Energy Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 29th March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Ezra Lord Ezra Shadow Minister, Trade & Industry 6:30 pm, 29th March 2004

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, for his supportive remarks and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. I thank the Minister for his encouraging remarks. What worries me is how we move from supportive remarks and from limited expenditure on research and development to having a plant or two in this country. I cannot see how that will happen. The way we are going, we could go on dribbling a few million pounds more here and there into research and development, which is minute compared with what is being done in the United States, for example, from which experience we should be learning.

When do we reach the point at which we can have a plant to demonstrate, to potential customers not only in the UK but in China, India and elsewhere? That is the problem that worries me, which I shall continue to explore and tackle. I hope the Minister and his colleagues in the Government will give it further consideration. The White Paper referred specifically to a demonstration plant. It states on page 92, which I quoted earlier: "With this in mind"—namely, to have a plant which can be used as a demonstration for other countries—

"we have already put in place a programme of support for advanced traditional cleaner coal technologies which is intended to bring forward demonstrator projects that may help to showcase the relevant technology more widely".

When is that going to be done? When will we see the hardware? When will we move from talk and limited amounts of R&D to having a bit of plant in place? It was stated in the White Paper, but lacking in the Minister's remarks. He did not indicate when we might see the plant in operation. That was the purpose of my amendment.

However, I would like to reflect on all that was said and consider whether to return to the issue at the next stage or in some other way. In the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.