HL Deb 07 February 2002 vol 631 cc736-8

3.16 p.m.

Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the energy review by the Policy and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office will be published.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn)

My Lords, I am pleased to inform your Lordships that the Performance and Innovation Unit's energy review will be published shortly—next week. Copies will be made available in the Printed Paper Office.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that definition of "soon", which has improved on the previous definition that we received. Is he aware—I am sure that he is—that there have been many leaks, some of them contradictory, about what is alleged to be contained in this report? Therefore, is that not all the more reason for it to be published as soon as possible? Secondly, as this will be a report to and not from government, what will be the procedure for considering it that will follow? How long will it take before the Government reach a decision on the important policy issues that must be taken in the energy sector?

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, the noble Lord speaks of leaks. I always deprecate them—particularly other people's. As the noble Lord knows—because he was good enough to make an extremely helpful submission—this is a report, as he says, to government. An issue of such importance which talks about energy provision over the next 50 years plainly needs to be reflected on. Of course I undertake to pass on to the usual channels the noble Lord's desire that it should be subject to parliamentary debate and scrutiny as soon as reasonably possible.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, it has been rumoured that this review will be accompanied by a government consultation document. Will it or will a consultation document follow later? Secondly, if there is to be a consultation document—given the long-term nature of the issues that are to be discussed in the PIU report—will the Government ensure that the consultation period is long enough so that people really can express their views; and that the Government have time to take account of those views and not publish them two days after the end of consultation?

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, I shall certainly take on board the useful suggestion that there should be full consultation. However, if the consultation is lengthy, the difficulty is that at least three-quarters of your Lordships will complain that it has gone on for too long. This process with the PIU has been very full and open. Virtually every submission 400 in all—has already been published on the website. I do not believe it could be said that the Government are not genuinely interested in having all informed views; and also uninformed views.

Lord Saatchi

My Lords, is the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House aware that some people are not quite sure what tasks the Policy and Innovation Unit and the other units in No. 10 Downing Street actually perform? One of the things that the PIU definitely does is to take a lot of taxis; indeed, £35,000-worth of taxis in the latest financial year. Would the noble and learned Lord consider asking the Prime Minister's staff in No. 10 whether they would think of following the advice of the Government's own vehicle certification agency, which says that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is to get on a bike?

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, is not present in the Chamber, so I cannot really answer the last point. In his previous occupation, I am sure that taxis were wholly unknown to the noble Lord.

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