New Clause 4 — Microgeneration

Part of Energy Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 13th July 2004.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Minister of State (e-Commerce & Competitiveness) 3:30 pm, 13th July 2004

I cannot give my right hon. Friend an assurance that those issues will be fully addressed in the imminent document from the Deputy Prime Minister, but he is right to say that we will need to address them in the context of the strategy. If we can make progress more quickly on that part of the work, we will certainly do so. I take on board his point about the urgency of making headway.

New clauses 2, 3 and 6 relate to energy efficiency. I recognise that there has been some disappointment that the Government's published aim of delivering annual savings of 4.2 million tonnes of carbon from households by 2010 is at the low end of what was indicated in the White Paper. I use that form of words because it has been said that the target has been reduced, and that is not the case. There was no target in the White Paper, but an indication that we thought that around 5 million tonnes—that was the expression used—of carbon could be saved from households. As I said in Committee, in my book "around five" means somewhere between four and six and the figure has come out at 4.2. The overall saving from energy efficiency was set out in the White Paper as 10 million tonnes—5 million from households and 5 million from industry. We are confident that we can deliver 12 million tonnes, with a substantially greater contribution from industry and 4.2 million tonnes from households. I have had the opportunity to meet the Association for the Conservation of Energy to discuss the issues, as I said in Committee that I would.

I cannot recognise the point that my hon. Friend Brian White made about the crisis of confidence in the industry. We propose a doubling of the market for domestic insulation—cavity wall insulation. That is a huge boost to the industry; it can plan with great confidence for a big expansion. I accept that it is not quite such an enormous expansion as might once have been thought, but it is big, and the industry can be confident about its prospects.

We will review our energy efficiency aims in the household sector both, as my hon. Friend Mr. Challen said, through the review of the climate change programme commencing later this year and through the 2007 review of the aim that was announced in the action plan. We will also look to maximise the cost-effective contribution from energy efficiency. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East who expressed the hope that we can go further than we have committed ourselves to doing at this stage. However, until those reviews take place, it would not be right to change the present aims.