HL Deb 28 February 1984 vol 448 cc1157-8

2.54 p.m.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to announce any decision to proceed with combined heat and power/district heating schemes as recommended in the Atkins Report.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy (The Earl of Avon)

My Lords, an announcement on combined heat and power will be made shortly.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, in thanking the noble Earl for his reply, may I ask him to confirm that it is now 18 months since the Atkins Report was published and many people are impatiently awaiting action on that report? Also while I acquit him personally of dragging his feet on this matter—because I believe that he is sympathetic toward CHP—does he realise that many of us believe that once again it is the baleful influence of the Treasury which is delaying action on the Atkins Report? Can he either put a rocket behind the Treasury or use his renowned charm and intellect to persuade them that CHP is an excellent investment on grounds of employment, financial return and energy conservation?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that flattery will get me nowhere in this particular case. Can I just say to him that the study carried out by Atkins was indeed an extensive piece of work. Consultations have now been held with all the parties involved and I hope that we shall have a decision within the next few weeks.

Viscount Hanworth

My Lords, may I press the noble Earl a little further? Can he say whether, when a decision has been taken, it will be to select one of the nine cities investigated in the Atkins Report? In other words, has he decided to go ahead with one of them or is that still under review, after 18 months?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Viscount is trying to anticipate the decision.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, can I ask the noble Minister whether, before any announcement is made, he will seek to influence the Secretary of State to include in any such scheme individual metering for all the households and properties involved, bearing in mind the disastrous financial consequences suffered by householders in the past when individual metering has not been provided?

The Earl of Avon

Indeed yes, my Lords: The noble Lord is quite right to make that point. We have taken consideration of metering into account.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether in the preparation of the reply that we are all anxiously awaiting account will be taken of the fact that these major schemes will involve long lead-times and a long payback period, and whether special provision will be made for that?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, yes. Those aspects have been considered in the interim period.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl one short question? He says that we should expect an announcement within a few weeks. May I hope that it will be before the Easter Recess?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I certainly do.

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