Housing Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 20th July 2004.

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Photo of Lord Gray of Contin Lord Gray of Contin Conservative 2:30 pm, 20th July 2004

I support the amendments just spoken to. I declare an interest in that for nearly 10 years I was vice-president of Neighbourhood Energy Action, as it was in those days, and is now National Energy Action. During that period, I was president of the Scottish sister organisation. Both have done an enormous amount of work, particularly in the provision of assistance to the less fortunate in insulating homes which in most cases were desperately in need of it.

Perhaps I may say something about the relationship which has existed. It has been an all-party campaign over the years. In Neighbourhood Energy Action and in Energy Action Scotland, we have had excellent support from governments of both parties. That highlights the non-party attitude taken by both governments. I hope that that will continue, as I am sure it will. I know that the Government do not wish to create legislation that is going to be an embarrassment either to local authorities or to those in the private sector who provide homes for the less fortunate and who do all they can to try to comply with various regulations.

As regards this legislation, these organisations are concerned about one or two matters. For example, they are anxious that the regulations include a requirement for a heating system which is economical and efficient and capable of heating the whole dwelling to a comfortable level in normal weather conditions and at affordable cost to the occupant. Some of these measures may be easier to state than to achieve. We hope that these points are being taken into consideration by the Government in preparing the legislation. They also believe that any property to which this part of the legislation applies must achieve an SAP rating of no less than 65.

I have seen some of the homes before and after they have been treated by the charities and provided with insulation and improvements. Very often it is the elderly who live in these houses, but there are also people with young families. The properties tend to be smaller so that a large number of them are occupied by elderly people who are not in a position to carry out the work for themselves.

I hope that all these points will be taken into consideration by the Government. I know that these amendments have been tabled not to try in any way to get something from the Government which they do not want to give, but as constructive proposals to try to ensure that the people at the sharp end receive the benefit of the improvements made. I hope that the Government consider what I have said as being helpful.