HC Deb 26 June 1989 vol 155 cc689-90
11. Mr. Ray Powell

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy by what proportion he estimates the national demand for electricity will be diminished through energy conservation measures in the years 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I cannot make such an estimate, because improved energy efficiency does not automatically lead to reduced consumption of electricity. However, it is worth noting that the energy used to produce one unit of GDP in 1987 was 7 per cent. lower than in 1983. This represents a saving of over £2 billion.

Mr. Powell

Following the 50 per cent. reduction in the Government's conservation expenditure, is it not time that the Government started to talk about an energy policy instead of a privatisation policy? Is the Minister not concerned about the industrialists—particularly at Rockwell International in my constituency—who produce for conservation and yet are continually bombarded with Government cuts, with the result that their programme is miles behind? Is it not about time that the right hon. Gentleman began altering his policy?

Mr. Morrison

If the hon. Gentleman looks carefully at the figures, he will see that the reduction is nothing like 50 per cent. If he also looks at where the reduction is being made, he will find that the programmes involved have come to the end of their lives. He will also find, on reflection, that the large advertising budget of the previous two years has had precisely the desired effect: energy efficiency is now very much at the forefront of most people's minds.

Mr. Dickens

Is it not a fact that although we are conserving energy, at the same time we are living in an electronic age? Most of our offices are now using a good deal of electronic equipment, and, because of our great economy, industries are taking off and are therefore using more electricity than they did a few years ago. Although we are encouraging energy conservation, we are also trying to match the demands of industry, trade and commerce, as it is sensible for us to do.

Mr. Morrison

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. If we pursued the policies advocated by some, though not necessarily by Opposition Members, the economy would not grow and that is not what most hon. Members want.

Mr. Alan W. Williams

Will the Government learn the lessons of the European elections—the performance of the Green party and the tragic results for their own party? Is it not clear that the people of Britain totally reject nuclear power and that they want far more investment in energy conservation and in renewable sources of energy?

Mr. Morrison

If the hon. Gentleman were to ask many of the people who supported the Green party at the European elections, I think he would find that many of them had not read the Green party's manifesto. Had they read what it said about the nuclear aspect, they may well not have voted Green in the elections.

Mr. Blair

Is there not a growing consensus that the best means of combating the greenhouse effect and of promoting environmental protection is through energy efficiency and conservation, which is precisely what the Lords amendments to the Electricity Bill set out to achieve? Why does the right hon. Gentleman not say that the Government will accept those amendments and, for once, put the public interest before privatisation?

Mr. Morrison

I quite agree with what the hon. Gentleman says about energy efficiency. I wish, though, that he would look at his own party's policy towards coal, which he might find also has a greenhouse effect. If he looked at the Lord's amendments, he would see that they are unworkable. He, of all people, I am sure, would not wish unworkable clauses to be included in an Act of Parliament.

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