HL Deb 02 July 1996 vol 573 cc1402-3

9.17 p.m.

Baroness Wilcox

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Wilcox.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Elliott of Morpeth) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Amendment of Home Energy Conservation Act 1995]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 7, leave out ("1") and insert ("1(1)").

The noble Lord said: I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 2 to 4. Perhaps I may first apologise for the late tabling of these amendments. As a glance at the Marshalled List will suggest to the Committee, it is in fact Amendment No. 3 which is the substantive amendment of this group.

The Act requires local authorities to prepare, publish and submit an energy conservation report setting out measures which would lead to a significant improvement in the energy efficiency of residential accommodation in their area. It is the definition of residential accommodation that this Bill seeks to amend by widening it to include houses in multiple occupation and now, should these amendments be carried, houseboats.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are purely drafting amendments. The wording of Amendment No. 3 ensures that pleasure boats are excluded; there will be no question of authorities being required to look at boats which regularly move, or the sort of canal boat which is let for holidays on the waterways. In addition, we have followed for England, Wales and Northern Ireland the pattern of the definition of mobile home in the Act by requiring that it should also be a dwelling for the purposes of council tax or the equivalent in Northern Ireland. The same linkage cannot be made in Scotland because of differences in its council tax legislation.

Amendment No. 4 is consequential to the transitional provisions in Clause 2 of the Bill. It recognises the fact that there may need to be special arrangements for reports on houseboats as well as for houses in multiple occupation. In England, the first energy conservation reports are due at the end of November. Should this Bill become law, as I hope it will, there would be very little time for authorities to take account of the wider definition of residential accommodation in those reports, and it will be sensible to make some different arrangement for houses in multiple occupation and houseboats. Clause 2, with this amendment, permits that.

Measures of the kind which the Bill envisages, to encourage changes in behaviour and the use of appliances which are energy efficient, are as relevant to people who live in houseboats as to those in other kinds of accommodation. It seems right in principle that attention should be paid to the energy efficiency of boats which are people's homes as well as to the energy efficiency of more conventional homes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 2 and 3: Page 1, line 7, leave out ("paragraph") and insert ("paragraphs"). Page 1, line 18, at end insert— ("(ab) a house-boat, that is, a boat or other floating decked structure—

  1. (i) designed or adapted for use solely as a place of permanent habitation, and
  2. (ii) not having means of, or capable of being readily adapted for, self-propulsion,
which, in the case of a house-boat in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, is a dwelling for the purposes of Part I of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, or as the case may be, the purposes of the Rates (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, or".").

The noble Lord said: I have spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Citation and commencement]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 4: Page 1, line 28, at end insert ("or house-boats").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.