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Climate Change

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

What discussions he has had with Scottish Ministers on the contribution from Scotland to the UK's international climate change targets.

Photo of David Cairns David Cairns Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Scotland Office

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with Scottish Executive Ministers on a wide range of matters.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith

My hon. Friend will be aware that one of the contributions that Scotland can make to tackling climate change is by tapping our immense reserves of renewable energy. In that connection, I am glad that the go-ahead has at last been given to funding for the development of wave power, such as that undertaken by a company based in my constituency. Given that it took some time for that fund to get going, through no fault of the Government, will my hon. Friend ensure that applications to it are dealt with quickly so that we do not lose the immense advantage that we have in this field and let the lead that we have in this technology be taken by other countries in Europe?

Photo of David Cairns David Cairns Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Scotland Office

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the progress that he is making with his private Member's Bill, which will make a considerable contribution to the debate. I understand that the Committee considering it has a further sitting this afternoon. He is right to highlight the Government's commitment to marine renewables. I welcome, as he does, the announcement made on 8 February by the Minister for Energy of a £50 million marine renewable development fund, building on the £25 million that has already been made available. The company that my hon. Friend mentions, Ocean Power Delivery, has already benefited from some £3.2 million of this development money. The deadline for applications is 8 May, so there is some time left. I look forward to that money going out to those who are successful in getting a grant so that they can carry on with research into the important contribution that marine renewables can make to our energy commitments.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I associate Conservative Members with the Secretary of State's good wishes to Mr. Speaker.

I am sure that the Minister agrees that Scotland's climate change targets will be best met through a balanced energy policy; that is why I welcome Scottish Labour's decision to support nuclear power. But how will the Scottish Executive be able to deliver on that commitment when the Secretary of State says that the Liberal Democrats run away from hard decisions and fail to face up to their responsibilities?

Photo of David Cairns David Cairns Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Scotland Office

The hon. Gentleman has a cheek to talk about people running away from tough decisions when the Conservatives have called for a moratorium on the development of wind farms, which make a significant contribution to tackling climate change.

We have said all along that it is foolish to rule out completely the possibility of renewing Scotland's nuclear-generating capacity or having a new generation—that is part of the energy debate. We believe that there will have to be a mix of energy—some will come from renewables, which the Conservative party opposes, and some may come from nuclear, to which some parties, with one or two honourable exceptions, have simply closed their minds. We are taking a balanced view.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson PPS (Dr Kim Howells, Minister of State), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

As a Glasgow Member of Parliament, may I associate myself with the sentiments expressed about Mr. Speaker?

Will my hon. Friend congratulate the Scottish Labour party on the decision that it made at the weekend? Does he agree that clean coal technology, nuclear and all other forms of energy should be part of a balanced energy policy? Will he ensure that the dinosaurs that still exist north of the border do not stop the process of getting energy for this country through stupid planning means?

Photo of David Cairns David Cairns Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Scotland Office

The essential question that must be asked during the energy review is: how can we provide the energy that our country needs without wrecking the planet in the process? We have two commitments: we need to keep the lights on and tackle fuel poverty, and do it in a way that is consistent with our international obligations on climate change. Some parties pay lip service to the environment, others pay lip service to the economy, but we have to manage both.