HL Deb 16 May 1994 vol 555 cc5-6

2.48 p.m.

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider that the objectives of the Energy Savings Trust, as set out in Climate Change —The UK Programme, can be achieved.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Arran)

My Lords, the Energy Savings Trust has an ambitious target, as part of the Government's climate change programme, of reducing UK emissions of carbon dioxide by the equivalent of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon by the year 2000. We are considering urgently what needs to be done to secure the necessary funding of the trust's various incentive schemes in the short and long term.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for confirming that it is a matter of urgency that the Energy Savings Trust should be provided with adequate funding. Does he agree that the situation has been complicated by the recent decision of the present Director General of Ofgas to reverse the policy of her predecessor and to suspend adequate funding of the Energy Savings Trust? Does he agree that that puts in jeopardy the strategic plan issued recently by the Energy Savings Trust? How quickly will a response as to how he is to proceed be made to the noble Lord, Lord Moore, the chairman of the Energy Savings Trust, who is unfortunately abroad and who told me that he would otherwise have been here today?

The Earl of Arran

My Lords, we are aware of the seriousness and urgency of the matter mentioned by the noble Lord. We appreciate and understand the view of the noble Lord, Lord Moore. It is at the discretion of the Director General of Ofgas whether she passes the costs of energy-savings schemes through to the customer.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon

My Lords, the Minister claims that this is a matter of seriousness and urgency, but surely the Government's lack of commitment to this topic is shown by their decision to scupper the Energy Conservation Bill in the other plaice on 22nd April?

The Earl of Arran

My Lords, there is no lack of commitment to energy efficiency and the Energy Savings Trust. This country has been in the forefront of countries across the world in saying what we are going to do with regard to that trust being responsible for reducing carbon dioxide by 2.5 million tonnes (the 1990 levels) by 2000. We have genuine concerns about the Energy Conservation Bill, which the noble Baroness mentioned. In particular, we are concerned that it would impose additional and unnecessary burdens on local authorities and central government. It would create new and unnecessary controls, and perhaps hinder our efforts to control public expenditure. We made those concerns clear on Second Reading and by tabling amendments.