It is not possible to separate out a national figure for total investment in energy efficiency because it is often part of wider capital expenditure in industry, transport and the public sector. However, since 1983 the amount of energy used per unit of national output has fallen faster in the United Kingdom than in the majority of other EC countries.
However much we try to save energy, we are concerned about its creation in the first place. We on Teesside are getting worried that there is no strategy for the number of power plants that will be sited there, that there are no controls and, more particularly, that there is no concern about the transportation of that electricity by cables once the plants are in operation. Is not it time that the Government gave that some thought instead of just leaving it to the roulette wheel?
My hon. Friend will appreciate that new and modern generating stations can mean new transmission networks. He will also know that any proposals for substantial overhead lines introduced by the National Grid Company must be accompanied by an environmental statement which balances the need for energy with the environmental concerns of my hon. Friend and others.
Does the Minister agree that any investment in energy conservation, whether by insulation or otherwise, creates employment for people in other industries? Surely now, when the whole of industry is in recession, any Government-led investment of that nature must be welcome?
I welcome my hon. Friend's answer. May I ask him whether he has any plans to encourage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Put your hat on."] individuals and corporations to invest in energy-saving devices, such as PL lightbulbs? Their use could be encouraged even at retail level through rebates, which are used in the United States and Canada.[Interruption.]
I am sorry about my hon. Friend's hat—as a result I have already forgotten part of my hon. Friend's question. There are plenty of incentives to invest in energy efficiency measures, because, by saving fuel and electricity, the customer is also saving money. For those low-income households where such savings may not apply we have a separate scheme which I have already described to the House.