HL Deb 06 March 1986 vol 472 cc302-4

3.12 p.m.

Lord Ezra

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 what levels of investment in energy efficient equipment will be required to achieve their stated objective of reducing the nation's energy bill by 20 per cent. in five years.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the overall savings we look for can be achieved by a variety of means. A substantial proportion can be achieved simply through better management, and with little or no investment. The rest of the savings—perhaps just over half—require investments with a relatively short payback period. Given payback periods ranging from a few weeks to five years, an associated investment of some £6 billion to £9 billion might be required.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that a 20 per cent. saving in energy consumption would amount to some £7 billion per annum, and that in five years' time this could well exceed the earnings which we receive from North Sea oil? In that case, can we be assured that, as well as the efforts put in this year to stimulate energy saving, the Government are taking steps to see that the momentum is adequately maintained?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I can certainly give the noble Lord the assurance that the momentum will be sustained, as it has been for the last two years, beyond the end of Energy Efficiency Year 1986. To some extent I think that the momentum will be self-feeding, as more and more industries discover the benefits that some of their competitors have received from an energy efficiency campaign and will naturally want to keep up with them.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, would the Minister agree that better insulation of houses would contribute greatly to energy saving and would be extremely job-creative, if money could be forthcomig to help people who are in a position to do this work? Is the Minister aware that only this morning I visited a company which was started and is run entirely by young blacks, whose efforts in this direction are being held up by red tape so that it has taken them several months even to get a form answered?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, as regards the latter part of the question of the noble Baroness, may I say that I am sorry that this should have happened. I imagine that this scheme is part of the voluntary insulation scheme which is funded partly by the Department of Energy, partly by the DHSS and partly by the Manpower Services Commission. I must say that I am disappointed to hear that such a scheme should have been held up because of red tape. As regards the question of home insulation, the Government are still giving grants for that work. A normal grant of 66 per cent. can be paid to householders, up to a maximum of £69, and over 2½ million grants of this kind have been paid to date. For the elderly and the disabled a 90 per cent. grant of up to £96 is payable, and over 300,000 such grants have been made.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that we very much support the energy saving programme and we wish it well? Will he also pay great attention to what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has said about job creation? Is he aware that up to 155,000 jobs could be created in this country provided that the Government have a planned and sustained energy saving campaign and are prepared to increase pump-priming operations.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I hope I made it quite clear that we do indeed have a sustained energy saving campaign. I cannot confirm the figure for the number of jobs that could be created through this, other than to add to what I said to the noble Baroness that the voluntary insulation scheme so far has created 3,000 jobs in projects of this kind.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, is the Minister aware that bodies such as the London Electricity Board are doing a great deal to help domestic consumers make personal savings by better information campaigns, and are thus enabling them to obtain better value for money in the use of energy as well as to save energy?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, my noble friend is quite correct. Indeed, all the suppliers of energy—the gas boards, the electricity boards and the oil companies—have been supporting the Government by mounting energy efficiency campaigns and by pointing out to consumers how best they can save money.