Energy Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 22nd October 2008.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 9:45 pm, 22nd October 2008

My Lords, this has been an important and fascinating debate. Let me make it absolutely clear that the Government, the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and other noble Lords who have spoken are of one mind. Of course we want to have effective mechanisms in place for controlling carbon dioxide emissions. The point of difference between us is the mechanism by which we achieve that. The noble Lord indicated that we need a range of mechanisms to tackle climate change and his amendment is structured around one dimension of that approach, but the Government's position is in line with that expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, which is that we have the right mechanism for tackling CO2 emissions through the European Union ETS. The scheme will ensure that emissions are capped at EU levels and that the industry has the incentive to make reductions.

The mechanism is the point of difference between us. The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, in her contribution from the Front Bench opposite, has said that we should deal with this in terms of individual power stations and new build. I listened carefully to the noble Baroness, who reinforced the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, but we must not be facile about the issue of energy production in this country.

Earlier today my noble friend responded to a Question that expressed anxiety about the margins on which we operate in terms of electricity generation in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, who tabled the Question, said that he had been asking it at around this time for four or five consecutive years; indeed, I can recall that I was obliged to furnish him with an Answer on at least three occasions. What he identifies is that the margins are a good deal narrower than they were a decade or two ago. That is for good reasons in so far as we are more cost-effective in our energy production, but that does not alter the fact that we must have due regard to the energy that we require—we cannot get into a position where there is a risk to supply. The whole House will appreciate the fact that inevitably, with the decline of the resources of North Sea oil and gas that we can control, we are dependent on imports, which means that we must consider the issue of security of supply.