HC Deb 11 November 1991 vol 198 cc769-71
7. Mr. Gerald Bowden

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will report on the progress of the ministerial committee on energy efficiency.

Mr. Wakeham

Good progress has been made by the ministerial group during the past year. The group's annual report, published on 16 October, outlines the main initiatives being taken forward by the Government to promote energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy. Copies of the report were placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Bowden

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the resources available to promote energy efficiency are adequate to do the job?

Mr. Wakeham

Yes, Sir. The autumn statement confirmed that the Energy Efficiency Office budget for 1992–93 is £59 million, which is a 40 per cent. increase in resources for EEO programmes. Further increases are planned—to £70 million in 1993–94 and to £75 million in 1994–95.

Mr. Flynn

Is the Minister aware that there was a great pall of smoke over my constituency yesterday which came from a tyre fire? Is he aware that that is one of the great unused sources of energy? There is a pilot programme in Birmingham to develop tyre incineration as an energy source. Will the Secretary of State introduce a full-scale national programme to use the 1 million surplus tyres that are created every year?

Mr. Wakeham

I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that part of our research programme includes research into the use of tyres in that way. I will send him the details.

Sir Ian Lloyd

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the excellent document that I received this morning entitled "Making a Corporate Commitment"—on energy management—in which my right hon. Friend points out that the public sector could, if my arithmetic is correct, yield a saving of £560 million. He also suggests, properly, that all sectors should set performance improvement targets and he suggests a list of ministerial responsibilities. In setting a lead from the top, which is correct and proper, will that list include the Lord President of the Council and the House?

Mr. Wakeham

I am sure that the Lord President of the Council and his Department will be playing their part in trying to reduce energy bills. The Government have set a target of saving 15 per cent. of their energy bill over five years and 1990–91 forms the base year. We believe that the amount that can be saved is enormous. About 20 per cent. of all the energy that we use in this country could be saved with the best forms of energy efficiency.

Mr. Dobson

What progress have the Government made towards their 15 per cent. savings target? Did not the consumption of energy of the Secretary of State's Department increase by 60 per cent. last year? Is not it true that half the other Government Departments also increased their energy consumption, that the Department of the Environment got rid of its only post of energy manager and that half of Government Departments do not meet the Government's target of investing £1 in energy saving for every £10 spent on energy?

Mr. Wakeham

The one thing that one can rely upon is that the hon. Gentleman would not give up a point by being told the facts. He makes the point about the Department of Energy's bill and claims that it shows a 63 per cent. increase. He does not compare like with like. My Department has had its own energy bill only since it moved into its present headquarters in August 1989. Consequently, the hon. Gentleman is comparing the energy used in a 12-month period with the energy that was used in a seven-month period. If that is a sample of his research and logic, I wonder about the rest of it.

Frankly, I am not satisfied with the progress that the Government have been making over the years. That is why we set the targets. Also, 1990–91 forms the base year, so the first year under the new targets has not yet ended. All the reports that I have received show that we are making very good progress.

Mr. Michael Morris

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the forward-looking report and, perhaps more importantly, on the financial commitment that goes with it? Is he aware that in the recent issue of Building there is a comment to the effect that house builders are resisting improving insulation standards in new homes? Should not there be some further consultation to ensure that they take on board the clear message?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend may know that, last week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I launched a new campaign—energy in the home—to improve understanding of global warming and energy use and to encourage families to adopt energy efficiency measures. It is one of five recent initiatives. My hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Sir I. Lloyd) referred to one initiative—"Making a Corporate Commitment". Tomorrow, with the regional electricity companies, we will launch an energy labelling initiative so that those who buy refrigerators will see what is being used. There are many more, but I will not mention them all today.