We shall pursue a vigorous policy to promote greater energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy. I am particularly concerned that the public sector should set an example in the drive for more economical use of energy.
While welcoming that statement most warmly, may I ask my hon. Friend to confirm that it will be the practice of this Government to make the Secretary of State personally responsible for giving a lead in the matter of energy conservation? Does my hon. Friend accept that the maximum efficiency of energy use is really the best principle for the application of energy saving?
Whichever figures one takes, whether 14, 15 or 30 per cent., as some optimists suggest, for energy conservation by the end of the century, there is no question but that there is considerable scope in this area. My right hon. Friend made quite clear last week the importance that the Government attach to energy conservation when he took the lead in this area and decided that the Secretary of State would lead on energy conservation matters.
If the right hon. Gentleman is leading on energy conservation matters, can he inform the House whether it is his intention to reduce speed limits in order to conserve energy?
Basically we are examining all aspects of energy conservation, as I am sure the hon. Member will recall from the statement of my right hon. Friend last week. A reduction in speed limits, would have only a very minor short term effect in view of all the bureaucratic involvement that might be associated with it. I should have thought, from experience, that the compliance feature attached to it would make one question very seriously the relative degree of importance of introducing such a limit at this time.
I should be happy to pursue that point, but I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that in his statement on energy conservation last week my right hon. Friend announced the continuation of the ministerial committee that was established under the previous Government. My right hon. Friend has asked me particularly to monitor the results from the public sector.
Does the statement mean that the passage of measures which were in preparation under the Labour Administration on road transport, on building regulations and for industry will be followed by this Government? Does it also mean that there will be no public expenditure cuts affecting resources for energy conservation policy?
There is no question but that the measures of the previous Government are still being examined. Our initial conclusions were that they were not sufficient and that it was necessary to reexamine this whole area and have the lead of the Secretary of State in doing so. That process is still under review. We are continuing to do it.