Energy Efficiency

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen , South Hams 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what has been the cost of energy efficiency measures in the parliamentary estate in the last three years. [15720]

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The amounts spent specifically on such measures were £32,000, £168,000 and £130,000 in 1992–93, 1993–94 and the current financial year.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen , South Hams

I just wonder whether enough is being done to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and whether the House is doing enough by setting an example of how we behave in that respect. Bearing in mind the fact that we have a tremendous predominance of staff—many people think that we are overstaffed—in the Palace and its surrounding accommodation, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it should be possible to get some of those employees to go round turning the radiators down, so that rooms like mine do not reach a temperature of 82 deg F, as it did last week, which is more suitable for a sauna than for an office?

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I very much agree with what the hon. Gentleman has to say. The House has already achieved a saving of 7 per cent. in gas and electricity consumption and is on course for a target of 15 per cent. by 1996. It hopes to achieve a major reduction in fossil fuel burning by installing a combined heat and power plant in the Norman Shaw buildings and has various technical devices by which it seeks to avoid excess heat being produced. However, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is right that Members and staff can draw attention to practical means of cutting energy waste.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear it in mind that brilliant toys which somehow or other do not work are very dangerous, and that at present the House has a great tendency to have a series of lights which click on very effectively after one has passed out of the corridor that they are meant to illuminate? That is not only exceedingly dangerous, but will cost a fortune in compensation when someone is hurt as a result.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I understand that automatic sensors can lead to considerable energy savings and that they are used in the House in places where it is thought safe to do so—not, for example, where there are steps or stairs. However, if the hon. Lady or other hon. Members know of places where their use could lead to danger, they should refer them to the appropriate authorities.