-saving measures.

If we turn to the American position, evidence was given at the Hinkley inquiry by a representative of an American company, the Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies electricity to five states in north-west America. The company indicated that it was spending some $700 million to help its consumers to reduce energy wastage. It said that within five years cumulative savings had already reached 220 MW, which is equivalent to a small coal-fired station, and predicted that by 2010 the programme would have saved 2,750 MW of electricity. When challenged, its spokesman said: We are in business. You don't spend $700 million on a passionate enthusiasm. You do it as a good business investment. PowerGen is to be a privatised company under the Bill. The Bonneville Power Administration is not a public company; it is not state-owned but is a private company. These two examples indicate how in future the privatized electricity supply industry in this country could make a positive contribution to energy conservation and efficiency.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

Is it not a fact that the Bonneville Power Administration was set up originally as a state corporation? Were it not for the requirements of the Public Utility Commissioners, who refused permission for the building of power stations, it would not have embarked on that course. What the hon. Gentleman says is right; having embarked on it, it found that it was profitable.

Mr. Moss

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making those points. Whatever the incentive for looking into energy efficiency, the proof of the pudding is that it has been achieved and it is possible for that to happen here as well.

The Government's budget for the Energy Efficiency Office has been challenged by Opposition Members. It is not just the size of the budget that is important; the effectiveness of the spending is paramount. We should consider energy efficiency as our fifth fuel, which has significant environmental advantages. The new structure of the electricity supply industry will encourage that in three main ways.

First, one of the director general's main regulatory responsibilities is to promote energy efficiency. Secondly, the area boards, in competition with British Gas, will have a direct interest in keeping down their customers' bills. They will also, in competition with British Gas, encourage people to switch to electricity which, for heating, will be far more cost-effective if the householder is, at the same time, encouraged to take energy efficiency measures. In discussions which I have had with them, area board chairmen see this as a positive contribution which will also help overall market penetration. Thirdly, competition in electricity generation will ensure efficiency in the use of fuels.

These amendments are irrelevant. Adequate energy efficiency measures are already well taken care of in the Bill.

Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Unlike the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), I am not convinced of the Prime Minister's commitment to green issues. For the Prime Minister, green issues seem to go along with the green outfits that she takes out of her wardrobe and wears on a number of public occasions. I have been to meetings where the Prime Minister has made a speech that is fine in terms of conservation and ecological issues. Unfortunately, when I come to the House, I find, along with many other colleagues, that some of the issues which she so warmly supported at public meetings are voted down by the Government or not given the Government support that they should receive. That directly contradicts the policies that she sets outside the House.

The Bill is one example of that. The conservatioin of energy must be crucial to any country, not only in reducing the greenhouse effect—a major need which has been identified by the Prime Minister—but in cutting costs, both for domestic and industrial users.

We all know of the damage caused to the environment by acid rain and the greenhouse effect, but, in a modern technological society, we also accept that we must have power. The CEGB forecasts that there may be a 25 per cent. increase in demand in energy in the coming years.

Rather than simply ploughing ahead to meet that demand with more power stations—whether nuclear or coal—we should try to absorb that demand by greater energy efficiency.

In contrast to the argument put forward by some Government Members, nuclear power is not the answer to meet the increase in demand. It has advantages, but it also creates a different sort of pollution—in particlar, radioactivity. High environmental costs are also involved in dismantling the nuclear power stations and handling the waste that they produce. Therefore, nuclear power stations will not cut down pollution.

The union that I represent has members in both heavy industry, including steel, and rural areas. The steel industry has made great strides towards reducing its energy consumption, which has helped to return steel to profitability. However, not all companies have taken the same progressive line and invested in energy use. Of course, it could be argued that it is in the steel industry's interests because it makes savings by reduced power bills. Nevertheless, many industries which are not under the same kind of pressure to save money could pass on the savings in energy costs to their customers. The new clause would give the director general a role in encouraging the necessary energy conservation.

Another concern of mine, which has been echoed in the Bill, is the differential rates in rural areas. If new power companies are allowed to charge differential rates rather than concentrate on efficiency and energy saving, they will take that option. Therefore, housing estates built in rural areas to meet housing demand could face extra charges and industries set up in rural areas to provide jobs could also face a penalty.

6.45 pm

The Secretary of State will be aware that environmental organisations strongly support this batch of amendments. They call not only for energy efficiency and conservation programmes—which, if all the various conservation schemes were implemented, could cut the peak demand by 70 per cent. —but for target-led reductions in the pollutants of the electricity generating industry, particularly carbon dioxide and sulphurs.

Apart from the obvious industry energy conservation, the director could encourage energy conservation in domestic use—including the installation of low energy light bulbs. In my house we have installed such bulbs in areas where they are used a great deal, such as the porch and downstairs. They are bulky, but they can be hidden by choosing the right shade and they provide considerable cost savings because they last longer than average light bulbs. However, many people are unaware of the benefits of these light bulbs. If more houses switched to them it would considerably reduce the power generated. At present, one fifth of all power is used for domestic lighting.

Energy conservation could also be encouraged in fridges, washing machines and televisions, the modern variations of which use less energy than their older counterparts. However, the benefits of those machines are not driven home to the consumer.

Home insulation is another important method of energy conservation. Danish standards are far superior to ours. I understand from a conservation organisation that, if we adopted Danish methods, we could reduce the CO2 output by 510,000 tonnes every year—a significant reduction and a benefit to house quality standards.

There is no reason why the director should not have a far more interventionist role in advising house builders on the quality and insulation standards that they should use. There would be long-term benefits for us all—not least the people who buy the homes.

Research has been covered by other speakers so I shall not spend too long on it. However, as coal is our major power source—I believe that it will remain so for the foreseeable future, until there is more research into alternatives—I am disappointed that the Government have not shown greater commitment to the fluidised bed method of burning coal which is more efficient and cuts down on pollution. Another option involves biomass generators, which could be fuelled on fast-growing crops of willow, and could form part of an overall policy to reduce cereal crops and use EC funds to encourage farmers to grow biomass to fuel power stations.

More research and development is needed in district heat and power stations—perhaps domestic refuse could be burnt, which would not only generate power but would generate heat to towns and cities while reducing waste. I see nothing in the Bill to give the director and the power companies the sort of duty that the new clause proposes. The Government should welcome it in the spirit in which is is moved.

More consideration should be given to the design and environmental impact of power stations. It is only fair to give some credit to the CEGB which, when it put forward plans for the new Burton power station—not far from my constituency—devoted a large part of its planning application to an environmental impact study, designs for using the cooling pools, landscaping and the layout of the power stations. We all need power stations but they can be ugly and a great deal more can be done to make them blend into the environment and to use the considerable areas of land that accompany them in a positive way, encouraging and conserving nature.

The new clauses are progressive. The Government say that they are committed to a policy of environmental support; the new clauses will not only protect our environment and set targets to conserve energy conservation and reduce pollution, but could have long-term benefits for the competitiveness of our industry by encouraging it to take measures that will reduce its energy costs to the benefit of the community.

Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

The headline on page 2 of The Times today says: 20,000 people a month joining green groups The crucial proposal in new clause 7 is the requirement to impose a duty on the Director General of Electricity Supply; in new clause 12 to require the appointment of a deputy director general of electricity supply for energy conservation; and in new clause 13, to require a deputy director general of electricity supply for rural areas.

Hon. Members have three questions to consider before reaching a decision on the new clauses. The first is whether the existing provisions are adequate; secondly, whether adequate provision has been made, or is likely to be made in other legislation; and, thirdly, whether the Government's record makes the new clauses necessary. I am talking not just about the Government's recent record, but about their earlier record. I propose to address each of those questions in reverse order.

I consulted the Library about the measures that Conservative Governments have introduced in the House since the 1950s. In that time they have introduced at least 10 Bills affecting the environment. For the benefit of the House I shall list them quickly. There is the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act 1955, which was amended in 1961 and 1973; the Clean Air Act 1956; the Litter Act 1958; the Noise Abatement Act 1960; the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1961; the Clean Rivers (Estuaries and Tidal Waters) Act 1960; the Prevention of Oil Pollution Act 1971; the Radioactive Substances Act 1960; the Water Act 1973 and the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which I must admit was started by a Conservative Administration but was finally enacted under a Labour Administration. That does not sound like the record of a Government who have been negligent in environmental matters since the day that I was born in 1950. It is a rather good record.

Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre)

Does my hon. Friend agree that, apart from the Control of Pollution Act 1974, which began its life under a Conservative Government, no other Acts of environmental significance were enacted by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979?

Mr. Tredinnick

My wise hon. Friend is correct. The Opposition must take that record into consideration. How quiet they are now.

There are more recent measures to consider. There is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. That is a great favourite of the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy), who I see has just come back into the Chamber. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution was set up by the Conservative Government in 1987 to improve the mechanism for the control of all types of pollution.

One of the great destroyers of natural beauty, flora, fauna, and geological or physiological features is acid rain.

Mr. Morley

At a recent meeting I and my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) heard the Prime Minister give a good speech on the need to protect hedgerows. My hon. Friend is the sponsor of a Bill which, for the first time, gives legal protection to hedgerows. Despite the Prime Minister's public commitment to that, the Government blocked that Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. This is a wide debate, but to include hedgerows is really stretching it too far.

Mr. Tredinnick

I shall try not to get too close to hedgerows, or hedgehogs.

There are several critical issues relating to pollution which I want to consider and see what has been done about them. The first is acid rain and the problems of sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide. Opposition Members say that the Government have been negligent in dealing with the problem of acid rain, but in 1984 the Government set a target of 30 per cent. reduction in total SO2 emissions by the end of the 1990s. As the Opposition have said, the Government's commitment in terms of real money was £600 million. That is hardly being negligent. In 1987 a programme was announced to reduce NOX emissions by 30 per cent. by the end of 1990. Again, substantial investment in low NO2 burners is being made to ensure that that target is met. That is hardly being negligent. I shall give way to the hon. Member for Wentworth, who is trying to intervene.

Mr. Hardy

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I always try to give way to hon. Members with something to say and I would have given way to the hon. Gentleman in past debates if he had sought to intervene, but I shall not go into detail on that.

The hon. Gentleman has referred to a number of pieces of legislation. For example, he referred to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and claimed credit for the Government for that. However, that Act was Britain's response to the Berne convention for which members of the Socialist group of the Council of Europe, in which I was involved, were responsible. It also consolidated a number of other Acts of Parliament, two of which I had contributed myself, and it embodied, as a result of considerable effort on the part of Labour Members of the Standing Committee which considered that Bill, many amendments which were strengthened by initiatives taken in the other place. I could go on at great length, but the Government had little to do with many of the Bills for which it is suggested they should take credit.

Mr. Tredinnick

I am aware that the hon. Gentleman could go on—I would not question that—but I would question what he has just said. The inescapable fact is that it was this Government who produced the Bill and saw it enacted.

7 pm

Secondly, there is unleaded fuel. Lead absorbed into body tissue can cause damage to the brain and other organs. It is quite remarkable and quite outstanding that this Government have taken the lead in Europe in setting targets for the introduction of lead-free petrol throughout the Community. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has again stretched the differential between the price of ordinary petrol and the price of lead-free petrol. What a wonderful thing that is. The Government have certainly engendered tremendous support in my constituency by adopting that policy. The promotion of lead-free petrol illustrates again a laudable commitment of which we must take note.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can help me and other hon. Members in our efforts to work out the relevance of his comments to electricity. Is he about to suggest that one way of getting round the problem of lead in petrol would be to have electric battery-operated cars?

Mr. Tredinnick

I wondered whether I should give way to the hon. Gentleman; now I know that I made a mistake in doing so. I am illustrating what the Government have done, and posing the question whether we should consider these amendments as desirable additional measures. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening, he would have understood that.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has moved the frontiers beyond Europe, where we have taken the lead in lead-free petrol, to the rest of the world in what she and the Government have done concerning the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect. It is a fantastic tribute to my right hon. Friend that she seized the initiative in getting 200 world leaders to London to thrash out the crucial issues concerning this very worrying atmospheric problem that affect the world. We saw six concrete achievements resulting from that conference. There was agreement on CFC controls; 20 more countries agreed to the Montreal protocol, and there was a commitment from 14 countries, including China and India, to consider signing it; the countries of the EEC agreed to a total ban—and what an achievement that was. Of course, we are also promoting the substitute gases that are so necessary to replace CFCs.

Mr. Mans

Does my hon. Friend agree that people who live in greenhouses should not burn coal?

Mr. Tredinnick

My hon. Friend is obviously thinking of the hon. Member for Wentworth.

I want to deal now with my last point. It concerns an item that the Government have addressed recently—research funding. When one looks at the record, contrary to what the Opposition claim, one finds that the Natural Environment Research Council has received a cash boost of £71 million over the period 1989–90 to 1991–92; that the British Antarctic Survey, which, of course, was responsible for the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer, is to receive £23 million over the same period; and that the public expenditure plans that were announced in November include an extra £2.6 million for the research programme of the Department of the Environment. That is hardly a poor record.

There is one other aspect that must be considered—the leadership of the parties, and who is doing most in environmental control. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is a scientist. I do not see many scientists on the Opposition Benches. There is quite a contrast between the way that my right hon. Friend tackles environmental issues and the way that the Leader of the Opposition tackles them. I am indebted to a Mr. Malcolm Grimston, of Trevelyan road, Tooting, who wrote saying: After the ozone layer conference Mr. Kinnock was on the radio. After giving grudging praise to the Prime Minister he went on about how deforestation in Brazil was causing extra carbon dioxide and methane to be released, and this was also damaging the ozone layer. This is rubbish. Carbon dioxide and methane don't attack ozone, though they do add to the far more serious greenhouse effect. That is a pretty fair illustration of the lack of knowledge of environmental issues at the very top in the Labour party.

The Government's record, long-term and short-term, is good. Besides this Bill, they have acted in a whole range of areas to improve the environment, and, of course, we have better leadership.

Let me refer to the 20,000 people a month who are joining green movements. It seems to me fairly clear that for anybody thinking of joining a green movement the right way of spending money is to join the organisation that is most likely to effect change, and that is the Conservative party. The first priority should be to join the Conservative party, and the second priority should be to join the Tory green initiative, which has been set up specifically to channel the tremendous concern on this side of the House.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

I wonder how many copies of this Tory Central Office brief there are to spare. I should like to have one—perhaps, after the hon. Member has finished, the one that he is using.

Mr. Tredinnick

The hon. Gentleman chivalrously question my notes. I can assure him that I wrote them myself. However, if he would like a photocopy after the proceedings, perhaps he would like to meet me behind the Chair.

I have been asking myself whether the wording of schedule 9 is strong enough. I know that this is what exercises the minds of many Opposition Members—whether phrases such as "having regard" and "taking into account" are strong enough to ensure that the director general will put into effect the intentions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. At the 19th sitting of the Standing Committee, I raised the issue of the conservation of energy, as against the creation of energy sources. Some Opposition Members may find common ground with me when I say that it is essential that we keep very much in the forefront of our minds the possibility of cutting energy consumption. I cite in particular the dramatic numbers of people who are now interested in environmental issues. I say to my right hon. Friend that we really must keep at the forefront of our minds the possibility of cutting energy consumption.

Let me illustrate the point by drawing attention to a survey that was carried out in the north-west of England late last year. It was found that a 20 per cent. cut in energy consumption could be achieved at a cost of £1 billion. The cost of Sizewell B is £1.646 billion, and the cost of Hinkley Point £1.47 billion. I am not suggesting that these stations should not be built, but I am suggesting that there is a trade-off here that we should consider very seriously. I know that my right hon. Friend is considering it very seriously; what I hope to do is to reinforce his thoughts.

I come, finally, to the issue of how the alternative energies that are now coming forward—wind, wave and even plants as energy sources—fit into the scheme of this Bill.

Mr. Morgan

Sit down.

Mr. Tredinnick

The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), who has spoken so often in Committee, is obviously anxious to get up again. I have not had the advantage of speaking as often as he has, so I should be grateful if he would bear with me while I finish my speech.

I have received letters from organisations such as the Wind Energy Group—which is a British Aerospace and Taylor Woodrow company—stressing how the Wind Energy Group's MS3 can now generate electricity at a cost competitive with that of nuclear power. The director, Dr. Peter Musgrove, informs me: Given a fair price for electricity from wind turbines it is quite realistic to forecast the installation of up to 500 MW annually throughout the 1990s so that wind energy could supply several per cent. of our electricity needs by the year 2000. He says that his concern is that the legislation now being drafted will mean that wind energy is treated unfairly in the context of nuclear energy. That is something that we have to guard against. We have diversity and we welcome it, and I am very anxious that the alternative sources of energy should be given a fair crack of the whip.

The Government have a fine record, in both the long term and the short term, but I ask the Minister to ensure that the Director General of Electricity Supply takes into account the environment, energy conservation and alternative sources of power.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

I now know why the Government Whip would not let the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Tredinnick) speak in Committee. We would still have been on the first amendment if he had allowed him to get up. He does talk a load of rubbish, he really does. In Committee, I accused him of being sensible, but I will withdraw that now.

It is really a great pleasure—

Mr. Tredinnick


Mr. Haynes

No, I will not give way; the hon. Member has only just sat down.

It is really a great pleasure to have the Secretary of State in attendance during this very important debate. This is a very important issue and my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) did a first-class job in moving the new clause. He made it clear to the Government what should be happening when this privatisation takes place on the question of conservation and efficiency in the electricity industry. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his speech.

Hon. Members have talked about research in connection with the industry. That lot over there are guilty of cutting back on research, never mind what the hon. Member for Bosworth said about pouring in £70 million or so since 1979.

By the way, it is about time the laddie went outside to have his nappy changed, because he is still wearing nappies judging by the way he has been talking this afternoon.

Mr. Tredinnick


Mr. Haynes

No, I am not going to give way. Stay down.

Since this Government have been in office they have done nothing but cut back here, there and everywhere, on research among other things. I remember one of my hon. Friends standing up seven or eight years ago and saying that the Aston university had lost 1,100 places under this Administration. That is in one university, and we are talking about people being trained and educated for the job of research, not only in the electricity industry but in many other industries. So I do not know why the hon. Gentleman made the comment he did, because he is completely wrong. I am correct; the facts are in my favour and I have the information I need from the people on the Opposition Benches who have sussed it out.

7.15 pm

When it comes to conservation, I know what the Government are after. It is not a question of conservation for people who are buying in to this marvellous industry and lining their pockets with gold—including foreigners.

The Secretary of State laughs. It is not a laughing matter; it is a serious matter. The Government will allow foreigners to pour in over our shores and buy shares in our electricity industry. This is how that lot go on. They are not bothered about the British; they are looking after the foreigners. That is why we have this argument down the road about Harrods. I am looking at this thing sensibly. The people of this nation are laughing at that lot the way they are carrying on. But they will not be in office much longer. We shall be moving across the Floor and we shall put it right; we shall put the electricity industry, as well as many other industries, right.

I have been in the Secretary of State's constituency. I should have told him when I went, but I did not, and I apologise for that. I went to have a look at the palatial property in which he lives, and he really does live in a palatial property. When I saw it I thought to myself that there were not many properties like that in my constituency, with all those poor old colliers that I worked with underground for 35 years. Some of them are living in hovels, and it is because of the policy decisions of the Conservative Government. We talk about energy conservation. The roofs are falling in and the Government have cut back on grants. We are wasting energy when the Government ought to be encouraging people to do something to their properties to conserve energy.

The Conservatives talk about efficiency. We have never seen anything efficient coming from the Government Benches and it is about time we did. It is about time Government Members livened themselves up as far as efficiency is concerned.

I have seen efficiency. I had 35 years of efficiency underground and I am proud of it. When I come into this place and find the Tory Government doing the things they are doing, I see no efficiency. But we will put that lot right; there is no doubt about that. They stand at those Benches and at the Dispatch Box bragging and boosting themselves up, but a lot of them will not come back to the House. We shall be on that side and we shall make all the decisions that have to be made.

When the Government talk about efficiency they mean less and less manpower. That is how they look at efficiency —more people on the dole, more profit for the rich to pour into their pockets. We have had a bellyful, we have had enough, and we shall change the system at the first opportunity we get. We shall do it well, and that lot will be sorry for what they have done to the people of this nation in terms of electricity, the poll tax, the Health Service—I am reeling these off as the hon. Member for Bosworth reeled off the Bills. I am reeling off all the wicked things that the Government have been doing since 1979. The lad only came into the House in 1987. He is getting an education this afternoon, as he did in Committee, and there is more to come. Until that lot go we will educate them on what they should be doing in the interests of the people.

We are talking about the Electricity Bill, which I hope will not become an Act, because I hope that the people outside the House will demonstrate quite clearly that they do not want what has been pushed down their throats, particularly on electricity, water and health.

I hope that the Government and the Secretary of State have got the message. I am pleased that the Secretary of State is here to listen to me. He said that he enjoyed my speech yesterday. I hope that he has enjoyed this one. I do not make fancy speeches for people to read in future records. My speeches come from the heart because I represent the people of Ashfield and I shall continue to fight on their behalf.

Mr. Wallace

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes). There is certainly no conservation of energy in the spirited way in which he delivers his contributions, and I am sure that the House commends him for that.

Hon. Members have highlighted the great contribution that conservation of energy can make. Some examples have been given, not least by my hon. Friend for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) and by the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) who highlighted the ways in which energy conservation can make a valuable contribution.

About eight or nine years ago somebody suggested that if all the money up to that time spent on Britain's nuclear industry had been spent on thatching roofs the amount of energy conserved would have been equivalent to the amount of energy generated by nuclear power. That example is by way of illustration rather than a prescription, but it underlines the great importance of energy conservation. It is important not only in terms of the stewardship of our resources but because of the benefits that it can bring.

It has often struck me as quite telling that many elderly people and people on benefit who receive benefit through the post could well save much money by the simple operation of insulating their homes. Such a policy has a strong environmental base. My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon spoke about the importance of low-cost planning. A case can be made for that in economic terms, but it does not take into account the important environmental benefit.

I had hoped that the Government would be sympathetic at least to the ideas put forward in the Bill even if they were not sympathetic to the amendments and new clauses 7 and 12. We should have been able to hope for some positive response. If amendments were technically deficient, the Government could have said that they would bring forward correct ones in another place. The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Moss) put his finger on the real point when he spoke about the Bonneville Power Administration. He accepted that that company had shown what could be done through investment and energy conservation. In an intervention, my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon said that that had not been done as a result of the company's own free will but that someone had had to prompt the company to do it. That is what is behind the new clauses.

Energy conservation has not been practised in the past and the record shows that it will not happen in future. We need someone to give companies a prod, and we propose a deputy director general of electricity supply who will be able to do that. That will ensure that the electricity supply industry takes into account the great savings and the contribution that can be made by energy conservation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) spoke about new clause 17. We want to see a deputy director general of electricity supply with special responsibility for rural areas. I acknowledge that a common tariff will be charged throughout the area of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. That is welcome, especially in my constituency. Our new clause would add to the duties of our proposed deputy director a duty for boards to have regard to the social and economic requirements of the area served by the various supply boards. That requirement currently exists in the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board but it will disappear if the Bill becomes law.

The disappearance of such a statutory duty is regrettable. The Government have sought to justify it by saying that there will be a common tariff, and that is fair enough. Secondly, they have said that there are now other bodies charged with responsibility for economic and social development. Too much cannot be done to try to promote the economic and social development of areas with special geographic problems such as the Highlands and Islands. Most places in the Highlands and Islands are now connected to the electricity supply. It is fair to acknowledge that that has been done with assistance from the uneconomic rural development programme. However, some people are still not connected to the main electricity supply.

One of my constituents comes regularly to see me. In 1985 he was given a tentative quote by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board that it would cost £10,500 to connect him to the main supply. He was told that connection would have to take place at the end of the uneconomic rural development programme. More recently he sought an estimate and was told that the cost would be £60,000. I am talking about an elderly couple living in croft property in Orkney and the wife is an invalid. They have a generator but it cannot be operated for 24 hours a day and that means that they lose the benefits of refrigeration and night storage heating. It would be of great value to those people if their property could be connected to the mains supply. I agree that in some conservation areas planning permission is not likely to be given for overhead wires, and underground cables are much more costly. I do not know how anyone could reasonably expect an elderly pensioner couple to find £60,000 for vital supplies.

I am told that under the crofting grants scheme the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Scotland can offer a £600 grant and a loan of £600. Clearly, that is not enough. I have asked the Minister of State, Scottish Office to see whether there is any way in which assistance can be offered. I wrote to him some time ago, but he has not yet replied. I do not criticise him for that because I am sure that he realises the seriousness of the problem although I doubt whether he can find a way around it.

New clause 17 seeks to ensure the possibility of every domestic household being connected to the main supply. That should be done at a cost that is within the means of the vast majority of people. While the tariff is common throughout the north of Scotland there are no guarantees for any other part of Scotland or for the rest of the United Kingdom. Will the Minister tell us what he understands by the word "tariff"? Does it mean the standing charge? Does it include charges for repair or a call-out charge? While one would not expect connection charges to be identical throughout an area there should be at least some common basis on which charges are calculated, such as happens at the moment for wayleave payments.

The quality of the supply and especially the quality of the repair service are vital in remote rural areas and cannot be measured in terms of pounds and pence. Those things cannot be left on trust. We need a person with responsibility for looking after the provision of the electricity supply in rural areas. That would ensure that when the supply was cut, not least because of inclement weather, there would be someone to put pressure on the electricity supply industry to ensure a proper and adequate response. No one expects overnight miracles, but without additional prompting the quality of the electricity supply to rural areas could seriously diminish. That is why I commend the new clause to the House.

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central)

I want to make one point about the Grimethorpe fluidised bed plant because that plant stands at the edge of my constituency. As several hon. Members have said, the funding for the continuation of that plant's experiments has been under threat for several months.

Only yesterday, British Coal gave evidence to the Select Committee on Energy that £12 million would be necessary to continue the experiments. As British Coal has attracted private investment from a foreign company in Finland called Ahlström, we should like a commitment from the Minister about future funding. I understand that the decision could be delayed until after September because of the public expenditure allocations. If the money is delayed until then, the plant will have to close. Already jobs have been lost at the plant in the sense that some key personnel have gone abroad to work on similar schemes. Those jobs were in and around my constituency. I want the Minister to consider British Coal's request for a sign that the funding will be forthcoming even if that means waiting for the cash until September.

7.30 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Michael Spicer)

I want to answer three specific points before I set out the Government's general position. We agree entirely with the Opposition about the very important subject of energy conservation and its relationship to the Bill.

Having designated today as "environment day"—I am not sure whether that is official—the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) said that we had cut the Energy Efficiency Office budget. He said that we would presumably be left with a massive generalised advertising campaign. The sneer with which he made that point—perhaps sneer is too strong a word; rather, his pained tone —showed that he thought that that would be a waste of money. I assure him that the cuts have taken place precisely because we cut the generalised advertising budget. We have replaced that large generalised budget, which we agree with the hon. Gentleman is not the best way to convey the message, with a much more cost-effective advisory programme targeted at specific major users. We think, and I suspect from the comments made by the hon. Member for Sedgefield that he would agree, that that is the best way to convey the message.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has just popped out of the Chamber so perhaps his colleagues will pass my comments on to him. He raised the matter of common tariffs. The privatised public electricity supply companies, the present area boards, will maintain the present structure for five years after flotation if that takes place in 1990. Ultimately we cannot prevent companies from charging tariffs which relate to costs. However, powers will be given to the director general under the terms of the Bill to enable him to ensure that tariffs relate to costs and are not excessive or in any way an abuse of a company's power. That new protection for consumers will exist in the Bill.

Mr. Wallace

The Minister said that there was no way in which the Government could enforce a particular stucture. However, I understand that they will enforce the common tariff structure for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. If it is possible to do it there, why is it impossible to do it in the rest of the country? Is the Minister backtracking from the commitments given about the north of Scotland?

Mr. Spicer

I did not say that there was no way in which we could do it. I said that there is no way in which we would want to do it. Very special circumstances apply in the north of Scotland in terms of its geography and the way in which it is supplied with electricity—primarily through hydro. The Government felt that there were exceptional circumstances in the north of Scotland. Generally we would not wish to distort the market by insisting on common tariffs.

In answer to the point raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) about his constituent, I can tell him that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office has taken that on board and has had a word with the hon. Gentleman. My hon. Friend will look into the matter. Under the terms of the Bill, if the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland was distressed about a particular charge for connection imposed on a constituent, he could involve the director general in determining whether that charge was correct. In that respect, the Bill is an improvement for the consumer.

It is easy to agree with almost every speech; turning lights on and generating heat involves processes which, with the exception of certain nuclear and renewable technologies, deplete the world stock of natural resources and, with no exceptions, have potential detrimental effects on the environment. The difficult part about this debate is to agree on what to do about it.

The thrust of the amendments is to rely on measures aimed at conserving energy. The most illiberal of those proposals is contained, as is sadly often the case these days, in the amendments of the old Liberal party. Those proposals relate to giving the regulator powers of direction and intervention to ensure, for example, that no new plant is developed unless a deputy director for conservation is satisfied that it meets certain conservationist criteria. The Democrats have gone over the top with new clause 17 which the Chair has allowed us to refer to. That new clause has been popping on and off the Amendment Paper over the past 24 hours like a jack-in-the-box.

New clause 17 proposes a rural supremo. Perhaps the Liberals can have a word with Mr. Gorbachev while he is in town. He is trying to withdraw his supremos from the countryside. The proposal for a deputy director for conservation and one for the countryside leads us to wonder why we do not have deputy directors for small houses, large houses, mothers or babies. We do not believe in that kind of interventionism. There is no way in which we can accept the new clause.

The Labour amendment proposes that a director should set annual targets for energy efficiency. Before we rush down that path of central direction and control, we should ask ourselves what is the precise purpose of conservation. Two distinct objectives have been mentioned so far and each of them may require distinct policies.

The first objective of conservation, as suggested by several hon. Members, is to make better use of scarce resources. The Government view on that is clearly different from that of the other political parties. Rather than use the instruments of central direction we shall provide the variety and the market conditions that will allow for advancing resource-efficient ways of producing power. In an excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Moss) stressed that particular point.

Mr. Blair

The Minister makes the extraordinary argument that he has some inhibition about central control, whereas he is setting up a panoply of regulation in the public interest that will interfere with the industry in many ways. Suppose that the interests of the market and of the environment conflict. Is the Minister prepared to interfere with the market to uphold the interests of the environment?

Mr. Spicer

I shall be dealing with such matters soon. I am trying to distinguish between the different thrusts of our argument, and perhaps I should not have given way. I shall be stressing that when it comes to environmental questions, the Government have a panoply of arguments. For the moment, I am talking about making better use of resources. Quite often, the Labour party engages in generalised rhetoric without explaining what it has in mind. We believe that it is better to focus on what we are proposing to achieve in the area of conservation. That is one of the reasons why we introduced the non-fossil fuel obligation, which the Opposition have so derided.

Nuclear power is certainly resource efficient, as are renewable sources of energy. It appears to have escaped the attention of the Opposition that last night we announced a special provision for renewables within the non-fossil fuel obligation. For the first time ever—and no one disputes this—the Bill gives the regulator the duty to promote efficiency. Above all, in the context of making better use of natural resources, the Bill radically restructures the industry, to allow energy-efficient producers to come on to the system. I have no doubt that that will happen, and the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) agreed that such producers will come on to the system as a consequence of our proposed restructuring.

Plans for combined cycle gas-fired stations, for new technology coal-fired plants, and even for smaller nuclear power stations are, as a direct result of the Bill, appearing in their legions as proposals with genuine prospects of being implemented. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East was also absolutely correct in that respect.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce

The Minister is in danger of confusing himself. He said that he would move on to speak about environmental issues as distinct from those of conservation, and therefore does not accept that conservation is an environmental issue. Also, he proceeds to tell the House about the list of generating investment that is to come, as if it were an instrument of conservation. Conservation is about reducing demand, and therefore about reducing the requirment for additional investment in generating capacity.

Mr. Spicer

The hon. Gentleman appears not to be listening as attentively as he normally does. He will see in Hansard tomorrow that I said that there are two functions of conservation. One deals with natural resources depletion, the other with the environment. We must be sure that we focus our policies in such a way that they will deal with both.

For the moment I am discussing resource depletion. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East pointed out, even the successor companies to the CEGB are beginning to adapt to the spirit of the new age created by the Bill—judging by the recent pronouncements of Mr. Robert Malpas, chairman-designate of PowerGen.

The second objective of energy conservation is to meet the growing and legitimate concern for our environment, notably in respect of the effects of acid rain, SO2 emissions, and the warming effect caused by CO2. Our view, in contrast to that expressed by some hon. Members, is that we cannot rely solely on conservation measures to solve those problems. Demand for electricity is growing, and it is likely to continue increasing in all major industralised countries as consumers install new electrical processes and equipment. When the hon. Member for Gordon presents—as he did throughout the Committee stage—conservation as his major policy, he must acknowledge that major international organisations such as the International Energy Agency and the European Commission forecast continuing growth in electricity demand throughout the Community, even after taking account of prospective efficiency gains.

7.45 pm

A policy that wholly or largely relies on conservation —as does that of the hon. Member for Gordon from time to time, and, although I may be misinterpreting him, it is a policy which seems to be implicit at least in the Opposition's amendment—flies in the face of what is likely to occur in the next few years. Even allowing for conservation measures, demand is likely to grow. As we expect to be in government for the next 15 years, we cannot afford to theorise about those matters, and must be sure that the lights do not go out for old people and for the constituents we all represent. We must ensure that the growing demand for electricity is met while minimising the effects of that expansion on the environment. The key problems are how to achieve increased supply and not to rely exclusively on conservation to protect the environment. That is why the Government have introduced the tightest regulations ever to control SO2 emissions, for example, which will have to be reduced by 60 per cent. on 1980 levels by the year 2003.

The other day, I heard it reported on radio that the hon. Member for Sedgefield proposed setting up reduced emission targets that would include one for CO2. As we do not yet have the technology for controlling CO2 emissions, I have to ask the hon. Gentleman whether that is a n implicit reversal of Labour's anti-nuclear policy.

Mr. Blair

I was talking about conservation targets.

Mr. Spicer

If the hon. Gentleman meant conservation, I refer him to my earlier remarks, when I said that we must allow for the fact that demand will increase, even allowing for conservation. Targets related to CO2 are a nonsense, and the hon. Gentleman probably knows it.

It is right to search for clean coal technologies, and right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House are right to stress the need for it. That brings me to the future of Grimethorpe. We have spent £17 million of public money on Grimethorpe, and we are now trying to ensure that industry adopts the available technology, particularly that relating to the topping cycle. We place great emphasis on individual involvement, mainly because in that way we can ensure that when the technology is fully developed it will be used—as opposed to being just another piece of fancy research that does nothing more than pander to green rhetoric. We have a good chance of successfully finding such a combination of industrial involvement in the technology. I certainly spend much of my time ensuring that that involvement takes place.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

If by the end of the public expenditure round in September or October of this year, industry cannot fund Grimethorpe, will the Government fund it to make sure that the topping cycle —we are a world leader in that technology—is continued in the autumn of this year?

Mr. Spicer

I cannot accept that. Even the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) accepted that the public expenditure round takes place in its own way. I cannot predict what submissions my Department might make to the Treasury or what the Treasury's response would be. I confirm that we are looking for industrial involvement in the project, for the good reason—not just the financial reason—that industrial involvement would mean that there would be a marketplace for the technology. It would not be sensible simply to pile in public money, in the absence of a genuine marketplace and take-up for the technology. Much public money has already been spent on Grimethorpe. If the hon. Gentleman thinks about it, he will understand that there has not been much take-up of the technologies.

We want to be sure that the development that takes place at Grimethorpe is taken up by industry. Industrial involvement is clearly the best way forward for Grimethorpe. We are certainly doing our best to ensure that there is such involvement.

There is a difference of approach between the Government and the Opposition parties on major matters of environmental controls and of conservation in particular.

Mr. Lofthouse

The Minister has already been informed by myself and other hon. Members that Mr. Malcolm Edwards made it clear yesterday that, by September, if there is no money from the Government, the Grimethorpe plant will be doomed. If that is the case, there would be little research into that technology in this country. Emergency measures must be taken by the Government to save Grimethorpe between now and September. Mr. Malcolm Edwards made it clear that he could not foresee any private sector money, apart from what has already been accepted, going into the scheme.

Mr. Spicer

I do not speak or answer for Mr. Malcolm Edwards. I answer for the Government. We are looking for industrial commitment to the technology, not because of funding but because we want the technology to be developed in such a way that it will be applied. That is a sensible way of going forward.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

As far as I can recollect, there have been field studies into industrial technology and other high-tech matters. Are the Government prepared to test the fluidised bed on a field basis to prove its viability?

Mr. Spicer

As the House already knows, there is considerable industrial involvement. We want to find more people to be involved, for the good reason that it will then be much more likely that the technology will be properly applied and used. We are not just spending money or keeping jobs in Grimethorpe. That is not the primary objective of even those hon. Members who represent constituents' interests. All hon. Members are concerned about developing a technology that will be applied to make the use of coal much more efficient, and particularly to affect carbon dioxide emission levels. One way in which we can ensure that the technology is applied is to get the participation of those who believe in the application of the technology. That will be good for its further use in the way that we have argued it should be used.

The Labour party and the Liberals would engage in rhetoric and bureaucracy, and that is demonstrated by their amendments. The Government are engaged in providing the market conditions and the associated regulations which will protect the environment and make the best use of scarce resources. For that reason, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the amendments should they be pressed to a vote.

Mr. Morgan

Hon. Members should be conscious of the importance that energy and the environment may have in politics. We are conscious of the visit by President Gorbachev, glasnost, and East-West relations. The Secretary of State is to visit the USSR next week. We must remember also that Mr. Gorbachev and glasnost would never have been successful but for the catastrophic Chernobyl accident. The attempt by the old Russian system to close the matter and say, "We must not tell the public about it," set the glasnost ball rolling in the Soviet Union. That is why we, in turn, place great emphasis on the conservation of energy and on conservation being written into the Bill in a much more powerful way than the Government have so far agreed to do. Why have the Government kept the Bill so weak and toned it down?

The Minister spoke at length, trying to break down energy conservation into its component parts and persuade people to make better industrial use of electricity in particularly and energy in general. He mentioned the problems that have arisen and the use of new technology in generation and utilising the waste heat that inevitably comes from generation. In his view, pollution has presented some sort of challenge. He said that, somehow, we are failing to take account of the impact of the coal industry on the pollution load in the atmosphere. The Government have suddenly deemed that they should grab the great issue of the greenhouse effect arising from carbon dioxide. That problem has arisen in the past two or three years. There is no point in jobbing backwards. Scientists are not examining it.

If the cause and effect that some scientists believe to exist in the connection between fossil fuel electricity generation and global warming is firmly proved over the next three or four years, obviously it will be a matter for policy adjustments when scientists have a clear message to tell us. In the meantime, it is not possible to find a serious scientist who is willing to commit himself or herself to the view that it is right now to change technologies from fossil fuel to nuclear fuel or other renewables. They will say that it makes sense to opt for conservation. The greenhouse effect argument that the Government have been trying to promote and use as a justification for the non-fossil fuel levy and for the protective right fence that they are putting around the nuclear industry but not around the coal industry was used by scientists to promote the need to write in conservation measures, as most American states have done and as the European Community is trying to do, but as this Government, given their big opportunity, are funking.

Let us work out why. The answer is simple. We have read about the great argument—we have heard it on serious television current affairs programmes on Sundays —between the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Energy. The Secretary of State for the Environment wants Britain to go all nuclear as quickly as possible. The Secretary of State for Energy had to put him right and insist, but in more elegant language, "Stay off my turf." He believes that we cannot afford to commit ourselves to a big programme of nuclear power and hope to float the industry.

The Secretary of State for the Environment says that he is an all-nuclear man, whereas the Secretary of State for Energy has a job to do—to sell the industry to the private sector. He is perfectly well aware from the advice that he is receiving from the merchant banks that one simply cannot do that and commit oneself to major changes in technology or to a building programme which he knows that the British power engineering industry cannot meet. He knows that if there were to be a big shift to nuclear power, there would he no chance of privatising the industry.

One cannot say that the industry is now due for a sea change in technology and for a major shift to some new and, in British terms, unproven method of generating power and yet hope to sell the industry. That would be an argument for keeping the industry in the public sector. There are many other arguments for that, but that is the argument that the merchant banks would use if the Secretary of State for the Environment were successful in persuading the Secretary of State for Energy that he had to shift to a major programme of nuclear power.

8 pm

The Department of Energy says that it wants to keep things simple and not tell anyone in the City who might be advising the buyers that they might need to think about huge write-offs of existing plant. The Department of Energy says that the industry should be kept as it is so that it can produce profits every year and that if there were to be tighter regulations, they should be introduced on a cumulative basis, a few per cent. a year, with which the industry could cope as if it were a conventional company.

The Secretary of State for the Environment goes for the big bang and the shifting of everything into nuclear power. We believe that we should adapt the existing technology and convert to smaller power stations, from which we could obtain far higher efficiency ratings. We are well aware that it is possible to improve the peak performance of power stations from the present 37 per cent. fuel efficiency to 75 per cent., with the use of the combined cycle, combined heat and power technology or both at the same time.

The other points that the Opposition have raised have been in relation to the Government's attitude to the Energy Efficiency Office and other allied activities. There has been an enormous deterioration in the availability of advice to industry and consumers because of the change from the community regulations to the employment training regulations in respect of schemes that can provide energy advice or energy saving devices in houses, such as draught strips and insulation. Grants have also been abolished.

I shall give an example from Cardiff. About six months ago, 230 people were engaged in energy advice under the community programme. In spite of the changes announced by the Department of Employment to try to save some of the schemes, only 40 people are now engaged in that scheme. The energy advice centre has been scrapped completely because it proved to be wholly impossible to make it compatible with the employment training regulations. That is a major loss to energy efficiency and conservation and it is a matter with which the Government have proved themselves inadequate to cope.

The Government's actions since the new year do not give us any confidence in the future of energy conservation. That is why we believe that it is essential to write into the Bill far stricter provisions than the Government have in mind. We know that the only people who are stopping the Government are the merchant bankers in the City who say that stricter provisions would over-complicate the issue and might stop the industry being sold off successfully. The merchant banks believe that if the Government want a successful sale, they should keep matters plain and simple and ensure that the industry can see the profits coming. The merchant banks believe that the Government should not tell people what there is to worry about in the energy future of the world.

We are glad that Mr. Malpas, the chief executive of PowerGen, has done his best to bring to the notice of the investing public, the general public and, most importantly, to the Government, just how important energy conservation is, whether the future of the electricity industry is in the public or private sector. Before any Conservative Back Benchers get the idea that conservation of the environment can be left safely to the private sector, I must point out that Opposition Members do not want to see the corner-cutting ethics and mentality of the Esso oil company, which caused the Prince William sound disaster of the Exxon Valdez in the past couple of weeks, running the electricity industry in this country.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 254.

Division No. 142] [8.4 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Cohen, Harry
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Coleman, Donald
Allen, Graham Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Anderson, Donald Corbyn, Jeremy
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cousins, Jim
Armstrong, Hilary Cox, Tom
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Crowther, Stan
Ashton, Joe Cryer, Bob
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cummings, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Dalyell, Tam
Barron, Kevin Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Battle, John Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Beckett, Margaret Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Beith, A. J. Dewar, Donald
Bell, Stuart Dixon, Don
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Dobson, Frank
Bermingham, Gerald Doran, Frank
Bidwell, Sydney Duffy, A. E. P.
Blair, Tony Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bradley, Keith Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Eadie, Alexander
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Eastham, Ken
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Buckley, George J. Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Caborn, Richard Fatchett, Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Faulds, Andrew
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fearn, Ronald
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Fisher, Mark
Clay, Bob Flannery, Martin
Clelland, David Flynn, Paul
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Foster, Derek Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Foulkes, George Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Fraser, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fyfe, Maria Morgan, Rhodri
Galbraith, Sam Morley, Elliott
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
George, Bruce Mullin, Chris
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Murphy, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin O'Brien, William
Gould, Bryan Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Graham, Thomas Parry, Robert
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Patchett, Terry
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Pendry, Tom
Grocott, Bruce Pike, Peter L.
Hardy, Peter Prescott, John
Harman, Ms Harriet Primarolo, Dawn
Haynes, Frank Quin, Ms Joyce
Henderson, Doug Radice, Giles
Hinchliffe, David Randall, Stuart
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Redmond, Martin
Home Robertson, John Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hood, Jimmy Reid, Dr John
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Robertson, George
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Robinson, Geoffrey
Howells, Geraint Rogers, Allan
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Rooker, Jeff
Hoyle, Doug Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Illsley, Eric Skinner, Dennis
Ingram, Adam Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Janner, Greville Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Johnston, Sir Russell Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Snape, Peter
Kennedy, Charles Soley, Clive
Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Leighton, Ron Steel, Rt Hon David
Lewis, Terry Steinberg, Gerry
Litherland, Robert Stott, Roger
Livsey, Richard Strang, Gavin
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McAllion, John Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
McAvoy, Thomas Turner, Dennis
Macdonald, Calum A. Vaz, Keith
McFall, John Wall, Pat
McKelvey, William Wallace, James
McLeish, Henry Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McWilliam, John Wareing, Robert N.
Madden, Max Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Marek, Dr John Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Winnick, David
Martlew, Eric Worthington, Tony
Maxton, John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Meacher, Michael
Meale, Alan Tellers for the Ayes:
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Mr. Allen McKay and Mr. Ray Powell.
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Adley, Robert Benyon, W.
Aitken, Jonathan Bevan, David Gilroy
Allason, Rupert Biffen, Rt Hon John
Amess, David Blackburn, Dr John G.
Amos, Alan Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Body, Sir Richard
Ashby, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Aspinwall, Jack Boswell, Tim
Atkinson, David Bottomley, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Baldry, Tony Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Batiste, Spencer Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Bellingham, Henry Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Bendall, Vivian Brazier, Julian
Bright, Graham Hunter, Andrew
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Irvine, Michael
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Jack, Michael
Browne, John (Winchester) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Kirkhope, Timothy
Budgen, Nicholas Knapman, Roger
Burns, Simon Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Burt, Alistair Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Butcher, John Knowles, Michael
Butterfill, John Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Lang, Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Latham, Michael
Carrington, Matthew Lawrence, Ivan
Carttiss, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Cash, William Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Chapman, Sydney Lilley, Peter
Churchill, Mr Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Lord, Michael
Conway, Derek Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Cope, Rt Hon John Maclean, David
Cormack, Patrick McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Couchman, James Malins, Humfrey
Cran, James Mans, Keith
Critchley, Julian Maples, John
Curry, David Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Day, Stephen Mates, Michael
Devlin, Tim Maude, Hon Francis
Dicks, Terry Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Dorrell, Stephen Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mellor, David
Dover, Den Meyer, Sir Anthony
Durant, Tony Miller, Sir Hal
Dykes, Hugh Mills, Iain
Emery, Sir Peter Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Evennett, David Mitchell, Sir David
Fallon, Michael Moate, Roger
Favell, Tony Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Fenner, Dame Peggy Morrison, Sir Charles
Fookes, Dame Janet Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Forman, Nigel Moss, Malcolm
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mudd, David
Forth, Eric Neale, Gerrard
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Needham, Richard
Fox, Sir Marcus Nelson, Anthony
Franks, Cecil Neubert, Michael
Freeman, Roger Nicholls, Patrick
French, Douglas Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Fry, Peter Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Gale, Roger Norris, Steve
Gardiner, George Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Garel-Jones, Tristan Oppenheim, Phillip
Gill, Christopher Page, Richard
Glyn, Dr Alan Paice, James
Goodhart, Sir Philip Patnick, Irvine
Goodlad, Alastair Patten, Chris (Bath)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Gow, Ian Pawsey, James
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Gregory, Conal Porter, David (Waveney)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Powell, William (Corby)
Grist, Ian Price, Sir David
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hague, William Rathbone, Tim
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Redwood, John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Renton, Tim
Hampson, Dr Keith Rhodes James, Robert
Hanley, Jeremy Riddick, Graham
Harris, David Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hind, Kenneth Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Roe, Mrs Marion
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Rowe, Andrew
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Ryder, Richard
Sackville, Hon Tom Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan Thurnham, Peter
Scott, Nicholas Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, David (Dover) Tracey, Richard
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Tredinnick, David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Trippier, David
Shelton, Sir William Trotter, Neville
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shersby, Michael Viggers, Peter
Sims, Roger Waddington, Rt Hon David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Waller, Gary
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Ward, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Warren, Kenneth
Speed, Keith Watts, John
Speller, Tony Wells, Bowen
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Wheeler, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Whitney, Ray
Squire, Robin Widdecombe, Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Wilshire, David
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stern, Michael Winterton, Nicholas
Stevens, Lewis Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wood, Timothy
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Woodcock, Mike
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Yeo, Tim
Sumberg, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Summerson, Hugo
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory and Mr. David Lightbown.
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)

Question accordingly negatived.

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