New Clause 10 — Green deal installation apprenticeships

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 14th September 2011.

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Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 1:00 pm, 14th September 2011

I will need to consider that more carefully, because we accept that assessors can be part of commercial organisations. It is not a requirement of the green deal legislation—we went through this in detail in Committee—that they have to be totally impartial and that someone else should act as a salesman. For example, gas boilers have to be fitted to the high and rigorous standards set out in CORGI guidelines, and that work must be done independently. When we take our cars for a service and MOT, that must be done impartially and to a certain standard; yet at the same time, those doing that work are selling a service. Indeed, there are several examples of where it is quite possible for professional bodies to undertake professional services independently, transparently and to a uniform format, but where at the same time they have opportunities to sell.

Indeed, that is part of the attraction of the green deal. There is a quid pro quo at work: we are using the power of the market to scale-up the deployment of energy efficiency. Although we hope to go for an ambitious and large-scale eco-subsidy to work with the green deal, ultimately we are talking about a private sector proposition. We are creating a new market, but the investment that will drive take-up will come from the private sector, and obviously those making that investment will be attracted by more than just lagging. That is a good thing, because it will drive innovation and drive prices down as it increases competition, opening up energy services from the big six companies to a new array of retailers and, we hope, small and medium-sized enterprises and local groups. Competition will be good, but for competition there must be something for people to compete for. I hope that that reassures Barry Gardiner, but I will perhaps come back a little later to the point that he has raised.

Government amendment 30, which relates to the impartiality of green deal assessors, is a result of a commitment I made in Committee, given that so many Members were seeking reassurance on this point. It clearly sets out our intention to ensure the impartiality of the assessment process, and I urge the hon. Member for Brent North to look at it closely. We believe that it should be possible for assessors to be employed by a green deal provider, allowing for a more holistic service for consumers, but that should not interfere with the impartiality of the assessment process. The code of practice for assessors will therefore include robust requirements for green deal assessors to act in an impartial manner and declare to consumers any links that they have with green deal providers—or, indeed, energy companies. That is vital in order to retain consumer confidence in the information that they are being provided with.