HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 cc826-7
9. Mr. Canavan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total annual amount spent by his Department on energy conservation in each of the last three years. [3126]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

My Department's expenditure on energy efficiency was £68.3 million in 1993–94, £109.9 million in 1994–95, and £132.8 million in 1995–96—a total of £311 million for the three years.

Mr. Canavan

Is the Minister aware that the cut of more than —30 million in the home energy efficiency scheme means that many people—particularly senior citizens—are no longer eligible for grants to insulate their homes or improve their heating systems? Now that the cold weather is upon us again and the last ever Budget of this miserable Tory Government is due next week, will the Minister make strong representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase investment in the scheme in order to conserve energy and alleviate some of the hardship that has been caused by the imposition of VAT on domestic fuel and power?

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman must have been asleep when the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) asked a similar question. I find that quite understandable, so let me repeat that £30 million was added to HEES in anticipation of the House voting for the second stage of VAT on fuel. As it did not, the £30 million fell. I realise that HEES is extremely popular and successful. Incidentally, it did not exist under the last Labour Government. I assure the hon. Gentleman, however, that eligibility has not been changed in any way, shape or form. Pensioners and disabled people qualify for help under HEES. The fact that those who are better off get a 25 per cent. discount while those on the lowest incomes get a 100 per cent. discount merely reflects the advice that we have received from many that the scheme should be more targeted.

Dr. Spink

Does my hon. Friend recall that, since Labour was in power, we have increased the number of homes with loft insulation by more than double, to 89 per cent., we have increased the number of homes with cavity wall insulation tenfold, and increased the number of homes with double glazing sevenfold? Does not that demonstrate the success of the Government's policies?

Mr. Jones

That question certainly shows that my hon. Friend takes more interest in the subject than the whole of the Labour party put together. The HEES will have benefited 2 million households. That is an enormous achievement.