§ Mr. Roderick
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has any further statement to make on energy conservation.
§ Mr. Varley
Energy conservation, in the sense of making the best and most economical use of the energy consumed by the community, is a matter of the greatest importance to us all. Energy is expensive, and nearly half of our needs are imported. The prospects of increasing self-sufficiency in energy do not make energy savings any less important or any less beneficial to the economy. Of course, many individual and domestic consumers already use energy efficiently. But much more can be done and the potential rewards both to the consumer and the nation are great. Were we, for example, able to save 10 per cent. of our present energy consumption by the 1980s, the savings in fuel would be worth some £600 million a year at current prices. And I have no doubt that worthwhile savings can be achieved not only with great benefit to the economy but also to consumers of all kinds.
It is accordingly of the greatest importance that all the areas of consumption—private or public, industrial or commercial—in which improvements can sensibly be made, and the means of achieving them, should be identified; and 418W that the interest and co-operation of the community as a whole should be engaged and sustained. There is a clear need for greater co-ordination of effort in the context of a developing campaign over the years.
To this end I have decided to appoint an Advisory Council on Energy Conservation, drawn widely from our national life, with its members acting in a personal rather than a representative capacity, which will advise me in the performance of my statutory functions in this matter.
The terms of reference of the council will be:To advise and assist the Secretary of State for Energy in carrying out his duty of promoting economy and efficiency in the use and consumption of energy, in particular by:
- (a) identifying fields in which improvements in energy use can be achieved;
- (b) advising on the means of realising such improvements;
- (c) stimulating and maintaining public interest in energy conservation, with a view to the widespread adoption of more efficient practices; and
- (d) reviewing progress made."
I am glad to be able to announce that Professor Sir William Hawthorne, C.B.E., F.R.S., M.A., Sc.D., F.I.MechE., F.R.Ae.S. has agreed to accept the chairmanship of the council. Discussions about the detailed membership of the council are in hand and further announcements will be made in due course.
Pending the appointment of the council, I propose to take an early opportunity of explaining the Government's attitudes and programme of action on energy conservation. In addition, we have received from the Central Policy Review Staff an informative study of energy conservation issues. Normally such studies remain confidential but in this case, and because of the wide public interest, we have decided to publish it without commitment as a contribution to public debate. Publication date is set for 2nd July.