HC Deb 17 July 1991 vol 195 cc161-2W
Mr. Favell

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will make a statement on the assessment he has made of the effect of the EC's draft directive for new hot water boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels—document No. 9791/90—on(a) the average cost to British householders of replacing a central heating boiler, (b) the average cost of installing a central heating system, (c) the average cost of a central heating boiler, (d) the profitability of the British boiler-making industry, (e) the average cost of a new house or flat, (f) employment within the British boiler-making industry, (g) the number of house owners who in future will not be able to replace central heating boilers and (h) the average annual saving per boiler in fuel costs;

(2) if it is Her Majesty's Government's intention to oppose implementation of the draft directive on new hot water boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The Government wish to encourage cost-effective improvements in the energy efficiency of central heating systems in the United Kingdom. The draft directive as proposed by the Commission would not secure this aim. We have offered detailed suggestions for amendments, as have other member states and the European Parliament, and we await a response from the Commission.

Precise assessment of the effects of implementing the current draft is not possible, because of uncertainty about its meaning; in general, the average costs of boilers and systems (a, b, c) are likely to rise, and the average saving (h) is unlikely to be sufficient to make the extra investment cost-effective. Some 60 per cent. of households would have to make alterations costing from £200 to £1,000 before being able to replace their current boiler, a total cost to the nation of some £2,000 million to £3,000 million, resulting in annual fuel savings of only some £10 million to £20 million. The consequential impacts on the average cost of new dwellings (e) and on profitability and employment in the boiler-making industry (d and f) are not clear, but there would have to be major redeployments of resources.