HL Deb 10 October 2003 vol 653 cc584-98

1.39 p.m.

Baroness Maddock

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 Maddock.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Annual reports on progress towards sustainable energy aims]:

Baroness Wilcox

moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 5, at end insert "with particular reference to achieving a reduction in such emissions by 20 per cent. by 2010 based on 1990 levels and maintaining such reduction after 2010 The noble Baroness said: I should like to preface my remarks on this and the other amendments that I shall be moving by repeating the protest made by my noble friend Lady Miller of Hendon at Second Reading, a protest made also by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, and by the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip. The way in which the Bill has been dealt with first in another place and even more importantly in your Lordships’ House means that there is a major risk that this important Bill will not receive proper scrutiny. In the other place the Bill was received with enthusiasm by the Minister, who then proceeded to introduce a series of amendments which completely emasculated it. In the words of my honourable friend the Member for Christchurch in Committee in another place, the Government completely filleted the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, was less flamboyant in his phraseology. He contented himself with saying—if he does not mind my quoting him—that, one could not avoid coming to the conclusion that the Government might be wishing to draw back from some of their commitments entered into in the White Paper".—[Official Report, 12/9/03; col. 613.] The parliamentary timetable under which we have to work means that we are faced with the alternatives of take it or leave it. Either we accept the Bill in its current form—which waters down the original Private Member's Bill from a form welcomed on all sides and by the Minister himself in the other place, to such an extent that the original Bill is almost completely unrecognisable—or we risk losing the Bill totally. Well, this House is not, at least for the moment, a rubber stamp for the Government. I hope that it will never be so.

While we can still justifiably claim to be the finest revising Chamber in the world we will continue to call on the Government to come here and account for their actions, in this case to explain their reasons for resiling from the original promises that they made at Second Reading of the Bill in the other place. They said: we agree that there is a need to report on policy goals, as required by clause 1"; that is, Clause 1 as originally drafted by the sponsor and not the filleted form we are now asked to approve. In the same passage, the Minister said: The Government have committed ourselves to producing an annual progress report, and we are willing for that to become a legal requirement'".—[Official Report, Commons, 28/3/03; col. 599.] We on these Benches are in some difficulty. The Bill clearly needs amendment if only to restore it to the state in which it was first presented to another place and the form which the Government said they welcomed. However, we realise that if we press our amendments, the Bill which we support in principle will be lost. It is therefore certain that I will not pursue any amendment to a vote. However, I do expect a considered and credible answer to my amendments from the Government today.

With those prefatory remarks which I hope will explain the philosophy behind all of my amendments, I turn to speak to Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 together.

Amendment No. 1 simply adds the words: with particular reference to achieving a reduction in such emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 based on 1990 levels and maintaining such reduction after 2010". Those words echo the Government's own stated objectives as set out in the White Paper and in the Labour manifesto and numerous ministerial pronouncements. Those added words put flesh on the Government's preferred wording which simply require the Government to report progress towards cutting the UK's carbon emissions, with no statutory indication of what the UK's objectives might be. As drafted, the Government could produce a report which on the face of it bore no relationship to the 20 per cent objective. The Government could simply report without so much as a blush that they were now 0.1 per cent toward their commitment. This amendment will make the Government come clean on their progress or lack of it on the face of the report and not send us hunting out what would by then be an old White Paper to discover what the commitment actually was.

Amendment No. 3 reinstates but to a much more modest extent the specific objectives that the sponsor of the Bill in the other place originally set out in his Clause l(l)(a). They would create a meaningful report such as the Minister claimed in the other place the Government supported instead of the meaningless waffle that we are now going to be asked to approve. What is needed is for the Minister to explain to the Committee why the Government, while paying lip service to openness and frankness, declined to put into statutory form a requirement to report how close they have come to the objectives they have set themselves and the country. I beg to move.

1.45 p.m.

Lord Ezra

I should like fully to associate myself with the preliminary remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, and to support her amendments. Like the Conservative Opposition, we on these Benches are very concerned that the Bill has come to us in a form which has removed from it the objectives to which we consider the Government are firmly committed as a result of the energy White Paper. As we understand it, the Government object to having these commitments mentioned specifically in the current Bill. In those circumstances, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he will in terms confirm the objectives which are contained in the White Paper and to which this Bill must surely relate; namely, the objectives for the reduction in CO2 emissions, the increase in renewables and the increase in CHP. I will not spell them out; they are clearly stated in the amendment. What we would like to have is either for the Government to agree that those objectives should be stated in the Bill, or, if not, for the Minister to state clearly beyond any doubt whatever that the Government are firmly committed to those objectives.

Baroness Maddock

I have considerable sympathy with the two amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, and moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox. As noble Lords will know and as the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, said, the original Bill published by Brian White MP contained specific targets in relation to renewable CHP and carbon dioxide emissions. These amendments would indeed restore those matters to the Bill. However, I regret that it became clear during very protracted negotiations with the Government that they were simply not prepared to accept these specific targets on the face of the Bill. All those who have been involved in the Bill find that difficult to understand as the energy White Paper specifically commits the Government to reporting annually on those very matters.

Nevertheless, with considerable regret, Mr Brian White conceded the point on Report. It had been made abundantly clear to him that to proceed with the clause as originally drafted would jeopardise the very future of the Bill. Indeed, as has already been said, we in the House of Lords reach a point where we either have a Bill as it is or we have nothing. It is very difficult in such circumstances to do what we would all very much like to do with the Bill. As I made clear at Second Reading, I share Brian White's profound disappointment at the Government's stance.

We have been somewhat reassured by the Government that they would use the annual sustainable energy report required by the new clause to report on all 135 commitments in the energy White Paper. Like other speakers—and I shall perhaps spell this out in more detail than did my noble friend Lord Ezra—I ask the Minister for specific assurance again that the Government will report annually on progress towards the achievement of 20 per cent of electricity from renewable resources by 2020, the generation of 10 gigawatts of electricity by combined heat and power by 2010, reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of 20 per cent based on 1990 levels by 2010, and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 60 per cent by 2050. All those aims were set out in the Government's energy White Paper. I therefore hope that the Minister can assure us.

As for Clause 2, there was a difference at Second Reading about the Government's exact commitment in their energy efficiency aim. We hope that the Government are planning to deliver five megatonnes of carbon savings through household energy efficiency by 2010 and a further 4 million to 6 million tonnes of carbon by 2020 as specified in the White Paper.

The noble Lord, Lord Evans of Temple Guiting, gave slightly different figures. I have since received a letter stating that the figures were not as he said. However, today, so that there is no fear of confusion anywhere, I should like the Government to confirm the figures I mentioned.

The Earl of Erroll

Targets on the face of the Bill arc a nice idea but the trouble is that a target is a target. It is not a crime to miss it. On the other hand, given that targets in other areas have gone wrong, I understand the Government's worry about having targets on the face of the Bill. However, if targets are not set, we do not know what we are aiming at and we may well miss them.

My main point is that I am worried about references to certain technologies. Technology changes. We should not tie ourselves to existing technologies. For example, I note that there is no mention of multi-fuel fuel cell technology which could deliver great energy savings. Technologies are emerging which could help in this area. Sometimes one can restrict development in certain new areas by tying oneself to existing technology in current legislation. Although those matters should be referred to, the Bill should contain an open clause to include new technology at a later date.

Lord Whitty

I am not entirely sure whether it is in order in Committee to go over the ground that was covered in another place at various stages of the Bill. Therefore, I shall not necessarily respond to the comments made about the progress of the Bill, which was, after all, welcomed in its current form by noble Lords on all sides of this House albeit with some reservations. As we have just emerged from a debate on fishing, I should point out that the normal use of the term "filleting" means that one is left with the best part.

The Government are not prepared to accept Amendment No. 1 partly for the reason that the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, gave. Our targets in the energy White Paper relate to carbon saving. There are 135 different ways of meeting those. The market, changing technology and other factors will vary somewhat in terms of their achievements. Therefore, there is a degree of flexibility as regards the target. Tying it to specific individual targets—although there are some in the White Paper—is not necessarily the way to measure progress towards the overall objective. That is why our commitment to an annual report is stated in broader terms. Clause 1 as it stands already requires us to report on cutting carbon emissions, maintaining the reliability of energy supplies, promoting competitive markets and tackling fuel poverty. Therefore, we shall report on an annual basis on all of those main objectives, and we are happy to do so.

The idea that the Government are somehow trying to avoid reporting annually on progress towards the important commitments and targets set out is not correct. I reaffirm—I shall do so in terms in a moment— all the goals, targets, aspirations, commitments and policies of the White Paper. Clause 1 obliges us to report on them. Through the Bill that will become a statutory duty. Brian Wilson, the then Minister for Energy and Construction, said at the first Committee sitting in another place: It is inconceivable that we would report in a way that does not draw attention to, and reflect on, the progress that has been made towards those publicly stated targets. Frankly, if we tried to report in a way that did not measure our achievements against the targets, others would promptly do it for us".—[Official Report, Commons, Standing Committee C, 11/6/03: col. 022.] I am happy to reconfirm those comments.

As regards the objectives in the White Paper which will form part of the report, we have a Kyoto protocol commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008–12 and a national goal to move towards a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010. That has long been our objective. It is in the White Paper and it remains our objective. It will be the subject of annual reports.

The energy White Paper went significantly further and set out our long-term goal of cutting UK carbon dioxide emissions by some 60 per cent by about 2050 in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That is a tremendous task that will require much policy input and a great deal of effort by industry, consumers and ourselves. That long-term target has an effect on the short-term targets mentioned in the amendment. We do not consider it necessary to insert in Clause 1 a specific reference to a 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2010. The reference to maintaining that reduction thereafter would be misleading and unhelpful. As I have just explained, the Government have set out their longer-term goal of going well beyond that target. The 60 per cent target therefore is the relevant target, not a series of 10 per cent targets. It would be misleading therefore to focus the report entirely on the 2010 or 2020 figures.

On renewables, we have set a clear target of supplying 10 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010. We have put in place a number of policies and expenditures in order to achieve that, for example, £350 million of direct government funding. We have been quite clear that we wish to double that 10 per cent target by 2020. We also have a firm target for CHP’good quality CHP capacity of 10 gigawatts by 2010. I believe that the noble Baroness mentioned that. That will prove a challenging target, as the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, has pointed out in this House on a number of occasions, but it is a target to which the Government remain committed.

If we pick out those targets as being the only ones specified in legislation that we should report on, as the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, said, big elements would be omitted. Energy efficiency measures will deliver a substantial amount of the carbon saving. We believe that energy efficiency can deliver around half the additional savings that we are likely to need by 2020: to be specific, a further 4 to 6 million tonnes’I hope this answers the noble Baroness's question’ carbon annual saving from households by 2020 and a further 4 to 6 million tonnes annually from business and the public sector in that time-scale. That, however, is not mentioned in the clause as forming a significant part of the report. I do not think that specifying that would help.

We also have targets on fuel poverty with which the noble Baroness will be familiar. Yet again I reaffirm that it is our intention to ensure that no household in Britain should be living in fuel poverty as far as practicable by 2016–2018. I refer also to our target for ending fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England by 2010. I am happy to reiterate here or anywhere else all of those commitments, but to specify only some of those in relation to the annual report does not seem helpful.

As regards Amendments Nos. 1 and 3, I need to go back to the general objectives of the annual report which are: to look at the totality of progress on the White Paper; to determine whether the policies that we have enunciated there are achieving their objective; whether the individual goals, targets and aspirations expressed there are on course; whether there are new policies required to meet them; and whether there are changes in the national or international economic and environmental context that would require a change of direction or a change of policy in order to meet those overall long-term objectives. All that needs to be covered by the annual report. It must not be focused around the rather specific and partial elements that the amendments pick out. I therefore hope that we do not pursue them further, even if there were time to do so. The noble Baroness has already indicated that she regretfully accepts that we do not have that time.

2 p.m.

Baroness Maddock

I thank the Minister for his spirited defence of the Government's position. I have come to know him, and would not expect him to do anything else. We are all clear that we do not agree on the matter, and I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Wilcox

As the Minister said, he and I have just exchanged views on the fisheries report. As someone who knows how to fillet a fish knows, it all depends who is going to get the fillet and who will finish up with the frame with very little on it, which is exactly how I feel now. This is pretty shameful stuff. We will be judging against targets that will be difficult for us to find in future. I was interested to hear the Minister's reply, but I have not heard anything for which I had hoped. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, feels that he has had the confirmation that he wanted in terms, but I shall not press the amendments at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Wilcox

moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 23, leave out from "household" to end of line 24 and insert "which needs to spend more than 10 per cent, of its income on fuel costs to heat its home to 21 degrees Celsius in the living room and 18 degrees Celsius in occupied bedrooms The noble Baroness said: Clause 1(1)(d) requires the Government to report on its progress in, reducing the number of people living in fuel poverty in the United Kingdom". As drafted, the Bill purports to define fuel poverty. It is worthwhile looking at the words that the Government choose to use, which are that, a person is to be regarded as living in fuel poverty if he is a member of a household living on a lower income in a home which cannot be kept warm at a reasonable cost". What is a lower income? Lower than whose? Do they mean someone in theSunday Times richest 500 list, naming no names, or someone receiving less than the average national income? What about someone who is l0p a year above the average income? What is reasonable cost? Reasonable in relation to what?

For the purposes of the Bill, what is required is a precise definition of the proportion of a person's income spent on heating his home that would constitute fuel poverty, which the Government promised to eradicate in one of their many pledges. This modest amendment does just that. It would be very nice if the Minister would simply accept it. I beg to move.

Baroness Maddock

The amendment is identical to one tabled by the honourable Member for Christchurch, Christopher Chope, in another place on Report. It introduces a specific definition of fuel poverty into the Bill.

The common definition of fuel poverty, one used since 1988, is where households need to spend at least 10 per cent of their disposable income on fuel to keep warm. The Government's draft fuel poverty strategy, published pursuant to the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, defined fuel poverty as where a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its total income to heat its home. That has been a point of disagreement between the Government and those who have campaigned on fuel poverty. Indeed, many MPs campaigned vigorously against it. The result was that the Minister then in charge, Michael Meacher, went out of his way to assure them that the Government intended to end fuel poverty on both definitions.

People are obviously concerned about what the Government are doing. I hope that their position is still the same. I am not minded to have a definition in the Bill with which I do not completely agree. I know that other people do not agree with it either. I shall listen with interest to what the Minister says, but I hope that the amendment will not be accepted. I do not intend to speak again to it.

Lord Elton

I am not really involved in such procedures but, as an interested spectator, I picked up the Bill to look for a definitions clause and did not find one. That is where one would expect to find elucidation of the subsection that my noble friend seeks to amend. Without her amendment, the subsection seems virtually meaningless.

The Earl of Erroll

The amendment is what drew me to take a look at the Bill. I fully understand the reason for wanting a definition, as it is a very good idea. However, if we heated our home to 21 degrees Celsius in the living rooms and 18 degrees Celsius in the occupied bedrooms, we would be bankrupt. That is extremely hot. I think of it as 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the living room, which is a nice warm summer's day in Scotland, and 64.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the bedroom, which is what we used to keep our living rooms at.

At home, we keep to about 18 degrees Celsius in the living rooms and 16 degrees Celsius in the bedrooms. We sleep a lot better for it and it will kill a few more bugs. If someone feels cold they can put on a woolly jumper. That will help the farming community and, as long as it is a natural wool jumper, will not use so much oil, which is turned into the plastics for artificial fibres. If people want to have a definition of fuel poverty, I would highly recommend a slightly lower one. I cannot remember what every degree Celsius that raises the temperatures takes in energy and carbon terms, but it is quite phenomenal on a countrywide basis.

Most offices are overheated. I certainly find this building quite warm most of the time. We are going overboard about heating.

Lord Elton

Would the noble Earl think that the amendment were good if the figures were altered to reflect the conditions in his home?

The Earl of Erroll

It would be useful to have a definition in the Bill, but it should not be set at such a high temperature. I do not call that poverty, but rather expensive luxury.

Lord Ezra

Nevertheless, we are concerned here generally with older people. This country's record of excess winter deaths is higher than any on the Continent, and there is no doubt that it is due to under-heated homes for the elderly. The elderly certainly require higher temperatures than the rest of us, in spite of what the noble Earl has said.

Lord Whitty

It has been an interesting debate on the temperatures that people prefer, which obviously vary according to the nature of the household, the age of the occupants, draughts and so forth. It is important that we do not have as tight a definition on the heat side as the amendment would require.

There have been some quite complex discussions among the fuel poverty cognoscenti for a number of years about what constitutes income and fuel costs in this context. The fuel poverty strategy, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, referred, and the Government's annual report on that strategy use two different definitions because a consensus has not yet been reached. That is not an attempt to fudge the figures because, it is hoped, any changes in the income and cost side and the fuel efficiency side would move both sets of figures in the same direction. However, there is no standard definition of fuel poverty and at least two definitions are used in the Government's own strategy. Given the compromise of having two sets of figures, which have been accepted by those interested in fuel poverty, it would not therefore be helpful to adopt the amendment. I would not be prepared to accept the amendment.

Baroness Wilcox

I thank the Minister for that answer, which is now on the record. I thank my noble friend Lord Elton for his most helpful clarification. I was entertained by the interventions of the noble Earl, Lord Erroll. I hope that he does not invite me to stay with him in Scotland too often because I should freeze and have to bring my own "hottie" with me. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Energy efficiency of residential accommodation: Secretary of State]:

Baroness Wilcox moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 4, at end insert "in respect of residential accommodation and at least one energy efficiency aim in respect of office accommodation

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 4, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 to Clause 2 and Amendments Nos. 7 to 9 to Clause 3. Clauses 2 and 3 are identical, except to the extent that Clause 2 relates to England and Clause 3 relates to Wales. Clause 1(1) refers to the United Kingdom no fewer than four times in seven lines.

The Government are claiming to have a uniform sustainable energy policy for the United Kingdom. It is therefore difficult to understand why it is necessary to legislate piecemeal as between England and Wales and to omit Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Government are sustaining problems that they have created for themselves by setting up three separate legislatures in addition to the Mother of Parliament.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 7 modify the subsections in Clauses 2 and 3 and leave out the restriction which limits the so-called "energy efficiency aims" created by the clause to residential accommodation. Why should the Government not have energy efficiency aims for industry and commerce? Have Ministers not seen office tower blocks blazing with light on every floor long after everyone has gone home? Have Ministers not stepped into offices which are heated to resemble Turkish baths in the winter and cooled to resemble refrigerators in the summer? I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, will agree with that. The waste of fuel in factories can be no less extensive.

It is true that according to subsection (3) of the clauses, the Secretary of State or the Welsh Assembly may designate further efficiency aims. But that is just pie in the sky. In any case, legislation is not needed to enable a government to promote efficiency in any field whatever. Perhaps the reason why the Government want to restrict their obligations to produce an energy efficiency aim to residential accommodation is that householders are easier to bully than the world of commerce.

Furthermore, under subsection (4) "reasonable steps"—whatever they may be—must be taken by the Government or the Welsh Assembly to achieve those aims. What are "reasonable steps"? Are they subsidies towards insulation or a limitation on the amount of permitted lighting such as was imposed on shops by the post-war Labour government, for example? No doubt the Government will frankly admit to the Committee that their energy efficiency aims are mere window-dressing and that apart from exhortations in the press they address home owners. They are neither prepared to impose obligations on industry to save energy nor to provide it with incentives to do so.

Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 to Clause 2 and Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 to Clause 3 are consequential amendments leaving out the word "residential". The sum total of the six amendments is to require the Government to have so called "energy efficiency aims" for all users and not merely impose obligations on householders. I beg to move.

Lord Ezra

There is no doubt whatever that homes in Britain are not as energy efficient as they should be. The White Paper was right to pay much attention to that. We are waiting to hear the measures the Government will adopt, apart from exhortation, to induce people to improve their energy efficiency. There is at present a Treasury consultation document, which must be answered by 24th October—and I hope to do so—suggesting specific ways, particularly of a fiscal nature, which might encourage people to improve energy efficiency in their homes. A great deal of importance will attach to that document because it will add substance to the Government's broad objectives in the White Paper. No doubt we shall have an opportunity to consider and debate that at a future stage.

Of course, office accommodation must also be considered, and the White Paper refers to it. It mentions energy savings in the industrial and commercial sector, and I assume that the annual report will cover that area. Again, we would like the Minister to confirm that, although commercial and, indeed, industrial accommodation are not referred to in the Bill, the annual report will comment on the 135 objectives stated in the White Paper, which include energy efficiency in commercial and industrial accommodation.

2.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty

The Energy White Paper includes sections indicating the savings required from different sectors of the economy, including the commercial and residential sectors. Clearly, therefore, the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, will be covered by the annual report. The residential sector is picked out in this respect because the policies for achieving the energy saving objective will be different for the commercial and household areas.

A number of existing policies relate to the household area, many of which are currently under review. Examples are: the Energy Efficiency Commitment, which effectively places a commitment on the fuel supplying companies for domestic purposes; the Warm Front programme, which, although a fuel poverty programme, also has effects on fuel efficiency; the consultation on fiscal measures, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, referred; and proposed changes in the building regulations. All those relate to domestic policy, the domestic sector and the achievement of energy efficiency in that sector. Therefore, it does not appear sensible to lump that sector together with the commercial sector.

The signals that we intend to give, and the support provided to, the domestic sector are not necessarily the same as one would give to the commercial sector. Indeed, much of the energy saving within the commercial sector should come as a result of people considering energy costs as a contribution to their total costs and therefore to their profit. If the market were operating properly, many of the energy cost savings in offices, businesses and factories should be achieved through normal effective management. Nevertheless, as has been suggested, the policies—perhaps a form of the EEC, or whatever—for commercial purposes might also help in that respect. But they will not be the same as the policies which operate within the domestic sector.

However, with regard to the central question, as we are still talking largely about reporting, we shall report on the commercial, business and industrial sectors' achievements in relation to the energy efficiency objective, as well as those of the domestic sector.

Baroness Maddock

I thank the Minister for the commitment to report on efficiency in offices. I believe we all agree that this is an important area. However, if one is sponsoring a Private Member's Bill, the wider the net is drawn, the harder it is to get a Bill through. I was the sponsor of the original Bill and in its original drafting I believed that including households was the most important step, particularly because of the fuel poverty suffered by many people in cold and damp homes in this country. I believe that that has been the driving force behind many people who are concerned in putting forward this Bill, as it was in the case of the Home Energy Conservation Act, which I sponsored in another place some years ago.

It is a fact that in this country we have an appalling record of an increased number of winter deaths due to people living in cold and damp homes. We also have an appalling health record for respiratory diseases suffered by people other than the elderly. The best way to try to tackle fuel poverty is by making homes energy efficient. That is why this issue has formed the main thrust of the Bill. However, that does not mean that the sponsors of the Bill, myself or anyone else who takes part in its proceedings today do not recognise the problems caused by the amount of energy used in the office sector.

Due to attempts by the sponsors of the Bill to ensure that it was in line with government thinking, the Bill as originally drafted sought to give statutory backing to the recommendations contained in the Performance and Innovation Unit's document—its energy review of February 2002. In that document, the unit specifically recommended that the Government should set a target of a 20 per cent improvement in home energy efficiency by 2010. It did not make the same specific recommendation for the office sector. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Wilcox

I thank the Minister for that clarification and I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 [Short title and commencement]:

[Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Energy efficiency of residential accommodation: National Assembly for Wales]:

[Amendments Nos. 7 to 9 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [CHP targets]:

Baroness Wilcox moved Amendment No. 10: Page 5, line 4, after "2003," insert "or no more than three months after this section shall come into effect (whichever shall be the later),

The noble Baroness said: This is purely a drafting amendment to remove an anomaly from the Bill, an anomaly no doubt caused by the time that it has taken the Bill to find its way through Parliament. Clause 5 requires the Secretary of State to make announcements about the very important combined heat and power targets before the end of 2003. Time flies and perhaps the Government have not noticed that we are almost at the end of 2003. The clocks go back in about a fortnight.

Clause 5 comes into effect on a date to be prescribed by statutory instrument made pursuant to Clause 9(5) and in theory that commencement order could be made after the end of 2003. I do not suggest for one moment that that would be as a result of any bad faith, but it is something that could easily be overlooked. I would like to hope that the Government have their CHP targets sitting on the Secretary of State's desk waiting to be published before the ink on the Royal Assent to this Bill is dry. However, to avoid any possible embarrassing slip up, I beg to move this modest correction.

Lord Whitty

It is jolly decent of the noble Baroness to try to give the Government a little more flexibility, but I can assure her that in this case we do not need it. Irrespective of the passage of this Bill, we shall be making a Statement before the end of the year.

Baroness Maddock

I am pleased to hear that. I do not want to do anything that would slow this up in any way. I hope that the noble Baroness feels that she can withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Wilcox

We just wanted the Minister to know that we are watching and reading every point through this long period. Of course, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [ Use of certain money held by Gas and Electricity Markets Authority]:

Baroness Wilcox moved Amendment No. 11: Page 8, line 5, leave out "renewable" and insert "sustainable

The noble Baroness said: I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 together. They can be described as probing amendments. They are identical, replacing the phrase "renewable sources" with "sustainable sources". This is the Sustainable Energy Bill. The simple question is why is the issue suddenly being confused by this change in terminology? In the Bill as originally presented to the other place there was a Clause 8(1) in which "sustainable energy" was very comprehensively and cogently defined. That definition was dropped when the Government imposed its redraft on the reluctant sponsor. I can see no reason why in the interests of consistency the word "sustainable" should not be substituted for "renewable" in both cases. I beg to move.

Lord Ezra

I ask the Minister for some clarification. In Clause 7(5) there is a reference to "renewable sources", as the noble Baroness has just pointed out and in subsection (6) there is a definition of "fossil fuel". As the noble Lord will recall, I have a certain interest in fossil fuel and if clean coal technology were to be developed, as I hope it will be, and coal were to become a sustainable form of energy, I wonder why it could not be included. As far as I can see from these definitions, whatever happens to fossil fuel to make it sustainable, it would still be excluded from the Government's thinking.

The Earl of Erroll

I also wondered about this issue. On the question of farmers growing biomass for producing energy, I do not see why that would be excluded. I suspect that it is not excluded. I ask for clarification because Clause 7(5) states that, "renewable sources' means sources of energy other than fossil fuel or nuclear fuel". I presume that includes things which are grown. The whole point is that this is a carbon cycle. Growing plants take carbon out of the air. Burn them and it goes back into the air. But as you grow them again it takes it back out again. Therefore, it is carbon neutral. Anything that is carbon neutral should be regarded as a renewable or sustainable source.

Lord Whitty

The clause is of course about the use of moneys rather than what is considered in the total energy policy. The moneys in the fund are provided to support the renewables section of energy, which does not include fossil-based fuels or nuclear fuel, whatever the arguments about either of those being sustainable in the long run. I do not particularly want to go into that debate now.

Clearly, if we are trying to spend that money on a specific range of fuels, we would need to define them in the same way as renewables are defined elsewhere.

To answer the point of the noble Earl, they include biofuels and biomass, but they do not include fossil fuel based technologies, whatever the other merits of those may be, and they do not include nuclear fuels. That is not to say that at various points consideration will not be given to technologies other than that renewables list. We can spend this money only on those technologies.

Baroness Maddock

I am content with the Minister's explanation. I would prefer the Bill to remain as it is. If we were to agree to these amendments others would be needed. Therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Wilcox

I have heard the Minister's answer. I still think that this is a "sustainable" energy Bill. As I said when we started the Bill this afternoon, we want the Bill to pass, so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment; Report received.

House adjourned at twenty-nine minutes past two o' clock.