HL Deb 05 December 1996 vol 576 cc836-47

7.6 p.m.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to promote greater energy efficiency in the home. Although many people have already taken steps to achieve this in their homes—no doubt noble Lords who are to speak have done so—all the evidence suggests that the larger proportion of homes in this country are still relatively inefficient in terms of energy. There are two important reasons why this should be put right. First, the threat of global warming is still regarded as serious and the reduction of emissions into the atmosphere, particularly from energy usage, remains a major objective of government policy. Secondly, improvements in energy usage can substantially reduce costs and therefore this is a valid objective in itself. The Energy Efficiency Office estimates that a typical medium-sized semi-detached house without any insulation might cost around £500 a year to heat. With good insulation and heating controls up to half that expenditure could be saved and of course there would be greater comfort and warmth.

The difficulty is that in the present state of the energy market there is reduced incentive for consumers to save. There are abundant supplies of energy available and increased competition has brought prices down. In the wider environmental interest, it is necessary to counteract these market signals. This Bill proposes one way in which that might be done through the more widespread use of the energy rating of homes.

Fortunately, the way in which homes can be energy-rated is now well established. In July 1993 the Government published their standard assessment procedure or SAP. This is the Government's standard system for home energy rating developed by the Building Research Establishment in discussion with other rating professionals. Some time before this, a number of independent home energy rating procedures had been developed. For example, one was initiated by the National Energy Foundation, of which Dr. Mary Archer is chairman. The Government rightly, in my opinion, decided that co-ordination between the different systems was necessary. The SAP provides that co-ordination and enables the other systems, of which there are four main ones, to be readily converted to the SAP rating. Equally, the SAP rating can be used on its own. The SAP assesses the energy efficiency of a home through an energy audit using a scale of one to 100. The higher the score the more energy efficient the home.

If the system were applied widely, as it is in similar form in some other European countries, it would enable potential home buyers to take energy costs into account when choosing a home, make comparison with others and carry out appropriate improvements. Since July 1995 there has been a requirement under the building regulations for SAP ratings to be applied to new houses and conversions. If the rating falls below 60, the builder has to review the energy efficiency proposal and come up with a better figure. The National Housebuilders Council launched a campaign among its members for achieving SAP ratings of 80 plus in February of this year. We can therefore conclude that effective steps have been taken to achieve energy ratings of 60 per cent. or more in newly built homes.

However, the trouble is that the majority of homes in this country are not new and so far there has been no equivalent regulation to bring about a widespread use of energy ratings in these older properties. A number of initiatives have been taken to stimulate the voluntary application of the system. The Energy Efficiency Office have put out some very effective leaflets describing the system. However, for an individual householder to have a rating made would cost between £50 and £150, depending on the size and nature of the residence. This sum could no doubt be recovered over time when the remedial action was taken and energy savings achieved, but there has so far been relatively little offtake of this service.

The Department of the Environment have been in touch with building societies in an endeavour to see whether they could stimulate the application of energy ratings on a larger scale. Two building societies, the Nationwide and the Halifax, responded positively and carried out exercises in conjunction with the department. In a Written Answer dated 7th November 1996 in another place, it was stated that a total of 4,000 SAP ratings were issued by the Nationwide Building Society in 1995 under a joint initiative with the department, and under a similar initiative with the Halifax Building Society in 1996 6,500 SAP ratings were issued.

The results of these exercises are now being studied by the department. They are not aware of any statistics or estimates indicating the percentage of other mortgage lenders who may be providing SAP ratings. In presenting a home energy rating certificate to two Halifax customers in 1996, Mr. Robert Jones, MP, the Minister for Energy Efficiency, said that the certificates contained the overall energy rating of the home, together with recommendations on energy efficiency improvements. This of course is a very important part of the certificate, which indicates to the purchaser or home owner what steps they can take to improve their home from the energy point of view. Mr. Robert Jones urged other mortgage lenders to follow the lead of the Halifax Building Society.

As I have indicated, unlike new house-build, where energy ratings are mandatory, there are no similar arrangements for the existing housing stock. This Bill attempts to fill that gap. I very much hope that building societies and other mortgage lenders will support this proposal. Building societies in particular have a tradition of serving the community. That is how they started in the 19th century. Here is another way in which they can contribute to the wider interests of the community. As I stated earlier, private individuals who have the energy rating surveys made at their own expense could be involved in sums of between £50 and £150. This can act, and has acted, as a major deterrent. On the other hand, if building societies incorporate the energy rating in the valuation surveys which they have to carry out anyway before they make a loan, the additional cost can be very small. Figures as low as £10 to £15 have been mentioned.

Recently I had a discussion with Mr. Peter Hales, who is the chief executive of Countrywide Surveyors. They provide a valuation survey service to mortgage lenders and cover about 200,000 homes a year. They have incorporated the SAP procedure in their surveys, and for an extra cost of £15 can provide a SAP rating and a three—page report on the improvements which could be introduced as a result of that rating. A Which? report found that 60 per cent. of people, in a survey conducted by them, said that they would have liked information on heating when buying their new house. The proposals in this Bill would provide a very simple way of doing that.

I should now like to go through the three clauses of this short Bill. Clause 1 lays down that every mortgage lender, before granting a mortgage, shall as part of or in addition to any valuation, carry out an energy rating survey. A copy of this survey, together with recommendations for improvement, would be handed to the mortgagor. A reasonable charge could be made for this service, although, as I have pointed out, the costs would be very small and some mortgage lenders might simply take it into account in fixing the mortgage terms.

Clause 2 lays down that the Secretary of State shall, as soon as is practicable and not later than six months after the passing of the Act, issue guidance to mortgage lenders to carry out their duties under Clause 1. Clause 3 defines the various terms used, and in particular makes it clear that an energy rating survey means a professional survey and assessment of the energy efficiency of a building using the Government's standard assessment procedure and containing a list of recommendations for cost-effective improvement. This Bill could, with no public cost and very little private cost, contribute substantially to the improved energy efficiency of houses in this country. It would complement the measures already in force under the building regulations affecting newly-built houses and conversions. I commend it to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Ezra.)

7.17 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I should like briefly to support the Bill moved so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, and thank him for having introduced it in such a clear way. I should also like to pay tribute to the noble Lord because over the years, as your Lordships will know, he has done so much on energy efficiency matters.

I believe it is a small but sensible Bill, although possibly slightly less controversial than the Bill we have been dealing with up until now. Nevertheless, it will affect many more people in a beneficial way. The noble Lord mentioned that energy prices are probably cheaper than they have been for many years in real terms; and they are, I believe, likely to fall even further next year when competition from gas will be available all over the country. The same will apply in the year after when there will be competition from electricity for domestic supply. With the strong pound at the moment, and with many prices being expressed in dollars, I think that we are going to see cheap energy.

Therefore it is an extremely sensible time to do something about energy savings, because the financial incentive to save energy is probably less than it has ever been or than it has been for many, many years. As the noble Lord said, it is not just the cost saving which the consumer can make as a result of these measures; there is also an increase in comfort, warmth and so on, which is extremely useful. I do not believe that the story is all gloom and despondency, because through my London letter box not so long ago I received an offer from London Electricity for a package of energy savings. I did not take them up because I already had most of them. At least the power companies offer that kind of service.

As the noble Lord has said, the cost of the survey should be minimal. It must be minimal if it is to be acceptable to the house buyer. It is no more than a survey that any sensible person would request when intending to buy a property. Nevertheless, not everyone is sensible in these matters. The noble Lord has referred to a survey cost of between £10 and £15. That sum of money could be saved by the prospective house buyer in a short space of time. One is aware that house prices are beginning to rise again. Bearing in mind house prices in London and the south-east, a sum of £10 or £15 is not likely to make much difference to the prospective buyer.

I was interested to hear the remarks of the noble Lord about the standard assessment procedure. I was not aware of that. It sounds a very useful measure. Presumably it covers such matters as loft insulation, hot water tank lagging, cavity wall insulation and other aspects. I do not know whether it covers gas boilers. Perhaps it should do so. If one buys a new gas boiler today, one can recover the cost of replacing an old and inefficient one in a remarkably short space of time. I am sure that a good number of people are unaware of that. I do not suppose that it covers energy-saving light bulbs. One is aware that the last thing some people do when leaving houses they have just sold is to remove light bulbs from sockets.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Speak for yourself!

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I did not hear the remark of the noble Lord opposite! Of course, because energy-saving light bulbs are more expensive, they provide an even greater incentive to the person leaving the house to remove them from light sockets.

In general, when people move into their new homes, they have set aside money to spend on improvements, mainly decoration perhaps. They may intend to put in a new kitchen. If they have money available it is useful to devote some of it to energy-saving measures the cost of which can be recovered remarkably quickly. Therefore, I support the Bill.

7.23 p.m.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, at this late hour, prolixity is contra-indicated. When the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, whom I hold in the highest esteem, asked me to support the Bill I had no idea what he was talking about. I obtained a copy of the Bill. Having read it, I congratulate him on his initiative. What he proposes to do is to collect information as a guide to policy-making tomorrow. That is a welcome initiative. Too often when one is asked to make a decision, one cannot take it. The requisite information necessary to do so is not available because the day before yesterday no one set out to collect it. I believe that the initiative of the noble Lord should be a matter for great congratulation, and I wish his Bill good fortune. I hope that it will be supported by the House.

7.24 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, like others who have spoken, noble Lords on these Benches give this initiative a very warm welcome. As the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon has said, the record of the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, in this field is outstanding. I jotted down the question, "Where would we be without him?" There are not many who would have the gumption, foresight or even at times the cheek to challenge the executive by asking them to face up to something which perhaps it is not looking for. I refer to work that is stimulating others to take on very powerful bodies like the Building Societies Association and the Mortgage Lenders Association. Those bodies do a very good job. One can immediately see the advantages of this measure in practical terms, yet it does not play a part in the world of house selling or house maintenance.

The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, raised obliquely the question of house prices. From my knowledge, the sum of £100,000 may be a modest figure in some parts of the country. For a sum of £15 one can get extra assurance or information. Some years ago, I was very much taken with the idea of each house having a log book. When one bought a house, one would get not only the bricks and mortar but a log book which recorded what had happened to it from the time it was built to the present day. It would record changes of owner and who had done what and how it had been done. On the two or three occasions in my life when I have been involved in house purchase, I have wished that I could be aware of what had been done (or, more importantly, what had not been done) at a particular time.

I look upon this modest measure as an opportunity to stimulate others. It should be very helpful. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, said that the organisation that he had consulted reported that for £15 three pages of information would be provided. This is all to do with the willingness of people to do certain things at various stages in the chain. I refer to mortgage lenders, estate agents, banks, etc. It is a matter of those bodies, if not surreptitiously, taking for granted this modest extra cost of £15. The £15 is based upon the survey being carried out by virtually everyone. The noble Lord points out that anyone can have an energy efficiency assessment carried out for between £50 and £150. If one strikes a mean and says that the cost will be £100, that will be £100 well spent. Obviously, if one can obtain the same service for £15, it will be very welcome.

When the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, referred to light bulbs—in what I call an enlightened speech—I wrote down, "You speak for yourself'. As someone who has always been concerned about the myth of coal being kept in baths in council houses, it is nice to hear from across the Chamber that someone actually removes bulbs from light sockets when moving house. Council house tenants never do that.

This is a very useful initiative that is fully in keeping with the spirit of the proposal outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, which is to try, try and try again. While the Minister will raise questions on the possible cost, consultation, parliamentary time and priorities—I certainly hope that she does not have "resist" at the end of her speech—this matter should be given a fair wind. I hope that the Minster will complete the quartet of those who support the Bill so that we can see how far it will get.

7.28 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, for introducing his Bill so ably this evening. Action to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock is an important objective. The noble Lord's Bill gives us an opportunity to consider not only home energy ratings but the underlying objective of how to improve the energy efficiency of the country's housing stock. It is important to put our consideration of the Bill into this wider context.

The domestic sector is a substantial energy user. It is therefore a major source of the United Kingdom's emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, which is now generally regarded as a contribution to the world's changing climate. In 1995 we used about £13 billion worth of energy in our homes for heating, lighting and running domestic appliances. That is equivalent to about 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or 27 per cent. of the United Kingdom's total emissions. The trend in absolute energy consumption in the domestic sector has been steadily upwards for about the past 20 years. We now use about 16 per cent. more energy in our homes compared with 1975. This is partly because the housing stock has grown by 20 per cent.—from around 19.5 million to nearly 24 million over the period—and partly because homes are now much more comfortable—on average about 3 degrees centigrade warmer. The proportion of households with central heating has more than doubled since the early 1970s, and most of us have more domestic appliances in our homes.

Without the significant improvements in energy efficiency which have been encouraged by our successive policies and programmes, that 16 per cent. rise in consumption could have been much worse. The Building Research Establishment, which is one of the recognised national centres of expertise in this field, estimates that without the higher standards of insulation, heating systems, controls and more energy efficient appliances, the increase in domestic energy consumption could have been about four times higher over broadly the same period. I agree with my noble friend Lord Brabazon that with low energy prices there could be fewer incentives to save energy. The Government recognise the importance of improving the energy efficiency performance of the housing stock. In that respect, the Bill has merit.

The Government's aim is generally to reduce energy waste and so also to reduce energy bills and emissions of carbon dioxide which are attributable to the domestic sector; and specifically to improve living conditions for people, especially those on low incomes. The Government have therefore developed a wide range of programmes and initiatives in support of those aims. These programmes are carried out in partnership with a large number of organisations, including local authorities, housing associations, lenders, housebuilders, the energy utilities, the Energy Saving Trust and, of course, householders themselves.

Those measures include the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995; the revised building regulations for England and Wales which came into effect last July and which require all new designs to have a home energy rating derived using the Government's standard assessment procedure; the home energy efficiency scheme; government funding for approved Energy Saving Trust projects; a market transformation campaign for household appliances; and the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme which has stimulated improvements in domestic energy efficiency worth an estimated £250 million per annum since 1989.

The Government's standard assessment procedure (SAP) is the national standard for home energy rating. It is based on the Building Research Establishment's domestic energy model. It is a detailed and defined set of calculation steps—known as algorithms—which on a systematic basis estimates the annual energy running costs for space and water heating per unit floor area of the dwelling. It expresses the result on a scale of 1, which is poor, to 100, which is good. Excellent may be a better way of describing it.

Standard assessment procedure takes into account the main factors influencing energy efficiency in homes. These include the standard of insulation in the walls, floor and roof; whether the windows are double-glazed or not; whether draught stripping has been applied; the efficiency of the heating system; and the energy type (for example, gas, oil, coal and electricity) and its cost. With regard to he efficiency of the heating system, I am pleased to tell my noble friend Lord Brabazon that it covers condensing boilers and the insulation thereof, but it does not cover light bulbs because SAP does not cover removable items.

The standard assessment procedure is now well established for a wide range of domestic energy efficiency assessments. It is now in the building regulations for England and Wales. It is also specified by the Housing Corporation as a criterion for new housing and refurbishment projects submitted by housing associations. It is used by many local authorities to assess the energy efficiency performance of their housing stock. It is used by housing design professionals as one of the tools to help improve the energy efficiency of their designs. And it was used in the analyses for the energy report of the 1991 English House Condition Survey, which was published only last week.

The SAP ratings achieved for new homes paint a good and improving picture of energy efficiency performance. Existing homes are, I regret to say, in not nearly so good a position. The potential for improving energy efficiency in the existing stock is huge. If poorly performing homes were brought up to a reasonable standard—better insulation, better heating systems and controls and better advice on how we can run our homes more energy efficiently—the nation could reduce its energy costs by perhaps £2 billion or more each and every year.

With many households obtaining greater warmth, as well as saving costs, there can also be health benefits from improved energy efficiency. So for both those reasons the existing stock is a high priority area for the Government's domestic energy efficiency programmes.

Energy ratings have two main roles. They are performance benchmarks and design tools for building professionals and they are energy labels for consumers. But they are only one means of informing householders and tenants how energy efficient or otherwise their homes are. On their own, ratings can help to inform, but specific action is needed to raise standards. It is therefore the recommendations which can be derived from an analysis of home energy rating data which are, arguably, more important.

In his Bill the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, proposes that mortgage lenders should be obliged to carry out, or to have carried out, a standard assessment procedure home energy rating survey with every mortgage valuation or other survey and that a copy of the rating survey be given to the mortgagor. While we have some sympathy with the aims of the Bill, the Government cannot agree that this is quite the best way of achieving more energy efficient homes across the nation.

The Government have long recognised the important role which mortgage lenders can play in helping to improve the energy efficiency of the private sector, owner-occupier housing stock. Mortgage lenders are one of the most important players in the house-buying market. Over the past 18 months or so, Department of the Environment Ministers have held meetings with about 20 lenders, including some of the biggest names in the country.

As a result, many lenders, including the Halifax, Nationwide, NatWest Home Loans and Barclay's Bank, have expressed support for the general aim of improving energy efficiency. Some of them have carried out their own trials and others have been involved with joint home energy rating trials, which the Department of the Environment has supported. Those trials have involved over 10,000 prospective mortgagors. The findings, when they have been fully analysed, are expected to prove influential in the development of our initiatives with the mortgage lenders.

The initial analysis so far is revealing. There are three main points which are relevant to the noble Lord's Bill: first, once house buyers are given information about what they can do to improve the energy efficiency performance of their homes, the majority of them—over 80 per cent.—welcomed the energy efficiency information provided and indicated that they would be likely to take action in the next two years. That very much confirms what the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, said. Secondly, the time which is required to incorporate the standard assessment procedure into the highly competitive commercial mortgage valuation business is significant. It is equivalent to losing, on average, one mortgage valuation per day on a typical day's work of about five to six valuations per surveyor. Thirdly, the trials have stimulated at least one lender to consider alternative ways of advising mortgagors on energy efficiency improvements—ways which the mortgagor may find better. Whereas we were delighted by the first finding, we were disappointed, but not entirely surprised, by the second.

We have long recognised the commercial environment in which home energy ratings must be designed to operate if they are to become widely used. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, quite rightly says that individual home energy ratings for owner-occupiers cost typically £50 to £150. Because of that they are rarely requested and we recognised that the one-off market for standard assessment procedure ratings would be very small indeed.

On the other hand, a rating carried out as part of another activity—a mortgage valuation or, better still, a home buyer's report or full structural survey—would cost significantly less, though whether the cost is as low as the £10 quoted by the noble Lord is somewhat doubtful. Much depends on the training and experience of the surveyor and on the respective procedures used by the rating organisations.

That is why we have been encouraging the four rating organisations, which have been licensed by the Government to issue authorised standard assessment procedure home energy ratings, to devise quicker methods of obtaining ratings to the standard laid down by the Department of the Environment. One of these simpler methods was used in the trials which I mentioned. But there is some way to go before we and the rating organisations have a workable procedure which satisfies the criteria set by the lenders for mortgage valuations.

The trials have shown that the standard assessment procedure is still too complicated to deliver ratings at an acceptable cost to the lender. The Department of the Environment will want to consider further with the lenders and the rating organisations whether it can be simplified further for this market application and still have sufficient value for the mortgagor.

The third finding—that the biggest mortgage lender is prepared to look at alternative ways of informing mortgagors about energy efficiency opportunities—is perhaps the most valuable. We shall certainly be following up specific ideas with the Halifax and more generally with other mortgage lenders and the Council of Mortgage Lenders. We were pleased to hear about and to welcome the initiative which was taken by Countrywide to offer ratings as part of its service to lenders. We hope that other surveyor organisations will follow suit, thereby allowing the market to encourage the provision of SAP ratings. We were grateful that the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, had the opportunity to speak to Peter Hales earlier.

The noble Lord has proposed that mortgage lenders should be allowed to make a reasonable charge for the preparation and provision of the energy rating survey. I can understand why this might, at first sight, seem to offer a way forward. But I can also see on closer examination why it is unlikely to be the case.

The mortgage industry is a highly competitive one and lenders are understandably reluctant to offer services which they know, one way or another, have to be paid for. Of the approximately 1.2 million mortgage valuations which are commissioned each year, 20 per cent. relate to mortgage applications which do not proceed. About 15 per cent. relate to new homes, where standard assessment procedure rating information is available through other sources, and about 40 per cent. relate to re-mortgages. Only about 25 per cent. relate to new mortgages on existing homes. So most mortgagors would, one way or another, be asked to pay for a service which they did not need.

As I said earlier, the Government have some sympathy with the aims of this Bill. We both agree that there is a substantial interest from householders in having easy to follow information on energy efficiency which they can use, not to alter their decision on their chosen home but to help make that home better and cheaper to heat.

However, we regard home energy ratings for the owner-occupier market as one means to an end and not an end in itself. As it is drafted, the Bill runs some risk that the ratings will indeed be perceived as an end in themselves. If the commercial rating organisations can devise standard assessment procedure rating services which are attractive to the mortgage lenders, we would be happy to encourage the market process. The commercial rating organisations have been encouraged and are vigorously exploring ways to deliver ratings more cheaply while meeting our quality standard. But, as things stand, they have not yet achieved their, and our, objective.

The Government will follow up the interest which has been expressed in the home energy rating studies involving the Halifax and the Nationwide. We will explore with them and others, including the Council of Mortgage Lenders, how we can best work together to make reliable and worthwhile energy efficiency information available to borrowers. That will also draw on the knowledge gained from the standard assessment procedure and other sources.

While the Government cannot support this Bill, we shall not oppose it being given its Second Reading today.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. The noble Lords, Lord Brabazon and Lord Graham of Edmonton, and the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, were kind enough to support the Bill. We represent all the party affiliations in this House and therefore we can say that the Bill has all-party support. I hope that that is duly noted.

I listened with great interest to the noble Baroness as she gave us a well informed statement on the subject. I am grateful for that. When in her peroration she indicated the vast sums of money and amount of emissions which could be saved as a result of the wider application of energy saving methods in the existing housing stock I thought that she was going to conclude by saying, "And we wholeheartedly support this Bill". But of course that was not to be. For some reason, which I find totally illogical, she said, "Yes, but we cannot support the Bill". It is intended precisely to achieve the savings which she wants to achieve.

I found the reasoning why the Bill cannot be adopted to be very odd. First, the cost of the rating would be reduced to the individual householder from about £100 to £15, as the Government agreed. Fifteen pounds is a prudent figure. Countrywide Surveyors is prepared to make that charge. The figure which the Minister quoted about the loss of one survey per day per surveyor was given to me by the Halifax. All right, perhaps it is not as efficiently organised as the Nationwide. However, Countrywide was firm and said that it carries out 200,000 surveys a year and it was prepared to offer the service for that minimal additional charge. The noble Baroness said that we must see how we can reduce it further. For goodness sake, how much further does one want to go than £15 for a home costing £50,000 or £100,000? The amount is spread over the life of the average mortgage of 25 years and I do not know how many pence per annum it works out at. How can one get lower than that? I found that argument difficult to accept.

The Minister then said that we must not regard the rating as an end in itself. Of course not, but 1 thought that the enormous merit of the rating, which the Government have devised and supported, was that it gives one a basis on which to compare one house with another and to evaluate the nature of the housing stock.

I am one of the few who has had a rating carried out and I was appalled to find how low it was. Although I pride myself on knowing something about these matters, I immediately put in hand a number of measures which I had not carried out efficiently. I have now brought the rating up a little. With the kind of house I have, I cannot get the rating up to 100 per cent. but at least I am over 50 per cent., which I am told is not bad for my property. Therefore, I cannot understand why the noble Baroness says that that is only one way. The Government have very laudably devised this system. Why do they not wish to promote its usage by this very simple mechanism? The Minister said that there are ways in which the lenders can promote energy saving by other means. Of course that is true but that will not have the benefit of carrying this certified figure indicating energy saving. I am indebted to the noble Baroness for saying that she will not oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. As she was reaching the end of her speech, I thought that that was precisely what she was going to say but she is not going to do that. Therefore, the Bill will receive its Second Reading and I hope that in our subsequent considerations of the Bill, we shall make some progress and try to persuade her to support it, although she is reluctant to do so at the moment. I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.