HL Deb 09 February 1990 vol 515 cc1025-7

Lord Hatch of Lusby asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the annual cost of lighting in the Palace of Westminster.

Lord Reay

My Lords, in the last financial year the total electricity bill for the parliamentary estate was £576,873. However, I regret to say that it is not possible to separate the cost of lighting from other electrical costs.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that I have been told repeatedly from his Front Bench that the reduction in the budget of the Energy Efficiency Office is a result of the success of that unit and there is thus less need for its operation? Has that unit operated in this Palace and can he say how many of the lighting bulbs in this Palace are of the energy efficient type?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I cannot say how many are of the energy efficient type. Following the energy audit of the Palace of Westminster which was carried out in 1989, various recommendations were made, including re-lamping with energy efficient lamps. To date 70 per cent. of the work to implement the recommendations has been completed and arrangements are in hand to complete the outstanding work. Perhaps I may add that the replacement of energy efficient lamps is not always practical in your Lordships' House or other parts of the parliamentary estate. For one thing, some of the fittings cannot easily or immediately be replaced.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, can the noble Lord say how much is expected to be saved as a result of the re-lamping programme once it is completed?

Lord Reay

My Lords, it will be very difficult to measure the precise savings which will be achieved. It is the case that, despite the savings that have been introduced, the electricity costs with regard to the parliamentary estate have continued to rise. For example, in 1987–88 the electrical costs were £509,000 compared with the figure for last year that I gave.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is high time that the heating system in this building was overhauled? It is either too hot or too cold.

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am sure that the noble Earl makes a point with which many noble Lords find themselves in agreement. I shall pass on his remarks.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, the noble Lord described the measures that the Government are taking to introduce energy efficient lamps into the Palace. On a slightly wider scale, can he tell the House whether the Government have an electricity efficiency programme throughout all the buildings that they administer?

Lord Reay

My Lords, there is a public sector campaign run by the Energy Efficiency Office which aims to save £45 million a year in government departments.

Lord John-Mackie

My Lords, would the noble Lord care to take a walk along the corridors of this House and take a look at all the empty rooms with lights blazing?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I have often been very favourably impressed by the fact that after hours there are not very many lights burning at this end of the Palace of Westminster. Certainly much care is taken to try to ensure that electricity is not wasted in that respect.

Lord Mowbray and Stourton

My Lords, can my noble friend confirm that it is perhaps misplaced zeal for energy saving that stops us using the lights which have been installed in the past 15 to 20 years under the Gallery and which slightly lit those rather nice glass shields all round it? We are never allowed to see them now except at the State Opening of Parliament.

Lord Reay

My Lords, the noble Lord draws attention to the fact that there are other considerations which need to be borne in mind, not least aesthetic considerations. Those do not always tend in the same direction.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that in the public interest the more light that is cast on our affairs these days the better it will be? Is he aware that many complaints have been made to the effect that the light in your Lordships' House is much inferior to the lighting in the other place when seen on television? Can he say what steps are being taken to improve the light in this Chamber?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord's first point. I have been doing my best to comply with it. With respect to the lights required by television, that must be a matter for the Broadcasting Committee, which I am sure will consider the matter.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that part of the answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, is that the lighting was discontinued because of damage caused to the friezes by the replacement of lights? This matter was discussed fairly recently by one of your Lordships' committees. Further, is he aware that the lighting in this Chamber is somewhat worse today than it was yesterday? Has this anything to do with the Question on the Order Paper?

Lord Reay

My Lords, perhaps that depends on the noble Lord's point of view.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that on 22nd January, when the House rose at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I awoke in the television room four hours later, went to the Library to collect my briefcase and found the Library deserted but all the overhead lights were blazing in all four rooms and most of the table lamps as well?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am sorry to hear what the noble Lord says. The PSA employs two full-time lighting attendants who, apart from their normal duties, have the obligation to switch off unnecessary lights. In addition, security staff are also asked to switch off lights in empty offices. I shall draw the complaint of the noble Lord to their attention.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, can we also bear in mind that in this Palace lights need to be left on in certain places purely on grounds of security?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I think that the noble Lord is quite right.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I sincerely welcome the news that the noble Lord has given us that the Government are taking seriously the question of energy efficiency in this House. However, can he extend the matter a little further? To what extent are the Government encouraging knowledge throughout the country of the availability of energy efficient bulbs? I believe that in the United States public utilities are giving them away to poorer people in order to help to save electricity.

Lord Reay

My Lords, some years ago the Government ran a massive advertising campaign which was supported by many different events in different parts of the country. The campaign was very successful in raising consumer awareness. It has not been found necessary to repeat it.

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