HC Deb 26 February 1990 vol 168 cc5-6
8. Mr. Tredinnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what recent initiatives he has taken to encourage energy conservation in the home.

Mr. Peter Morrison

My Energy Efficiency Office continues to promote energy efficiency in the home through a number of programmes.

Mr. Tredinnick

Many of my constituents, especially the residents of Hinckley, will welcome the new scheme for insulation in low-income homes. Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking to support the proposals when they come before the Standing Committee considering the Social Security Bill, and has he any proposals for advertising to encourage people to be more energy conservation-minded in the home?

Mr. Morrison

Clause 10 of the Social Security Bill, which is being piloted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security, is part of the grand design of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. I shall give it every support that I can. As the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) knows, last week I issued a consultation paper; we are waiting to hear any ideas that he and no doubt many others may have.

We have a small advertising campaign —aimed principally at industry and commerce—during the next few weeks, with the aim of targeting the people to whom my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Dalyell

As vice-chairman of the Conservative party, does the Minister believe that his Energy Efficiency Office is any more efficient than the Prime Minister's Office, whose costs have risen by 20.6 per cent?——

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is well wide of the question. If the hon. Gentleman will relate his remarks to the question on the Order Paper, I am sure that he will receive an answer.

Mr. Gow

Would not the Government set a much better example to those who should be saving energy in their homes if they were better at saving electricity costs by economising on lighting and heating? Is my right hon. Friend aware that, all over the country in public sector buildings lights are on at noon on bright days and that they are also far too hot? Will he do something about it?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend may not be aware that I chair a committee, at which a Minister from each Department is represented, whose aim is to achieve precisely those objectives. If he visited my Department, my hon. Friend would see energy-efficient lamp bulbs that use only one fifth of the electricity normally used by lights. I am sure that he would like other Departments to be shown that example.

Mr. Skinner

As Chairman of the energy conservation committee which oversees all those Departments, will the Minister take a look at the figures relating to central heating in the Houses of Parliament? Every year that I have been a Member of Parliament, the organisations concerned have spent a small fortune every recess trying to get it right, and they have not succeeded yet. I should like to know how much the bills amount to: my guess is that the figure is well over £20 million.

When he has done that, will the Minister go to No. 10 Downing street and, in his capacity as chairman of that committee, find out why the Prime Minister has spent 20.6 per cent. extra on central heating? Is it because of Bernard Ingham and all the others who are stuck up in the attic?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman, who is one of the most prominent Members of the House will no doubt realise better than I that the House of Commons (Services) Committee will look into that matter. It is not a matter for a Government Department. Perhaps an approach by the hon. Gentleman and myself to the Committee —although an unholy alliance —might work. I shall consider every aspect of the cost of energy as far as it is within the province of this Department of state.

Mr. Mans

Will my hon. Friend comment on the fact that according to well-informed opinion, PowerGen, National Power and the other generating companies could spend their money better if they subsidised home insulation instead of building more power stations?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend will realise that the electricity and gas industries are required, after privatisation, to provide energy efficiency advice. They were not required to give that advice when they were nationalised.