HC Deb 18 December 2003 vol 415 cc1705-6
7. Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the implications of the pre-Budget statement for the energy efficiency implementation plan to be proposed in the forthcoming energy White Paper. [144722]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Healey)

The Government plan to follow up the energy White Paper by publishing the implementation plan on energy efficiency early next year. The pre-Budget report confirmed the case for using further economic instruments and we are giving close consideration to a range of measures. My hon. Friend knows that decisions on tax are, as always, a matter for the Chancellor in the Budget.

Alan Simpson

I know that we made a commitment in the pre-Budget statement to introduce further measures on energy efficiency in the home. However, will my hon. Friend ensure that he, the Chancellor and Treasury team pay special attention to the warnings that we have just received from the Government's fuel poverty adviser that, unless there is a dramatic increase in the warm homes programme, we will fail to meet our commitments to tackle and to eliminate fuel poverty? Given the Chancellor's specific interests in the problems of child poverty, will he ensure that dealing with fuel poverty is a priority in the forthcoming Budget?

John Healey

My hon. Friend is right about the value of the warm homes initiative. Indeed, in the past couple of weeks, I visited constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Cowdell, in Wath upon Dearne. They, like some of my hon. Friend's constituents, have benefited from the programme by insulating their home, cutting their bills and being kept warm throughout the winter for the first time in their lives. His points about trying to ensure that our measures improve energy efficiency and reduce domestic fuel poverty are well made. The pre-Budget report confirms that we see the case for using more economic instruments in this area to promote energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty in the home. The work is complicated at present by a review of the reduced rates of VAT in Europe and by a review within government of corporation tax, but we are working hard on these measures and hope to make announcements on the budget cycle in due course.

Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South) (Con)

The Minister will be aware that a key to sustainable and efficient energy is the renewables obligation. However, is he aware that, beyond that obligation, not a single new generating project is being developed owing to a complete lack of long-term finance? What steps is the Treasury taking to encourage long-term finance in the electricity generating sector?

John Healey

Today's announcement about offshore wind capacity forms part of an extended programme of support that we are putting in place to encourage the kind of long-term investment that the hon. Gentleman is after. He is right to highlight the role of electricity generation in meeting our climate change targets but that is not the only area involved. The pre-Budget report and the track record of this Government since 1997 demonstrate that we will take decisions for the long term and put in place programmes of support that will help the UK to make a contribution to tackling the threat of global warming.

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