I take the hon. Gentleman’s point and will be interested to hear Ministers’ response to it. Although we understand how the green deal must operate, we all want to ensure that it is made as attractive as possible and that there is as much choice as possible. What worries me is that if we go down the route proposed, poorer households and, in particular, landlords may be put off.
With risk-based pricing, I fear that people with short tenancies may be charged a higher interest rate than owner-occupiers or tenants who have lived at the same address for a long time. Short-term tenants who default may be difficult to pursue and may already have a chequered credit-rating history. More important, however, is the fact that risk-based pricing is probably unnecessary. As others have pointed out, the golden rule should mean that no one, whatever their credit rating, ends up paying a higher energy bill than they would have without the green deal.
If risk-based pricing is permitted and finance providers try to charge households with poor credit ratings higher interest rates, the total cost of the measures could exceed the golden rule threshold, with the result that such households are likely to be refused green deal finance altogether. I think that that is the point that Dr Whitehead was making. Although it is possible that the golden rule will hold interest rates at a reasonably low level for most consumers, it will not do that for all of them. As the Minister said, other options are available, but while the energy company obligation may help the very poorest, some consumers could be trapped between the two. I should be interested to hear his response to that as well.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, we must design a system which, as well as being future-proof, can be drawn as widely as possible. I represent a great many people in private rented accommodation, particularly in Goole, and much of it is of poor quality, consisting of single-skinned brick terraced houses to which earlier schemes could not be applied because they had no cavity walls. I do not want private landlords to be deterred from encouraging tenants to take up the green deal because they fear that their properties will be devalued in the future as a result of the higher energy costs.
Many tenants have told me that they have huge problems with damp, so that there are rooms that they cannot use. Their houses are crying out for energy efficiency measures. I do not want them to be the ones who do not benefit from the green deal, while constituents living in leafier areas who happen to own their properties do benefit from it, and I know that the Government do not want that either.